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Colonial Discourse, Postcolonial Theory

JAMES PROCTER AND PETER MOREY

This chapter deals with work published in the field of Colonial and Postcolonial
Theory in 2002 and is divided into two sections: 1. Books; 2. Journals.

1. Books

At least since Edward Said’s account of ‘imaginative geographies’ in Orientalism


(Penguin [2003]), the relationship between postcolonial discourse and geography
has been axiomatic. The map, the field, contact zones, borders and boundaries are
today staple spatial metaphors within the field. However, it is Blunt and McEwan’s
contention that while geographical figures have tended to saturate postcolonial
discourse, they have been allowed to float free of their material co-ordinates. The
contributors to Blunt and McEwan’s collection would appear well placed to redress
this situation, coming from departments of geography and anthropology rather than
literature. The locations covered within Postcolonial Geographies include Britain,
South Africa, India, Canada, Australia, Portugal, the American West, even
Antarctica. While it would be misguided to judge the collection (which arose from a
conference at the University of Southampton in 1998) in terms of inclusiveness, it is
regrettable that the Caribbean and Africa are not better represented. Nevertheless,
and as if to emphasize the comparative belatedness of geographical research into
such locations, the title of Blunt and McEwan’s collection plays knowingly on
Edward Soja’s seminal Postmodern Geographies (Verso [1989]), first published in
1988.
Postcolonial Geographies is structured thematically around three sections:
‘Postcolonial Knowledge and Networks’, ‘Urban Order, Citizenship and Spectacle’
and ‘Home, Nation and Identity’. In doing this the editors avoid a reductive
geographical essentialism in which the postcolony is determined in a
straightforward way by region or geography. ‘Postcolonial Knowledge and
Networks’ takes a broadly Foucauldian/Saidian approach in terms of its exploration
of the relationship between knowledge, power and space. In his valuable opening
essay, James Sidaway notes the ‘impossibility’ as well as some of the possibilities
of postcolonial geographies. On the one hand he points out that ‘any “mapping” of
the “postcolonial” is a problematic or contradictory project’ (p. 11) in the sense that

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DOI: 10.1093/ywcct/mbh004
2 COLONIAL DISCOURSE, POSTCOLONIAL THEORY

postcolonialism rejects the cartographic impulse of colonial surveillance,


classification, charting and so on. On the other hand he argues that postcolonial
geographies also potentially disturb and disrupt ‘established frames and methods’,
by upsetting the ‘taken-for-grantedness’ of geographical narratives (p. 27). The
book as a whole captures this sense of postcolonial geography as a contradictory
project well.
In Postcolonial Geographies, the emphasis is on colonial rather than postcolonial
formations. (See, for example, M. Satish Kumar’s fascinating essay on Madras
before and during the Raj, or Jenny Robinson’s account of Johannesburg’s Empire
Exhibition in 1936.) Partly because of this, there is a sense in which the collection’s
claim for a material ‘turn’ remains for the most part rhetorical and its aims to
‘decolonize’ geography ultimately metaphorical. The editors at least partially
concede this in their general introduction when they say that:

Although postcolonialism might not have had much impact on the


power imbalances between North and South, the diverse body of
approaches identified as postcolonial are a significant advancement
and offer a great deal to possibilities of a meaningfully decolonized
geography. (p. 6)

Unfortunately, what is meant by a ‘meaningfully decolonized geography’ is never


properly explored within this collection, with its focus on colonial cartographies.
Having said this, several essays do explore contemporary issues and postcolonial
geographies, albeit within a neo-colonial context. In the collection’s final and, for
me, most stimulating essay, Haydie Gooder and Jane Jacobs consider the politics of
the apology in Australia in the 1990s. Marcus Power considers the neocolonial
implications of EXPO ’98 in Portugal, an event that saw the country’s colonial
maritime history restaged. Mark McGuinness reflects on some of the geographical
implications of the riots in the northern English towns of Bradford, Burnley and
Oldham in 2001. His account considers policy responses to the riots and the
particular attention they give to the concept of citizenship as it was defined by David
Blunkett and others at the time. McGuinness comes to the conclusion that
citizenship reveals a ‘continued link—at least in the minds of policy-makers and
their advisers—made between race and urban space in postcolonial Britain’ (p.
108). Such carefully located postcolonial geographies, which eschew any
overarching theory of postcolonial geography, help make this volume a valuable
contribution to the field.
In another edited collection published this year, David Theo Goldberg and Ato
Quayson are also concerned with the politics of location. However, Relocating
Postcolonialism is less concerned with postcolonial locations than it is with the
location of postcolonialism. In what is a stimulating and thought-provoking
introduction to the volume, Quayson and Goldberg note the recent tendency of
critics in the field to trace the genealogies of postcolonialism, thereby providing a
coherent and accessible narrative of its history. Relocating Postcolonialism
proceeds by dislocating itself from this current trend and attempting to expose what
it regards as a series of ambiguities, contradictions and discrepancies, concealed
within the emergent grand narrative postcolonialism.

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COLONIAL DISCOURSE, POSTCOLONIAL THEORY 3

First, Goldberg and Quayson note that postcolonial criticism is rhetorically anti-
foundationalist. It works to expose the interdependence of binarisms, such as black/
white and self/other, at the same time as it claims an ethical foundation. As a result
it becomes ‘difficult if not impossible to separate postcolonial discourse completely
from an ethical project, even though the means by which its ethical ends are to be
achieved remains a highly contentious issue’ (p. xiii).
Second, they note that postcolonial studies is committed to an object of study that
it at once must deny, ‘is committed to dismantling even while necessarily
analytically fixated with it’ (p. xiii). This leads Goldberg and Quayson to a
significant conclusion: postcolonial criticism needs to learn to speak from a position
capable of imagining its own future redundancy.
Finally, Quayson and Goldberg note that postcolonial studies is a radically
expansive discourse that is, in their phrase, ‘appropriatively interdisciplinary’.
Postcolonialism borrows indiscriminately from theoretical traditions (e.g.
continental post-structuralist theory) elsewhere in a way that pays scant attention to
the cultural and conjunctural specificity of these traditions. Within this context,
Quayson and Goldberg fear the ‘tyranny of quotationality and citation’, the endless
repetition of phrases by key critics like Bhabha and Spivak with ‘minimal evocation
of the contexts in which they were originally produced’ (p. xvii). Part of the
problem, the editors suggest, has to do with the privileging of the essay form in
postcolonial studies, which they argue is formally disposed to generalization, to
unsustained argument and, therefore, neglects ‘the steady exploration of sources and
materials’ (p. xvii). Perhaps. But the essay has also been one of the most important
of postcolonial genres, encouraging specificity and focus rather than generalization
and allowing more immediate intervention within contemporary debate than the
more protracted monograph.
Goldberg and Quayson go on to acknowledge that the essay might also be said to
have encouraged a dislocated, restless questioning in the field that has been
productive, while noting, quite rightly, that restlessness itself is less significant than
the purpose it serves. Is it merely discursive, or does it contribute something to the
‘supple forms in which injustice and inequality often articulate themselves’ (p.
xviii)?
In the collection’s ‘Preface’ we are told that ‘Relocating Postcolonialism is
designed to rethink many of the assumptions and discursive maneuvers of
postcolonialism’ (p. ix). It is perhaps surprising then that the collection opens by
repeating the dominant discursive detour of postcolonial studies via an interview
with Edward Said, a conversation with Homi Bhabha and an essay by Spivak.
However, it is arguably in the conversation between the holy trinity and the essays
that follow that a relocation is to be evidenced. Within this context, Goldberg and
Quayson ask that individual contributions be viewed in dialogue with one another
rather than as discrete pieces. For example, in a lively, passionately argued piece,
‘Directions and Dead Ends in Postcolonial Studies’, Benita Parry takes issue with
the way in which Said, Spivak and Bhabha’s thinking has been subject to ‘an
indiscriminate and often celebratory usage’ (p. 66). The result has been a privileging
of textualist over materialist analyses of colonial discourse, the displacement of
political theory and practice by the politics of the symbolic order. While Parry
welcomes the contribution of postcolonial studies to an extended recognition of the
‘imaginary presence of empire’ (p. 67) in everything from canonical texts to pulp

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fiction, from magazines to music hall, she also notes the tendency to neglect
distinctions between ‘the ornamental and determinate function of empire within
texts’ (p. 69). If, in her ground-breaking reading of Jane Eyre, Spivak proceeds by
locating a proto-feminist novel within imperial discourse, Parry argues that critics
have subsequently made a fetish of colonial tropes so slavery has become a
dematerialized metaphor for domestic oppression in Brontë’s novel.
Benita Parry is also suspicious of the emphasis on diasporic writing over
resistance literature, avant-garde over realist modes of representation, metropolitan
over local languages, the accent on ambivalence at the expense of opposition. Such
‘sanctioned occlusions’, she concludes, ‘are a debilitating loss to thinking about
colonialism and late imperialism. The dismissal of politics and economics which
these omissions reflect is a scandal’ (p. 78). In short, Benita Parry calls for a material
relocation of postcolonial metaphors.
This call is taken up in many of Relocating Postcolonialism’s subsequent papers.
In ‘Racial Rule’, David Theo Goldberg historicizes two dominant traditions in racial
theorizing (the naturalist tradition associated with Hobbes and Carlyle and the
historicist tradition associated with Locke, Marx and John Stuart Mill) in order to
consider their implications for the emergence and development of the nation-state.
Anne Laura Stoler explores some of the complexities and contradictions at stake in
contemporary racist formations in Provence. Questioning the commonsense notion
that the rise of multiculturalism in France in the late 1990s subverts racism, she asks
us to attend to ‘historical evidence [that] suggests how smoothly those cultural
hybridities can be folded back within racialized societies and social formations’ (p.
106). In separate essays, Anne Bailey and Barnor Hesse explore the relationship
between history, memory and slavery. (See Hesse for a brilliant reading of
Spielberg’s Amistad in this context.)
More generally within the collection, there is a significant effort to move beyond
the conventional sites of postcolonial debate. While some of the essays re-examine
traditional concepts, such as gifting (see Ahluwalia and Ma-Rhea), they do so in
order to consider their implications for contemporary debate. Other essays in the
collection focus on new and overlooked aspects of postcoloniality, such as digital
technologies (Olu Oguibe), disability (Ato Quayson and Rosemarie Garland
Thomson) and linguistics (Laura Wright and Jonathan Hope). As a whole the
volume makes an important contribution to the current revisioning of
postcolonialism. While some will find the volume’s lack of structure and theoretical
or thematic coherence unhelpful, others will regard the absence of a prescriptive or
preferred postcolonialism and the ‘conversational’ (rather than consensual) feel of
the collection both valuable and refreshing.
Marxism, Modernity and Postcolonial Studies is a recent addition to the excellent
Cultural Margins series (Cambridge UP). Edited by Crystal Bartolovich and Neil
Lazarus, this collection emerges from a conference panel called ‘Rethinking
Marxism’ held at Amherst. In her introductory essay, Bartolovich notes the shared
convictions of the contributors ‘that Marxism and “postcolonial studies” have
something to say to each other—and that there might be more productive ways of
dealing with their differences than have been exhibited hitherto’ (p. 1). In making
her case for the collection, Bartolovich perhaps overstates these differences. For
example, she notes that:

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[U]nquestionably (as a metropolitan disciplinary formation, at least)


this field [postcolonial studies] has been deeply and constitutively
informed by theoretical protocols and procedures—Foucauldian
discourse analysis, deconstruction, Lacanianism—which are not
merely indifferent, but, in their dominant forms, actively and explicitly
hostile, to Marxism. (p. 3)

True. But the three theorists barely concealed behind these theoretical protocols—
Foucauldian discourse analysis (Said), deconstruction (Spivak), Lacanianism
(Bhabha)—have also been profoundly influenced by Marxism. What about Said’s
use of Gramsci, Bhabha’s use of Althusser and Spivak’s use of Marx, for example?
Having said this, Bartolovich and the other contributors are surely right in noting
the high level of ‘oversimplification, caricature, and trivialization’ (p. 1) present in
‘Marxist’ and ‘postcolonialist’ accounts of one another. Within this context, the
volume aims to reactivate the ‘disavowed Marxist heritage in the theorization of the
(post-)colonial world’ (p. 3) and the disavowed (post-)colonial heritage in the
Marxist world. In order to illustrate what she regards as the banality of mainstream
postcolonial studies today, Bartolovich cites a recent issue of the international
journal Postcolonial Studies and its analysis of Benetton advertising. Rejecting the
economism of Marxism in favour of a ‘semiotic’ reading, the journal editors make a
‘wholesale flight’ from political economy—so characteristic of postcolonial studies
today:

Does it really never occur to the editors of that journal to explore


Benetton’s labour practices, the sources of its income, or the economic
colonization of everyday life demonstrated by the exhibit, and to
imagine that these material forces might have something to do with
Benetton’s ‘semiotic’ success? (p. 5)

Bartolovich goes on to demonstrate how advertising in the 1990s celebrates


capitalist expansion through imperial tropes in a way that highlights the need for a
Marxist postcolonial studies. This is part of a broader insistence in the opening
chapter and section of the book that Marxism is not simply a Eurocentric discourse
(as postcolonial theory tends to argue), that it is also an anti-imperialist discourse
which has had a major impact on anti-colonialist activity outside the West.
Bartolovich is not trying to silence the European dimension of Marxism in her
‘Introduction’ (she argues that a telling similarity between Marxism and
postcolonial studies is its Eurocentrism), rather she is insisting that Marxism is a
mobile discourse that is irreducible to Europe.
Marxism, Modernity and Postcolonial Studies is divided into three sections
focusing on, respectively, Eurocentrism, Modernity and Theory. There is not space
here to examine all the contributions, so we will focus our attention on the opening
section, ‘Eurocentrism, “the West”, and the World’. Giovanni Arrighi begins with
an illuminating historical account of East Asia that unsettles discrete, developmental
models of European capitalism. Capitalism, Arrighi concludes is ‘an interstitial
formation of both premodern and modern times’ (p. 42). Next, Neil Lazarus looks at
‘The Fetish of “the West” in Postcolonial Theory’. In what is a compelling account
of Eurocentrism, Lazarus argues the West has no singular or unified referent, that it

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is an ideological rather than a geographic site. In forwarding anti-Eurocentric


projects, postcolonial critics have turned Europe into a fetish. The result is that the
West is reduced to a dematerialized alibi. The disavowal of Marxism within
postcolonial studies is misguided, Lazarus argues, through a nuanced critique of
Dipesh Chakrabarty. Like the chapters by August Nimtz and Pranav Jani that
follow, Lazarus ultimately challenges the notion that Marxism is Eurocentric by
situating it within a global framework.
Other valuable contributions to the volume include Joe Cleary’s lucid
reassessment of the relationship between Ireland and postcolonial studies and
Timothy Brennan’s fascinating exploration of the pre-history of ‘theory’ in the
interwar period. As a whole, Marxism, Modernity and Postcolonial Studies helps to
further both postcolonial and Marxist theoretical debates. More significantly,
however, it contributes to our understanding of the relationship between them.
In addition to these scholarly contributions, 2002 saw the publication of number
of new introductions, as well as the release of the second edition of Ashcroft et al.’s
foundational textbook, The Empire Writes Back. In the Routledge Critical Thinkers
series, Stephen Morton takes on the unenviable task of writing the first book-length
critical introduction to Spivak. Morton might be understating things a little when he
says in the opening pages that students encountering Spivak for the first time ‘may’
find her prose initially difficult. However, he offers careful justification for a body
of writing that Terry Eagleton once famously called ‘obscurantist’. In the opening
chapter, ‘Why Spivak?’, Morton provides a memorable quotation from Spivak
speaking in defence of her style:

[W]hen I’m pushed these days with the old criticism—‘Oh! Spivak is
too hard to understand!’—I laugh, and I say okay. I will give you, just
for your sake, a monosyllabic sentence, and you’ll see that you can’t
rest with it. My monosyllabic sentence is: We know plain prose cheats.
(p. 6)

In the book’s opening chapters, ‘Theory, Politics and the Question of Style’ and
‘Setting Deconstruction to Work’, Morton effectively elaborates on the issues raised
by this passage in what emerges as a confident and convincing reading of Spivak’s
style. Chapters 1 and 2 situate Spivak’s work within the context of deconstruction
and post-structuralist theory in order to illustrate how her aphoristic prose resists the
notion of the subaltern subject as something that can be captured transparently or
straightforwardly ‘represented’. Spivak’s rhetorical strategies, Morton suggests,
allow her to move beyond the limitations of classic Marxism, feminism and
nationalism.
The second chapter goes on to challenge the idea that Spivak’s relationship to
deconstruction runs counter to her political commitment: ‘[a]gainst the charge that
Spivak’s work is opaque and inaccessible, this chapter considers how Spivak has
changed the emphasis of deconstruction by focusing her critical attention on
contemporary political concerns such as globalization and the international division
of labour’ (p. 9).
In the remaining chapters, Morton offers more specific discussions of Spivak’s
work and her critical engagement with subaltern studies (Chapter 3), feminism
(Chapter 4) and postcolonialism (Chapter 6). One of the most helpful chapters for

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critics already familiar with Spivak’s work is Chapter 5 on ‘Materialism and Value’.
This chapter draws on some of Morton’s specialist research interests to tease out the
frequently neglected significance of Marx for Spivak and Spivak for Marx.
Including an account of the impact of Spivak’s work and a detailed annotated
bibliography, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is likely to attract both undergraduate and
academic readers.
A less successful introductory text book published this year is Ismail S. Talib’s
The Language of Postcolonial Literatures: An Introduction. In trying to be
comprehensive, The Language of Postcolonial Literatures makes too many
superficial generalizations about too many histories and locations. Starting with the
Roman invasion of England and covering Wales, England, Northern Ireland,
Scotland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and America, before he
even gets to what he calls the ‘Third World’, Talib tries to do too much and ends up
not doing enough in this text. The book’s plodding narrative is punctuated by
subheadings that have been allowed to proliferate to the extent that they appear after
almost every other paragraph. This ubiquitous signposting has the effect of
fragmenting rather than sharpening the chapters, which are likely to seem pedestrian
to the student reader at which the book is aimed
A more selective, thematic focus might have allowed Talib to capture and
maintain the reader’s attention more effectively. By focusing on the themes and
issues raised by a selected range of postcolonial texts, for example, the book would
have been able to demonstrate its key terms and ideas more engagingly and
thoroughly. Indeed, it is odd that a book on the ‘language of postcolonial literature’
has so little to say about literary texts themselves. Even when literary texts are cited,
Talib’s accounts of them tend to be descriptive rather than analytical.
Finally, it is disappointing that The Language of Postcolonial Literatures takes
English alone as the language of postcolonial writing. While he does acknowledge
there are others, the Anglophone focus misses a valuable opportunity to redress the
marginalization of, for example, Francophone and Hispanic literatures and theories
within postcolonial paradigms.

2. Journals

Interdisciplinarity, transnationalism and diasporic identities are among the main


themes of the postcolonial journals this year. In an essay entitled ‘Postcolonial
Studies and the Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity’ (Postcolonial Studies 5:iii[2002]
245–75), Graham Huggan engages with some of the current questions raised about
interdisciplinarity in postcolonial studies, its intellectual bearings and
methodological validity. Postcolonialism is often accused of a lack of definitional
specificity and unexamined cultural bias based on the English language materials
that often form the object of its study. Critics such as Aijaz Ahmad in In Theory
(Verso [1994]) and Ella Shohat in ‘Notes on the Post-Colonial’ (Social Text
31:ii[1992] 99–113) have accused the discipline of a ‘tacit imperialism [in] its own
critical and theoretical practice’ (p. 248). While acknowledging the
oversimplification inherent in such work, Huggan argues for the usefulness of recent
debates in the field of Comparative Literature for postcolonial theories of
interdisciplinarity. Links are suggested in Charles Bernheimer’s edited collection of

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essays, Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism (JHUP [1995]). For


instance, the professed oppositionality of cultural studies—which, for the purposes
of Huggan’s argument, is taken as encompassing postcolonialism too—offers a
point of conjunction with Comparative Literature. Both forms reject totalizing or
exclusivist viewpoints in favour of an often previously submerged multiplicity of
perspective; examples here can be found in the work of James Clifford and Arjun
Appadurai. Similarly, Huggan mentions the proliferation in recent years of
interdisciplinary postcolonial journals, such as Interventions, Public Culture and
Postcolonial Studies, and their politicized aim of, in Homi Bhabha’s words, ‘bearing
witness to the unequal and uneven forces of cultural representation involved in the
contest for political and social authority in the modern world order’ (‘Postcolonial
Criticism’ in S. Greenblatt and G. Gunn, eds. Redrawing the Boundaries: the
Transformation of English and American Studies, MLA [1992] pp. 437–65).
Huggan then focuses on three areas in the ‘problem’ of interdisciplinarity:
questions about the validity of postcolonialism’s historical and historiographical
insights; anthropology’s criticism of postcolonialism’s use of an interchangeable
‘discourse of the Other’; and the oft-advanced claim that postcolonialism is
challenging ‘disciplinary imperialism’ in traditional knowledge systems. He
concedes that:

on-going attempts to deploy ‘imperialism’ as an overarching, multi-


purpose concept-metaphor certainly risk compromising the very
historical specificity upon which postcolonial critiques of imperial
practice are ostensibly based. Similarly, educational claims to the
effectivity of postcolonial studies as an oppositional ‘border
pedagogy’ often seem to rely on strategically generalised
understandings of the ‘imperialistic’ tendencies of the traditional
disciplinary apparatus. (p. 263)

There are, of course, unavoidable tendencies to generalization and a degree of


utopian idealism involved in any interdisciplinary practice. Huggan advocates a
combination of synoptic and discursive models of interdisciplinarity with practical
and empirical forms of collaborative research.
In the last part of the essay, Huggan elaborates three possible models of
‘empowering postcolonial interdisciplinarity’ (p. 264): Said’s eclectic and
sometimes contradictory methodologies; Spivak’s ‘commitment to the disciplinary
transformation of university based English literary studies and to a “transnational
study of culture”’(p. 266); and Wilson Harris’ relatively neglected ideas envisioning
the transcendence of disciplinarity itself, ‘through the reinvention of the humanities
as a creative outlet for the transformative energies of an intuitively apprehended,
intersubjectively conceived “cross-cultural imagination”’ (p. 268). Said and Spivak
offer standard fare here. However, Harris’ holistic, occultist approach, because less
familiar, offers the most interesting instance of fertile interdisciplinarity, and one
would have liked more on this. Nevertheless, Huggan’s lengthy essay offers a
valuable overview of the issues at stake in interdisciplinary postcolonial studies,
although the resolution of controversies—and a fixed definition of interdisciplinary
postcolonialism itself—of course remain as elusive as ever.

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Completely different in tone is Jeremy Seabrook’s impressionistic pen-picture of


the phenomenological impact of globalization on the lives of migrant workers in
South Asia, drawn from the country to the city by the promise of higher wages to
meet the necessities of existence (‘The Soul of Man under Globalism’ Race and
Class 43:iv[2002] 1–25). Seabrook’s piece is unabashedly and refreshingly
subjective, composed of anecdotal interweavings and shot through with what is
perhaps, at times, an unconvincing pastoral nostalgia. Yet his focus is on the mental,
as much as the material, impact of patterns of movement spawned by globalization.
Although beginning with Indian experience, the essay spirals out, making
connections and recognizing that many of the psychological and affective upheavals
it describes apply equally to global capitalism in its Western lairs. It is clear that
material acquisitiveness and capitalism’s unending, in-built demands come with
their own psychic and social losses as well as a concomitant environmental rapacity.
Race and Class has an edition devoted to studying the various truth commissions
that have been a phenomenon of the last decade or so—the South African Truth and
Reconciliation Commission being the most celebrated example. The editor, Bill
Rolston, has assembled a cast of contributors who focus on truth commissions in
Guatemala and Chile as well as South Africa, each of which was entrusted with the
task of bringing to light, through the personal narratives of those involved, the
abuses of erstwhile despotic and dictatorial regimes. In his introductory essay,
entitled ‘Truth?’ (Race and Class 43:i[2002] i–vi), Rolston comments that
globalization means ‘not just the supremacy of the market, but also the spread of a
powerful discourse that there is a much more “reasonable” way of going about
politics’ (p. v). This is the bedrock of the idea of a global culture of human rights.
However, Rolston—like several other postcolonial critics—expresses some
misgivings about the universalization of this notion. He observes how the activities
of such commissions can be consistent with the current hegemony of the Western
liberal powers, both in the implication that such abuses only take place ‘over there’
in the ‘less developed’ world, and in their perceived tactical silence about the
involvement of Western governments in underpinning repressive regimes in Chile
and South Africa. Despite these potential shortcomings, truth commissions do offer
a forum for the narratives of the formerly oppressed—‘So the new world order is not
the end of the story. For many the end of conflict represents merely a new phase in
the struggle for justice’ (p. vi). Contributors to the volume include Robert Bacic,
‘Dealing with the Past: Chile—Human Rights and Human Wrongs’ (pp. 17–32),
Paul F. Seils, ‘Reconciliation in Guatemala: The Role of Intelligent Justice’ (pp. 33–
60), Brandon Hamber, ‘“Ere their Story Die”: Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in
South Africa’ (pp. 61–8) and Phil Scraton, ‘Lost Lives, Hidden Voices: “Truth” and
Controversial Deaths’ (pp. 107–18).
One of the editors of Race and Class, Arun Kundani, has two pieces in the journal
this year. The most substantial of these is ‘The Death of Multiculturalism’
(43:iv[2002] 67–72), which examines the British government’s response to the
summer riots of 2001 in the northern towns of Britain. Kundani views Home
Secretary David Blunkett’s much-heralded ‘oath of allegiance’ and language tests
for immigrants as examples of a policy of blaming the victims which can now be
seen as a step on the road to the ‘death of multiculturalism’, as announced in
Kundani’s title. The perceived privileging of cultural difference and accompanying
‘moral relativism’ characteristic of preceding attitudes to immigrants, has, it is

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argued, been discarded in the name of that ‘Cultural Cohesion’ that was the
professed aim and title of the official report into the riots. In Kundani’s view, the old
‘multiculturalist settlement’, which has formed the orthodoxy since the inner city
unrest of the early 1980s, is in the process of being abandoned. The riots of 2001 and
the terrorist attacks of 11 September that year represent milestones in this process.
This reading is dependent on Kundani’s view that multiculturalism was always
really a mode of controlling those second generation non-whites who had begun to
assert themselves on the streets of Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. According to the
author, multiculturalism has meant:

Taking black culture off the streets—where it had been politicised and
turned into a rebellion against the state—and putting it in the council
chamber, in the classroom and on the television, where it could be
institutionalised, managed and reified. Black culture was thus turned
from a living movement into an object of passive contemplation,
something to be ‘celebrated’ rather than acted on. (p. 68)

Thus, it became innately conservative in ideology and practice. Matters were,


apparently, made worse when ‘postmodern theories of hybridity’ began to be
privileged in academia and cultural difference turned from an expression of revolt
into a trendy identity option. In this way, ‘the concept of culture became a
straitjacket, hindering rather than helping the fight against race and class
oppressions’. As will be clear from the above, this interesting polemical
interpretation relies rather heavily on the assumption that black identity was, prior to
multiculturalism, inherently oppositional, and that its radicalism was watered down
by mainstream political assimilation. Yet is this necessarily the case? The desire for
assimilation was also strong in the black community until it became clear that police
and politicians had other ideas. Is Kundani suggesting that this desire was somehow
inauthentic, ‘un-black’? Continuing in a similar vein, Kundani describes how
‘ethnic fiefdoms’ were created in local and national politics, wherein ‘A new class
of “ethnic representatives” entered the town halls … [and] entered into a pact [sic]
with the authorities; they were to cover up and gloss over black community
resistance in return for free rein in preserving their own patriarchy’ (p. 69). This
essentially ‘colonial arrangement’ worked to dampen down radicalism. Yet,
Kundani gives no actual examples. One doubts that this wholesale complicity was
ever the case (any more than was the wholesale radicalism he has earlier attributed
to black identity). The community leaders he maligns would surely have been
unlikely to have kept their places for long had they not been effective to some degree
in articulating the aspirations and grievances of those they represented. As for those
alleged comprador sell-outs … for every Paul Boateng there must presumably have
been a Bernie Grant. In fact, Kundani is more persuasive when arguing a more
specific line, such as that multicultural ‘laissez-faire’ policies helped cement the
grip of a conservative patriarchal culture within the Asian community,
masquerading as a legitimate cultural tradition. When he returns to the overview, we
are confronted by more tendentious assertions; for example, that ‘identity politics’
within multiculturalism has ‘diverted the energies of black communities into the
channel of cultural rights’ (p. 69). Is this true? Indeed, can political rights and
cultural rights be separated in this fashion? Nevertheless, he correctly identifies the

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Lawrence Inquiry—and the acceptance of the existence of institutional racism—as


watershed events, while also reminding us how, at the very same moment, an
avowedly ‘multicultural’ Labour government was beginning a relentless attack on
asylum seekers—‘Multiculturalism, it transpires, is perfectly compatible with anti-
immigrant populism’ (p. 70).
In the end, one may disagree with Kundani’s view of the history of ethnic
identities as one of a radicalism that has been ‘bought off’. However, his diagnosis
of the current situation feels alarmingly accurate, as when he points out how the
official rhetoric around racism has insidiously shifted, so that ‘Racism itself is to be
understood as an outcome of cultural segregation, not its cause. And segregation is
now seen as self-imposed’ (p. 70). This is most visible in the anxious official attitude
to Britain’s Muslim community, whose youth is often nowadays implicitly
characterized as potentially criminal, in a manner reminiscent of the suspicious
attitude to West Indians in the 1970s. Nevertheless, as Kundani concludes, within
this altered topography the decline of the multicultural consensus might carry
potential benefits for anti-racists in opening up a space for a more radical critique,
linking the ideological and the material, in the future.
Kundani’s other offering is also concerned with the predicament of Britain’s
Asian communities. In ‘An Unholy Alliance? Racism, Religion and Communalism’
(Race and Class 44:ii[2002] 71–80) he investigates rising communal tensions
between Hindu, Sikh and Muslim youths of the kind which burst out into violence
in Bradford in 2001. Kundani links such tensions to the so-called ‘war on terrorism’
that has fuelled anti-Islamic feeling and has even gone as far as to drive more
extreme—and perhaps less politically perspicacious—elements of the Sikh
community into a very ‘unholy alliance’ indeed with the British National Party. The
author anatomizes the nature and history of these developments, noting how
persecution has, in some ways, strengthened Islamic identity and political
awareness. However, at the same time, much common ground between Asians in
Britain has been stripped away and replaced by reinforced faith identifications. Also
to blame is an ‘unthinking and often tokenistic approach to “minority
representation”’ (p. 79) in official circles. Beneath the indiscriminate canopy of
multiculturalism, leaders of communalist groups are sometimes accepted as
authentic representatives of Asian culture and invited to join in the ‘multicultural
hobnobbing that is, these days, a part of the British establishment’s attempts to
manage race relations’ (p. 79), with the result that reactionary elements gain undue
influence. The pressing need now is to develop and maintain strategies to give
young Asians a greater sense of empowerment, thereby creating alternatives to
simplistic religious coordinates of belonging.
Those in transit, and the pressure they exert of national self-definition, is the
concern of two essays in particular this year. The first is Liza Schuster’s ‘Asylum
and the Lessons of History’ (Race and Class 44:ii[2002] 40–56), which traces the
history of asylum from the term’s roots in the Greek word ‘asylos’, ‘that which may
be seized or violated’, used to refer to those seeking sanctuary in sacred places such
as temples. The function of granting asylum was, in Europe, later taken on by the
city-states of the Middle Ages. Schuster places moral arguments about asylum in the
post-Reformation political context from which they evolved, including the rise of
the sovereign nation-states we recognize today. The idealism of the French
Revolution took the notion of the fight of asylum to a new level by introducing the

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concept of certain inalienable ‘rights of man’ and of citizenship. Schuster informs us


that entry into Britain was relatively unrestricted until the late nineteenth century, as
workers were needed to service the requirements of the industrial revolution.
However, a period of economic decline, coinciding with an influx of immigrants
from eastern Europe—many of them Jews—led to a rise in xenophobia and a cry of
‘England for the English’, culminating in the 1905 Aliens Act (pp. 49–50). Schuster
carries the story into the twentieth century: an era of massive upheavals on an
unprecedented scale and the creation of the League of Nations (later United Nations)
High Commission for Refugees in an attempt to manage the problem.
Bringing the story uncomfortably into the present, Suvendrini Perera in ‘A Line
in the Sea’ (pp. 23–39) recounts the tale of Australia’s forcible removal of the
Norwegian container ship Tampa, carrying 400 asylum seekers, from its national
waters in late 2001. She describes the incident as marking a shift in the notion of
acceptable behaviour and responsibility towards refugees, and suggests that it is
indicative of a hardening global attitude regarding citizenship post-11 September
2001. Interestingly, Perera links these contemporary debates to those raised by
Joseph Conrad in novels such as Heart of Darkness (Penguin [1973]) and,
particularly, Lord Jim (Penguin [1989]), where moral conflict and ideologies about
national character are likewise called into question. She argues that ‘The phobias
and hatreds that have emerged in Australian public life … open the door to a much
older storehouse of images, narratives and representations’ (p. 26). Essentially, such
imperial echoes are the result of the same urge to control and delimit mobility that
characterized the business of empire. Against this, Perera urges the necessity of
‘challenging the stereotypes that would exclude certain groups from full citizenship
in the public sphere’ (p. 38) and of contesting the contraction of the idea of
Australia, ideologically mapped out but also geographically incarnate in the
detention camps on off-shore territories such as Narru and Christmas Island—that
‘Not-Australia’ through which the Anglo-Australian political establishment defines
itself in paranoia.
National and transnational questions of identity are also addressed in the journals.
In a volume of Public Culture on ‘New Imaginaries’ (14:i[2002] 239–73), edited by
Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar and Benjamin Lee, Achille Mbembe laments what he
sees as the failure to materialize of an integrated methodology adequate to account
for the modern African subject as it has been presented in writing. He blames this
absence of an adequate mode of enquiry on the historical matrix formed by slavery,
colonization and apartheid. These events have resulted in a loss of familiarity with
the self, alienation and a state of objecthood. Dispossession and material
expropriation are linked to the falsification of Africa’s history and the psychic
damage and sense of exile it causes. Mbembe blames two dominant intellectual
currents for the failure of an adequate mode of self-writing to appear:
‘instrumentalist’ Marxism, dependent on a nationalist-oriented rhetoric of
resistance, and ‘nativist’ ideas of African identity based on membership of ‘the
black race’—that is, based on a metaphysics of difference. Mbembe sees the
Marxism characteristic of many post-World War II African nationalist strategies as
requiring the quasi-sacramental surrender of the individual to a collective utopian
future born out of the destruction of all opposing structures. The other response to
African disfranchisement took the form of myths of authentic African-ness read
through blackness, and flowered in the related ideas of Negritude and Pan-

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Africanism. Mbembe argues that these structures, still operating within colonialist
binarisms, ‘are inscribed within an intellectual genealogy based on a territorialized
identity and racial geography … obscuring the fact that while the rapacity of global
capitalism may be at the origins of the tragedy, Africans’ failure to control their own
predatory greed and their own cruelty also led to slavery and subjugation’ (p. 257).
This is, of course, a variant of the longstanding but not uncontroversial argument
that Africans have been complicit in their own disempowerment. The comparative
novelty of Mbembe’s take comes when he argues for a shift of emphasis towards
‘contemporary everyday practices’ in the search for a viable African identity, as
against Marxist and nativist criticism’s consistent undervaluing of the variety of
African experience of colonial conquest. Mbembe concludes: ‘To be sure, there is
no African identity that could be designated by a single term … African identity
does not exist as a substance. It is constituted in varying forms through a series of
practices, notably practices of the self’ (p. 272). Clearly, there is nothing very
startling in the acknowledgement that no single African identity exists; Frantz Fanon
was saying as much 45 years ago. Moreover, to accept Mbembe’s flagellation of his
fellow Africans for colonial complicity in the past, one has to bracket or remove the
practice of neocolonial and strategic manipulation of the continent that is still on-
going. In fact, it might be objected that Mbembe’s effective surrender of the
materialist lens as an optic for critique—and nationalism as a framework for
anti(neo)colonial resistance, in favour of a micropolitics of lived experience—is
potentially disempowering, splitting African identities down into evermore distinct
monadic forms.
Public Culture (14:iii[2002]) contains responses to Mbembe’s piece. While
accepting the limiting nature of those forces identified as hampering the
construction of a meaningful African mode of self-writing, Ato Quayson, in
‘Obverse Denominations: Africa?’ (pp. 585–8) remarks that Africans have never
been able fully to shape the ways in which they are ‘denominated’, but warns that
‘To change the perceptions of our backwardness … we Africans will have to attend
to the material details of our nightmare at the same time as we seek better
denomination’ (p. 587). Paul Gilroy (‘Toward a Critique of Consumer Imperialism’,
pp. 589–91) praises Mbembe’s ‘timely rejections of identity as a unitary
phenomenon’, but worries that he may have reduced ‘the philosophical inquiries
demanded by racial slavery, colonialism, apartheid and … globalisation to a choice
between flight and melancholy resignation’ (p. 590). Bennetta Jules-Rosette
describes Mbembe’s essay as a ‘brilliant exercise in Afro-pessimism’ (p. 603) in
‘Afro-Pessimism’s Many Guises’ (pp. 603–5), whereas Francoise Verges suggests a
more materially informed understanding of African identity, taking into account
how African selfhood is informed by a consideration of essentials such as life
expectancy and the amount of protection a society can offer its members (‘The
Power of Words’, pp. 607–10). Finally, Arif Dirlik—in an essay which may, in the
light of the Second Gulf War of 2003, appear prematurely confident about the
‘pastness’ of active colonialism—speaks of a ‘double transformation’; ‘the
scrambling of colonial spatializations of the world and the problematic
identification of national spaces [which] has done much to call into question
identities that earlier anti-colonial ideologies took for granted’ (p. 612). This
response, entitled ‘Historical Colonialism in Contemporary Perspective’ (pp. 611–
15), is generally sympathetic to Mbembe, lauding his attention to the present revival

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of nativist traditions. He summarizes Mbembe’s message as being a warning against


that ‘Absorption with the past without recognition of transformations in the present’
(p. 614).
Broadening the focus to questions of diaspora is Brian Keith Axel’s essay, ‘The
Diasporic Imaginary’, in Public Culture (14:ii[2002] 411–28). Axel argues against
the privileging of analytical models of place as the locus of origin, tradition,
language and race in current diaspora theories. Rejecting what he sees as such
models’ tendency towards essentialization and fetishization of a place of origin, he
proposes what he terms ‘the diasporic imaginary’ in order to foreground ‘violence
as a key means through which the features of a people are constituted’ and to help
account for ‘the creation of the diaspora not through a definitive relation to place,
but through formations of temporality, affect and corporeality’ (p. 412). He uses the
model of the Sikh diaspora, arguing that the projected Sikh homeland of Khalistan
need not be thought of as a place of origin to be reclaimed and returned to, but rather
as ‘a signifier of the sovereignty of an already constituted Sikh territory (qaum)’ (p.
413). Axel describes the violence deployed in recent years against Sikhs in the
Punjab by Indian state apparatuses, such as the police, and the concomitant rise in
the veneration of these martyrs (shahids) in the diaspora at large. The Internet is a
particularly efficacious tool for the dissemination of images of Sikh torture; ‘the
production of the image of the tortured body constitutes the Sikh subject through
gruesome spectacle, one whose contours are quite familiar to those involved in, for
example, Palestinian or Kashmiri struggles’ (p. 415). Attempting to explain the
power and pervasiveness of such images, Axel foregrounds what he calls the
‘ambivalence’ of the Khalistani Sikh subject, based on the viewer’s attraction to and
simultaneous repulsion by the spectacle of the tortured body. Such images work as
both substitution and displacement for a history of largely concealed violence. In
other words, the process of identity-oriented torture can be witnessed by proxy on
Internet sites, can be identified with and can thus act as a cornerstone of Sikh
diaspora identity. Axel’s account of the resultant Sikh ‘diasporic imaginary’ clearly
operates through Lacanian paradigms and as such might be related to Vijay Mishra’s
well-known essay, ‘The Diasporic Imaginary: Theorising the Indian Diaspora’
(Textual Practice 10:iii[1996] 421–48), which also proposes a diasporic imaginary
in relation to Indians more generally and which views the homeland–diaspora
relationship in terms of a return of the repressed. It might, of course, be objected that
Axel’s theory is only applicable to diasporas with identifiable and on-going
experiences of persecution around which to cluster. Nevertheless, the essay offers an
interesting fresh perspective on the conjunction of diaspora identity formation and
new technology.
The three editions of Interventions this year take as their special topics
‘Postcolonial Studies and Transnational Resistance’, responses to Gayatri C.
Spivak’s recent book, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the
Vanishing Present (HarvardUP [1999]), and the comment and controversy stirred by
the acclaim given to J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace. The first of these (Interventions
4:i [2002]) is edited by Elleke Boehmer and Bart Moore-Gilbert. They argue that
modes of transnational resistance have come to replace nationalist models of
opposition to Western capitalist hegemony, as evidenced by the protests at the WTO
meeting in Seattle in 1999, millennium campaigns for Third World debt relief and
agitation for the rights of indigenous populations in white settler colonies. The issue

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itself concentrates on examples of transnational co-operation from the first half of


the twentieth century, which formed a powerful but often neglected undercurrent to
contemporary anti-colonial struggles. For instance, Michael Malouf writes on the
link between Sinn Fein and Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement
Association in the years after World War I in his essay, ‘With Dev in America: Sinn
Fein, Marcus Garvey and Recognition Politics (pp. 22–34); Angela Smith, in
‘Fauvism and Cultural Nationalism’ (pp. 35–52), considers the role of Paris and the
modernist avant garde as a fulcrum of intellectual activity in which artists from
settler colonies forged a sense of indigenous national identity, partly in response to
the metropolitan identity formation they saw all around them; and Ella Raissa-
Jackson and Willy Maley write on the mutual influence of Irish and Scottish
nationalist literary figures in the early years of the century in ‘Celtic Connections:
Colonialism and Culture in Irish–Scottish Modernism’ (pp. 68–78).
Boehmer and Moore-Gilbert identify three reasons for the relative lack of critical
attention to transnationalist resistance within postcolonialism: a traditional
disciplinary narrowness and tendency to focus on centre–periphery (rather than
periphery–periphery) dynamics; postcolonialism’s ambivalent relationship with
Marxism, which is historically always internationalist; and what they call ‘the
hegemony of certain political-scientific models of (trans)nationalism in postcolonial
cultural studies’ (p. 9), such as those of Benedict Anderson and Partha Chatterjee.
However, they do acknowledge the pioneering work that has been done on
transnational forms of resistance, such as Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic (Verso
[1993]), Abdul JanMohamed and David Lloyd’s The Nature and Context of
Minority Discourse (OUP [1990]) and Robert Young’s Postcolonialism: An
Historical Introduction (Blackwell [2001]). An honourable addition to this list
ought also to be Elleke Boehmer’s own recent work on cross-border women
activists, such as Annie Besant and Sister Nivedita.
An excellent essay that might be taken to stand as representative of the kind of
approach the editors are suggesting is John McLeod’s ‘A Night at “The
Cosmopolitan”: Axes of Transnational Encounter in the 1930s and 1940s’ (pp. 53–
67), which looks at encounters between Pan-Africanist and other nationalist groups
in Britain, centred on the Guyanese activist Ras Makonnen’s restaurant, ‘The
Cosmopolitan’, in wartime Manchester. For the context of this cultural cross-
pollination, which drew in figures such as C.L.R. James, George Padmore and Jomo
Kenyatta, McLeod draws on Makonnen’s memoir, Pan-Africanism from Within
(OUP [1973]), recorded and edited by Kenneth King, which ‘includes some
valuable insights into the ways in which embryonic forms of anti-colonial
nationalism were often conceived and organised through transnational encounters’
(p. 61). In particular, Makonnen saw links between the Jewish and black diasporas,
something, McLeod suggests, that fuelled his own conversion to Rastafarianism
where Ethiopia took on a similar psychological importance to the land of Palestine
for the Jews. Despite the obvious shortcomings, blind spots and naïve idealism of
some of these imagined affiliations, McLeod concludes that ‘the optics of
transnationalism’, epitomized by The Cosmopolitan and its patrons, affords ‘the
opportunity to better situate … the specific innovatory qualities of anticolonial
resistance of the time, and intervene productively in the conceptual predicaments of
the present’ (p. 66).

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Interventions (4:ii[2002]) contains responses to Spivak’s latest publication,


collected from conference proceedings by Purushottama Bilimoria and Dina Al-
Kassim. In her essay, ‘The Face of Foreclosure’ (pp. 168–74), Al-Kassim links
Spivak’s postcolonial rereading of Kant with her earlier work on speech, silence and
representation in ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ She shows how Spivak’s Critique is
also concerned with subalterneity through the figure of the native of Tierra del
Fuego who makes a fleeting appearance in the pages of Kant’s third Critique. In
classic Spivak style, the ‘Native Informant is threatened with both disappearance
and representation … first as the figure of the “aboriginal” premodern so useful to
the self-reflection of the enlightenment subject, and second by the substitution of
another figure … the postcolonial critic who comes to stand in for the subaltern
Native Informant’ (p. 170). Spivak is, as always, alert to how ‘Elite
“postcolonialism” seems to be as much a strategy of differentiating oneself from the
racial underclass as it is to speak in its name’ (p. 173). This is a danger that Spivak’s
well-known social activism may well insure her against, even if the privileged
language of post-structuralist philosophy—like the convoluted mini-Spivakisms of
some of the contributors to this volume—could sometimes be argued to reinforce
the divide. In fact, Al-Kassim’s piece is subtle both in its reading of Spivak and in
its reflection on the performative potential of such self-consciousness. Dealing with
the chapter on history in Spivak’s Critique, Ritu Birla in ‘History and the Critique of
Postcolonial Reason’ (pp. 175–85) places it alongside other critiques of
foundationalist history. She shows how Spivak is attempting to move away from the
idea of a ‘homogeneous colonial other’ and a ‘universal colonial/postcolonial
victim’ without losing sight of the historical fact of colonialism. Also interesting is
Forest Pyle’s piece, ‘“By a Certain Subreption”: Gayatri Spivak and the Lever of the
Aesthetic’ (pp. 186–90), which attends to some of the distinctive features of
Spivak’s practice of reading, most notably the figure of the ‘lever’: ‘that moment of
textual transgression in the text or a moment of bafflement that discloses not only
limits but also possibilities to a new politics of reading’ (p. 187). In his turn, Thomas
Keenan considers ‘The Push and Pull of Rights and Responsibilities’ (pp. 191–7)
and Spivak’s exploration of the metaphysical roots and uneasy conjunction of the
discourses of rights and responsibilities, while Mark Sanders, in ‘Representation:
Reading-Otherwise’ (pp. 198–204) traces a move toward a socialist ethics in
Spivak’s rereading of Marx’s two terms for representation, vertretung—
representation as ‘speaking for’—and darstellung—representation as in art or
philosophy. Such an ethics can appear through the development of a ‘transnational
literacy’ that recognizes, and can deconstruct, modern patterns of global
exploitation. Finally, the hero herself takes a bow. In her ‘Response’ (pp. 205–11),
Spivak offers some impromptu and enjoyable glossing of the main themes of her
work, such as the complacency of unself-critical human rights rhetoric, sati,
postcolonial elitism and the future of feminism.
Derek Attridge and Peter D. McDonald are responsible for the special edition of
Interventions on Coetzee’s Disgrace (4:iii[2002]). In the ‘Introduction’ (pp. 315–
20), Attridge points out how the novel has provoked a storm of comment and
controversy over its portrayal of a chaotic, lawless post-Apartheid South Africa.
Hence, this collection … Both Peter D. McDonald and David Attwell, in their
respective essays, ‘Disgrace Effects’ (pp. 321–30) and ‘Race and Disgrace’ (pp.
331–41), offer interpretations of the ANC’s submission to the Human Rights

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Commission which was highly critical of the novel’s alleged racism—or, rather, the
residual racism in the attitudes displayed by the central character. Elleke Boehmer,
in ‘Not Saying Sorry, Not Speaking Pain: Gender Implications in Disgrace’ (pp.
342–51) expresses concern over the treatment of women in the text and issues of
bodily violence, while, in contrast, Grant Farred’s ‘The Mundanacity of Violence:
Living in a State of Disgrace’ (pp. 352–62) sees the novel as an accurate if
uncomfortable portrayal of a country where violence has become endemic. The
variety, and often the dissonance, of these and other critical interventions reveal the
potency of this particular text and the ability of Coetzee’s work more generally to
confound the complacencies of celebratory or nativist theories; in this respect,
perhaps Disgrace might be an instance of a new literary form, the post-postcolonial
novel.
Lastly, and unconnected to the volume’s main theme, Arif Dirlik emerges again
with an essay called ‘Rethinking Colonialism: Globalisation, Postcolonialism and
the Nation’ (pp. 428–38). Here, he suggests that nationalism should be seen as a
version of colonialism in the way that it historically subsumed local identities
beneath national ones. The (not particularly original) argument here is that a
preoccupation with the twin issues of colonialism and national identity has kept the
relationship of modern colonialism to capitalism off the critical agenda. Dirlik urges
strongly that we should reconsider the relationship of colonialism and capitalism
present in the forces of globalization, while being careful not to collapse all
distinctions between them. Although this charge is based on a familiar
generalization about work going on in the discipline, Dirlik’s piece is a useful
reminder that globalization is still, in essence, the public face of the same interests
which launched the colonial enterprise, and that whether it be Coca Cola’s battle
with recent brands founded to appeal to Muslim consumers or military attempts to
secure supplies from the world’s second largest oil field in the face of insurgency
and resistance, capitalism and colonialism remain potent forces in today’s
geopolitical landscape.

Books Reviewed

Blunt, Alison and Cheryl McEwan, eds. Postcolonial Geographies. Continuum.


[2002] pp. 256. pb £19.99 ISBN 0 8264 6083 6.
Goldberg, David Theo and Ato Quayson, eds. Relocating Postcolonialism.
Blackwell. [2002] pp. 400. pb £18.99 ISBN 0 6312 0805 4.
Bartolovich, Crystal and Neil Lazarus, eds. Marxism, Modernity and Postcolonial
Studies. Cambridge UP. [2002] pp. 300. £16.99 ISBN 0 5218 9059 4.
Morton, Stephen. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Routledge. [2002] pp. 176. pb
£10.99 ISBN 0 4152 2934 0.
Talib, Ismail S. The Language of Postcolonial Literatures: An Introduction.
Routledge. [2002] pp. 182. pb £15.99 ISBN 0 4152 4019 0.

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