Colonial Letters and the Contact of Knowledges

Valentine N. Ubanako

English Linguistics and Translation Studies

University of Yaounde 1

Research Focus

World Englishes, Ecolinguistics, Contact Linguistics, Bilingualism, Language Policy, Linguistic Rights, Translation Studies, Digital Humanities

Selected Publications

Summary of research topic in the CL&CK project

Obsequiousness in colonial writing in former British Cameroon: Drawing the line between genre-specific style and persuasive strategy.

This investigates obsequiousness in colonial exchanges between the British colonial administration and the local chiefs on the one hand, and the different elements of power relations revealed through colonial letters on the other hand, reveals a genre-specific style and equally a powerful strategic persuasive tool to obtain positive feedback. Data will come from selected epistolary exchanges between British colonial administrators in Victoria, Buea and Bamenda (Cameroon) and Enugu (Nigeria) between 1948 and 1952. This paper uses coloniality of power propounded by Anibal Quijano (2000), as its main theoretical premise which highlights the practices and legacies of European colonialism in social orders and forms of knowledge. Results indicate that although these epistolary exchanges sometimes follow a certain laid down genre-specific style or administrative writing format which was popular at the time, they go a long way to show that obsequiousness goes beyond a genre specific style but is used as a strategic persuasive tool to obtain positive feedback both by the colonial administration and the local chiefs and other groups of people. Furthermore, obsequiousness throws more light on the power play and power relations and ideologies between the local chiefs and groups of other people in former British Cameroon.