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Postcolonial Text

Poem based on the collapse of French colonial rule in Vietnam and the ensuing American and Australian involvement in disastrous neo-colonial warfare. 2014/10/05 - 00:01

Algeria is a land of perpetual trauma. Haunted by a bloody colonial past and an Islamic terrorist present, Algeria cried over thousands of dead people. Assia Djebar’s Algerian White is a contemporary narrative of trauma in which the writer engages in an exhausting labor of remembrance of those who died victims of colonialism and its legacies or murdered for the vain causes of Radical Islamism. Using perspectives from social, political and cultural psychology, I will attempt to explore the process and the politics of articulating trauma in Djebar’s Algerian White. 2014/10/05 - 00:01

This article argues that the ancestral narratives of enslavement in Corregidora function as ancestral subtexts to the characters’ lives, where the enslaved ancestor’s narrative is reproduced through performing the role of the ancestor or “becoming the ancestor” and internalization, resulting in cycles of violence. I use the term subtext to refer to the implicit, indirect but inferable aspects of the ancestral narrative which are continuously present in the characters’ lives. Within this context, I postulate that the descendants’ project of healing is made possible through an integration of these troubling narratives, creating a dialogic relationship with the past as well as identifying the ways in which that past continues to inform the present. 2014/10/05 - 00:01

This essay examines questions about trauma in the context of the gendered violence that constituted the Partition of India in 1947 and continues to affect millions of Indians through present-day “communal” (sectarian) violence. I hope to demonstrate through my analysis of a literary representation of gang-rape and murder how studies of inter-generational, transnational, collective trauma nuance the relationship between history and memory, and further the debate on how gender and gendered violence create and connect personal/individual and communal/collective trauma in postcolonial contexts. 2014/10/05 - 00:01

Gaston Miron, the Quebec poet, was in a unique situation that is difficult to pinpoint as colonial or postcolonial. In addition, he expresses extreme distress that may not quite fit in traditional categories from trauma studies. Through an analysis of his poetry and essays, however, this article attempts to examine and define what could be called his linguistic trauma. The way in which he responds to this, and his particular situation, provides important insights for the merging of the two fields of postcolonial and trauma studies. 2014/10/05 - 00:01

This is the introduction to Postcolonial Text's special issue on postcolonial trauma studies 2014/10/05 - 00:01

Postcolonial trauma studies have from the start enabled the inclusion of interdisciplinary research, but postcolonial literary critics have long hesitated to develop innovative approaches to trauma theory. Now, however, interdisciplinary, comparative, and relational approaches to trauma are explored to accommodate broader ethical and political registers of trauma research for postcolonial studies. This relational, non-oppositional approach is what this article explores and demonstrates in an analysis of Toni Morrison’s novel Home (2012). It argues that Morrison addresses, absorbs and transforms pre-existing discourses on trauma and race, contributing to conceptualizations of modes of healing and redress not currently privileged in cultural trauma theory. 2014/10/05 - 00:01

This paper examines a growing trend of contemporary Australian writing, life narrations by refugees, along the genre of testimonio. It uses the example of Iranian writings, as Iranians compose the majority of asylum-seekers in Australia today. It questions the voice refugee writers are given by the Australian writers who help them to write or publish their life stories and ask how their writings redefine the genre of testimonio, used to tell the history of contemporary traumatic migrations to Australia. 2014/10/05 - 00:01

In its retelling of the narrative of colonial settlement in Australia, Kate Grenville’s The Secret River (2005) resonates with debates over Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations in contemporary Australia, as its representational strategies can be seen as undermining the kinds of metaphysical oppositions identified by theorists such as Benita Parry, Frantz Fanon and Homi Bhabha as crucial to the structuring of colonialism’s discursive field. The question I take up in this essay is how successful Grenville’s novel is in “repossessing the signifying function appropriated by colonialist representation” that Parry identifies as a necessary, yet insufficient, strategy for laying bare the rhetorical underpinning of the colonial enterprise. How successful is the novel in reconfiguring these signifying relations even as it relies on them to retell a mythic narrative of nation-building? And what does this analytic framework reveal about the blindnesses and omissions of canonical postcolonial criticism with respect to settler-invader contexts? 2014/07/06 - 11:55

A key paradox of subalternity for the subject throwing off the colonial yoke is the degree to which the collective emergence from the nation-state is to be in the image of the colonizer; that is, as a modern state, notionally on a par with the mother/father country. With a view to understanding the meaning of such symbolic investments, this paper surveys the lyrics of national anthems from a wide range of postcolonial countries. Despite the avowals one regularly finds in the lyrics of postcolonial anthems, and despite the expression of sometimes rote resistance to a putative colonial oppressor, those singing songs which imitate European anthems, and the feeling such anthems inspire, invest identity in the mimetic, rather than the unique. On the basis of a range of observations of anthems and their circumstances, this paper dares to ask finally whether the singing of anthems makes for better worlds. 2014/07/06 - 11:55

Since its publication, J.M. Coetzee's Slow Man has been received unenthusiastically. Its relative neglect suggests its failure to interest its readers as either a narrative to be read for the plot or as a text to be analyzed according to the prevailing values guiding contemporary literary criticism. Anticipating its own reception, Slow Man asks readers to consider the meaning of the novel’s failure to interest us greatly. Focussing self-consciously on an uninteresting character living in unremarkable times, Coetzee’s novel eschews a critical paradigm that invests in political urgency to make the ethical point that there are alternative values for judging the worth of a novel or character. In its search for affirmative values, Slow Man responds to the dilemmas of postcolonial postsecularism by suggesting that there are worse things a novelist might do than write an uninteresting book. 2014/07/06 - 11:55

...And the Rain My Drink (1956) depicts the forced resettlement of rural Chinese in camps during the British counter-insurgency against the communist uprising. Drawing from the author's personal correspondence and unpublished drafts of a sequel to the novel, this essay reads the novel’s representation of the camp checkpoint as a conceptual metaphor for understanding the relation between fiction and history. Based on autobiographical experience, the novel presents its narrator, Dr. Han Suyin, as a translator of the Malayan polyglot world to her reader, effectively framing fiction as a translation of history. Just as the camp checkpoint is a site where the state’s biopolitical power is put on full display, the translation of fiction into history, I argue, can be understood as an act of passing through an epistemological checkpoint, one that illuminates the underlying racial gender politics that sustain the dominant national narrative of the cold war conflict. 2014/07/06 - 11:55

This article discerns the explicit linking of imperialistic politics and self-serving humanist discourses which resulted in subjugation at various levels. It also undercuts the specious philosophy of the imperialists which inculcated the rhetoric of free trade and the internationalization of commerce as an ideological smokescreen to shroud their mercenary motives. Furthermore, it analyzes how the narrative re-invents the rich multicultural world created by the diverse business communities in Canton. Amitav Ghosh’s concern for subjectivities that have been subjugated and marginalized, are a case in point for a turn to ethics that is both evident and credible. 2014/07/06 - 11:55

These four poems explore some of the history of taxidermy firm Tost and Rohu. The firm operated in Sydney from 1860-1923 and was first established by two women: Jane Tost and Ada Rohu. 2014/07/06 - 11:55

This article focuses on the role of the youth in the dual processes of neoliberal reform and political change in contemporary Africa. Drawing on the case of Ghana, the article examines how specific policy prescriptions by Western donors have implications for Africa’s youth including their economic futures and how the youth in turn have sought to contest and resist these policies. In particular, the article explores student resistance to the introduction of user fees at the tertiary educational sector in Ghana, focusing specifically on student activism and protest, and linking these to the role of the youth in Africa’s new political spaces. 2014/04/03 - 18:36

We as artists, activists and scholars examine identity and change processes within the Ugandan youth collective artivists 4 life. Dedicated to “creating for a better world” (motto) artivists 4 life are creating a new sense of sociability through the fusion of art and activism, leaving the margins to reposition themselves “at the center of the dynamic imagination of the African social landscape” (Durham 114). Using art in any necessary medium project members address issues of HIV/AIDS prevention and stigma, substance abuse and youth unemployment. Through their projects artivists 4 life are overcoming personal and collective circumstances and taking on responsibilities as proactive agents of communal change. Building on Asante’s notion of artivism and Sandoval’s differential consciousness this paper identifies a transformative pedagogical practice where critical consciousness emerges through collective action and artistic reflection. These processes have the potential to reframe experiences through counter-narratives authorizing youth to think and act otherwise. 2014/04/03 - 18:36

In post-conflict South Sudan, the cultural practices and identities of youth are increasingly being shaped by multiple cultural flows that are simultaneously local and global. The relative stability that has characterised this young nation since the 2005 ceasefire has facilitated the return of significant numbers of displaced persons who are now striving to reintegrate in the society they fled years ago. From their long years in exile, returnee youth are importing different cultural orientations that reveal the salience of style and group membership as central bases for identity formation and social belonging. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in South Sudan, Egypt and Uganda, this paper examines the various identities and youth cultures adopted and re-constructed by returnee youth now living in Juba, South Sudan. 2014/04/03 - 18:36

In my paper, I examine and reflect on how space (the Niger Delta wetland) and illegal Oil Bunkering (oil theft) became crucial weapons in the hand of the 50, 000 disgruntled youth who waged a violent insurgency in the region between 2006 and 2009. I argue that space and a vibrant underground oil economy assumed huge significance in the hands of marginalized youth who embraced subjective violence as a tool for renegotiating power relations between transnational oil corporations, the Nigerian state and aggrieved oil communities in the oil-rich Delta. 2014/04/03 - 18:36

Having witnessed a gradual popularity and boost in Africa from the 1990s, hip-hop is rapidly becoming a dominant culture among the youths as a vehicle of local social critique and Global inter-connectivity in the public sphere. While incorporating elements from their own local cultures to appeal to home-grown sensibilities, hip-hop musicians have found a platform for getting their messages and ideas across to local audiences through music.......(etc ..etc...) 2014/04/03 - 18:36

This paper seeks to bring into proper perspective a genre of popular Nigerian music whose roots are traceable to West African High-life of the late 1950s and Fela Kuti’s Afro-beat lyrics of the 1970s through to the 1990s. The research interrogates the social ramifications of this genre of popular Nigerian music, the ways in which the youth have exploited African oral resources and adapted new media technologies to signify their presence in a society that has conspired to marginalize their identities and future(s). 2014/04/03 - 18:36

Arguments for the impact and significance of arts initiatives have been made previously, but these discussions have often been situated in the context of justifying a need for the arts to aid policy. This paper renders the unstable reality of engaging young people through a creative medium that raises a critical awareness about one's social position. While I am aware that two major questions may be asked in relation to this notion of ‘reality’, perhaps--whose reality? And what is the ‘real’ in reality?--I am interested in and would like us to consider the constantly shifting role of the artist, practitioner, researcher, participant, and student throughout the challenges of collaboration and facilitation. 2014/04/03 - 18:36 2014/04/03 - 18:36

A poem 2014/04/03 - 18:36