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THE COMPAKATIST REVIEWS KOSTAS MYRSIADES and JERRY MCGUIRE, eds. Order andPartialities : Theory, Pedagogy, andthe "Postcolonial " SUNY Series, interruptions: Border Testimony(ies) and Critical Discourse/s. Ed. Henry A. Giroux. Albany: SU of New York P, 1995. 415 pp. POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE The postcolonial essays in this edited volume from College Literature give comparatists an opportunity to reflect on the connections between this burgeoning new field and their own. At times, to be sure, these connections have been simplistically denied. Ifa postcolonialist could argue that comparative literature emphasizes the imperial nations and is irredeemably Eurocentric, a comparatist might reply that too much postcolonial criticism is limited to the vicissitudes of a single empire, whether British, French, or Spanish. We should realize, however, that turf-protective accusations ofthis kind violate a basic impulse ofboth fields, which is—as intimated by Henry A. Giroux's title for the SUNY series in which Order and Partialities appears—the will to cross cultural borders. The section on Irish literature and postcolonial theory organized in last year's issue of The Comparatist by Michael Molino, as well as the recent double issue ofthe Canadian Review ofComparative Literature on "Postcolonial Literatures: Theory and Practice" edited by Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek and Sneja Gurew, attests to the possibility for dialogue between these two forms ofcross-cultural inquiry. Comparatists accustomed to moving among cultural contexts will feel at home in this volume. Though Order andPartialities avoids any explicit geographical organization , its nineteen essays pay the most attention to three areas that often play major roles in postcolonial criticism: India, the Caribbean, and the former British and French areas ofsub-Saharan Africa. The essays by Patrick Taylor and Abiola Irele, in particular, give magisterial overviews ofthe last two areas. Other familiar topics include Indochina, Canada, the Mahgreb, and Ireland, with two more unusual choices being the Western Highlands ofScotland and the Ogaden region between Ethiopia and Somalia. But Latin America gets surprisingly little coverage, as does the Middle East, despite the prestige ofEdward Said whom contributors repeatedly salute as a "founding father" of their field. A major earlier influence is Frantz Fanon, whom Joline Biais deftly triangulates with Freud and feminism in an essay on Marguerite Duras's novel Un barrage contre le Pacifique. Other much-cited authorities include Chinua Achebe, Homi Bhabha, Aimé Césaire, Ngugi wa Thiongo , Salman Rushdie, and Gayatri Spivak, the last ofwhom (like Said) was trained as a comparatist. The carefully chosen title ofthis volume requires some elucidation. "Order" calls up the old imperial centralism and exclusivity, now giving way to new "partialities ," a word which usefully conflates several key points. Among them are a renewed sense for local attachments, the realization that no one culture has a complete vision of human possibility, and the dilemma that such unavoidable partiality poses for Western ideals ofobjective knowledge. Vol. 21 (1997): U9 REVIEWS Especially striking, as shown by the quotation marks in the subtitle, is the book's discomfort with the term "postcolonial" itself. Thus, in a lively polemic illustrated with thought-provoking photos, Amitava Kumar turns the success of postcolonial studies back on itself, suggesting that it might be an intellectual variant ofthe very imperialism it seeks to criticize. By a clever substitution ofprefixes, one could say, it even assumes a cultural autonomy that is in fact severely limited by neocolonial economic arrangements. Or, in a theoretical essay which comparatists will find gives a new allure to cross-cultural influence study, Patrick CoIm Hogan prefers to speak of "post-colonization." He contends that since a "term such as 'postcolonial' seems to imply that colonialism is done with," it neglects the crucial issue of how indigenous cultures process the experience of actually being colonized , either before independence or after (106). Or again, as Susan Gardner suggests on the basis ofteaching American Indian literatures in North Carolina, the term can be overused. She cites American Indian scholars who object to postcolonialism both because the term makes the interpretation ofnative cultures hinge on European migration to North America and, conversely, because it does not sufficiently allow for the cultural pressures exerted by the literature's current readership, which is largely non-Indian. In short, despite...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 149-152
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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