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During the decolonization era in the Caribbean, writers from throughout the region shaped visions of nationalism and anticolonialism through engaging with francophone Caribbean history and culture. Haiti in particular played a major symbolic role. Looking back to the Haitian Revolution offered anticolonial writers ways of thinking about challenging imperialism as well as lessons for independence. At the same time, Haitian indigénisme and the versions of Haitian culture and religion that circulated internationally during the US occupation inspired a reconsideration of the Africanness of Caribbean culture. This chapter will also make comparisons to the francophone Negritude movement centred especially in Martinique and its revaluation of Africa through Haiti. Writers considered include C. L. R. James, Derek Walcott, Eric Walrond, Kamau Brathwaite, George Lamming, Jean Rhys, Alejo Carpentier, Édouard Glissant, and Aimé Césaire.
When the 1920s began, the field called ‘Caribbean literature’ was virtually unimagined. Within a few decades, writers from the Caribbean were achieving worldwide recognition, and a large body of scholarship, criticism, and theory debating the nature and contours of the literature had emerged. This volume tells the story of the rapid ascent from the isolated literary efforts of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries described in Volume 1, towards the expansive and rapidly changing contemporary field seen in Volume 3. Our focus is on the anglophone Caribbean, which we bring into conversation with literary and political developments in the francophone and hispanophone Caribbean. Because the sociopolitical as well as the literary histories of these societies intersect at different points, highlighting such convergences helps provide a fuller picture of anglophone Caribbean literary studies. Connections with the Dutch-speaking Caribbean remain to be written, the result of still persistent divides in the region’s intellectual traditions.
The years between the 1920s and 1970s are key for the development of Caribbean literature, producing the founding canonical literary texts of the Anglophone Caribbean. This volume features essays by major scholars as well as emerging voices revisiting important moments from that era to open up new perspectives. Caribbean contributions to the Harlem Renaissance, to the Windrush generation publishing in England after World War II, and to the regional reverberations of the Cuban Revolution all feature prominently in this story. At the same time, we uncover lesser known stories of writers publishing in regional newspapers and journals, of pioneering women writers, and of exchanges with Canada and the African continent. From major writers like Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and Jean Rhys to recently recuperated figures like Eric Walrond, Una Marson, Sylvia Wynter, and Ismith Khan, this volume sets a course for the future study of Caribbean literature.
Chapter 1 was originally published in Graham Huggan's The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins. London: Routledge, 2001, pp. 1–33. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author and Routledge.
Chapter 2 is an excerpt from chapter 6 of Chris Bongie's Friends and Enemies: The Scribal Politics of Post/Colonial Literature. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author and Liverpool University Press.
Chapter 3 contains material from chapter 2 of Sarah Brouillette's Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author and Palgrave Macmillan.
Postcolonial studies has taken a significant turn since 2000 from the post-structural focus on language and identity of the 1980s and 1990s to more materialist and sociological approaches. A key theorist in inspiring this innovative new scholarship has been Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu and Postcolonial Studies shows the emergence of this strand of postcolonialism through collecting texts that pioneered this approach—by Graham Huggan, Chris Bongie, and Sarah Brouillette—as well as emerging scholarship that follows the path these critics have established. This Bourdieu-inspired work examines the institutions that structure the creation, dissemination, and reception of world literature; the foundational values of the field and its sometimes ambivalent relationship to the popular; and the ways concepts like habitus, cultural capital, consecration and anamnesis can be deployed in reading postcolonial texts. Topics include explorations of the institutions of the field such as the B.B.C.’s Caribbean voices program and the South African publishing industry; analysis of Bourdieu’s fieldwork in Algeria during the decolonization era; and comparisons between Bourdieu’s work and alternative versions of literary sociology such as Pascale Casanova’s and Franco Moretti’s. The sociological approach to literature developed in the collected essays shows how, even if the commodification of postcolonialism threatens to neutralize the field’s potential for resistance and opposition, a renewed project of postcolonial critique can be built in the contaminated spaces of globalization.
Postcolonial studies looks forward to a future to be achieved—‘history has not yet arrived at the post-imperial era’ (Young 27)—and at the same time can seem dated, too oriented towards colonial structures of the past to offer insight into a rapidly changing neoliberal present. Already by the early 1990s, Ella Shohat's ‘Notes on the “Post-Colonial”’ (1992) was making the argument that the postcolonial framework was unable to account for the renewed imperialism represented by the Gulf War, while Arif Dirlik's ‘The Postcolonial Aura’ (1994) charged that ‘postcolonial critics […] have had little to say about [imperialism's] contemporary figurations’ (356), namely ‘the emergence of what has been described variously as global capitalism, flexible production, late capitalism, and so on’ (330). Neil Lazarus's The Postcolonial Unconscious(2011) updates this criticism, that ‘developments in the first decade of our new century—above all the US-led and -sponsored invasion and occupation of Iraq and the sorry misadventure in Afghanistan—have exposed the contradictions of this established postcolonialist understanding to stark and unforgiving light’ (15). While postcolonialism can thus seem unable to keep up with the times, Bourdieu and Postcolonial Studiesmakes the case that the field has begun to substantially change during the twenty-first century. One of the most important developments during this period has been the emergence of sociological approaches to postcolonial studies engaging with the work of Pierre Bourdieu that offer an opportunity to redefine postcolonialism's potential for intervention and critique.
Lazarus attributes much of postcolonialism's limitations to its development in ‘an institutionally specific, conjuncturally determined’ moment, when ‘after 1975, the prevailing political sentiment in the West turned sharply against anticolonial nationalist insurgency and revolutionary anti-imperialism’ (9). In this context, the complex theoricity of what Lazarus calls ‘“post”-theory,’ suddenly ascendant in the academy, ‘seemed to offer what the old, presumptively discredited “modern” systems of thought—all of them, left, right, and centre—evidently could not: a counter-narrative to the “new world order” of such as Reagan and Thatcher, a different basis for counter-action’ (186). Lazarus's narrative explains how postcolonial studies emerged as an academic field in the 1980s with figures like Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha adapting the poststructuralist thought of Foucault, Derrida and Lacan.