- Purchase/rental options available:
Is Eastern Europe postcolonial? This question has animated scholarly debate in the region and beyond for two decades, and while there is no conclusive answer to it, postcolonial theory has been used to illuminate Eastern Europe's experience of postcommunism and the conflicted legacies of the former system. This essay explores some of the recurring arguments and critical directions in the postcolonial/postcommunist debate, placing particular emphasis on a scholarly compromise between the two: the Polish-born field of postdependence studies, which enables a productive adaptation of postcolonial theory to the specificity of postcommunist cultures. Although the field has been mostly concerned with the Eastern European experience of postdependence, this essay expands the postdependence framework to examine the depiction of postcommunist transitions in three American "safari novels": Arthur Phillips' Prague, John Beckman's The Winter Zoo, and Gary Shteyngart's The Russian Debutante's Handbook. In doing so, this essay traces the emergence of the region's post-1989 reliance on the West and of new patterns of cultural representation, which nevertheless still draw from the patterns consolidated during the Cold War.