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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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Digital storytelling and performative memory: New approaches to the literary geography of the postcolonial city (Spencer Jordan)


Spencer Jordan

Digital storytelling and performative memory:New approaches to the literary geography of the postcolonial city


Drawing on the outcomes of Walkways and Waterways, a research project exploring the real-time interaction between ‘user-generated’ narratives and urban walking, this chapter argues that digital storytelling can play a fundamental role in the reconceptualization of the digitally mediated geographies of the postcolonial city. The interaction between walking and storytelling, incorporating aspects of augmented reality and ludic gameplay, can be considered a new form of performative mapping. In this way, the chapter shows how digital storytelling can make a significant and innovative contribution to the spatial representations of memory, and, through that, engage directly with a deeper need for ‘home’ and ‘belonging’.


But a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time.1

This chapter argues that a key aspect of digital storytelling is its ability to map the subjective interplay between past and present, what Andreas Huyssen describes as urban palimpsests of “memories of what was there←419 | 420→ before, imagined alternatives to what there is”.2 By so doing, the chapter explores the performative possibilities that exist between narrative and urban walking within the mediatized postcolonial city.

From the plague-ridden alleyways of Daniel Defoe’s London in A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) to W. G. Sebald’s haunted cityscapes in Austerlitz (2001), literature has been, and remains, a key form...

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