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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 The club is no longer active, but this page has been retained to furnish introductory information about the traditions of Mushairas and Goshthis in the Indian subcontinent. […]

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 […]

Languages of South Asia

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A wealth of languages make their home on the Indian Subcontinent. Estimates for the number of languages spoken range from over three hundred to well over a thousand, though the bulk of these are dialects of one language or another. Even with the most conservative estimates, these languages differ greatly in their technical aspects, but a Russian […]

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 […]

Kerala and The God of Small Things

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A full understanding of and appreciation for Arundhati Roy’s novel The God of Small Things requires that the reader be well acquainted with the land and culture through which Roy weaves her tale. Roy achieves the rich descriptive texture and vivid imagery of her novel by writing about something with which she is intimately familiar; […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 with the hope of establishing a major theatre company for Northern Ireland. The production and […]

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 […]

Anglophilia

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“By G – I do love the Ingles. G-d dammee, if I don’t love them better than the French by G -!” – Voltaire (qtd. in Buruma 21). Introduction Why can’t the rest of the world be just like England? When Voltaire raised this question in 1756 in his Philosophical Dictionary, it would logically follow that […]

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 […]

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), works which have made Fanon a prominent contributor to postcolonial studies. Fanon was born in 1925, to a middle-class family in the French colony of Martinique. He left Martinique in 1943, […]

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. […]

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 […]

Anzaldúa, Gloria

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Biography Born in 1942 in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas to sixth-generation mexicanos, this self-described “Chicana, tejana, working-class, dyke-feminist poet, writer-theorist” was punished in grade school for her inability to speak English “properly” yet is now recognized as a leading cultural theorist and a highly innovative writer (See Language). Her work, which is […]

Anderson, Benedict

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Biography Benedict Richard O’Gorman Anderson was born on August 26, 1936 in Kunming, China to James O’Gorman and Veronica Beatrice Mary Anderson. James was an officer in the Imperial Maritime Customs in China and according to his son, a Sinophile; he was also of mixed Irish and Anglo-Irish descent, and his family had been active in […]

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 […]

Sidhwa, Bapsi

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Biography Bapsi Sidhwa is Pakistan’s leading diasporic writer. She has produced four novels in English that reflect her personal experience of the Indian subcontinent’s Partition, abuse against women, immigration to the US, and membership in the Parsi/Zoroastrian community. Born on August 11, 1938 in Karachi, in what is now Pakistan, and migrating shortly thereafter to Lahore, […]

Sembene, Ousmane

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As far as I am concerned, I no longer support notions of purity. Purity has become a thing of the past. . . I constantly question myself. I am neither looking for a school nor for a solution but asking questions and making others think. (qtd.in Niang 176) Biography (b. 1923, d. 2007) Born on […]

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 […]

Portis, Charles

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“Reading Portis is one of the great pure pleasures – both visceral and cerebral – available in modern American literature” (Rosenbaum 33). Biography Charles Portis was born on December 28, 1933 in El Dorado, Arkansas. His father, Samuel, was a public school superintendent, while his mother, Alice Waddell, was an adamant supporter of the literary arts. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Doyle, Roddy

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Biography Roddy Doyle was born in 1958 in Dublin, Ireland.  He attended St. Fintan’s Christian Brothers School in Sutton and later continued his education at University College, Dublin. For fourteen years he worked as an English and Geography teacher at Greendale Community School, in Kilbarrack, North Dublin. Since 1993 he has been dedicated to writing full-time. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Dangarembga, Tsitsi

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Biography In 1959, Tsitsi Dangarembga was born in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, in the town of Mutoko. She spent her early childhood, ages two through six, in Britain. She began her education in a British school but after returning to Rhodesia with her family, she concluded her early education, her A-levels, in a missionary school in the […]

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 […]

Chandra, Vikram

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Biography A relative newcomer to the literary scene, Indian author Vikram Chandra garnered much praise for his debut novel Red Earth and Pouring Rain. Following this well-received work of 1995, Chandra dazzled critics once again with the release of Love and Longing in Bombay, a unique collection of five lengthy stories for which he won the Commonwealth Writers’ […]

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 […]

Badami, Anita Rau

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Biography Due to her first novel Anita Rau Badami was considered one of the newest writers in the vibrant field of Indian subcontinental literature.  Ms. Badami was born in 1961 in Rourkela, Orissa, India (Nurse 53).  Her debut novel, Tamarind Mem, received critical acclaim. Her father worked as a mechanical engineer on the railroads.  Because of her father’s […]

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 […]