encounter with Indigeneity dans Loxias


Loxias | 67. | I. | Agrégation d'anglais

Cook et la découverte de l’indigénéité : entre utopie et dystopie coloniale

Cet article s’attache à démontrer que la construction imaginée des populations autochtones rencontrées lors des voyages de Cook se développe conjointement à la création d’une « communauté imaginée » britannique mais aussi européenne. En effet, la première conséquence des descriptions des populations alors rencontrées pour la première fois était de construire la communauté de l’observateur par ricochet. Paradoxalement, la comparaison avec l’utopie ‒ tout comme avec celle de son contraire, la dystopie ‒ appelle à l’affirmation en parallèle de l’identité nationale. En effet, il n’est tout d’abord pas tant question de construire l’autre que de s’affirmer en tant que nation dominante, puissante et moderne, à la pointe du progrès. When James Cook explored the Pacific, the populations he met were living in a seemingly prelapsarian state, but their encounter with the Europeans marked their fall into a world dominated by the craving for progress. Indeed, the Enlightenment was founded on humanist principles which encompassed the belief in progress and its emancipatory dimension. However, questions and criticism arose : progress also dehumanized individuals, enslaving them to the machines. As a consequence, another school of thought, led by Rousseau, looked into the discoveries made during the voyages and focused on the encounter with native populations : these were truly happy and free, whereas progress and its consequences debased European society. Thus, this article aims at showing that the first encounters with the Indigenous peoples took place in a context in which British society also craved for self-definition : indeed, the first descriptions of the populations indirectly led to the creation of the community of origins of the explorers who were relating those encounters. Paradoxically, the analogy between this new world and utopia ‒ as well as its contrary, dystopia ‒ called for a simultaneous demand for national identity. Such narratives did not merely stage the construction of the Other but they also led to creation of a dominant and powerful nation.

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