[ilds] hyphens and posts...

Richard Pine richardpin at eircom.net
Tue Jul 10 11:41:19 PDT 2007

OK here goes - the irish playwright Brian Friel opened a 1960s play, 'The Mundy Scheme' with a direct address to the audience: 'Ladies and Gentlemen, what happens to an emerging country after it has emerged?' That question, to me , is the kernel of the postcolonial situation:
1) how does a recently independent country (one hesitates to say 'nation') find its feet?
2) how does its relationship to the former coloniser change (from the perspective of bothe colonised and coloniser)?
3) if it is a former English colony, how does the continued use of english (lower case intended) fit in with other cultural imperatives of the new state (I'm thinking particularly of India in and around 1947)
4) How is the new state (which was previously perceived by others as a colony/imperial possession) perceived as it begins to exercise its freedom?
I dont entirely dismiss Said's orientalism, because what he did in polarising east-west perceptions was necessary at the time, and requires substantial revision in the light of subsequent studies.
Yes there has been good p-c or 'poco' work - I would cite Homi Bhabha as a good example, and the readings by three Australians whose names escape me ('The Empire Writes Back') I think one was called Ashcroft. And there has been polemical, recriminatory, bitter writing from former colonised which I can sympathise with even if I dont accept it.
Post-col is to me more interesting than resistance literature (Cabral etc) because it comes out of a new experience - the experience of freedom which is baffling and, of course, frequently leads to civil war very shortly after independence (Ireland, Finland) or after liberation (Greece).
Cyprus, like Corfu, has layers of imperial experience, which makes it both challenging and stimulating to study - like an emotional as well as a cultural palimpsest, and I think LD was fully aware of the tensions of such when living in Cyprus and subsequnetly writing about it - certainly his notebooks demonstrate his terribly mixed feelings when his philhellenism crashed into his professional work as a Brit civil servant.
Does any of this make sense?
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: slighcl 
  To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca 
  Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 2:37 PM
  Subject: Re: [ilds] hyphens and posts...

  On 7/10/2007 5:19 AM, Michael Haag wrote:

my suspicion is that 
'postcolonial' is very narrowly and parochially defined by certain 
self-aggrandising elitist groups, 'practitioners' of moribund 
ideologies.  Unfortunately academics are the chief purveyors of these 
mind-numbing tools.  Too often they fail to think, fail to be curious 
or original, and fail to stimulate thought, curiosity or originality 
among those they teach.  But they do write a lot of papers on hyphens, 
it appears.I suspect that, like all human endeavors, some good work and some bad work has been done in postcolonial studies.  I encourage anyone with a working knowledge of postcolonial studies to give us some brief, specific examples of its particular, original strengths.  The more that these points might connect to the writings and the life of Lawrence Durrell, our subject here on the listserv, the better.  


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu


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