Colonial Letters and the Contact of Knowledges

Sarah Marjie

Kiswahili Linguistics

University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

Research Focus

Sociolinguistics, Pragmatics, Computer-mediated communication, Translation, Interpretation, Stylistics, Kiswahili linguistics

Selected Publications

Summary of research topic in the CL&CK project

Insidious paternalism and the establishment of heritage: A contrapuntal analysis of colonial correspondences of the British Southern Cameroons.

Across different geographical spaces, colonial correspondences have often served as valuable data sources from which we may identify and evaluate social, cultural, perhaps, economic, and even political events of the past. These sources also allow us to reflect on what such events reveal about the past as well as what they may suggest about the present, from a postcolonial standpoint. Focusing on a selection of letters written during the British colonization of the Southern Cameroons, this paper explores the incidence of an insidious form of paternalism revealed through discourses of contention present in the language of the letters. Through a contrapuntal analysis (allowing for the viability of varied cultural perspectives), this paper will try to show how the cited paternalistic attitudes unveil simmering tensions regarding the right to power (whether earned, deserved, assigned, inherited, or arrogated) and assertions to legitimacy, all determined primarily by an effort to establish true cultural heritage.