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Fictionalising Post-colonial Theory

The Creative Native Informant?

Anastasia Valassopoulos

How can a novel be both a Harlequin romance (the equivalent of a British Mills and Boon book) and an example of post-colonial counter-discourse? In the same stroke, how can Spivak proclaim herself not learned enough to be interdisciplinary? Surely interdisciplinariness has become an integral part of post-colonial theory and investigation and to proclaim oneself not erudite enough is to put the practice of casual interdisciplinary action into question on ethical and scholarly grounds. And yet post-colonial studies thrives on its interdisciplinary methods and we are certainly not all philosophers, social scientists or professional politicians. In fact, it is possible to argue, as I intend to do here, that postcolonial literary works can also be interdisciplinary, thereby challenging us to reveal the inherent interdisciplinary nature of the field itself. In this case, breaking rules is not difficult and, yes, much can be learned from this action. So, as well as demonstrating a post-colonial textual analysis indebted to an interdisciplinary approach, as this special issue calls for, this article will further reveal how, often, writers themselves are already involved in utilising an interdisciplinary approach in their fiction. This can make it difficult to separate the authors’ intentions; are they writing in their capacity as authors, critics or both?

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Policing the Post-Colonial Order

Surveillance and the African Immigrant Community in France, 1960-1979

Gillian Glaes

By the early 1960s, an increasing number of Africans migrated to France from their former colonies in West Africa. Most were men hoping to gain employment in several different industries. Their settlement in Paris and other cities signaled the start of "post-colonial" African immigration to France. While scholars have analyzed several facets of this migration, they often overlook the ways in which France's role as a colonial power in West Africa impacted the reception of these immigrants after 1960, where surveillance played a critical role. Colonial regimes policed and monitored the activities of indigenous populations and anyone else they deemed problematic. The desire to understand newly arriving immigrant groups and suspicion of foreign-born populations intersected with the state's capacity to monitor certain groups in order to regulate and control them. While not physically violent, these surveillance practices reflected the role that symbolic violence played in the French government's approach to this post-colonial immigrant population.

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Sue Kossew

One of the most fraught and, possibly, most tricky issues, both in theory and in practice, for current literary criticism in post-apartheid South Africa is how to read and reread the texts of those now-canonical white South African writers whose reputations were made, both nationally and internationally, by their ‘writing against apartheid’, now that this particular kind of literature of resistance could be seen as passé. What is at stake here is not just a critical re-evaluation of such writers as J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer and André Brink, whose voices may now be seen to be marginalised in favour of those ‘subaltern’ voices freed to speak in a post-apartheid state, but a re-situating of the very nature of their literary resistance. Inextricably tied to any such discussion is the complex nature of literary resistance itself and the debates surrounding the categorisation of ‘South African literature’ within ‘world literatures’. These debates have evolved around such questions as whether post-colonial theory and criticism have any relevance to such texts; whether ‘white’ South African literature should be regarded as part of other settler literatures (despite its obvious differences in not having just one ‘imperial centre’ and in the neo-colonial structures of apartheid); and whether even locating such a division between ‘white’ and ‘black’ writing in South Africa imposes a retrospective form of apartheid within critical practice itself. This article addresses some of these issues and considers them as part of a process of reconciling differences and moving beyond the fixed binaries that characterise both the apartheid mentality and colonialism itself.

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Paula Montero

When compared to the extensive historiography on missionary activity, the anthropology of missions is a relative newcomer, emerging as such in the context of the recent critique of the colonial system. In view of the importance of historiographical literature in outlining the subject, on the one hand, and of the impact of the decolonization of the African continent on anthropology, on the other hand, my purposes in this essay are, firstly, to examine how the historiography of colonial America and of African colonialism has handled the subject of missions; secondly, to describe the role of missionary activity in the historiographical debate in the context of the crisis of colonialism; and, lastly, to analyze how post-colonial critique has given rise to a new anthropology of missions.

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Post-colonial Piracy

Anxiety and Interdisciplinarity

David Huddart

Questioned by W. J. T. Mitchell on the importance of theory for postcolonial studies, Homi Bhabha proceeds to distinguish two forms of interdisciplinarity. The first form is familiar in its emphasis on joint degrees and teaching in order to widen the teaching or research base, juxtaposing disciplines which yet maintain their solid foundations. The second form of interdisciplinarity acknowledges disciplinary limits, and marks the shaking of apparently solid foundations; Bhabha argues that it ‘is not an attempt to strengthen one foundation by drawing from another; it is a reaction to the fact that we are living at the real border of our own disciplines, where some of the fundamental ideas of our disciplines are being profoundly shaken. So our interdisciplinary moment is a move of survival – the formulation of knowledges that require our disciplinary scholarship and technique but demand that we abandon disciplinary mastery and surveillance.’ Elsewhere, in ‘DissemiNation’, Bhabha expands his point to argue for the necessity of this second form of interdisciplinarity: ‘To enter into the interdisciplinarity of cultural texts means that we cannot contextualize the emergent cultural form by locating it in terms of some pre-given discursive causality or origin.

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Jelena Tošić and Annika Lems

Th is contribution introduces the collection of texts in this special section of Migration and Society exploring contemporary patterns of im/mobility between Africa and Europe. It proposes an ontological-epistemological framework for investigating present-day movements via three core dimensions: (1) a focus on im/mobility explores the intertwinement of mobility and stasis in the context of biographical and migratory pathways and thus goes beyond a binary approach to migration; (2) an existential and dialogical-ethnographic approach zooms in on individual experiences of im/mobility and shows that the personal-experiential is not apolitical, but represents a realm of everyday struggles and quests for a good life; and (3) a genealogical-historical dimension explores present-day migratory quests through their embeddedness within legacies of (post)colonial power relations and interconnections and thus counteracts the hegemonic image of immigration from Africa as having no history and legitimacy.

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Graham Holderness, Sue Dymoke, Simon Curtis, Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, Stuart Flynn, Rennie Parker and Lawrence Sail

The Invisible Man GRAHAM HOLDERNESS

On Lake Oscanawa American Sound SUE DYMOKE

Back Home … SIMON CURTIS

Battle Training MICHAEL BARTHOLOMEW-BIGGS

Mandatory Post-Colonial Poem STUART FLYNN

Only Resting Trading Up RENNIE PARKER

Cutting the Bay Hedge LAWRENCE SAIL

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Alice L. Conklin

Post-Colonial Cultures in France, Alec G. Hargreaves and Mark McKinney, eds. (London: Routledge, 1997)

Jean-Loup Amselle, Vers un multiculturalisme français, l’empire de la coutume (Paris: Aubier, 1996)

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Marcus Otto

This article analyzes how the fundamental challenge of decolonization has resonated in history textbooks published in France since the 1960s. It therefore contextualizes textbook knowledge within different areas of society and focuses on predominant discourses that influenced history textbooks' (post)colonial representations in the period examined. These discourses encompass the crisis of Western civilization, modernization, republican integration, and the postcolonial politics of memory. The author argues that history textbooks have thus become media, as well as objects of an emerging postcolonial politics of memory that involves intense conflicts over immigration and national identity and challenges France's (post)colonial legacy in general.

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M.I.A. in the Global Youthscape

Rethinking Girls' Resistance and Agency in Postcolonial Contexts

Lisa Weems

In this article I explore the performance art of international hip-hop artist M.I.A. to interrogate the problematic of girls' resistance and agency within a global youthscape. Using a feminist transnational framework, I analyze how her music and celebrity persona may be considered gendered post-colonial cultural productions that highlight issues of inequality, violence and domination. I argue that M.I.A.'s cultural productions serve as pedagogical symbolic resources for theorizing girlhood in post-colonial contexts specifically around issues of sexuality. As a symbolic resource, M.I.A.'s work is pedagogical in the larger global youthscape as well as in scholarship on girls in post-colonial contexts. Specifically, M.I.A. (in her music and interviews) openly wrestles with the embodied tensions between complicity and possibility in post-colonial girlhood. Consistent with a feminist transnational framework, I argue that the identities of “Third World” girls are discursively produced as innocent yet hypersexualized exotic Others in the service and/or mercy of “First World” colonial men and women. However, M.I.A. makes explicit that within the context of globalization, the cultural politics of gender and sexuality take place on/through/with brown female bodies—whether it is in the battlefield, the street or in the bedroom. A close analysis M.I.A.'s song 10 Dollar illustrates how Third World girls exercise resistance and agency in negotiating imperialist and nationalist heteropatriarchy.