Yeats, W.B. and Postcolonialism

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Which Yeats? There are many versions of William Butler Yeats (b 1865  d 1939),  Ireland’s most famous poet, dramatist, critic, and Senator. Variously claimed by nationalists, occultists, fascists, modernists, Romantics, and postcolonialists, Yeats’s life and work are open to many interpretations. As a writer who devoted himself to building Irish culture and literature, Yeats’s position as […]

Third World and Third World Women

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What geographical regions constitute the Third World? Who are Third World women? Who defines and writes about the terms “Third World” and “Third World Women”? The answers to the above questions are important to both postcolonial studies and feminist studies. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak explains that the term “Third World” was initially coined in 1955 by those […]

Gandhi’s Salt March to Dandi

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The Salt Tax After proclaiming the Declaration of Independence of India on January 26, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi came to an impasse in his political career focused on freeing India from British rule. A new anti-government campaign was imperative for achieving the secularization of India for its people; it remained unclear, however, to Gandhi what form […]

Female Genital Cutting

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The knife cut down the guardian of the village today. Now he is dead and gone. Before the village was dirty, But now without the guardian it is clean. So look at us, we are only women and the men have come to beat the tam-tam. They have phalli like the elephants. They have come […]

Chicana Feminism

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Chicana Defined “Chicana” refers to women of Mexican descent who are born and/or raised in the United States. Although the term is widely used by Chicana activists and scholars today, many Chicana women debate the term’s origin and early connotations. Some believe that the term originated with the indigenous Mexica (Meh-sheik-a) tribes of Mesoamerica while […]

Apartheid Literature

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A Brief Introduction to the Apartheid After much conflict, in 1910, the Afrikaner community(the descendants of Dutch traders, live stock farmers and religious refugees from west Europe) and the British established a nations-state called the Union of South Africa.  The National Party was formed by the Afrikaners and the British formed the South African Party. […]

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty

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Introduction While she is best known as a postcolonial theorist, Gayatri Spivak describes herself as a “para-disciplinary, ethical philosopher”– though her early career would have included “applied deconstruction.” Her reputation was first made for her translation and preface to Derrida’s Of Grammatology (1976) and she has since applied deconstructive strategies to various theoretical engagements and textual analyses […]

Mannoni, Octave

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Biography Born in France of parents from Corsica, Octave Mannoni (1899-1989) belonged to a small group of critics who managed to think independently while faithfully following Lacan. After a tumultuous youth, Mannoni traveled to Africa and resided for more than twenty years in Madagascar, where he held various functions while working as an ethnologist. Upon return […]

Gell-Mann, Murray

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Biography Born on September 15, 1929, in New York, New York, Murray Gell-Mann had a passion for learning that was seemingly inborn and insatiable. Son of Austrian-Hungarian immigrants, Murray and his brother, Ben, frequently visited museums and zoos, and explored their urban environment in an endless quest for knowledge. The passion for education was a […]

Soyinka, Wole

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Biography Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian born writer of international renown, is an artist proficient in multiple genres. Soyinka has written in the modes of drama (Death and the King’s Horseman and Madmen and Specialists), poetry (Idanre and other Poems), autobiography (Ake: The Years of Childhood), the novel (The Interpreters), literary and cultural criticism (Myth, Literature and the […]

Selvadurai, Shyam

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“The magic of fiction seems to be the more specific you are, the more universal you end up becoming.” – Shyam Selvadurai, in an Outlines Interview, May 1996. Biography If postcolonialism is the Empire writing back, many Sri Lankans have had to write back to an Empire in which they now reside. Emigrating to the United Kingdom, […]

Rushdie, Salman

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Biography Salman Rushdie was born in Bombay in 1947, just months before the Partition of British India. His father, Ahmed, was a businessman and his mother, Negin, was a teacher. He grew up loving the escape literature and film offered, and he wrote his first story when he was ten years old. He encountered some […]

Ondaatje, Michael

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Biography Michael Ondaatje was born on September 12, 1943 in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The son of Mervyn Ondaatje, a tea and rubber plantation superintendent and Doris Gratiaen, a part-time dancer inspired by Isadora Duncan. As a result of his father’s alcoholism, Ondaatje’s parents eventually separated in 1954 and he moved to England with […]

Harris, Wilson

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Biography A Guyanese of Amerindian, African, European, and possibly Asian descent (Harris 1999: 237), Wilson Harris was born in New Amsterdam, Guyana (then and up until 1966 British Guiana) on March 24th, 1921. Having been educated at Queen’s College in the nation’s capital of Georgetown, he went on to become a government surveyor employed in […]

Gunesekera, Romesh

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Biography Romesh Gunesekera was born in Sri Lanka in 1954, moving to London in 1972. He grew up speaking both English and Sinhala. Gunesekera won the Liverpool College Poetry Prize in 1972, the Rathborne Prize in Philosophy in 1976, and the first prize in the Peterloo Open Poetry Competition in 1988. Gunesekera’s first book, Monkfish Moon, was […]

Ghosh, Amitav

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Biography Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He grew up in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), Sri Lanka, Iran and India. After graduating from the University of Delhi, he went to Oxford to study Social Anthropology and received a Master of Philosophy and a PhD in 1982. In 1980, he went to Egypt to […]

Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee

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Biography Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her work is widely known, as she has been published in over 50 magazines, and her writing has been included in over 30 anthologies. She was born in India in 1956 and lived there until 1976, when, at age nineteen,  she left Kolkata and came […]

Darío, Rubén

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Biography Rubén Darío was born on January 18, 1867 in Metapa, Nicaragua (later renamed Ciudad Dario). At birth, he was named Félix Rubén García Sarmiento and later took the old family name, Darío. His parents divorced and he was adopted and raised by his godfather, Colonel Félix Ramírez. Dubbed “El Niño Poeta” (the poet child), […]

Cliff, Michelle

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Biography Michelle Cliff was born in Jamaica and grew up there and in the United States. She was educated in New York City and at the Warburg Institute at the University of London, where she completed a PhD on the Italian Renaissance. She is the author of novels (Abeng, No Telephone To Heaven, and Free Enterprise), short […]