Specifically Postcolonial

Sage Wilson '98, English 27 (1997)

The academic fashion for postcoloniality has quickly bred new clichés about the juxtaposition of traditional and modern cultures, simultaneous impulses to Westernization and indigenization, and the like. And yet despite this all-too-well-acknowledged complexity of the postcolonial, all-too-often the totality of the third world gets reduced into a single undifferentiated agglomeration of guilty histories and hopeless futures. Even the very term "postcolonial" suggests this reductive temptation with its consolidation of widely varying contexts, cultures, and philosophies into a single analytic category. However, a great deal of what gets called postcolonial literature directly resists this kind of reductive thinking, insisting instead that literary critics focus on the complexities and irreducibilities of a given national or local situation. I do not deny that various elements recur in various postcolonial texts, but for me these function more as resonances than repetitions. But more significantly, postcolonial texts consistently employ powerfully detailed and relentlessly specific styles, contexts, and themes in order to make the point that no universal truths can be brought to bear on postcoloniality. In several other mini-essays I will examine these kinds of tensions and relations in the theme, style, and context of Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah, Ken Saro-Wiwa's "Home, Sweet Home," and Buchi Emecheta's The Slave Girl. I contend that the only useful definition which can be wrung out of postcoloniality involves resistance to common meanings and the emphasis on the specific and the partial over the general and whole.

Postcolonial Web Nigeria OV Anthills OV