In the course of the 20th century, the focus of colonial history as part of the former colonial powers’ historiography, evolved from an ideological endeavour legitimizing Europe’s ‘civilizing mission’ to a self-flagellating analysis of the wrongdoings imposed on the colonized. The new trend as much as granted the colonized natives a status of globally recognized victimhood. Colonial history became the history of the colonized, relegating the colonizer to a moral ghetto. At the turn of the millennium, Anglo-Saxon historians, followed by their French counterparts, turned the tide by stressing the necessity to establish a bond between colonial and post-colonial national history, thus reintroducing the colonizer as a worthy historical actor. This colloquium will attempt to gauge the degree to which the ‘white’ presence in colonized territory is representative of particular colonial policies. In other words, which were the interests at stake and how did colonial powers engage or disengage white presence in order to better achieve certain goals. Colonial administrators and corporate agents did not usually constitute a stable white presence. Colonists on the other hand, such as agricultural, artisan and merchant settlers, constituted a controversial and often boisterous lot. They will be at the primary focus of the colloquium.
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