luni, 1 decembrie 2008

Me at the University of Constance, Germany

University of Konstanz, Germany
Winter Semester 2008/2009
Advanced seminar: Postcolonial Theory: Foundational Texts
Professor: Prof. Dr. Christa Knellwolf King
Date: 1st of December, 2008
Presenter: Paul Sava
Topic: Authenticity versus imitation: Elleke Boehmer, “Metropolitans and Mimics”



➢ the permisssion to narrate= an act of power
● the colonized and creole artists were rarely accepted as full participants in the metropolitan culture
● the nineteenth-century novel still kept Britain at the centre of the world
● the centre and periphery system was unchanged, no serious challenges to this system could have interfered with the cultural authority of the West
● the efforts of the anti-colonial discourse were aimed at displacing colonialist perceptions

➢ the response to Empire was given by two main groups pf writers
● the metropolitans (writers who assumed a dominant position within the cultural system)
● representatives from non-European cultures

➢ the problem of discrimination (or as one might put it, obstacles in the way to access to history)
● self expression was restricted in public life, education and culture

➢ quality of self-representation
● How were the opponents of colonialism to articulate their resistance?

➢ Leonard Woolf- The Village in the Jungle (1913)
● he objected to the imperialist standpoint
● he was uneasy with the hypocrisy of the ´humanitarian´ colonial rule
● he saw that the colonialist society was built on contradictions and artificiality
● in the novel, the white authority is the alien, unfamiliar element which controls a relatively remote indigenous community, the conflict between the Europran values and indigenous values will lead to the extinction of the community
● Woolf could not accept that the indigenous community was able to govern itself independently, without Britihs influence
● native characters are described in terms of animality, inertia and silence
● no dislocation of the symbolism of the jungle as disembodied evil (nature is hostile, it even lures people into death, both spiritual and physical)

➢ Virginia Woolf and the ´White Liberal Guilt Syndrome´
● she challenged the authority of the Empire without having first hand contact with it
● she referred to what was outside the British Establisment using the description of London high society
● the maternal imperialism in Mrs. Dalloway(1925): the force of the Empire with its protective and normative attributes determined thought, religion, drink , manners
● her critical view id directed towards class distinctions rather than towards the imbalance of representation involving the metropolis and the invisible periphery

➢ political context after First World War
● leftist views supported self-determination for India
● the anti-colonial policy was undermined by British workers´ interests largely dependent on colonial resources

➢ ´decorative proximation´- the encounter of ´´the west and the rest´´ took place without displacing conventional power-based roles

➢ core principles of the British Empire
● European centrality
● technological superiority
● firm patterns of development
● the world was shaped in normative terms (how it was supposed to be)
● the metropolitan self-questioning was an example of how the dominant cultures constructed their identities according to foreign cultures

➢ representatives of the metropolitan writing: Leonard and Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Edward Thompson
● stereotyped categories: the barbarian hero, the noble savage, the exotic characters, dichotomic pairs
● Lawrence was interested in sexuality, violence, rituals and mystery
● Otherness in Lawrence´s Kangaroo (1923):
-extreme difference (Aboriginal Australia)
-proximate otherness (White Australians)

➢ E. M. Forster´s A Passage to India (1924)
● the spiritual element was contrasted with a certain sense of a superior western intellect
● India was subject to cultural reconstruction
● much emphasis is put on the individual´s attempts at self-expression (the political structure comes second)
● ´only connect´- the communication between cultures on equal terms is still a wishful thinking
● when seen by a Westerner, India is associated with lack of meaning, moral confusion, emptiness
● towards the end of the novel, the East is described as ´´monstruous and extraordinary´´ pertaining all Western cultural oppositions

➢ Edward Thompson- A Farewell to India
● he also acknowledged the ´common humanity with Indians´´
● the Raj´s authority deprives the Indians of their dignity
● even if Britain cannot any longer support its position, he considers there are no alternatives to Raj
● divided loyalties: Thompson was split between his condition of an Englishman and his sympathy for India
● he proclaimed the close end to British authority
● he projected negative feelings not only onto the British rule, but also onto contemporary nationalism

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