Civilized Monsters: These Savage Shores and the Colonialist Cage

October 18, 2021

Ritesh Babu
“I hate Indians. They are beastly people with a beastly religion.” – Winston Churchill

I remember first reading the title and being taken aback: These Savage Shores. My god, what a charged line.

Here was a book set in 18th Century India, right at the time of The First Anglo-Mysore War, a book about wrestling with The East India Company and British imperialism in India…through the genre fiction metaphor of Vampires. The work takes the ultimate European genre figure, The Vampire, and recasts the idea as a metaphor for Colonialism. Meanwhile, the ancient Indian myth of The Raakshas is conjured up to confront this Colonizing monster. And for a book like that, a genre book so loudly and explicitly about Colonialism to call itself These Savage Shores?

‘Savage’ is, of course, the favored word of the Colonizer. Here are the exotic lands, and here be its savage natives, these mindless beasts, who we, the fair-folk of Europe must civilize. It is our divine right, it is just, it is our purpose. Only the White man’s teachings can help these lesser peoples transcend beyond their foolishly backward cultures and ideas.

It is all terribly convenient and comforting stuff, the justifications of the Colonizer. They must be right, they must be the saviors, the ultimately heroic ones, in all their actions. Their actions must be mythologized, fed into a greater canon and machine of propaganda and philosophy that somehow make it all okay. For if it is not okay, it is troubling isn’t it?

View original: https://neotextreview.com/culture/civilized-monsters-these-savage-shores-and-the-colonialist-cage/

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