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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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Traumatic memory in the art of Freddy Rodríguez (Stephanie Lewthwaite)


Stephanie Lewthwaite

Traumatic memory in the art of Freddy Rodríguez


This chapter examines the representation of historical trauma and violence in Dominican American art, and specifically the overlapping histories of colonialism, slavery and political dictatorship that have shaped the Dominican Republic and its diaspora. It brings discussions of memory and trauma in the fiction of Junot Díaz and Loida Maritza Pérez into dialogue with the work of New York-based artist Freddy Rodríguez. Rodríguez’s paintings and collages are part of a larger project of historical revision and “decolonial aesthetics” at work in Dominican and Caribbean culture, suggesting that diasporic art plays a vital role in activating and reconfiguring traumatic memory.

All societies are organized on the silences they need to maintain. I think the role of art is to try to delineate, break, and introduce language into some of these silences … much of what we call ‘Caribbean history and culture’ is, in reality, one vast silence.

— Junot Díaz1

[Dominican history is] almost like looking through a kaleidoscope where you get a whole picture, but this picture is made out of these bits and pieces.

— Loida Maritza Pérez2

A history of colonialism, slavery and brutal political dictatorship marks out the Dominican Republic as a “traumatized region”, to apply the phraseology←187 | 188→ of Memory Studies scholar Karen Till.3 Dominican-born writers Junot Díaz and Loida Maritza Pérez...

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