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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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The memory of German, French and British colonialism in Cameroonian postcolonial literature (Richard Tsogang Fossi)


Richard Tsogang Fossi

The memory of German, French and British colonialism in Cameroonian postcolonial literature


Unusually, Cameroon experienced three colonial regimes which are all reflected in its postcolonial memory discourses. This essay focuses on the historiographical and literary reconstruction of this threefold German, French and British colonial occupation in Cameroonian postcolonial literature in French, English and German. It shows how the various forms of brutality, extortion and injustice experienced during the colonial period resulted in ‘private’, non-official memory narratives that aim to challenge and disrupt the official politics of memory. This chapter pays particular attention to the relationship between the memory discourses relating to German and Franco-British colonialism, highlighting the simultaneous and competing representations of the three colonial masters and their deconstruction in the memoryscape of a country that was a highly contested ‘contact zone’ at the time. This analysis underlines some of the ambiguities involved in the myths of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ colonizers, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ memories.


Cameroon is one of the few territories to have been colonized by three European nations that also appeared as great rivals, or even ‘hereditary enemies’, at the time. In 1884, the German Reich ‘unexpectedly’ took hold of the country which was declared a German protectorate to the utter surprise of the British, who, despite various requests of annexation from the local chiefs alongside of the Wouri River, were still hesitant.1 The French, who barely←103 | 104→ thirteen years earlier had...

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