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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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Literary history and memory in Quebec (Rosemary Chapman)


Rosemary Chapman

Literary history and memory in Quebec


Taking literary history to be a form of commemoration, a practice which reinforces a particular collective memory, this chapter considers the way in which particular moments or periods of the past have played a role in the way that Quebec understands itself and its culture. The manner in which the legacy of the colonial past appears within a literary history, or indeed is absent from a literary history, will vary, depending on the particularity of that nation’s colonial past and future aspirations. How is the relationship between history and memory changing in the twenty-first century? And why might the literary history of drama in Quebec remember and forget the past differently?


The motto of Quebec – “je me souviens” / “I remember” – emphasizes the fact that for the Québécois, cultural identity is a process which relies on the memory of certain events which have shaped the history of the Francophone population of Canada.1 Taking literary history to be a form of commemoration, a practice which shapes and reinforces a nation’s collective memory, this chapter reflects on some of the ways in which Quebec remembers and understands its literature, its culture, and its place in the←299 | 300→ world. Literary history is traditionally designed to serve primarily a pedagogical function and to instill a particular narrative of nationhood. But a narrative account of the history of any literature is by...

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