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Norbert Elias et la question des violences impériales. Jalons pour une histoire de la « mauvaise conscience » coloniale

Abstract : The study of European presence in Asia at the dawn of the modern era and then during the late colonial period is a testing ground for Norbert Elias’ theories. Just when violence was abating in Western Europe, it flared up at the outer limits of its imperial progression, in the concessions and trading posts of the eastern and western Indies. In the 16th century the Portuguese progression in the China sea saw abuses that would have been considered intolerable on the “metropolitan” ground. Nevertheless, in the 19th century, violence in the colonial territories was no longer taken for granted: it was cause for “scandal” among the well read in London and The Hague. Thus, the Aceh war (1873-1906) was responsible for a great deal of discomfort in the Netherlands. By studying the political ways and terms of this “colonial scandal” and by reviewing the long history of its conditions, it is possible to show that, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Dutch elites had a colonial “guilty conscience”, analyzable sociologically in terms of new “levels of sensitivity” to violence.
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Romain Bertrand. Norbert Elias et la question des violences impériales. Jalons pour une histoire de la « mauvaise conscience » coloniale. Vingtième siècle. Revue d'histoire, Presses de Sciences Po, 2010, pp.127 - 140. ⟨hal-03460101⟩

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