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Fighting Words

Fifteen Books that Shaped the Postcolonial World

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Edited By Dominic Davies, Erica Lombard and Benjamin Mountford

Can a book change the world? If books were integral to the creation of the imperial global order, what role have they played in resisting that order throughout the twentieth century? To what extent have theories and movements of anti-imperial and anticolonial resistance across the planet been shaped by books as they are read across the world?

Fighting Words responds to these questions by examining how the book as a cultural form has fuelled resistance to empire in the long twentieth century. Through fifteen case studies that bring together literary, historical and book historical perspectives, this collection explores the ways in which books have circulated anti-imperial ideas, as they themselves have circulated as objects and commodities within regional, national and transnational networks. What emerges is a complex portrait of the vital and multifaceted role played by the book in both the formation and the form of anticolonial resistance, and the development of the postcolonial world.

Dominic Davies is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford, where he also obtained his DPhil in Post/Colonial Literature. His first monograph, Imperial Infrastructure and Spatial Resistance in Colonial Literature, 1880–1930, was published in 2017.

Erica Lombard is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg. She holds a DPhil in English Literature from the University of Oxford.

Benjamin Mountford is Senior Lecturer in History at Australian Catholic University. He was formerly a David Myers Research Fellow at La Trobe University and is the author of Britain, China, & Colonial Australia and co-editor of A Global History of Gold Rushes.