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??? COHPAnATIST CONFIGURATIONS OF POSTCOLONIALITY AND NATIONAL IDENTITY: INBETWEEN PERIPHERALITY AND NARRATIVES OF CHANGE Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek This article wül suggest the relevance of a theoretical framework designated as "inbetween peripheraUty" for current debates about postcoloniaUty , national identity, and post-Cold War narratives. The problematic nature of postcolonial theory, culture, and literature suggests that it may be advantageous to extend the question beyond the usual British, French, or American mainstream focus, its historical or contemporary spheres of influence, and its concern with direct colonization. It will be argued that the concept of inbetween peripheraUty is applicable to a number of postcolonial Uterary and cultural situations, including (East) Central European literatures as well as ethnic, diasporic, or other instances of marginalized literatures. FoUowing the postulates of this theoretical framework as outlined below, the present article wiU Alústrate its applicability to contemporary (East) Central European Uterature . The analysis ofselected texts by three contemporary authors ofthe region—the Hungarians Endre KukoreUy and Péter Esterházy, and the Romanian Mircea Cärtärescu—is an attempt to place these writings in the context ofsocial, cultural, and literary discourses in the specific time and space from which they emanated. The time and space I refer to is that of (East) Central Europe, a space and location of"inbetween peripheraUty ," by which I mean both inbetweenness (the locus between centers of power, economic and cultural) and peripheraUty on the European landscape (history, culture, poUtics, etc.). Further, it wül be argued that the region's literatures in the last two decades—that is, from shortly before and after the changes of 1989 and the demise of the Soviet empire —manifest a specific "narrative of change." My contextual—or, in other words, "text in context"—analysis rests on the theoretical and methodological premises of the systemic and empirical approach to Uterature and culture (see, for example, Schmidt; Tötösy "Comparative Literature," 'Text in Context," Comparative Literature ). This approach has been based mainly in Europe (among German, Dutch, and French scholars) and is little known in North American Uterary scholarship, except in the related areas of cognitive psychology and research into the reading process. Nevertheless, some scholars upon whose work the approach is based, such as Niklas Luhmann, Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Dubois, and Siegfried J. Schmidt, have recently awakened some interest among North American scholars ofUterature and culture (for the large corpus of works in the approach see Tötösy "Bibliography "). In particular, the work of Bourdieu and Luhmann has slowly Vol. 23 (1999): 89 CONFIGURATIONS OF POSTCOLONIALITY begun to penetrate the North American theoretical landscape. It appears that this body ofwork and its further development are particularly weU suited for the study of texts often described in American scholarship as "border writing" (see, for example, Jay). Other approximations of the notion of inbetween peripheraUty can be found in a number of recent studies: for example, in Amin Malak's "ambivalent affiUations" and "inbetweenness" or François Paré's "exiguity" and the "margins of Uterature ." More specificaUy, with reference to borders or margins in (East) Central European Uterature, one might consider Tomislav Longinovic's Borderline Culture and the work ofMarcel Cornis-Pope, who suggests of the Romanian avant-garde that "Uving in a provisional state, on a margin that, considering the more general position of Romanian literature in Europe, was in fact a margin ofthe margin" (Unfinished Battles 119; italics in the original). The difference between the border writing approach , along with the cited attempts to define the inbetween, marginal, or peripheral situation of certain types of Uterature, and the framework proposed here is that the former lack a distinct methodology and precise taxonomy and are often political or rhetorical in nature, whüe the present framework and analysis focus on method, precisely defined taxonomy, empirical evidence, and both textual and extra-textual—that is, systemic—properties and relationships in literature and culture. Framing the Contemporary Literatures of(East) Central Europe In order to analyze Cärtärescu, Kukorelly, and Esterházy and the Uterary , cultural, and social space they are writing in, some general observations wül be useful. First, the Uteratures of (East) Central Europe manifest characteristics which repay...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 89-110
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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