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2 - Postcolonial Theory and the Geographical Materialism of Desire

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

John K. Noyes
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
Simone Bignall
Affiliation:
University of New South Wales
Paul Patton
Affiliation:
University of New South Wales
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Summary

In the mid-1990s, with postcolonialism beginning to gain currency as a powerful new concept for understanding the role of culture in globalisation, a number of voices expressed their troubled response to this term and the ideas behind it. If we are to ask what the works of Gilles Deleuze might offer to the interrogation of postcolonialism and postcolonial theory, it is worth briefly following one strand of this sense of discontent with the idea of the postcolonial: the problem of its periodisation. This question concerned the temporality of the post- in postcolonialism, a temporality which, in the minds of many commentators, aimed at absolving theory of any complicity in the wrongs of colonialism, since these had purportedly been put to rest. At the same time, but in a largely disconnected debate, Deleuzian theory was being charged with a similar omission – that its conception of the subject disabled political action. In this chapter I will suggest that the errors in the charges against both theoretical fields can best be addressed via Deleuze's attempts to describe a geographical materialism of desire.

On the face of it, the temporal question in postcolonialism should have been an easy question, perhaps even a non-question. As Stuart Hall succinctly (and rhetorically) put it, the post-colonial as an epochal marker surely denotes ‘the time after colonialism’, where ‘colonialism is defined in terms of the binary division between the colonisers and the colonised’ (Hall 1996: 242). And yet, as he so pointedly goes on to show, the time of the postcolonial cannot be understood only in these terms.

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Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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