Decolonizing Empire: Corporeal Chronologies and the Entanglements of Colonial and Postcolonial Time
Keywords:Portuguese colonialism and postcolonialism, history of the body, trauma and history, Brazilian history
In Provincializing Europe, Dipesh Chakrabarty laid out a systematic critique of historicism as a marker of essential, racialized difference. Unquestioned assumptions of universal time and telos were instrumentalized by colonial power to rank and rule subaltern others. This paper builds on Chakrabarty’s decolonizing project by seeking to denaturalize the legacies of imperialism inscribed in ideas about place (Europe or the nation-state) and time (the universal chronology of modernity). By provincializing political chronology, I challenge sovereign periodization as the key rubric of historical expertise by focusing on corporeal chronologies. This analytic stresses the role of embodiment in Amerindian expressions of colonial resistance; the somatic instantiation of categories of laggard time – the primitive, the savage, the child – produced in imperial knowledge-making imaginaries and projected onto racialized bodies; consider how the past is embodied and reiterated through memory, trauma, and disability; and the everyday spaces of intimacy and interpersonal rapports where cate- gories about self and empire are recapitulated, reified, and lived.