This essay explores the “aesthetic turn” in postcolonial studies in light of the literary works of Indo-Burmese author Amitav Ghosh. While a renewed interest in aesthetic theories is apparent throughout the humanities in the past decade, it is particularly striking in postcolonial studies, where it holds out the possibility of blending the materialist/historicist and culturalist/textualist strands of postcolonial scholarship. Recent studies by Deepika Bahri, Nicholas Brown, Ato Quayson and others have been enormously promising; this essay argues for bringing their Frankfurt School-influenced aesthetic theories into conversation with other theories of aesthetics. Particular attention in this essay is given to the quasi-Kantian conception of beauty that emerges in Ghosh’s The Glass Palace (2001), which seeks to balance the desire for universal norms with the need to respect cultural differences.


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pp. 65-86
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