Postcolonial Gateways and Walls

Under Construction


Editors: Daria Tunca and Janet Wilson
Metaphors are ubiquitously used in the humanities to bring the tangibility of the concrete world to the elaboration of abstract thought. Drawing on this cognitive function of metaphors, this collection of essays focuses on the evocative figures of the ‘gateway’ and the ‘wall’ to reflect on the state of postcolonial studies. Some chapters – on such topics as maze-making in Canada and the Berlin Wall in the writings of New Zealand authors – foreground the modes of articulation between literal borders and emotional (dis)connections, while others examine how artefacts ranging from personal letters to clothes may be conceptualized as metaphorical ‘gateways’ and ‘walls’ that lead or, conversely, regulate access, to specific forms of cultural expression and knowledge.
Following this line of metaphorical thought, postcolonial studies itself may be said to function as either barrier or pathway to further modes of enquiry. This much is suggested by two complementary sets of contributions: on the one hand, those that contend that the canonical centre-periphery paradigm and the related ‘writing back’ model have prevented scholars from recognizing the depth and magnitude of cross-cultural influences between civilizations; on the other, those that argue that the scope of traditional postcolonial models may be fruitfully widened to include territories such as post-imperial Turkey, a geographical and cultural gateway between East and West that features in several of the essays included in this collection.
Ultimately, all of the contributions testify to the fact that postcolonial studies is a field whose borders must be constantly redrawn, and whose paradigms need to be continually reshaped and rebuilt to remain relevant in the contemporary world – in other words, the collection’s varied approaches suggest that the discipline itself is permanently ‘under construction’. Readers are, therefore, invited to perform a critical inspection of the postcolonial construction site.

Vera Alexander - Elisabeth Bekers - Devon Campbell–Hall - Simran Chadha - Carmen Concilio - Margaret Daymond - Marta Dvořák - Claudia Duppé - Elena Furlanetto - Gareth Griffiths - John C. Hawley - Sissy Helff - Marie Herbillon - Deepika Marya - Bronwyn Mills - Padmini Mongia - Golnar Nabizadeh - Gerhard Stilz
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Biographical Note

DARIA TUNCA (Université de Liège) focuses on stylistics and African literatures, particularly contemporary Nigerian fiction. JANET WILSON (University of Northampton) has published widely on New Zealand and Australian writing and cinema, and is co-editor of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing.

Table of contents

Introduction: Gateways and Walls, or the Power and Pitfalls of Postcolonial Metaphors

Clothing the Borders: Dress as a Signifier in Colonial and Post-Colonial Space – GARETH GRIFFITHS
“As Rare as Rubies”: Did Salman Rushdie Invent Turkish American-Literature? – ELENA FURLANETTO
The Bosphorus Syndrome – GERHARD STILZ
Geography Fabulous: Conrad and Ghosh – PADMINI MONGIA
The Concomitant Spaces of Territory and Writing: Crossing Cultural Divides – MARTA DVOŘÁK

Towards an Australian Philosophy: Constructive Appropriation of Enlightenment Thinking in Murray Bail’s The PagesMARIE HERBILLON
Image-i-nation: Africa/nation, Identity, and the Nation(s) Within – BRONWYN MILLS
Refugees and Three Short Stories from Sri Lanka – SIMRAN CHADHA
Gateway to the Unknowable: The Kala Pani in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and Barlen Pyamootoo’s BénarèsJOHN C. HAWLEY
Postcolonial Literature in the Time of World Literature – DEEPIKA MARYA

Die Mauer is no joke!”: The Berlin Wall in Cilla McQueen’s Berlin Diary and in the Works of Kapka Kassabova – CLAUDIA DUPPÉ
The Wall as Signifier in Ivan Vladislavić’s Works – CARMEN CONCILIO
Enclosed: Nature. Carol Shields’ Textual Mazes – VERA ALEXANDER
An Ethics of Mourning: Loss and Transnational Dynamics in The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh – GOLNAR NABIZADEH

The Mirage of Europe in Caryl Phillips’s A Distant Shore and Chika Unigwe’s On Black Sisters’ StreetELISABETH BEKERS
Desexing the Crone: Intentional Invisibility as Postcolonial Retaliation in Ravinder Randhawa’s A Wicked Old Woman and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Mistress of SpicesDEVON CAMPBELL–HALL
The Burden of Possessions: A Postcolonial Reading of Letters from Bessie Head, Dora Taylor, and Lilian Ngoyi – M.J. DAYMOND
Gendered Gateways: Australian Surfing and the Construction of Masculinities in Tim Winton’s BreathSISSY HELFF

Notes on Contributors


All interested in postcolonial and world literatures, east-west relations, cross-cultural exchange, community and diaspora, and related issues of gender, identity, nationalism, race and ethnicity.