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Memory and Postcolonial Studies

Synergies and New Directions


Edited By Dirk Göttsche

In the postcolonial reassessment of history, the themes of colonialism, decolonisation and individual and collective memory have always been intertwined, but it is only recently that the transcultural turn in memory studies has enabled proper dialogue between memory studies and postcolonial studies. This volume explores the synergies and tensions between memory studies and postcolonial studies across literatures and media from Europe, Africa and the Americas, and intersections with Asia. It makes a unique contribution to this growing international and interdisciplinary field by considering an unprecedented range of languages and sources that promotes dialogue across comparative literature, English and American studies, media studies, history and art history, and modern languages (French, German, Greek, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian-Croatian, Spanish).

Combining theoretical discussion with innovative case studies, the chapters consider various postcolonial politics of memory (with a focus on Africa); diasporic, traumatic and «multidirectional memory» (M. Rothberg) in postcolonial perspective; performative and linguistic aspects of postcolonial memory; and transcultural memoryscapes ranging from the Black Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, from overseas colonialism to the intra-European legacies of Habsburg, Ottoman and Russian/Soviet imperialism. This far-reaching enquiry promotes comparative postcolonial studies as a means of creating more integrated frames of reference for research and teaching on the interface between memory and postcolonialism.

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Cross-cultural memory in postcolonial contexts: European imperial heroes in twenty-first-century Africa (Berny Sèbe)


Berny Sèbe

Cross-cultural memory in postcolonial contexts:European imperial heroes in twenty-first-century Africa


The independence of African colonies turned many imperial figures into unwanted memories of a bygone age. Celebrated by colonial authorities throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the memory of these European heroes seemed condemned to fall into oblivion after the 1960s. Yet, half a century later, their heroic reputations are now enjoying an unexpected new lease of life in sub-Saharan Africa, due to a variety of factors linked to local religious beliefs, global tourism or new approaches in the construction of postcolonial national identities. The rebirth of imperial heroes in Africa reveals a highly significant process of renegotiation of nation-building narratives, moving away from the dominant paradigms of anti-colonialism and perhaps towards a post-racial form of cosmopolitanism. This phenomenon, which has hitherto remained ignored, reframes the terms of the postcolonial relationship between former colonies and ex-metropoles, and exemplifies a form of cultural hybridity which forces us to re-appraise the traditional dichotomies of post-imperial contexts.

The legacy of British and French imperialism on the African continent has been interpreted from a variety of perspectives since decolonization swept the continent in the 1960s.1 However, scholarly interest in this question has left a gaping hole in our understanding of the cultures←75 | 76→ of the post-decolonization period, as the postcolonial trajectories of imperial heroes have been generally ignored in studies attempting to draw a map of the long-term...

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