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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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Comparative Postcolonial Studies: Southeastern European history as (post-) colonial history (Monika Albrecht)


Monika Albrecht

Comparative Postcolonial Studies:Southeastern European history as (post-) colonial history


This chapter argues that Postcolonial Studies needs to expand beyond its marked-out geographical area and strive for a genuinely comparative discussion of colonialism and empire. It begins by tracing some of the reasons for the ongoing provincialism of mainstream Postcolonial Studies, in particular the tacit consensus that including the Ottoman Empire in the group of colonizing powers is not even up for debate. It then provides the first investigation of Níkos Kazantzákis’ 1953 novel Freedom or Death (Ὁ Καπετὰν Μιχάλης [Ἐλευτερία ἢ Θάνατος]) from a postcolonial perspective, juxtaposed with a reading of Chinua Achebe’s seminal postcolonial novel Things Fall Apart (1958) as a case study that highlights the wide potential for change in this as yet neglected field.

Reflecting on the development of his desire for freedom in his autobiography Report to Greco (1961), Níkos Kazantzákis uses the classic thought pattern of “decolonizing the mind”1 known from anti-colonial liberation struggles: “Little by little, in the course of time, I mounted freedom’s rough unaccommodating ascent. To gain freedom first of all from the Turk, that was the initial step; after that, this new struggle began: to gain freedom from the inner Turk.”2 The fact that the Greek author, who grew up in the city of Megálo Cástro, today’s Iraklio, on the then Ottoman-occupied island of Crete, has yet to be discovered from a postcolonial perspective←441 | 442→ says...

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