Theatre and Postcolonial Desires

Theatre and Postcolonial Desires

Theatre and Postcolonial Desires

Theatre and Postcolonial Desires


This book explores the themes of colonial encounters and postcolonial contests over identity, power and culture through the prism of theatre. The author examines the work of prominent Nigerian and British playwrights who came of age after the passing of the British Empire.


Colonialism and the forces it generated have always been part of capitalist modernity. But that modernity, seen through a Eurocentric prism, tends to see colonialism as that Other, and Western civilization, as a linear development, untouched, in its formation and character, by colonial encounters. And yet the genesis of capital as the dominant mode in the production and reproduction of wealth, power, and values in modern society is simultaneous with colonial explorations and settlement, in fact colonialism is its external manifestation.

The other side of the same coin is to see African developments as linear until disturbed by ninteenth-century imperialism, often marginalizing the effect of slavery and plantation slavery on the formation of African identities.

In his book, Theatre and Postcolonial Desires, Awam Amkpa rejects a modernity seen through a Eurocentric prism and reads theatre and performance through the prism of these colonial encounters and their historical descendants, postcolonial aspirations. For him modernity is pluralistic and multi-layered. So also is Africa. Awam takes as his heritage, for better or worse, the multiple legacies Africa's interaction with a plethora of global systems from antiquity to the present.

In the process Awam Amkpa makes two important interventions in discourses on theories of the modern and postcolonial. His discussion of Africa's transition to modernity demonstrates the powerful influences these global systems have had on the evolution of the continent's cultural, political, and economic landscapes and thus tempers the tendency to reproduce the Hegelian notion of Africa as a region outside human history. His situating dramatic texts at the center of postcolonial cultural production is a welcome development since theatre texts tend to be neglected by theorists of postcoloniality.

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