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Colonial Extensions, Postcolonial Decentrings

Cultures and Discourses on the Edge

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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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In Trans/Action: Materialising Cultural Dissent, Activising Asian Australian Communities (Paul Giffard-Foret)

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In Trans/Action: Materialising Cultural Dissent, Activising Asian Australian Communities

Paul GIFFARD-FORET

Université Paris 3

This article takes a look at the formation of Asian Australian identities through the prism of community organising and activism. Unlike in the US where an Asian American social movement exists that can be traced back to the 1960s (Liu, Géron and Lai, 2008), Asians in Australia share no such history of identity-based, grass-root political action. The closest there was to a “movement” in Australia was the mobilisation against Pauline Hanson’s xenophobic One Nation party in the late 1990s. On the political front, this led to the short-lived creation of the Unity Party, initially aimed to unite Asian ethnic groups against the resurgence of anti-Asian racism in Australia. As stated then, the formation of an Asian Australian political and cultural consciousness involved “the discursive and provisional use of race […] based on strategic essentialism, a paradoxical situation whereby essentialist ideas are consciously mobilised by marginalised communities as a form of empowerment” (Lo, 2000: 16). The phrase “strategic essentialism” constituted a departure from the straitjacket post-structuralist anti-essentialism dominant within academia at the time of its use by one of Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN)’s founding members Jacqueline Lo.

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