Volume 65, Issue 3 | September 2004

Special Issue: Postcolonialism and the Past

Author Title
David J. Baker and Barbara Fuchs The Postcolonial Past
Author Title
Irad Malkin Postcolonial Concepts and Ancient Greek Colonization
John Dagenais The Postcolonial Laura
Lisa Lampert Race, Periodicity, and the (Neo-) Middle Ages  
In recent years scholars have begun to explore issues of race and racism in medieval texts and contexts. This essay approaches this work from a new direction, investigating the informing role of the medieval and more particularly of medievalism in the constitution, representation and perpetuation of modern racism. The essay is divided into three parts. The first examines treatments of the medieval period in some influential general accounts of the history of the concept of race. The second discusses the ways in which two medieval romances, Parzival and The King of Tars, illuminate the tangled relationships between "theological" and "biological" notions of race both in the premodern and modern eras. The essay concludes with an account of "neo-medievalism" a trend among International Relations theorists and journalists that relies upon a vision of a homogeneous medieval Europe to attempt to describe current global tensions.
Roland Greene Colonial Becomes Postcolonial
Mary Louise Pratt The Anticolonial Past: Interruption, Digestion, Substitution, Reversal  
This essay examines how what are known as the rise of the west and the spread of western modernity have been depicted by anti-colonial and anti-imperial thinkers whose work is tied to demands for decolonization. The essay will focus on four tropes that have been advanced as correctives or counternarratives to the story of diffusion. These are: interruption, digestion, substitution, and reversal.
Robert Markley Gulliver and the Japanese: The Limits of the Postcolonial Past  
This essay examines Gulliver's voyage to Japan in Book Three of Gullivers Travels in the context of three important bodies of literature: accounts of the short-lived English trading post in Hirado (1613-23); histories of the expulsion of the Jesuits and the extirpation of Catholicism in Japan; and narratives of Dutch merchants' willingness to submit to the political ritual of trampling on Christian icons in order to maintain their trading privileges in Japan. Gulliver's encounters with the Japanese indicate that Swift knew this literature and was well aware of the unsettling implications that Japan posed for Eurocentric visions of trade, history, and theology. In their combination of fantasy and realism, Gulliver's encounters with the Japanese register profound anxieties about the limitations of English economic power, national identity, and morality in a world that until 1800 was dominated economically by the empires of the Far East.
Marissa Greenberg Predicting the Past  
How to read history as simultaneously synchronic and diachronic? How to read the past and imagine the future without succumbing to the specious charm of novelty? These questions organize the response to the contributions in this special issue. "Predicting the Past" evaluates the authors' challenge to traditional historical divides and customary postcolonial tropes. It concludes by suggesting that extending the time and space of colonial/postcolonial experience is useful only within a larger plot that acknowledges the presence of a necessitarian history alongside a recognition of utopian and resistive elements within it.

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