Glissant, Edouard

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Edouard Glissant was born in Saint-Marie, Martinique in 1928 to a family of five children. His father was working as an agricultural manager, or ‘géreur d’Habitation’[1], and directly exposed the young Edward to the colonial reality. During childhood, he moved to Lamentin, the second most populated city in Martinique, where Glissant discovered primary school and the […]

Mies, Maria

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Biography Maria Mies is a Marxist feminist scholar who is renowned for her theory of capitalist-patriarchy, which recognizes third world women and difference. She is a Professor of Sociology at Fachhochschule in Cologne, Germany, but retired from teaching in 1993. Since the late 1960s she has been involved with feminist activism. In 1979, at the […]

Wendt, Albert

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Biography Albert Wendt is an acclaimed novelist, poet and short-story writer who was born in Western Samoa in 1939. At age 13, he was sent from Western Samoa to the New Plymouth Boys’ High School in New Zealand on a government scholarship. Wendt stayed in New Zealand to eventually earn an MA in history from […]

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 […]

Verghese, Abraham

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Biography Verghese was born in 1955 to well-educated, South Indian Christian parents who migrated to Ethiopia (See Christianity in India, Transnationalism and Globalism). After starting his medical education, Verghese was forced to leave Ethiopia in 1973 due to the unstable political situation. Upon arriving in America, he began work as an orderly. Eventually, he returned […]

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 […]

Women, Islam, and Hijab

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Background The practice of hijab among Muslim women is one based on religious doctrine, although the Quran does not mandate it. Instead, it comes from the Hadith of Sahih Bukhari. The Hadith, the “tradition of Mohammed,” reveals the teachings of the Prophet to believers. Bukhari’s version of this text is generally regarded as the standard […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Postcolonial Novel

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The novel has been the aesthetic object of choice for a majority of postcolonial scholars. While postcolonial writers have by no means failed to produce poetry nor have critics in the field entirely neglected verse, it is the novel and studies of the novel that have had the greatest influence in the field. To some […]

Orientalism

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Edward Said’s evaluation and critique of the set of beliefs known as Orientalism forms an important background for postcolonial studies. His work highlights the inaccuracies of a wide variety of assumptions as it questions various paradigms of thought which are accepted on individual, academic, and political levels. The Terms The Orient signifies a system of representations framed by […]

Nuclear Proliferation in the Third World

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Introduction Monday, May 10, 1998 marked a day that will not soon be forgotten. It was the day India began nuclear testing, much to the horrified shock of the U.S. and Western European superpowers. According to Arundhati Roy, a widely and extensively lauded and criticized Indian author, it is a day that will live in […]

Nobel Prize in Literature

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Alfred Nobel Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1833. In 1842, the Nobel family moved to Russia, where Alfred and his brothers received an education in the humanities and the natural sciences from private tutors. Nobel is accredited with the invention of dynamite in 1866. Dynamite and the blasting cap are two of […]

Nationalism

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The methods of partitioning land have undergone tremendous change since the thirteenth century. During medieval and renaissance times, royal dynasties and religious organizations formed the foundations of political and geographical divisions. As the modern era approached, people began to question the Divine Right of Kings and the dynastic apportioning of their land.  The following are […]

Myths of the Native

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The Colonizer In his essay “Literature and Society,” Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o explores the mechanisms of imperialism. To ensure economic and political control the colonizing power tries to control the cultural environment: education, religion, language, literature, songs and other forms of artistic and cultural expression, hoping in this way to control a people’s self-image and world outlook. One repressive strategy used by […]

Mimicry, Ambivalence, and Hybridity

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Daniel Defoe’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). Defoe 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 […]

Metafiction

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Introduction Although implicit in many other types of fictional works, self-reflexivity often becomes the dominant subject of postmodern fiction. In 1970, William H. Gass wrote an essay in which he dubbed the novel’s self-reflexive tendency “metafiction” (Waugh 2). Critics of postmodern metafiction claim that it marks the death or exhaustion of the novel as a […]

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 at the University of Illinois, 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 […]

Homophobia and Postcolonialism

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Let the Americans keep their sodomy, bestiality, stupid and foolish ways to themselves, out of Zimbabwe.  – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Frantz Fanon, one of the earliest and most influential postcolonial theorists, saw homosexuality as a sign of psychological distress, exclusive to Western peoples (that is people of western/Caucasian racial stock) and directly related to […]

Filipino American Literature

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“The identity of a Filipino today is of a person asking what is his identity.” – Nick Joaquin “This is then what one finds in Filipino fiction: a self that shares in all of the contradictoriness of the national self.” – Ninotchka Rosca The Postcolonial Meets the “Ethnic” United States The study of Filipino American literature offers […]

Field Day Theatre Company

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Introduction The Field Day Theatre Company began as an artistic collaboration between playwright Brian Friel and actor Stephen Rea. In 1980, the duo set out to launch a production of Friel’s recently completed play, Translations. They decided to rehearse and premiere the play in Derry, Northern Ireland, with the hope of establishing a major theatre company for Northern Ireland. The […]

Essentialism

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  One of the central modes of representation is essentialism. Diana Fuss says that essentialism is most commonly understood as a belief in the real, true essence of things, the invariable and fixed properties which define the ‘whatness’ of a given entity … Importantly, essentialism is typically defined in opposition to difference … The opposition […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Gilroy, Paul: The Black Atlantic

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Intellectual History in a Transatlantic Frame While some critics annotate the social and cultural impact that time-space compression has on our contemporary situation — in which material practices around the world speed up and reduce the distances between far-flung places — others have turned their attention to history to investigate what forms the transnational has […]

Fanon, Frantz

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Biography Frantz Fanon’s relatively short life yielded two potent and influential statements of anti-colonial revolutionary thought, Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961). These works have made Fanon one of the most prominent contributors to the field of postcolonial studies. Fanon was born in 1925, to a middle-class family in the French colony of […]

Chow, Rey

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A critic of the way sinologists, Orientalists, and Western intellectuals have traditionally approached China and the “East,” Rey Chow refuses to assign China “absolute difference” from the West and instead stakes her ground “neither in the Chinese nor the Western but rather on a dialectic on which ‘Chinese’ and ‘Western’ is played” (WCM x.v.i.i.). As […]

Chen, Kaun-Hsing

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Biography Kuan-Hsing Chen grew up in Taiwan and completed his college education there before he went to the U.S. for graduate study. Chen received his Ph.D. from University of Iowa in 1988. He then moved back to Taiwan and joined the faculty of the foreign language and literature department at National Tsinghua University in Hsinchu. […]

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 University […]

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 […]

Seth, Vikram

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Biography A small, wiry soap opera enthusiast with well-defined features and a ready smile, Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta in 1952 (also the home of Indian literary giant Rabindranath Tagore). Throughout Seth’s childhood, his father Prem Seth was a shoe company executive and his mother Laila Seth served as a judge. Vikram Seth is […]

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 […]

Roy, Arundhati

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The information provided on this site for Arundhati Roy is spread across multiple 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 India Kathakali

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 […]

Nwapa, Flora

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Nigerian Literature – Cries of Protest Nigerian literature often expresses the struggles of a nation that has survived the exploitation of colonialism and capitalism as well as the devastation of civil war and authoritarianism. Given the turmoil in Nigerian history, it is inevitable that the postcolonial Nigerian artist would fulfill the traditional role of artist as the […]

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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Biography Ngugi wa Thiong’o, a Kenyan writer of Gikuyu descent, began a very successful career writing in English before turning to work almost entirely in his native language, Gikuyu. In his 1986 Decolonising the Mind, his “farewell to English,” Ngugi describes language as a way people have not only of describing the world, but of understanding themselves. For him, English […]

Neruda, Pablo

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Sonnet XVII (100 Love Sonnets, 1960) I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz or arrow of carnations that propagate fire: I love you as certain dark things are loved, secretly, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries hidden within itself the […]

Nasrin, Taslima

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Introduction “She is either the bravest or most foolish person I’ve ever met,” a friend of Nasrin’s is quoted as saying (Weaver 49). There is no question about the bravery of Taslima Nasrin — the daughter of a county physician father and a devoutly religious mother, who was suddenly thrust into the spotlight after the angry […]

Nair, Mira

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Biography The highly acclaimed director and producer from India, Mira Nair leapt into the world’s spotlight with her film Salaam, Bombay! which was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. Mira Nair was born in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa to a civil servant in 1957. She went on to attend the University of New Delhi […]

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 video maker, she has had exhibitions […]

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 […]

McGuckian, Medbh

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“I know being a woman for me for a long time was being less, being excluded, being somehow cheap, being inferior, being sub. I associated being a woman with being a Catholic and being Irish with being from the North, and all of these things being not what you wanted to be. If you were a […]

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 […]

Lorde, Audre

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Coal I is the total black, being spoken from the earth’s inside. There are many kinds of open how a diamond comes into a knot of flame how sound comes into a words, coloured by who pays what for speaking. Some words are open like a diamond on glass windows singing out within the crash […]

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 […]

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 […]

Hodge, Merle

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Biography Merle Hodge was born in 1944, in Curepe, Trinidad, the daughter of an immigration officer. She received both her elementary and high school education in Trinidad, and as a student of Bishop Anstey’s High School, she won the Trinidad and Tobago Girls Island Scholarship in 1962. The scholarship allowed her to attend University College, London, where she pursued studies […]

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 […]

Gooneratne, Yasmine

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Biography Novelist, poet, and critic Yasmine Gooneratne, a graduate of Bishop’s College, went on to graduate from the University of Ceylon in 1959 and also received a PhD in English Literature from Cambridge University in 1962. Gooneratne became a resident of Australia in 1972. In 1981, she received the first higher doctoral degree of Doctor of […]

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. […]

Djebar, Assia

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Biography Assia Djebar was born Fatima-Zohra Imalayen in Cherchell, Algeria on August 4, 1936. She published her first novel, La Soif, under pen name Assia Djebar in 1957, followed by her second novel, Les Impatients, in 1958. In that same year, Djebar married Walid Garn and worked toward advanced degree in history at University of Algiers. In 1962, Djebar […]

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 […]

Devi, Mahsweta

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Biography Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in the city of Dacca (now Dhaka) in East Bengal (modern-day Bangladesh). As an adolescent, she and her family moved to West Bengal in India. Born into a literary family, Mahasweta Devi was also influenced by her early association with Gananatya, a group who attempted to bring social […]

Das, Kamala

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Biography Recognized as one of India’s foremost poets, Kamala Das was born Kamala Madhavikutty on March 31, 1934 in Malabar in the state of Kerala (Dwivedi 297). Her love of poetry began at an early age through the influence of her great uncle, Nalapat Narayan Menon, a prominent writer. Das remembered watching him “work from morning […]

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 […]

Coetzee, J.M.

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Biography John Maxwell Coetzee, better known as J.M. Coetzee, was born in South Africa to Afrikaner parents on February 9th, 1940. His father worked for the government and also was a sheep farmer. When Coetzee was eight, his father lost the government job due to his differing views from the apartheid government. The family then moved […]

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 […]

Alvarez, Julia

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Biography Although Julia Alvarez was born in New York City on March 27, 1950, her family moved to the Dominican Republic shortly after her birth, and it was there that she spent the majority of her childhood. In 1960, when Alvarez was ten years old, her family emigrated to the United States, fleeing the Dominican […]

Alexander, Meena

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Biography Mary Elizabeth Alexander was born in Allahabad, India, on February 17, 1951. Although christened Mary Elizabeth, she has been called “Meena” since birth, and, in her fifteenth year, she officially changed her name to Meena. Not so much an act of defiance as one of liberation, Alexander writes: “I felt I had changed my […]