Dorothy Jones


Maps, however symbolically, indicate the materiality of empires as physical space measured in degrees of latitude and longitude. Materiality is also experienced, often brutally, by the colonized as physical force exerted by armies of invasion and occupation. The constant interaction between periphery and centre on which empires depend is also expressed materially, through the exchange of trade commodities or the regular movement of colonial administrators to and from the centre, but symbol and metaphor are equally important. If nations are, in Benedict Anderson's words, 'imagined communities', then empires require still more abundant imagination to maintain disparate races and cultures as part of a cohesive whole. Consequently, texts of empire are continually fabricated and refabricated by colonisers and colonised alike, while images of cloth and weaving, with their associated imagery of narrative construction, can play an important part both in asserting bonds of empire and in challenging them.



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