Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa by Johannes Fabian

Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa

byJohannes Fabian

Paperback | June 13, 2000

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Explorers and ethnographers in Africa during the period of colonial expansion are usually assumed to have been guided by rational aims such as the desire for scientific knowledge, fame, or financial gain. This book, the culmination of many years of research on nineteenth-century exploration in Central Africa, provides a new view of those early European explorers and their encounters with Africans.Out of Our Mindsshows explorers were far from rational--often meeting their hosts in extraordinary states influenced by opiates, alcohol, sex, fever, fatigue, and violence. Johannes Fabian presents fascinating and little-known source material, and points to its implications for our understanding of the beginnings of modern colonization. At the same time, he makes an important contribution to current debates about the intellectual origins and nature of anthropological inquiry.



Drawing on travel accounts--most of them Belgian and German--published between 1878 and the start of World War I, Fabian describes encounters between European travelers and the Africans they met. He argues that the loss of control experienced by these early travelers actually served to enhance cross-cultural understanding, allowing the foreigners to make sense of strange facts and customs. Fabian's provocative findings contribute to a critique of narrowly scientific or rationalistic visions of ethnography, illuminating the relationship between travel and intercultural understanding, as well as between imperialism and ethnographic knowledge.

About The Author

Johannes Fabianis Professor and Chair of Cultural Anthropology and Non-Western Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author ofRemembering the Present: Painting and Popular History in Zaire(California, 1996) andTime and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object(1983), among other works.
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Details & Specs

Title:Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central AfricaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:335 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.88 inPublished:June 13, 2000Publisher:University of California PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0520221230

ISBN - 13:9780520221239

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People believed that explorers and ethnographers in Africa during the colonial expansion period pursued rational objectives like scientific knowledge, fame and fortune. Based on thorough research on 19th century Central African exploration, Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa provides a startling new perspective on those early European explorers and their encounters with Africans. Explorers often met their hosts in bizarre states induced by opiates, alcohol, sex, fever, fatigue and violence. Johannes Fabian describes European-African encounters based on travel accounts from between 1878 and the First World War.

Editorial Reviews

"[A] fact and theory-rich book that rolls in a very leisurely fashion through a selection of early expeditions to central Africa."--"Times Higher Education Supplement