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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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The working memory in contemporary Latvian culture and society: Between postcolonialism and postcommunism (Benedikts Kalnačs)


Benedikts Kalnačs

The working memory in contemporary Latvian culture and society: Between postcolonialism and postcommunism


In this chapter I discuss some recent developments in Latvian fiction that reflect on a society in transition twenty-five years after the collapse of the totalitarian and colonial Soviet state. In relation to its western borderlands, after their territorial acquisition and occupation in 1940, the Soviet state gradually developed strategies that, despite considerable differences, are comparable to colonial practices elaborated by other imperial formations. These policies led to the establishment of the colonial matrix of power in the adjacent territories that has left deep imprints in the memory archive of local inhabitants and crucially interfered in people’s everyday lives in the Baltic littoral. For the Baltic nations, the second half of the twentieth century has provided another layer in the perception of social injustice and inequality already faced in earlier periods. Literature has an important part to play in the evaluation of these different levels of experience that remains a necessary precondition for successful transitioning and reconciliation in society. This case study is based on a series of novels under the general heading Mēs: Latvija, XX gadsimts [We: Latvia, the 20th Century] started in 2014. The investigation tackles the aims and scope of this series from the perspective of both Postcolonial and Post-Communist Studies, as well as Cultural Memory Studies, in order to discuss what changes in society are reflected and negotiated by this particular undertaking...

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