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Knowing savagery: Humanity in the circuits of colonial knowledge

"Who was human in the Enlightenment? What was savage, where was race, what did colonisers 'know', and when were orangutans human? Find out in the new edition of History of the Human Sciences edited by Linda Andersson Burnett and Bruce Buchan: https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/hhs/current

How was ‘savagery’ constituted as a field of colonial knowledge? As Europe’s empires expanded, their reach was marked not only by the colonisation of new territories but by the colonisation of knowledge. Path-breaking scholarship since the 1990s has shown how European knowledge of colonised territories and peoples developed from diverse travel writings, missionary texts, and exploration narratives from the 16th century onwards (Abulafia, 2008; Armitage, 2000; De Campos Franc¸ozo, 2017; Pratt, 1992). Of prime importance in this work has been the investigation of the pre-positioning of colonised peoples within categories derived from European traditions of historical, religious, legal, and political thought as either ‘savages’ or ‘barbarians’ (Richardson, 2018; Sebastiani, 2013).