February 3, 2013

Coverage of East Africa in the Omani Media (Oman Observer)

I was given the article from the Oman Observer, a well-known Omani newspaper, by a friend who is interested in my research topic. Its interesting for several reasons: 1) the anonymous author clearly knew a lot about Tippu Tip and his descendants, and somehow has access to some rare pictures of them, and 2) Oman is proudly referred to as an empire. I have been seeing this empire talk with greater frequency in Omani media sources, and I wonder if the stigma once associated with that word has now faded enough so it can be used with pride. The controversy over Oman and empire has to do with the association of the word empire with imperial and imperialism. It returns to the vexed question: was the Omani presence colonial on the East Coast of Africa. The answer is 'no'....and 'yes'. Or, 'it depends when and where you are talking about.' And the question is not just historical: it has to do with how one thinks about contemporary national identity and citizenship in post-colonial African states like Zanzibar. I think the concept of layered imperialism is helpful to understanding Omani expansion, but this is a deep and sensitive topic that deserves a special post.


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