Dr Monica Popescu (McGill University):
The overarching model of analysis in postcolonial studies has been based on the one-dimensional exchange or contestation of values between subjugated nations and imperial centers in the West. Yet much creative and scholarly postcolonial writing developed concomitantly with the Cold War, when aspiring or newly independent nations were forging alliances with one or the other of the two superpowers. Instead of a narrow relationship between former colonies and Western metropolitan centers, I propose a triangle of interactions that includes Western powers, the Eastern Bloc, and Third World countries. My book will focus on essays and autobiographical writing by the leading intellectuals of the anticolonial struggle (Aimé Césaire, George Padmore, Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah), postcolonial scholarship (Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Aijaz Ahmad, Homi Bhabha), as well as fiction by celebrated postcolonial novelists (Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Ousmane Sembène, Lewis Nkosi, Mongane Wally Serote, etc), attending to the transregional flow of ideas and ideologies between East, South, and West. I plan to develop two chapters during the fellowship term. A first chapter will explore essays by anticolonial intellectuals, focusing both on explicit political affiliation and on moments of rupture with the reigning communist and capitalist ideologies. The second will discuss the apparently uncommitted stance of postcolonial theorists as a symptom of the Cold War and as a form of escaping the dichotomies produced by this global conflict. The works discussed in this part of the book challenge the traditional image of the Cold War as a bipolar conflict that generated unsophisticated ideological affiliations.
My project grows from questions I have posed in earlier publications on South African literature and postcommunist cultures, especially South African Literature Beyond the Cold War, as well as from exchanges with scholars from various disciplines who aim to develop a new conception of the Cold War.
About Monica Popescu
Dr Monica Popescu has been Assistant Professor of English at McGill University since 2005 when she was awarded her PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory. Her teaching and research areas include postcolonial literature and theory (especially contemporary South African literature), Eastern Europe and postcommunism, Gender studies, nationalism, and globalization.
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