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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Geography and Empire

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Introduction and Definition of Terms The Oxford Dictionary of the English Language defines geography as “the description of the earth’s surface.” Its Greek root words, geo– and graphein, literally mean “earth writing.”  Maps are defined as “a representation usually on a flat surface of the whole or a part of an area.”  The English word “map” is […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Petaia, Sapa’u Ruperake

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Biography Born on April 11, 1951, Sapa’u Ruperake Petaia is a published poet. He served as the Director of the Ministry of the Post and Telecommunications for the island nation of Samoa. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and Economic Geography from the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, in 1980. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]