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Representing Baleful Specters and Uncanny Repetitions: Life Writing and Imperialism’s Afterlives

From: Biography
Volume 36, Number 1, Winter 2013
pp. 10-26 | 10.1353/bio.2013.0003



The articles in this Special Issue scrutinize life writing that provides varied evidence of balefulness—in the sense of a harm-causing force and a painful subjective condition—as a constitutive trait of the not-quite post-colonial present. Addressing themselves to a variety of sites, conjunctures, and texts from around the globe, the essays deploy, test, interrogate, and revise the term, as they analyze forms of life writing that are shaped by or that shape imperialism’s afterlives in the present. Singly and jointly, the articles shed light on the historical and contemporary structures that assail us, and on the possible contingencies that might counter them. Together, they convey the appositeness of “baleful postcoloniality” and the resistances to it as signs of and signposts to the dark yet hopeful times we inhabit.

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