Transnational French Studies: Postcolonialism and Littérature-monde
Enemies Within? The Othering of France’s Muslims
It is also to reflect on the context from which, as has been suggested already, these new critical tendencies did not appear ex nihilo in What is perhaps a more pragmatic starting point is the possibility of recognizing a non-hierarchical interdependency that remains difficult to unravel, that is of a Francosphere or complex French-speaking space whose geography has moved beyond that of centres and peripheries.
Dorothy Blair, in her pioneering early study African Literature in French , already pointed to a genealogy that belied any ex nihilo emergence of a discrete new literature.
In identifying and building these new communities and networks, and in asserting the rationale by which they are underpinned, comparatism seems to play an increasingly prominent role. This may be seen to imply a wholesale integration of the study of national literature into openly comparative and interdisciplinary programmes, both of which would allow the creation of connections across Francophone spaces. However, it is comparatism as an investigative and ultimately disruptive process and method, rather than as an institutional product or publishing phenomenon, that is at stake.
Like Orientalism , this text has been absorbed into the narrative of the emergence of postcolonialism and granted pre-eminence in its critical canon. It is therefore the activity of comparison that has become revitalized in the world today and it is here that the contribution of Said will ultimately prove most valuable. His contrapuntal reading — this ongoing attempt to present comparatism with an unrestricted field of enquiry and without any implicit hierarchies — remains largely undeveloped both by Said himself and by his subsequent interpreters.
From a polarized, imbalanced, even falsely dichotomized view of the relationship between France and its former colonies or current dependencies , we move to a more flexible approach to intersections and interdependencies. He encouraged instead a multi-directional comparative practice, drawing in particular on the cultural production of Hispanophone cultures, of which much of his own work is an exemplary illustration.
It is an essential element of the dialogues and conflicts that have already occurred or, perhaps more importantly, might yet develop. Comparative approaches allow expansion of the postcolonial canon beyond the relatively narrow range of authors to which it sometimes appears to have been reduced.
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They encourage recognition of the ways in which literature and other cultural production often reflects the processes of transnational co-colonialism that often characterize geopolitical asymmetries of power in an increasingly globalized world. And David Scott, in a series of key interventions, has explored the mismatch of the anti-colonial romanticism underlying much postcolonial criticism with what he sees as the tragedy of contemporary postcoloniality.
These examples all signal and constitute creative interventions from within the field.
Yet a growing sense of external animosity towards postcolonial criticism has persisted. This tendency is particularly evident in the indebtedness of the postcolonial project, from the outset, to comparative methodologies. It is equally apparent in the rapid re-assertion of comparatism as a means, on the one hand, of redefining postcolonialism in the twenty-first century and, on the other, of repositioning it in relation to emergent disciplines such as transnational cultural studies, World Literature, diaspora studies or globalization studies.
An awareness of monolingual tendencies, as well as of the admittedly often exaggerated risks of an Anglophone imperium in the field, underpins recent evidence of a shifting centre of gravity.
Journal of Haitian Studies
Nowhere has this perhaps been clearer than in study of the Caribbean, the complex histories of whose islands reveal to such an extent the interconnectedness of imperial histories and of their contemporary aftermaths that they have been posited as the geographical basis for a new postcolonial paradigm. Postcolonial comparatism may operate at a number of levels.
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It is important to acknowledge the complex set of research practices that such a term appears to designate. Although such an approach risked perpetuating pre-existing value judgments and hierarchies relating centripetally to relative literary worth, it nevertheless served as the basis of the comparatism already mooted in The Empire Writes Back. The authors of that pioneering study still operated in what was essentially a monolingual, Anglophone zone but nevertheless suggested alternative vectors of comparison, often short-circuiting and even erasing the literary production of the metropolitan centre and creating unexpected connections across postcolonial space.
A number of key interventions in the postcolonial field have illustrated the potential of critical approaches that draw on material from a range of language traditions. The genuine potential of a postcolonial comparatism is to decolonize the epistemological bases of a traditionally configured comparative literary approach and to elaborate multi-directional research practices. This means working across languages and creating connections that were largely absent in, for instance, the early formulation of a field such as Francophone postcolonial studies, whose resonance with parallel processes in the Latin American field was not fully acknowledged.
Our understanding of the French language […] itself needs to be more global and heterodox: most French speakers today live in Africa, and the forms of spoken and written French throughout the world are highly layered and creolized. A strong basis in French is essential to our work, but so too is instruction in and engagement with languages like Arabic, Wolof, Lingala, or Caribbean and Indian Ocean Creoles.
The comparative becomes a means of teasing out connections without flattening distinctiveness. The institutional frames within which the work I have been describing is emerging often remain unclear. The more complex the bridge you are trying to build, the more support you are going to need up the line.
One of the advantages that structural changes in Modern Language departments, and in particular the creation of single Modern Languages units, has permitted is the possibility of working across linguistic zones. At the same time, given the nature of our subject, there are increasing possibilities for international collaboration, especially with scholars and communities in the cultures that are the objects of postcolonial study.
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Manual Le Nouveau Monde (Littérature) (French Edition)
Journal of Haitian Studies. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Reviewed by:. Additional Information. Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.