A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and Its Empires

A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and Its Empires

A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and Its Empires

A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and Its Empires

Synopsis

'Radical, intrepid, compendious, /A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures/, goes far toward restoring 'postcolonialism' to its historical premises by resituating that imperial project in its much changed and still controversial cartographies. It is Marlow's map of the 'heart of darkness' drastically redrawn: what was once the 'vast amount of red,' a 'deuce of a lot of blue,' a 'little green,' those 'smears of orange,' and the 'purple patch,' is here become a dense kaleidoscope that will of necessity rechart the itinerary of students and critical travellers across and around 'continental Europe and its empires.'Barbara Harlow, University of Texas at Austin'The /Companion/ is unique in that it provides a wealth of analysis and information about all European continental powers and their colonies and presents the entire assembly in a wonderful mis-en-sc ne. It is a 'true' companion that invites trans-cultural readings of trans-cultural literatures.'Walter Mignolo, Duke UniversityThe first reference work to the political, cultural and economic contexts of postcolonial literatures stemming from the empires of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain as well as Latin America and the Philippines Written by recognised scholars the entries cover major events, ideas, movements and figures in postcolonial histories. They cover European overseas exploration, settlement, colonisation and decolonisation and highlight the relevance of colonial histories to the cultural, social, political and literary formations of contemporary postcolonial societies and nations. Each entry provides a succinct account of an event or topic, as well as suggestions for further reading in literary works and histories. By outlining the historical contexts of postcolonial literatures, the Companion provides an important key to understanding complex contemporary debates about race, colonialism and neo-colonialism, politics, economics, culture and language.
• Covers all the European empires in a new and integrated way
• Relates the colonial past to the postcolonial present
• Brings literary and historical texts and contexts together for the first time
• Includes maps, a detailed Chronology, lists of further reading and author/subject indexes

Excerpt

Literature, fiction and history have been closely interlinked in Western culture from the period of Greek theatre and epic through the period when the Roman trivium and quadrivium were established to the European Renaissance. But during the Renaissance a kind of 'deviation' or 'turn' can be said to have taken place when Spanish explorers and adventurers came into contact and conflict with the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, in Tawantinsuyu and Anáhuac. Those people were neither familiar with Greek and Latin, nor with European concepts of poetry, drama, epic, history, etc. To say that they were not familiar with the two languages of Classical Europe, nor with the literacy and the system of written genres that was embodied by, and embedded in, that tradition, means simply that they were not familiar with a specific kind of literariness and culture, and not that they were 'barbarians'. Likewise, the Europeans who came upon the 'New World' were unfamiliar with the languages, societies and cultures of the Americas, but they were in the privileged position to invent 'Indians' as a new identity (as well as 'Black' to homogenise Africans enslaved and transported to the New World), and degraded them by attributing to them less than human qualities. However, as invaders, they had the chance and the incentive to learn unfamiliar languages and acquaint themselves with unfamiliar societies and cultures in a manner and for reasons that did not apply to the native inhabitants of the continents and regions to which Europeans went in their pursuit of exploration. In Anáhuac, the Aztec had built a magnificent civilisation over a long period of time, whose narrative was recounted and chanted in Nahuatl and painted in a variety of amoxtly (later called codices and codex by Europeans learned in Latin and Greek). It is now recognised that the Aztecs were not alone in an enterprise that was recorded in the Mayan region and also in Tawantinsuyu. Likewise, later, the huge populations of slaves inducted into the Americas and the Caribbean by Europeans from Africa developed oral modes of narration and memorial construction and transmission to which we find indirect references in texts written by missionaries and by British and French travellers. These complex developments represent some of the most significant aspects of the experiences generated by the encounter between the 'Old' and 'New' worlds all over the Americas and the Caribbean.

What happened in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the 'New' world in the West was reproduced in Asia and Africa, when Europeans (with the British, the Dutch and the French as the most successful among them) transformed various kinds of commercial enterprises into full-fledged undertakings that combined colonisation with claims of the civilising mission of Europe in the world. In British India, the final vestiges of the Mughal Sultanate (1526-1803) were the target of supersession; likewise, in the Americas, the Incanate in Tawantinsuyu, and the Tlatoanate in Anahuac were structures and institutions that the Spanish set about dismantling and supplanting with their own system of governance. In the eighteenth century, the world witnessed the increasing influence of Britain and the British East India Company in western imperial expansion. The Company was the . . .

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