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Title: Attacking the centre : challenging the binarisms of colonial and imperial culture
Author: Smith, Janet Anne
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2003
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Abstract:
In this thesis I argue that colonial and imperial culture constructed a series of binary oppositions between coloniser/colonised, west/east, white/black, which are still operating today, and that the former term in these oppositions, associated with rationality and reason, has been privileged over the latter, correspondingly associated with irrationality and unreason. This is something that many postcolonial and anti-imperial writers set out to challenge, and this thesis critically examines the ways in which they do this, and the extent to which their attempts prove successful. However, throughout, I also argue that many of the writers studied either fail to move beyond the binary thinking which characterises colonial/imperial ideologies, 0 r that they unwittingly reinforce the dichotomies set up, by failing to consider the issues of class and gender which cross-cut and often reinforce colonial/imperial ideology. Chapter One examines postcolonial theory in detail, while Chapter Two provides a reading of two of Rushdie's novels, in relation to the issue of imagining the nation in the postcolonial era. Chapter Three deals with the ideology of purity, in relation to William Boyd's The Blue Afternoon, and with the stories of Charles Chesnutt, which also implicitly challenge the fixed divisions between black and white, thus undermining concepts of racial purity, whilst also providing an alternative episteme to that of the dominant white culture. The texts of both writers are set in modernist America, and both provide a critique of the dominant white discourse, or ' centre ' . This is also true of W. E. B. DuBois, whose work is discussed in Chapter Four, and who can be said to demand an equal status for the black subject, and for the black world-view or episteme, undervalued in racist America. In Chapter Five, I critically examine the writings of two women of colour in the US, arguing that while many of the writers studied fail to fully engage with the specific position of women in the colonial/imperial context, Alice Walker and Gloria Anzaldua redress the balance somewhat by focusing upon patriarchy, as well as racism and class issues. Indeed, I argue throughout that these issues cannot be considered separately, but need to be thought through together, in order to understand the complexities of colonial/imperial ideology, and thus to challenge it in effective ways.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.577188  DOI: Not available
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