The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins

The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins

The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins

The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins

Synopsis

Travel writing, it has been said, helped produce the rest of the world for a Western audience. Could the same be said more recently of postcolonial writing?In The Postcolonial Exotic , Graham Huggan examines some of the processes by which value is attributed to postcolonial works within their cultural field. Using varied methods of analysis, Huggan discusses both the exoticist discourses that run through postcolonial studies, and the means by which postcolonial products are marketed and domesticated for Western consumption.Global in scope, the book takes in everything from:* the latest 'Indo-chic' to the history of the Heinemann African Writers series* from the celebrity stakes of the Booker Prize to those of the US academic star-system*from Canadian multicultural anthologies to Australian 'tourist novels'.This timely and challenging volume points to the urgent need for a more carefully grounded understanding of the processes of production, dissemination and consumption that have surrounded the rapid development of the postcolonial field.

Excerpt

When creative writers like Salman Rushdie are seen, despite their cosmopolitan background, as representatives of Third World countries; when literary works like Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart (1958) are gleaned, despite their fictional status, for the anthropological information they provide; when academic concepts like postcolonialism are turned, despite their historicist pretensions, into watchwords for the fashionable study of cultural otherness-all of these are instances of the postcolonial exotic, of the global commodification of cultural difference that provides the subject for this book. The Postcolonial Exotic is, in part, an examination of the sociological dimensions of postcolonial studies: the material conditions of production and consumption of postcolonial writings, and the influence of publishing houses and academic institutions on the selection, distribution and evaluation of these works. The book aims to address some of these sociological issues, inquiring into the status of postcolonial literatures-postcolonialism itself-as a cultural commodity, and exploring the relations between contemporary postcolonial studies and the booming 'alterity industry' that it at once serves and resists. The book is a study, in other words, of the varying degrees of complicity between local oppositional discourses and the global late-capitalist system in which these discourses circulate and are contained. The charge of complicity is of course hardly a new one, and might easily lend itself to the type of reductionist thinking that practitioners of postcolonial studies have always been eager to avoid. Suggestions, for example, that postcolonialism is primarily a form of academic careerism, or that the success of postcolonial products is merely a function of their viability as commodities on the global market, are recent cases in point-indications, perhaps, of the current intellectual backlash against postcolonial studies which, whether conducted from Left or Right, aims to cast serious doubt on, even to discredit, the field. Yet as an academic field postcolonial studies has always been more conflicted, and usually more finely nuanced, than its critics will admit. Its methods, although by no means unified, will

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