In the twenty-first century, the terms “representation” and “identity” seem to have gone out of fashion. The essays collected here, however, seek to demonstrate the extent to which they continue to
matter in the social, political and cultural struggles waged by marginalized communities across our postcolonial and globalizing world. The volume starts by offering contingent readings of prominent identity-related concepts – hybridity, insularity, the west, ubuntu, and orientalism – which ask how these concepts translate into practical, situated ways of grappling with the legacies of colonialism. It continues by exploring the relational articulation of collective identities and their histories (as
shared rather than competing), and the way origin narratives and notions of indigeneity, in contexts as diverse as Namibia, Uruguay and Bolivia, function not as fixed roots, but as constructed representations that are manipulated according to the demands of the present. Finally, tradition, too, emerges as open to continuous strategic re-invention in contributions dealing with female agency in a Hindu ritual, peasant understandings of modernity in Zimbabwe, the resurgence of Chinese culture in Indonesia, and André Brink’s rewriting of South African history.
Through the Lens of the Chronotope: Suggestions for a Spatio-Temporal Perspective on Diaspora
Within diaspora studies, the temporal dimension of diaspora for the most part remains subordinated to the element of spatial dispersal. This paper aims to theorize the inextricable linkage of space and time in the production and reproduction of diaspora consciousness through Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope. The chronotope prompts a view of diaspora identities as predicated on a removal not only from a particular location in space and moment in time, but also from the particular social practice of time-space through which a community conceptualizes its surroundings and its own place in them. Diaspora then emerges as a particular form of doubled chronotopical interpellation, as a dwelling-in-dischronotopicality.
Alterity is not a mere synonym of difference; what it signifies is otherness, a distinction or separation that can entail similarity as well as difference. The articles collected here explore ways to define, situate and negotiate alterity in a manner that does not do away with the other through negation or neutralization but that instead engages alterity as a reconfiguring of identities that keeps them open to change, to a becoming without horizon. Alterity and its situated negotiations with identity are configured through the body, through the psyche and through translational politics. From critical readings of angels, specters, grotesque bodies, online avatars,
Sex and the City, pornography in French literature, Australian billboard art, Pina Bausch, Adrian Piper, Kashmiri poetry, contemporary German fiction, Jacques Brault and Northern-Irish poetry, there emerges a vision of identities as multi-faceted constructions that are continually being transformed by the various alterities with which they intersect and which they must actively engage in order to function effectively in the social, political, and aesthetic realm.
In the wake of proliferating discourses around globalisation and culture, some central questions around cultural politics have acquired a commonsensical and hegemonic character in contemporary intellectual discourse. The politics of difference, the possibilities of hybridity and the potential of multiple liminalities frame much discussion around the transnational dimensions of culture and post-identity politics. In this volume, the economic, political and social consequences of the focus on ‘culture’ in contemporary theories of globalization are analysed around the disparate fields of architecture, museum discourse, satellite television, dub poetry, carnival and sub-national theatre. The discourses of hybridity, diaspora, cultural difference minoritization are critically interrogated and engaged with through close analysis of cultural objects and practices. The essays thus intervene in the debate around modernity, globalization and cultural politics, and the volume as a whole provides a critical constellation through which the complexity of transnational culture can be framed. Thinking through the particular, the essays limn the absent universality of forms of capitalist globalization and the volume as a whole provides multiple perspectives from which to enter the singular modernity of our times in all its complexity.
This volume sheds new light on how today’s peripheries are made, lived, imagined and mobilized in a context of rapidly advancing globalization. Focusing on peripheral spaces, mobilities and aesthetics, it presents critical readings of, among others, Indian caste quarters, the Sahara, the South African backyard and European migration, as well as films, novels and artworks about marginalized communities and repressed histories. Together, these readings insist that the peripheral not only needs more visibility in political, economic and cultural terms, but is also invaluable for creating alternative perspectives on the globalizing present.
Peripheral Visions combines sociological, cultural, literary and philosophical perspectives on the periphery, and highlights peripheral innovation and futurity to counter the lingering association of the peripheral with stagnation and backwardness.