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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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Post-national Portuguese literature: Reconfiguring the imperial master narrative (Anneliese Hatton)


Anneliese Hatton

Post-national Portuguese literature:Reconfiguring the imperial master narrative


For centuries, the Portuguese imaginary has been preoccupied by the notion of itself as an imperial power. I will be examining a tetralogy written by contemporary Portuguese author valter hugo mãe in which, unusually for literature examining Portuguese identity, the empire is conspicuously absent. This paper will therefore analyse what this silence means, and whether mãe is attempting to construct a new form of collective memory that encompasses more than just the colonial past. Paulo de Medeiros has argued that Portuguese literature is perhaps the only arena in which the Portuguese are able to address the ‘ghosts’ of their colonial past, and I contend that there should also be moves away from this former imperial identity which can be achieved in literature.

The imperial master narrative is a topic of great importance to contemporary scholars, in particular those examining Portuguese national and cultural identity. This topic has been analysed in great depth both in literary works and by critics, mostly with the focus on interrogating the reality of Portuguese imperial identity as opposed to perpetuating the myth of imperial supremacy. In order to take this critical analysis further and address the changes that have occurred within Portuguese literature in the period since the revolution of 1974, I have chosen to examine the recent tetralogy of novels by valter hugo mãe, one of Portugal’s most influential contemporary authors. He...

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