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Colonial Extensions, Postcolonial Decentrings

Cultures and Discourses on the Edge


Edited By Salhia Ben-Messahel and Vanessa Castejon

The essays assembled in this volume explore the meaning of the term "postcolonial" through various theoretical perspectives and disciplinary fields of expertise. They address issues ranging from culture, politics and history to literature and the arts, with particular emphasis on colonialist discourses within a postmodern and globalised world. Identity-formation, cultural space, indigeneity, colonial perspectives and anti-colonial struggles suggest that former imperial (and often marginalized) colonies/territories operate as decentring spaces, becoming dynamic postcolonial centres. The consequences of colonial history in postcolonial environments in the Americas, the Caribbean, the Middle East and the South Pacific regions are being analysed. This shows that postcolonial subjectivities call for a reconceptualization of the nation as political agency. The essays interrogate the social and psychological effects of colonialism, the political subjugation and instrumentalisation of colonial pasts and the perception of the self through the colonizer’s eyes, that may still surface in discourse on identity and belonging. The "postcolonial" is then a floating concept in a global environment where some individuals still experience a neo-colonial condition while others dismiss the colonial past but may yet re-enact colonial practices. The volume shows that the extension of a colonial centre, often raised in postcolonial criticism, is synonymous with the decentring of identity, and that the re-conceptualization of a Diasporic condition initiates a new postcolonial moment based in translation and on a new modernity.

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Alistair MacLeod’s Engagement with the Modern World in No Great Mischief (1999) and Island (2001) (André Dodeman)


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Alistair MacLeod’s Engagement with the Modern World in No Great Mischief (1999) and Island (2001)


Université de Grenoble-Alpes

Alistair MacLeod’s short stories and only novel, No Great Mischief (1999), were inspired by his personal understanding of his family’s Gaelic traditions and sense of community. Even though he was born in the province in Saskatchewan in 1936, he moved to the island of Cape Breton with his family at the age of ten. The title of his latest collection of short stories, Island, stands for Cape Breton and its Gaelic community. A few days after MacLeod’s death in April 2014, Margalit Fox decided to briefly revisit his novel in The New York Times in which she wrote that it told “a multigenerational story that intertwines the fates of the island’s fishermen and miners with those of their Scottish forebears” and explored “what for its author was an abiding concern: the tensions that pervade a community caught between the pull of tradition and the pressure of assimilation.”1 Indeed, if MacLeod was able to appeal to an international readership, it was because he successfully managed to reconcile the particulars of a local setting and the universality of the human experiences of loss and pain. He was also concerned with the effects of modernity on the deep-rooted traditions inherited from the Highlanders who were forced out of Scotland during the eighteenth-century clearances. Not only would his stories recount the grief of...

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