The self-reflexivity of anthropologists entails engaging with the forceful critiques emanating from within the discipline with regard to its relationship to the colonial project. However, the question remains as to what a postcolonial ethnographic project might look like. That is, while anthropologists engage with critiques from postcolonial studies in theory, how might they do so in practice? I address this question in my article by examining contemporary performances of Indian classical and Contemporary South Asian dance in Britain. An historical analysis of the trajectory of Indian classical dance reveals an intimate relationship between colonial, Orientalist and Indian nationalist discourses. Investigating contemporary performances in the U.K. can thus provide a fascinating glimpse into how discourses of coloniality are reiterated in the present. Focusing on performative narrativisations of the dance's history and its constructions of an idealised femininity, I show how ethnographic research can usefully excavate contemporary practices to better understand the capacity of coloniality both to endure and transform in its contemporary articulations.
Towards a Postcolonial Ethnography
The Creative Native Informant?
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?
Acting Up on Science and Immigration in France
Michael J. Bosia
From a postcolonial left that challenges the French state over immigration policy and neoliberal globalization, Act Up has advocated for the social and political rights and needs of women, inmates, drug users, and immigrants with HIV/AIDS. This essay examines as well Act Up's engagement with science and globalization in response to new experimental medical trials in the Global South. Act Up's emphasis on local empowerment against global economic and social actors has earned criticism from American and South African AIDS activists, but at the same time these campaigns stress the universalist impulse imbedded in the Act Up brand of French Republican politics.
Anxiety and Interdisciplinarity
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.
Surveillance and the African Immigrant Community in France, 1960-1979
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.
Reading Robert Kroetsch's The Lovely Treachery of Words
Many of the critical essays of the Canadian novelist, poet and theorist Robert Kroetsch, as collected in his 1989 anthology The Lovely Treachery of Words, explore the issue of how Canadian writers attempt to establish a cultural nationalism in the face of the decline of the British Empire. They are an initial expression of ideas about place and language, the problematic discourse of the 'New World', and the reinscription of First Nations peoples into the literature and culture of the Canadian nation. These are concerns which later came to be regarded as 'postcolonial' with the burgeoning of the term in the late 1980s through to the present day. However, his essays are due for reassessment in the light of recent responses to postcolonial subjectivity which critique the 'colonizer-colonized' binary as used in settler-invader contexts. This 'colonizer-colonized' binary has a troubling tendency to efface indigenous peoples. It conceals the imperialistic, land-grabbing aspects of settler-invader history by positing the settler as the true postcolonial subject, searching for a stable national identity – an authentic Canadian sense of citizenship and belonging – in the face of a cultural heritage largely defined by European imperialism.
Mahmoud F. Al-Shetawi
Building on what has already been documented in related scholarship concerning this topic, this article will look into facets of postcolonial theory vis-à-vis appropriations and adaptations of the plays of Shakespeare in Arabic. In doing so, the article will compare known postcolonial 'Shakespeares', and Arabic appropriations of his plays. It will comment on the postcolonial aspects of these plays and show whether Arab dramatists have been 'writing back', so to speak, in response to the colonial experience. The article addresses the following questions: first, do Arab playwrights deal with postcolonial issues in their appropriations of Shakespeare? Second, to what extent have Arab playwrights used Shakespeare to 'strike' at colonialism? Third, are Arab playwrights aware of postcolonial theory and discourse? And fourth, what is the nature of the Arabic contribution to postcolonial discourse? Although the treatment of Shakespeare in Arabic literature, especially drama and poetry, has been considered elsewhere, this particular approach to the Bard is relatively new. The article contends that there are postcolonial appropriations of Shakespeare in Arabic, which need to be properly investigated and commented upon with reference to postcolonial literary theory.
In the 1980s, the academy witnessed the advent of postcolonial discourse. Numerous academic conferences, books and journals on postcolonialism appeared one after another. In the academic periphery, many viewed postcolonial discourse as a site of resistance against Western cultural hegemony. With the rise of the discourse of globalization in the 1990s, postcolonial discourse, no longer riding on the whitecaps of the latest critical wave, seemed to have lost much of its currency and critical energy. On the face of it, many central issues of postcolonial discourse, such as colonizer/colonized, East/West and center/margin turned out to be no longer applicable to the global era, when national borders blurred. yet in the new global/local paradigm, the above binaries continued to cast a shadowy specter.
The Politics of the Integration of Harkis After 1962
During the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), France mobilized tens of thousands of native Algerian soldiers, known as the harkis, for counterinsurgent operations directed against their own countrymen of the National Liberation Front. As recruits for the French army, the harkis were given French status, which was then revoked when Algeria gained its independence. France later accepted the harkis as veterans and “repatriates,” only to confine them in camps until the 1970s. The abuse of the harkis has been noted as a “forgotten” episode in French postcolonial history. This article argues that the harkis were far from having been “forgotten,” and in fact were considered important throughout the Fifth Republic as a powerful counterpoint to the more problematic immigrant Algerian population in France. The harkis represented the key tension in postcolonial France between the notion of an irrevocable civil status and a national identity that favored a Eurocentric culture.
Or, How a Finnish Peasant Can Become an African Folk Hero
This article sets out to locate a particular postcolonial museum in its historical context, concentrating on local responses to change. It focuses on the specific historical interaction between villagers in northern Namibia and Finnish missionaries, and demonstrates that the dynamics of this interaction have led the villagers to remember the past in terms of a cleavage between pagans and Christians that is played out in the regular performances that take place for foreign visitors at the Nakambale museum. I argue that the performance of ‘tradition’ allows local people to transform the narrative presented in the physical layout of the museum into one that both emphasizes their own historical agency and demonstrates their contemporary Christian identities. The traditional/modern dichotomy implied by the museum’s narrative of the civilizing influence, brought by Christianity, provides them with an opportunity to do just that.