Postcolonialism After World Literature: Relation, Equality, Dissent 9781350053021, 1350053023

How is postcolonial criticism challenged by contemporary world literature approaches? And how must world literature be r

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Postcolonialism After World Literature: Relation, Equality, Dissent
 9781350053021, 1350053023

Table of contents :
Introduction: Why world literature needs postcolonial theory --
A world empire of letters: theories of world literature from nation to world-system --
Modernity in relation: rethinking the sociology of world literature --
Globalizing dissent: active resistance and the politics of relation in postcolonial and world literatures --
Enacting equality: postcolonialism after world literature

Citation preview




Postcolonialisin After World Literature

New Horizons in Contemporary Writing In the wake of unprecedented technological and social change, contemporary literature has evolved a dazzling array of new forms that traditional modes and terms of lîterary criticism have struggled to keep up with. New Horizons in Contemporary Writing presents cutting-edge research scholarship that provides new insights into this unique period of creative and critical transformation.

Series Editors: Martin Eve and Bryan Cheyette Editorial Board: Siân Adiseshiah (University of Lincoln, UK), Sara Blair (University of Michigan, USA), Peter Boxall (University of Sussex, UK), Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK), Rita Felski (University of Virginia, USA), Rachael Gilmour (Queen Mary, University of London, UK), Caroline Levine (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA), Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck, University of London, UK), Adam Kelly (York University, UK), Antony Rowland (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK), John Schad (Lancaster University, UK), Pamela Thurschwell (University of Sussex, UK), Ted Underwood (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA). Volumes in the series:

Life Lin es, John McLeod The Poli tics ofJewishness in Contemporary World Literature, Isabelle Hesse South African Literature's Russian Soul, Jeanne-Marie Jackson Transatlantic Fictions of 9/11 and the War on Terror, Susana Araûjo Wanderwords, Maria Lauret Writing After Postcolonialism, Jane Hiddleston Forthcoming volumes:

The Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel, Diletta De Cristofaro Contemporary Posthumanism, Grace Halden Jonathan Lethem and the Galaxy o_f Writing, Joseph Brooker New Media and the Transformation of Postmodern American Literature, Casey Michael Henry Northern Irish Writing After the Troubles, Caroline Magennis David Mitchell's Post-Secular World, Rose Harris-Birtill

Postcolonialism After World Literature Relation, Equality, Dissent By Lorna Burns



BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Pic 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1 B 3DP, UK 7385 Broadway, NewYork, NY 10018, USA BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Pic First published in Great Britain 2019 Copyright© Loma Burns, 2019 Loma Burns has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgements on p. vi constitute an extension of this copyright page. Cover design: Eleanor Rose Cover image© Getty Images Ali rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Every reasonable effort has been made to trace copyright holders of material reproduced in this book, but if any have been inadvertently overlooked the publishers would be glad to hear from them. Bloomsbury Publishing Pic does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. Ali internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Burns, Loma, author. Title: Postcolonialism after world literature : relation, equality, dissent/ by Lorna Burns. Description: London; NewYork, NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. 1 Series: New horizons in contemporary writing l lncludes bibliographical references and index. ldentifiers: LCCN 2018048859 j lSBN 9781350053021 (hb) j lSBN 9781350053038 (ePDF) I ISBN 9781350053045 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Literature-History and criticism. 1 Postcolonialism in literature. 1 Literature-Philosophy. Classification: LCC PN56.P555 B88 2019 I DOC 809/.93358-dc23 LC record available at ISBN: HB: 978-1-3500-5302-1 ePDF: 978-1-3500-5303-8 eBook: 978-1-3500-5304-5 Series: New Horizons in Contemporary Writing Typeset by Deanta Global Publishing Services, Chennai, lndia Prînted and bound in Great Britain · To find out more about our authors and books visit and sign up for our newsletters.

Contents Acknowledgements Introduction: Why World Literature Needs Postcolonial Critique 1 A World Empire ofLetters: Theories ofWorld Literature from Nation to World-System 2 Modernity in Relation: Rethinking the Sociology of World Literature 3 Globalizing Dissent: Active Resistance and the Politics of Relation in Postcolonial and World Literatures 4 Enacting Equality: Postcolonialism After World Literature Notes Bibliography Index




83 121 169


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Acknowledgements I would like to thank colleagues and students in the School of English at the University of St Andrews for fostering the environment within which this book was written. To students on my Honours module, 'Nationalists and Nomads: Contemporary World Literature', I am grateful to have had the opportunity to explore many of these novels and theorists with you and it has certainly inspired my thinking over the past five years. I would also like to thank my undergraduate research assistants, Rowan Anderson and Claudia Mak, whom I employed in an attempt to create my own mini literary lab: Rowan Anderson researched essays in French on Dany Laferrière, Kamel Daoud and Édouard Glissant; Claudia Mak complied literary reviews and articles on the works of J. M. Coetzee and Arundhati Roy and proofread some chapters. I am grateful to both for their contributions to this book. To friends and colleagues, thank you for your conviviality and willingness to discuss aspects of my research. To that end, I thank Christina Alt, Wendy Knepper and Katie Muth who have all taken the time to read parts of this work in draft form. In particular, I would like to thank Katie for working with me on the colloquium 'World Literature and Dissent: which we held in St Andrews, June 2016, and for the edited collection which will soon follow. To everyone involved in the colloquium - Anna Bernard, Timothy Brennan, Sharae Deckard, Djelal Kadir, Oisin Keohane, Nick Lawrence, Dominic Smith, Mads Rosendahl 'Diomsen, Galin Tihanov and Robert Young - thank you for your contributions to a wonderful event and for inspiring discussions on the question of dissent in world literature. Thanks are due to Jane Stabler, who as Head of School generously allowed me ~orne relief from administrative roles in the last stages of writing. Anindya Raychaudhuri and everyone in the Marxist Reading Group have been an invaluable sounding board for this project along the way - induding Ben Hewitt, whose understanding of Moretti, Jameson and German philosophy has helped shape fondamental ideas at work in this book I am grateful for the many conversations that we have had on Moretti, Coetzee, Nietzsche ( and Deleuze's Nietzsche). Finally, for their welcome distractions, thank you Matt Augustine, Alex Davis, Katie Garner, Clare Gill and Philip Parry.



Invaluable feedback on the theoretical scope, aims and approach of this book was provided by Djelal Kadir, Stephen Shapiro and, as always, Nick Nesbitt: thank you all for your comments and ideas. Two events at the University of Leeds organized by Daniel Hartley in 2018, 'World Literature and the Limits of Personhood' (January) and ½.rchives of Resistance: Cosmopolitanism, Memory and World Literature' (June), provided further opportunities for dialogue on aspects of this work and I would like to thank Daniel for the invitation to present at the January symposium. I would also like to extend my thanks to David Avital and Clara Herberg at Bloomsbury Academic for their support in the publication of this book and for keeping me on track, as well as to the series editors, Bryan Cheyette and Martin Eve. Reproduced in this book are short fragments of material published .elsewhere, and I am grateful to those publishers for allowing me to expand on aspects of the following essays: Loma Burns (2015), 'Postcolonial Singularity and a World Literature Yet-to-Come', Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 20 ( 4): 243-59; and Lorna Burns (2015), 'Razing the Wall: Deleuze, Rancière and the Polîtics of New World Literatures' in Ian Buchanan, Aidan Tynan and Tim Matts (eds), Deleuze and the Schizoanalysis ofLiterature, 154-73, London: Bloomsbury. Loma Burns, September 2018

Introduction: Why World Literature Needs Postcolonial Critique

World literature, whether approached under the sign of modernity, globalization or the capitalist world-system, is troubled by the shadows cast by the historical legacies of colonization and their postcolonial afterlives. The historical moment of world literature's emergence as a concept in the nineteenth century coincided with a globalist expansionism that not only fuelled an increase in the circulation of texts across national borders (through trade), as well as linguistic ones (through translation), but was witness to the trafficking of peoples, assimilation of cultures and appropriation of geographically distant territories asso-ciated with European imperialism. As Caroline Levine and B. Venkat Mani have argued, it was as Shamsie's reflection on the act of gaining British citizenship reminds us, it is simply not enough to revise the parameters of legal definitions of citizen and foreigner since it is the very fact that citizenship is at the mercy of government policy alone that is of concern: a fact that highlights, for us, the lie that founds the demos and, regardless of who falls on which sicle of the