Sights/Sites of Spectacle: Anglo/Asante Appropriations, Diplomacy and Displays of Power 1816-1820

Sheales, Fiona (2011) Sights/Sites of Spectacle: Anglo/Asante Appropriations, Diplomacy and Displays of Power 1816-1820. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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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.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2014 11:22
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2014 00:38

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