Thomas W. Gallant
Experiencing Dominion contributes to ongoing debates on hegemony, power, and identity in contemporary historical and anthropological literature through an examination of the imperial encounter between the British and the Greeks of the Ionian Islands during the nineteenth century. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the imperial encounter, with topics including identity construction, the contestation over civil society, gender and the manipulation of public space, hegemony and accommoda-tion, the role of law and of the institutions of criminal justice, and religion and imperial dominion.
Thomas Gallantwidely recognized as one of the leading scholars in historical anthropology argues that a great deal can be learned about colonialism in general through an analysis of the Ionian Islands, precisely because that colonial encounter was so atypical. For example, Gallant demonstrates that because the Ionian Greeks were racially white, Christian, and descendents of Europes classical forebears, the process of colonial identity formation was more ambiguous and complex than elsewhere in the Empire where physical and cultural distinctions were more obvious. Colonial officers finally decided the Ionian Greeks were Mediterranean Irish who should be treated like European savages.
Experiencing Dominion pushes contemporary literature on historical anthropology in a new direction by moving the discussion away from an emphasis on a simple polarity between hegemony and resistance, and instead focusing on the shared interactions between colonizers and colonized, rulers and ruled, foreigners and locals. In this important study, Gallant emphasizes contingency and historical agency, examines intentionality, and explores the processes of accommodation and, when warranted, resistance. In so doing, he reconstructs the world Britons and Greeks made together on the Ionian Islands during the nineteenth century through their shared experience of dominion.
“This lively and intriguing book uses the specific and in many ways atypical example of British colonial rule over the Ionian islands to make a series of valuable interventions into a number of related fields of historical and post-colonial enquiry. For the specialist in Mediterranean history or sociology the material from the Greek provincial archives will be of undoubted value. . . . For the non-specialist or the reader more generally concerned with imperialism and colonialism, the book provides thought-provoking insights into the often unexpected results of imperial initiatives. Gallant knows his material well and handles it with panache.” — Mediterranean Historical Review
“. . . an empirically rich and theoretically ambitious study of British rule in the Greek Ionian Islands between the 1810s and 1860s, offers many insights into the negotiations of colonialism from both sides of the relationship. Written in an engaging style and attuned to theory, Experiencing Dominion should appeal to scholars and students interested in modern British and Greek history. . . .” — Journal of Modern History
“Thomas Gallant, Heritage Professor of Hellenic Studies at York University, Toronto, can always be counted on to produce scholarship that is both insightful and elegantly written. In his latest offering, Experiencing Dominion, he has outdone himself by focusing on a topic so interesting, and so interestingly conceived, that even in far clumsier hands it would have made for fascinating reading. In Gallant’s it is a treat.” — HISTORY: Reviews of New Books
“The great contribution of Thomas W. Gallant’s book is to tell the story largely from the perspective of the islanders, using the local Greek sources as well as the British ones.” — International History Review
“The author himself has a keen eye for ethnographic detail and the weaving of historical data with contemporary ethnographic studies has produced a lively account of people and events little known, long forgotten, but nonetheless important in our understanding of colonialism. Gallant’s book is a fine example of the recent dialogue between cultural history and historical ethnography. [I]t makes an important contribution to the study of colonialism by highlighting an almost forgotten but important aspect of it that awaits theorization – the European colonization of the margins of Europe." — Nations and Nationalism
“[J]udging by Thomas W. Gallant’s engaging and well-researched study, a closer look at this episode of British dominion contributes considerably to our understanding of imperial power, cross-cultural encounters and postcolonial perspectives. Making detailed use of a wealth of archival information Gallant vividly reconstructs nineteenth-century lonian life. . . . Experiencing Dominion marks a detailed contribution to both Greek and British history and forcefully contributes to debates about postcolonial theoretical approaches.” — Journal of Social History
“. . . with insightful analyses of the anthropological and historical implications of various events, Gallant brings to life the society and culture on the islands during the five decades of British rule and sheds important light on intercultural relations during this colonial period. . . . valuable addition(s) to the literature of modern Greek history and . . . deserve(s) a wide audience.” — Journal of Modern Greek Studies
“This book is an extraordinary piece of historical and anthropological scholarship. This kind of social history, based on primary sources that reveal significant truths about the activities of the peasantry and other working-class people, informed by historical and anthropological perspectives, and focusing on the colonial context, is typical of the current trend in hybrid scholarship. Experiencing Dominion represents one of the finest examples of this innovative approach to historical subject matter.” — Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Winner of the 2002-2003 Modern Greek Studies Association Best Book Prize