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Old Dominion Public Lecture Series: Blood Flowers: Recolonizations

Vance Smith, English

March 4, 2020 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 010 East Pyne

Humanities Council
Image of Vance Smith

In law, scholarship, and the imagination, the Middle Ages shaped the colonization of Africa, and continues to shape efforts at decolonization. In Kenya, the devolution of centralized one-party power into provincial governments is also a reinscription of forms of distributed feudal power. To the extent that the Middle Ages was first conceived as a space of European forgetting–the in-between of history–it remains complicit in the European enjoyment of Africa. The deep medieval structure of land ownership in contemporary Kenya, for example, is visible in both colonial-era writing and in the contemporary shape of both the massive flower industry and the policies and practices of wildlife conservation. The European aesthetic contemplation of the world is entangled with the forgetting of a crucial part of Africa, and with the forgetting of the medieval roots of Europe’s colonization of Africa.

D. Vance Smith is Professor of English and Old Dominion Research Professor at the Humanities Council for the academic year 2019-2020.

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