Walcott, Derek

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I who am poisoned with the blood of both Where shall I turn, divided to the vein? I who have cursed The drunken officer of British rule, how choose Between this Africa and the British tongue I love? “A Far Cry from Africa” Introduction When the Swedish Academy awarded poet and playwright Derek Walcott the Nobel […]

Vassanji, M. G.

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Biography Moyez G. Vassanji was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1950 and raised in Tanzania. His family was part of a community of Indians who had emigrated to Africa. When he was 19, Vassanji left the University of Nairobi on a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied nuclear physics in which he later […]

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 a […]

Transnationalism and Globalism

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Defining the Term In sweeping strokes, we can understand “globalism” as closely related to the term “postcolonialism” itself. The two terms share the idea of cosmopolitan centers in changing relations with rural areas and the emerging metropolises of the Third World. For the purposes at least of this page, however, we will use “globalism” to […]

Postcolonial Performance and Installation Art

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This article discusses contemporary performance and installation artists who address the objectification of the non-white bodies in Western culture: Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Joyce Scott and Kay Lawal, James Luna, Renée Green, Lyle Ashton Harris and Renée Cox, and Grace Jones. Significantly, many of these performance artists use their own bodies as a medium to interrogate the history of “human […]

Goshthi, Mushaira

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  This page was developed to mark the establishment of a multilingual, multi-religious poetry club for the community in Atlanta, and for faculty and students  at Emory University. The club is no longer active, but this page has been retained to furnish introductory information about the traditions of Mushairas and Goshthis in the Indian subcontinent. […]

Mimicry, Ambivalence, and Hybridity

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Daniel Dafoe’s 1719 novel, Robinson Crusoe, is a rich text for understanding the mechanisms of European colonialism and the relation between the colonizer and the colonized (represented by Crusoe and Friday). Dafoe represents Crusoe as being the ultimate incarnation of an Englishman: industrious, self-determining and ready to colonize natives. (See Anglophilia) Crusoe encounters a native and […]

Magical Realism

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Magical Realism A literary mode rather than a distinguishable genre, magical realism is characterized by two conflicting perspectives, one based on a so-called rational view of reality and the other on the acceptance of the supernatural as prosaic reality. Magical realism differs from pure fantasy primarily because it is set in a normal, modern world […]

Language

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“… make language stammer, or make it ‘wail,’ stretch tensors through all of language, even written language, and draw from it cries, shouts, pitches, durations, timbres, accents, intensities.” – G. Deleuze and F. Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus Language is often a central question in postcolonial studies. During colonization, colonizers usually imposed or encouraged the dominance of their […]

Jews in India

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A unique and multicultural group of people, the Jews of India add exciting flavor to India’s already diverse population. Centered in three main communities in Bombay, Calcutta, and along the Malabar Coast, these unusual sects of Jews have combined many of their ancient Israelite customs with traditional Indian lifestyle, and have created a rich culture […]

Hybridity and Postcolonial Music

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Ethnomusicology Bruno Nettl, a music and anthropology professor, lists some of the various definitions for “ethnomusicology.” Meanings, in terms of the material that is studied, range from “folk and what used to be called “primitive,” i.e. tribal or possibly ancient music,to “all human music” (The Study of Ethnomusicology, 2-3). Definitions that catagorize by type of […]

Colonialism and Architecture

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The colonial presence is always ambivalent, split between its appearance as original and authoritative and its articulation as repetition and difference. It is a disjunction produced within the act of enunciation as a specifically colonial articulation of those two disproportionate sites of colonial discourse and power: the colonial scene as the invention of historicity, mastery, […]

Colonial Education

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What is Colonial Education? The process of colonization involves one nation or territory taking control of another nation or territory either through the use of force or by acquisition. As a byproduct of colonization, the colonizing nation implements its own form of schooling within their colonies. Two scholars on colonial education, Gail P. Kelly and […]

Memmi, Albert

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Introduction Born in Tunisia, a Jew in a predominately Muslim colony, Albert Memmi writes that he was “sort of a half-breed of colonization, understanding everyone because I belonged completely to no one” (xvi). Memmi’s 1957 book, The Colonizer and the Colonized (part of which has also been published under the title, Portrait of the Colonizer), is one of […]

Bahri, Deepika

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Works Bahri has a particular interest in aesthetics, and has worked to develop this area in postcolonial studies. In Native Intelligence: Aesthetics, Politics, and Postcolonial Literature (2003), she writes about the “aesthetic dimension” of postcolonial literature, borrowing a phrase from the Frankfurt School theorist, Herbert Marcuse (See Theodor Adorno).  This book argues that postcolonial literature needs to […]

Vargas Llosa, Mario

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Biography Peruvian novelist, essayist, journalist, literary critic and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa was born in Arequipa, Peru, in 1936. He attended Leoncio Prado Military Academy from 1950 to 1952 and Colegio Nacional San Miguel de Piura  in 1952. From 1955 to 1957, he studied Literature and Law at the […]

Tharoor, Shashi

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“In writing of Indian culture, I am highly conscious of my own subjectivity; arguably, there is more than one Indian culture, and certainly more than one view of Indian culture.” – Shashi Tharoor (HAPR) Introduction As a diplomat and writer, Shashi Tharoor has explored the diversity of culture in his native India. By exploring the themes […]

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 […]

Smith, Zadie

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Biography Zadie Smith grew up in Willesden Green, England. She was born into a mixed race family; her mother is from Jamaica, and her father is English. She has two brothers, both younger than she, and two older half-siblings. Smith began writing poems and short stories when she was six. In addition to writing, she loved […]

Silko, Leslie Marmon

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Biography Leslie Marmon Silko, an accomplished Native American writer, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1948. She has a mix of Laguna Pueblo, Mexican, and white ancestry. Silko grew up at the Pueblo of Laguna, located in west central New Mexico. She attended a Catholic school in Albuquerque, commuting from Laguna. In 1969 she […]

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 […]

Roy, Arundhati

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The information provided on this site for Arundhati Roy is spread across a couple entries. Please click on the following entries for more information about Roy and her most famous novel, The God of Small Things. Kerala and The God of Small Things Caste System in India Christianity in India Communism in India Divorce in […]

Ramanujan, Attipat Krishnaswami

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Biography A. K. Ramanujan, born in Mysore, India in 1929, came to the U.S. in 1959, where he remained until his death in Chicago on July 13, 1993. Not only was Ramanujan a transnational figure, but he was also a transdisciplinary scholar, working as a poet, translator, linguist, and folklorist. Although he wrote primarily in English, he […]

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 […]

Naipaul, V.S.

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Biography Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was born in Chaguanas, Trinidad, on August 17, 1932. His Hindu grandfather had emigrated to Trinidad from West India as an indentured servant. His father, Seepersad (1906-53), was a journalist, whose literary aspirations were inherited by V.S., and his brother, Shiva. The family moved to Port of Spain, where Naipaul attended […]

Mukherjee, Bharati

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Biography Bharati Mukherjee was born on July 27, 1940 to wealthy parents, Sudhir Lal and Bina Mukherjee in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. She learned how to read and write by the age of three. In 1947, she moved to Britain with her family at the age of eight and lived in Europe for about three […]

Mootoo, Shani

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“Cultural bastards, Janet, cultural bastards. Dat is what we is.” Out on Main Street Biography Shani Mootoo was born in Ireland in 1958 and raised in Trinidad. She moved to Canada at the age of 19, where she began a career as a visual artist. A skilled multimedia artist and videomaker, she has had exhibitions in […]

Mehta, Deepa

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Biography Canadian-based filmmaker Deepa Mehta was born in Amritsar, India in 1949. She received a bachelors and masters degree in philosophy from the University of New Delhi, where she met her husband, Canadian filmmaker and producer Paul Saltzman. Shortly after getting married, she immigrated to Canada in 1973. However, the marriage was short lived, and […]

Marshall, Paule

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Biography In 1929, Paule Marshall was born Valenza Pauline Burke in Brooklyn, New York. She visited Barbados, her parents’ birthplace, for the first time at the age of nine. Marshall graduated from Brooklyn College in 1953 and graduate school at Hunter College in 1955. Early in her life, Marshall wrote a series of poems reflecting […]

Maraire, J. Nozipo

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Biography J. Nozipo Maraire was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1966 during the transition of the country from colonial Rhodesia under Britain to the independent country of Zimbabwe. Maraire’s grandparents, parents, and other close family members were directly involved in the war for independence from both the British and the white elite. Maraire left Zimbabwe […]

Lee, Li-Young

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Family History Li-Young Lee was born in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1957, the son of exiled Chinese parents. His mother came from a noble family; her father Yuan Shi-kai was the first president of the Republic of China. Lee’s father, Lee Kuo Yuan, came from a family of gangsters and entrepreneurs. Their marriage received official disapproval; moreover, […]

Lamming, George

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When I review these relationships they seem so odd. I have always been here on this side and the other person there on that side, and we have both tried to make the sides appear similar in the needs, desires, and ambitions. But it wasn’t true. It was never true. When I reach Trinidad where […]

Lahiri, Jhumpa

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Biography Growing up in America under the supervision of a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, it is no surprise that Jhumpa Lahiri puts so large an emphasis on the “stories of Indians in what for them is a strange land” (Rothstein 1).  After publishing her first book, Interpreter of Maladies, in […]

Kureishi, Hanif

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“From the start I tried to deny my Pakistani self . . . it was a curse and I wanted to be rid of it. I wanted to be like everyone else.” – Kureishi, “The Rainbow Sign” Biography Born December 5, 1954 in Bromley, England, to an Indian father and an English mother, Hanif Kureishi grew up […]

Kipling, Rudyard

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Take up the White Man’s burden– Send forth the best ye breed– Go, bind your sons to exile To serve your captives’ need; On fluttered folk and wild– Your new-caught sullen peoples, Half devil and half child. – Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden” Biography This famous writer was born Joseph Rudyard Kipling in Bombay on […]

Kincaid, Jamaica

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Biography Jamaica Kincaid was born in 1949 as Elaine Potter Richardson on the island of Antigua. She lived with her stepfather, a carpenter, and her mother until 1965 when she was sent to Westchester, New York to work as an au pair. In Antigua, she completed her secondary education under the British system due to […]

Khan-Din, Ayub

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Biography “This was our Pakistani life; this is how we existed outside Salford. A life none of my friends knew or could understand…I think in [East is East] I came as close as possible to understanding my father’s motivation in the way he tried to bring us up,” explains Ayub Khan-Din with regard to his […]

Jha, Raj Kamal

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Biography Raj Kamal Jha was born in 1966 in Calcutta, India. He grew up with his father and mother; his father is a college professor in Calcutta. After secondary school, Jha was accepted to the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, to pursue a degree in engineering. One day, Jha observed a group of […]

Hulme, Keri

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Biography Keri Hulme, a New Zealand native, was born on March 9, 1947, in Christchurch, New Zealand. She is the daughter of John W., a carpenter and businessman, and Mere, a credit manager, and sister to five siblings. Her father died when she was eleven years old. Hulme is descended from a rich background. She […]

Huidobro, Vicente

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Biography Vicente García Huidobro Fernández was born to a distinguished aristocrat family in Santiago, Chile in 1893. In his teenage and early adult years, the works of modernist Chilean writer and poet Rubén Darío inspired him. He praised Darío as “a renovator of poetry” (Camurati 29) and as an homage to him, he began to publish his own work […]

Head, Bessie

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“Love is so powerful, it’s like unseen flowers under your feet as you walk.” – Bessie Head, A Question of Power Bessie Head, one of Africa’s most prominent writers, was born in South Africa in 1937. The child of an “illicit” union between a Scottish woman and a black man, Head was taken from her mother […]

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 […]

Friel, Brian

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Biography Born 9 January 1929, Catholic, in Omagh, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, Brian Friel is one of Ireland’s most prominent playwrights. In addition to his published plays, he has written short stories; screenplays; film, TV, and radio adaptations of his plays; and several pieces of non-fiction on the role of theatre and the artist. […]

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), […]

Danticat, Edwidge

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Biography Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1969. Her father immigrated to the United States just 2 years later looking for work. Her mother followed him in 1973. Danticat remained in Haiti eight more years, raised by her aunt. At age 12 she reunited with her parents in a predominantly Haitian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Two […]

Damas, Léon

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Biography Léon-Gontran Damas was born in Cayenne, French Guiana in 1912 to a middle-class family. His father was of European and African descent and there was Amerindian and African ancestry on his mother’s side of the family. Young Damas received his primary education in Cayenne, but he later moved to Martinique and attended Lycée Schoelcher there. At Lycée, he shared […]

Dabydeen, David

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Biography David Dabydeen was born on December 9, 1955 to Krishna Prasad and Vera Dabydeen, the parents of a peasant family, in a county in Guyana named Berbice. Until 1966, Guyana was a British colony predominantly inhabited by Africans and Indians who immigrated to the Caribbean during a massive movement, which transplanted more than half a […]

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 […]

Césaire, Aimé

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Biography Aimé Césaire was born in 1913 in Martinique in the French Caribbean. He left for Paris in 1931 at the age of 18 with a scholarship for school. During his time at the Lycee Louis-le Grand, he helped found a student publication, Etudiant Noir.  In 1936, Césaire started working on his famed piece Cahier, which was not published […]

Ben Jelloun, Tahar

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Biography Born in Fez, Morocco to a shopkeeper and his wife in December of 1944, Tahar Ben Jelloun is one of North Africa’s most successful post-colonial writers. Winner of France’s Prix Goncourt, Ben Jelloun moved at eighteen from Fez to Tangier where he attended a French high school until enrolling at the Université Mohammed V in Rabat in 1963. It was at the university where Ben Jelloun’s writing […]

Basquiat, Jean-Michel

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Basquiat and Postcoloniality On Basquiat, art critic Robert Farris Thompson writes, “What identifies Jean-Michel Basquiat as a major artist is courage and full powers of self-transformation. That courage, meaning not being afraid to fail, transforms paralyzingly self-conscious’predicaments of culture’ into confident ‘ecstasies of cultures recombined.’ He had the guts, what is more, to confront New York […]