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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 Danube archipelago: The hydropoetics of river islands (Vladimir Zorić)


Vladimir Zorić

The Danube archipelago: The hydropoetics of river islands


This essay looks at the Danubian river islands in the postcolonial memory of South Slavs. These river islands are liminal in multiple ways: hydrologically, because they are situated between the two riverbanks; geographically, because they emerged between the upper and the lower course of the river; historically, because they were a contested border zone between the Habsburg and the Ottoman empires. The essay situates this group of islands within a broader context of the sundry colonial discourses on these rivers, explains their regular omission in travelogues and narrative fiction of the Western and South Slav writers, and discusses their emergence as precarious sanctuaries balanced between the colonizer and the colonized as well as between the literary and visual media.

Writers, travellers and cultural historians of the Danube have tended to accord relatively little space to its sluggish southeast-bound section between Mohács and Đerdap and even less to its numerous alluvial islands. The opaque, mutable, and perilous nature of the river islands meant that they remained out of the empirical reach and hence out of the symbolic orbit of the cultural elites. In the wake of the collapse of the Habsburg and the Ottoman empires, and especially in the context of the Yugoslav wars, there has been a surge in interest in those islands as they offered an emotional egress for traumatized communities and a mnemonic ingress for artists. This essay...

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