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Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»

Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality


Edited By Nirmala Menon and Marika Preziuso

One defining question links the essays of this collection: How do aesthetic and stylistic choices perform the condition of dislocation of the migrant and, in doing so, also put pressure on the seemingly global promise of cosmopolitanism? Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»: Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality offers a wide array of narratives that complicate the rhetoric of cosmopolitanism and the related discourses of «hybridity». Many such narratives are under-theorized migrations, such as Dalit narratives from India and inter-island migrations in the Caribbean. Collectively, the essays suggest that there are ways in which the forms of the migrant aesthetics, language, and imaginaries may offer new insights in the interactions between practices and discourses of hybridity and cosmopolitanism by examining their precise points of intersection and divergence. This inquiry is especially timely because it raises questions about the circulation, marketing, and consumption of narratives of migration, dislocation, and «diaspora.»
In addition, the collection addresses in at least two significant ways the question about «beyond postcolonialism» and the future of the discipline. First, by questioning and critically examining some foundational theories in postcolonialism, it points to possible new directions in our theoretical vocabulary. Second, it offers an array of reflections around disparate geographies that are, equally importantly, written in different languages. The value that the authors place on languages other than English and their choice to focus on the effect that multiple languages have on the present of postcolonial studies are in line with one of the aims of the collection – to make the case for a multilingual expansion of the postcolonial imaginary as a necessary imperative.
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Chapter 6. Lamming vs. Naipaul: Writing Migrants, Writing Islands in the British Literary Field


Writing Migrants, Writing Islands in the British Literary Field


Within the field of Caribbean literature, V. S. Naipaul and George Lamming are often positioned in diametrically opposed poles (Hulme 124). On the right is Naipaul: apolitical and skeptical of his mother-region, a consummate literary stylist who has been a recipient of ongoing attention since the publication of his first major work, The Mystic Masseur. On the left is Lamming: politically engaged, a vocal advocate of the potential of his people, an iconoclastic writer who has garnered comparatively modest popular success. Where Naipaul’s fiction and non-fiction releases have continued, effectively unabated, since the 1950s, Lamming’s production rate peaked in the early 1970s and has steadily decreased ever since. Where Naipaul’s private life has continually been made public through regular reviews, accolades, and biographies—Patrick French’s The World Is What It Is the most notable and graphic of the latter—Lamming’s personal life has been largely disconnected from his literary career.

The last few decades of postcolonial criticism have only entrenched the apparent opposition between the two figures. Postcolonial scholars have, in the main, shunned Naipaul as a Caribbean Uncle Tom and embraced Lamming as an author correctly aligned in an ongoing representational struggle.1 Critiques of Naipaul’s writing from a postcolonial perspective are widespread and mostly focus on challenging his asserted identity as an acute observer of formerly colonized sites. Rob Nixon’s 1992 book, London Calling: V. S. Naipaul, Postcolonial Mandarin is an ← 79...

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