Reconfigured Spheres: Feminist Explorations of Literary Space

By Margaret R. Higonnet; Joan Templeton | Go to book overview

The Geographics of Marginality: Place and Textuality in Simone Schwarz-Bart and Anita Desai

INDIRA KARAMCHETI

. . . if there is anything that radically distinguishes the imagination of anti-imperialism it is the primacy of the geographical in it. Imperialism after all is an act of geographical violence through which virtually every space in the world is explored, charted, and finally brought under control. For the native, the history of his or her colonial servitude is inaugurated by the loss to an outsider of the local place, whose concrete geographical identity must thereafter be searched for and somehow restored.--Edward Said

The terms Third World and postcolonial both register imperialism, "geographical violence," as the center of thinking about literature from the former European colonies.1 The Third in Third World posits geographic distance from, as well as economic and political subordination to, centers of imperial power; postcolonial takes the territorial usurpations and physical violations of colonialism as the originating point of its literary canon. If imperialism is an act of geographic displacement, anti-imperialism is, as Edward Said points out, an imaginative recovery of a "local place," a particular soil.2

Geography is so deeply embedded in our thinking that it remains largely unexamined as an active force in the ways we understand literature, particularly the ways we produce significance in postcolonial texts by women. The grid of geography intersects here with that of gender. The spatial dislocations through which we understand "woman" coincide and

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