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THE PYGMY MIMIC

Abstract
ABSTRACT

The Pygmy mimic is an extremely persistent colonial trope that continues to inform contemporary anthropological understandings of Africa's Pygmy populations. Mimicry is now understood as being a key component of the social reproduction of a distinct Pygmy way of being. In this paper I examine the historical accounts of mimicry and try to bring a historical perspective to bear on contemporary ethnographic accounts of its practice. I also set my own research among the Sua Pygmies of Uganda against these other examples. The intention behind this is to acknowledge the common humanity of Africa's Pygmies and to create new grounds of comparison – such as a shared history of oppression – that are not dependent on a unique foraging mode of thought.

RÉSUMÉ

La mimique pygmée est un trope colonial extrêmement persistant qui continue d’informer les interprétations anthropologiques contemporaines des populations pygmées d’Afrique. On considère aujourd’hui le mimétisme comme une composante essentielle de la reproduction sociale d’une façon distincte d’être pygmée. Dans cet article, l’auteur examine les récits historiques du mimétisme et tente d’apporter une perspective historique aux récits ethnographiques contemporains de sa pratique. Il compare également ces autres exemples aux travaux de recherche qu’il a menés auprès des pygmées Twa d’Ouganda. L’intention en est de reconnaître l’humanité commune des pygmées d’Afrique et de créer de nouveaux motifs de comparaison, tels qu’une histoire partagée de l’oppression, qui ne dépendent pas d’un mode de pensée fourrageur unique.

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References
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C. Ballard (2006) ‘Strange alliance: Pygmies in the colonial imaginary’, World Archaeology 38 (1): 133–51.

C. Kidd (2009) ‘Inventing the “Pygmy”: representing the “Other”, presenting the “Self”’, History and Anthropology 20 (4): 395418.

J. Lewis (2008) ‘Ekila: blood, bodies, and egalitarian societies’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 14 (2): 297315.

S. Newell (2012) The Modernity Bluff: crime, consumption, and citizenship in Côte d'Ivoire. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press.

J. Pottier (2007) ‘Rights violations, rumour, and rhetoric; making sense of cannibalism in Mambassa, Ituri (Democratic Republic of Congo)’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13: 825–43.

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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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