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Cultural readings of race, imperialism and transnationalism
Author: Laura Chrisman

This book analyses black Atlantic studies, colonial discourse analysis and postcolonial theory, providing paradigms for understanding imperial literature, Englishness and black transnationalism. Its concerns range from the metropolitan centre of Conrad's Heart of Darkness to fatherhood in Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk; from the marketing of South African literature to cosmopolitanism in Achebe; and from utopian discourse in Parry to Jameson's theorisation of empire.

Laura Chrisman

chapter8 21/12/04 11:21 am Page 138 8 Robert Young and the ironic authority of postcolonial criticism When I chanced on postcolonial scholar Robert Young’s Textual Practice review of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s Outside in the Teaching Machine, I was startled to find an attack on Benita Parry among its pages.1 It comes early on, when Young is preparing the ground for a detailed exposition of Spivak’s book by comparing Spivak’s general critical standing with that of Edward Said and Homi Bhabha (who together create Young’s chief constellation of postcolonial

in Postcolonial contraventions
Open Access (free)
Laura Chrisman

introduction 21/12/04 11:04 am Page 1 Introduction This book has evolved over nine years. The year 1993 saw the publication of my co-edited Colonial Discourse and Post-colonial Theory: A Reader, which was the first anthology of postcolonial cultural studies to appear in print.1 Since then the field has rapidly expanded into a major academic industry.2 Diaspora studies, black Atlantic studies, transnational studies, globalisation studies, comparative empire studies have emerged alongside and within the original field. My responses to the field’s developments

in Postcolonial contraventions
David Lloyd’s work
Laura Chrisman

chapter7 21/12/04 11:19 am Page 127 7 Theorising race, racism and culture: David Lloyd’s work My focus here is an important and influential article by postcolonial scholar David Lloyd, ‘Race Under Representation’, published in the 1991 ‘Neo-Colonialism’ issue of Oxford Literary Review.1 Lloyd sets out to explain ‘how the meshing of racial formations can take place between various levels and spheres of social practice, as, for example, between political and cultural spheres or between the individual and the national level’ (p. 63). A central argument of his

in Postcolonial contraventions
Critique and utopia in Benita Parry’s thought
Laura Chrisman

chapter11 21/12/04 11:28 am Page 164 11 You can get there from here: critique and utopia in Benita Parry’s thought Benita Parry is justly acclaimed as an exemplary demystifier – the thinker who has provided unsurpassed critiques of the neo-colonial elements that lurk in the work of some postcolonial critics and creative writers. Less acclaimed are the affirmative, even utopian elements of Parry’s intellectual project. Her writings, from imperialism to postcolonial theory to resistance, articulate optimistic belief in the achievability of political solidarity

in Postcolonial contraventions
South Africa in the post-imperial metropole
Laura Chrisman

approach is that it remains entirely mainland: contemporary Englishness is regarded as arising only in response to diasporic immigration. This perspective excludes the possibility that international elements may be involved in the formation of this national identity. Contra Gilroy et al., I want to suggest that white metropolitan identity develops not only through its black subjects ‘at home’ but chapter6 21/12/04 108 11:17 am Page 108 Transnationalism and race also through those who continue to live abroad, in postcolonial countries that once ‘belonged’ to the

in Postcolonial contraventions
Laura Chrisman

chapter3 21/12/04 11:14 am Page 51 3 Empire’s culture in Fredric Jameson, Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak Aijaz Ahmad’s landmark 1992 book In Theory argues that materialist and postcolonial cultural studies are fundamentally incompatible projects.1 Whatever Ahmad may aver, relations between materialism and postcolonialism are more complex than mere incompatibility. For instance, Said’s essay on empire in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park appears in a recent book titled Contemporary Marxist Literary Criticism, where the editor Francis Mulhern defines Said as

in Postcolonial contraventions
Laura Chrisman

Academics took out from their institutions university economics, or university English or university philosophy, and the people wanted chapter9 21/12/04 146 11:23 am Page 146 Postcolonial theoretical politics to know what it was. This exchange didn’t collapse into some simple populism: that these were all silly intellectual questions. Yet these new students insisted (1) that the relation of this to their own situation and experience had to be discussed, and (2) that there were areas in which the discipline itself might be unsatisfactory, and therefore they retained

in Postcolonial contraventions
Chinua Achebe’s critique of cosmopolitics
Laura Chrisman

: Even James Baldwin returning to America from France in a casket and W.E.B. Du Bois finding a resting place in Ghana … Diverse as their individual situations or predicaments were, these children of the West roamed the world with the confidence of the authority of their homeland behind them. The purchasing power of even very chapter10 21/12/04 158 11:25 am Page 158 Postcolonial theoretical politics little real money in their pocket set against the funny money all around them might often be enough to validate their authority without any effort on their part. The

in Postcolonial contraventions
Open Access (free)
The imperial metropolis of Heart of Darkness
Laura Chrisman

remains the ultimate focus of his deathbed aspirations. And despite Marlow’s contention that there was nothing ‘exactly profitable’ in the human heads decorating chapter1 21/12/04 11:07 am Page 37 Tale of the city 37 Kurtz’s residence, the reverse is true: the profit lies in the rule of terror that such heads facilitate. It is a similar rule of terror, Conrad suggests, that dominates the heart of the metropolis: terror of ‘scandal … gallows … lunatic asylums …’. This reading suggests the intensity of the task that awaits postcolonial critical work on metropolitan

in Postcolonial contraventions