restricted access Conclusion: National Culture and Globalization
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c o n c l u s i o n National Culture and Globalization In this book I have focused on the different ways in which the notion of the nation has been taken up as an issue for literary production in three postcolonial situations. I argued that the literature and criticism of the period most commonly associated with an explicit nationalism in the projects of political and literary decolonization are both more complex and forward-looking than they are usually thought to be. Literary histories that see the engagement of postcolonial texts with the nation as the expression of a problematic or crude (if perhaps inevitable) politics have not paid sufficient attention to the ways in which the nation names the particular political circumstances of the (post)colonies after World War II: not the problem of how to create a nation-state, but the more abstract one of how to create genuine collectivities in the midst of modernity and the developing conditions of what we now refer to as globalization. The literary and intellectual discourses of this period have further to figure out how to address this problem within the framework of an array of paradoxical and often contradictory discourses : those of antiimperialism and imperialism, nativism and modernity, and the possibilities and problems of the nation and national culture, all of which can neither be avoided nor fully embraced. I focused on one axis along which these 200 Zones of Instability problems have been taken up: the way in which literature and literary discourses tried to make sense of this discursive and political zone of instability. The writers that I have focused on in this study understand both the problems and possibilities of thinking the nation in the context of these multiple discourses; they also understand, in a way we seem at times to have forgotten, that the writing of literature complicates these issues as much as it clarifies them. It might seem as if this book introduces another zone of instability—one introduced by the project of the book itself. Even given my articulation of the links between the regions and moments that I’ve placed side by side at the outset, the ways in which literature articulates the nation (and vice-versa) and the ideologies of literature and nation intersect and connect in these different postcolonial moments may still appear too different to sustain the comparison I have endeavored to make. It’s not only the presence of Canada that disturbs the homologies that a comparative project of this kind looks for in disparate national, cultural, and historical circumstances: even Nigeria and the West Indies, connected in so many ways, do not exhibit strict similarities in the ways that literature and the nation intersect in the decades following World War II. Nevertheless , it is Canada that seems most out of place in this triad. Indeed, my own analysis suggests this, since in the chapter on Canada I focus on criticism rather than literature as the site at which discourses of the nation were most prominently articulated. If Canada is postcolonial, it is necessarily so in a very different way from either Nigeria or the Caribbean, a fact that a study like this one has to account for and be clear about; the label ‘‘postcolonial’’ does not do this work all on its own. I hope that I have been clear in locating and identifying these differences, just as I hope that the reasons for considering these three regions together are apparent . Diana Brydon has argued that ‘‘withholding the status of ‘authentic’ colonialism from countries such as Canada . . . makes it harder for all Canadians to identify and combat the particular kinds of postcolonial experience they are currently undergoing as they watch their economy shrink, jobs disappear, and cultural sovereignty erode.’’∞ Part of my aim in looking at these particular zones of instability is to offer a slightly different map of the postcolonial that frames the historical, political, and cultural experiences of diverse spaces on the globe against a larger, globally connected set of forces that, in one way or another, produce these experiences and their difference from one another. In some respects , it seems absurd to claim the status of postcolonial for a country like Canada. Yet at the same time, as Brydon points out, not doing so can produce a Conclusion 201 misleading sense of the relationship of different spaces and forces to one another. Canada may belong to the G8 and get high marks...


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Subject Headings

  • Commonwealth literature (English) -- History and criticism.
  • Nationalism and literature -- Commonwealth countries -- History -- 20th century.
  • Postcolonialism -- Commonwealth countries.
  • Commonwealth countries -- In literature.
  • Danticat, Edwidge, ǂd 1969- ǂx Criticism and interpretation ǂv Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Postcolonialism in literature.
  • Decolonization in literature.
  • Nationalism in literature.
  • Nigeria -- In literature.
  • Canada -- In literature.
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