Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity in Foreign Language Studies

By Hans Lauge Hansen | Go to book overview

Narrating Postcolonial Nations:
Reading Homi Bhabha's Notions

by Heidi Bojsen and Ingemai Larsen

This contribution deals with the relationship between the various narrative strategies which authors and writers employ in their texts and the representations of the nation expressed by those strategies. Our intention is thus to engage with a problematic directly related to the continual struggle between different discourses on nation, a struggle which takes place on the periphery of already existing nation states and is intensified by the many border crossings stemming in particular from the history of (post)colonialism and globalisation.

The focus of this paper will be on such narrative strategies as the overall structure of texts, the genre to which they belong, the authors' use of specific linguistic registers and markers of time, which constitute together a series of elements also applied in the analysis of enunciation, thus contributing to the (re)negotiation of a collective national self-understanding.

In our analysis we will draw on a few of the theoretical concepts formulated by Homi Bhabha, whose work has had a decisive impact on postcolonial and cultural studies in general. Following a brief introduction to the definition of these concepts two analyses will be presented, first of a text written by the Martinican politician Garcin Malsa, and next of a novel by the Mozambican author Mia Couto. Finally, the disentangled threads will be tied together, forming we hope, a harmonious interdisciplinary knot.


From cultural difference to the differentiating of culture

The title of Homi Bhabha's collection of essays The Location of Culture (1994) alludes to the author's conception of the main project of postcolonial theory, namely an attempt to “reconstitute the discourse of cultural difference” (ibid. 171). This phrase implies a theoretical stand in opposition to both cultural relativism and essentialism. Instead, Bhabha proposes

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