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Title: Sights/sites of spectacle : Anglo/Asante appropriations, diplomacy and displays of power 1816-1820
Author: Sheales, Fiona
ISNI:       0000 0004 2710 4723
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2011
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Between May 1816 and March 1820 the paramount chief of Asante Osei Tutu Kwame Asibey Bonsu (r.1800-24) received no less than nine representatives of the British and Dutch trading companies at his capital Kumase. Of these, seven wrote detailed accounts of their experiences but the first and the most historically important was Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee published by Thomas Edward Bowdich (1791?-1824) in 1819. Besides containing vivid descriptions of Bowdich’s experiences as the Conductor of the first British Mission it is also supplemented with maps, diagrams and ten colour illustrations, the majority of which depict everyday activities and important locations in Kumase. The largest illustration, entitled ‘The First Day of the Yam Custom,’ differs significantly from the others, however, in respect of its size and its subject matter, as it documents the appropriation of conventions, material culture and symbolism by Asante, Islamic and European representatives during an important diplomatic ceremony. This thesis focuses on Bowdich’s published account and this illustration in particular, in order to explore the hypothesis that such spectacles played an instrumental role in Anglo/Asante appropriations and diplomatic negotiations during this period. As part of this analysis Bowdich’s descriptions will be compared and contrasted with other envoys’ accounts that were written between 1816 and 1820 in order that systematic practices and procedures and consistent patterns of behaviour can be identified and interrogated. The adoption of this historical ethnographic approach demonstrates the value of analyzing and re-assessing individual accounts that complement, but also contrast with, the longue dureé perspective adopted by the majority of studies that examine culture contact and appropriation. Furthermore, it also facilitates the introduction and development of a new theoretical concept that has the potential for wide-spread applicability in the analysis of other cultural encounters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available