Postcolonial Studies

Series Launch: Global and Insurgent Legalities

This month we’re excited to announce the new book series Global and Insurgent Legalities, edited by Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller and Eve Darian-Smith.

Global and Insurgent Legalities explores how law and legal cultures travel within and beyond national jurisdictions and how they become reconfigured in the process. Books in this series attend to the ways schools of thought indigenous to the global South refract and reframe the Continental social and legal theories that are typically associated with scholarship produced in the global North. The series promotes critical, interdisciplinary, and transnational sociolegal work on topics ranging from social, sexual, and colonial inequalities to the circulation of non-western concepts of property, sovereignty, and individualism. Recognizing the enduring impact of imperialism, colonialism, and oppression on legal and social relations, Global and Insurgent Legalities decenters the production of legal theory to include perspectives, voices, and concepts from around the world.

978-0-8223-7146-5The series’ first book is Colonial Lives of Property by Brenna Bhandar, which examines how modern property law contributes to the formation of racial subjects in settler colonies and to the development of racial capitalism. Examining both historical cases and ongoing processes of settler colonialism in Canada, Australia, and Israel and Palestine, Bhandar shows how the colonial appropriation of indigenous lands depends upon ideologies of European racial superiority as well as upon legal narratives that equate civilized life with English concepts of property.

978-0-8223-7035-2Renisa Mawani’s Across Oceans of Law joins Global and Insurgent Legalities this month. Mawani retells the well-known story of the Komagata Maru, a British-built, Japanese-owned steamship whose Punjabi migrant passengers were denied entry into Canada, and later deported to Calcutta, in 1914. Drawing on “oceans as method”—a mode of thinking and writing that repositions land and sea—Mawani examines the historical and conceptual stakes of situating histories of Indian migration within maritime worlds.

Both of these books are available now, and we look forward to watching the series grow!

Taiwan: The Land Colonialisms Made

ddbou_45_3_coverThe most recent special issue of boundary 2, “Taiwan: The Land Colonialisms Made,” edited by Arif Dirlik, Ping-hui Liao, & Ya-Chung Chuang, is now available.

The contributors to this special issue examine the role successive colonialisms played in forging a distinct Taiwanese identity and the theoretical implications the Taiwanese experience of colonialism raises regarding the making of modern national identities. In addition to its indigenous culture, a long succession of colonial rulers—variously the Netherlands, Spain, the kingdom of Tungning, the Ming and Qing dynasties, Japan, and Kuomintang China—has forged a distinctive Taiwanese national identity. The Taiwan case suggests that it is misleading to approach colonialism as an obstacle to national identity without also accounting for the ways in which colonialism has historically factored into the constitution of national identities. The contributors address the ways in which the colonizer’s culture transformed the colonized, setting them in new historical directions, even if those directions were not what the colonizers expected.

Read the introduction, freely available.

978-0-8223-3367-8Looking for further reading on Taiwan? Consider Envisioning Taiwan by June Yip, which sorts through the complexities of globalization and Taiwan’s history of colonization, weaving together history and cultural analysis to provide a picture of Taiwanese identity and a lesson on the usefulness and the limits of contemporary cultural theory. Another great choice is Writing Taiwan, edited by David Der-wei Wang and Carlos Rojas, the first volume in English to examine the entire span of modern Taiwan literature—from the first decades of the twentieth century to the present.

Series Launch: On Decoloniality

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new book series, On Decoloniality, edited by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh. Two books are available now, and we look forward to watching the series grow.

On Decoloniality interconnects a diverse array of perspectives from the lived experiences of coloniality and decolonial thought/praxis in different local histories from across the globe. The series identifies and examines decolonial engagements in Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Americas, South Asia, South Africa, and beyond from standpoints of feminisms, erotic sovereignty, Fanonian thought, post-Soviet analyses, global indigeneity, and ongoing efforts to delink, relink, and rebuild a radically distinct praxis of living. Aimed at a broad audience, from scholars, students, and artists to journalists, activists, and socially engaged intellectuals, On Decoloniality invites a wide range of participants to join one of the fastest growing debates in the humanities and social sciences that attends to the lived concerns of dignity, life, and the survival of the planet.

Cover of On Decoloniality by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. WalshOn Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis, authored by the series editors, is the first book in the series. Mignolo and Walsh explore the hidden forces of the colonial matrix of power, its origination, transformation, and current presence, while asking the crucial questions of decoloniality’s how, what, why, with whom, and what for.

The second book, What Does It Mean to Be Post-Soviet? by Madina Tlostanova, traces how contemporary post-Soviet art mediates this human condition. Observing how the concept of the happy future—which was at the core of the project of Soviet modernity—has lapsed from the post-Soviet imagination, Tlostanova shows how the possible way out of such a sense of futurelessness lies in the engagement with activist art.

In the Spirit of Négritude: Kehinde Wiley in Africa

1024px-Portrait_of_President_Barack_Obama_by_Kehinde_Wiley

Portrait of President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley

The most recent issue of Nka features an essay on Kehinde Wiley, who recently unveiled his portrait of President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

In his article, “In the Spirit of Négritude: Kehinde Wiley in Africa,” author Daniel Haxall traces the influence of  Négritude and the long-standing egagements with African art and culture by Wiley, an American artist. He discusses how Wiley’s encounters with Africa (both in the United States and in Nigeria) inform aspects of his work and contribute knowledge about Africa and its peoples to the viewers of his art.

Haxall argues: “Akin to the Pan-African advocates of the twentieth century, the artist employed a realist  style to locate a shared heritage among the African diaspora. Reclaiming the African subject in portraits that reference traditional, colonial, and contemporary histories, Wiley continues the legacy of Négritude both aesthetically and conceptually.”

Read the essay, made freely available.

The Jamaican 1960s

ddsmx_21_3_54The most recent issue of Small Axe features a special section, “The Jamaican 1960s.” This section prompts contributors to rethink the cultural-political historiography of Jamaica, as well as question the normative narrative of the making of modern Jamaica.

The revisionary historiographic starting point of the section is the 1960s. Contributors revisit this decade through varied forms of analysis, considering topics from Creole Nationalism to radical skepticism in 1960s Jamaican fiction to post-1952 U.S. foreign policy’s effect on local and colonial perceptions of people’s struggles for sovereignty. The impetus of these essays is not to find fault with the older paradigm but to explore, provisionally and experimentally, how or to what extent this paradigm is helpful in illuminating contemporary Jamaica. The essays themselves grew out of a symposium organized around the theme of the Jamaican 1960s held at the University of Miami in October 2015.

Read the introduction to the section, “On the Very Idea of the Making of Modern Jamaica,” by David Scott, made freely available.

Puerto Rico: A U.S. Colony in a Postcolonial World?

ddrhr_128_coverThe most recent special issue of Radical History Review, “Puerto Rico: A U.S. Colony in a Postcolonial World?”, edited by Margaret Power and Andor Skotnes, is now available.

Puerto Rico has been a United States colony for close to 115 years, and it was a Spanish colony for nearly four centuries before that. From a variety of economic, political, and cultural angles, this collected volume explores the realities and legacies of colonial experiences and the complex relationships of present-day Puerto Rico to the United States, Latin America, and the world. It focuses on the long, multifaceted resistance of Puerto Rican people to this colonialism and postcolonialism, and how the history and legacy of colonialism is key to understanding Puerto Rico today.

Essays in this issue explore topics such as:

  • Puerto Rico’s economic crisis
  • women’s independence organizing in Puerto Rico
  • gendered representations of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. press from 1940-1950

Read the guest editors’ introduction to this special issue, made freely available through August 30, 2017.

Stuart Hall’s First Encounter with London

In this excerpt from Stuart Hall’s new memoir, Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands, he describes his trip with his mother, Jessie, from Jamaica to the United Kingdom. Hall had earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University and the two traveled there together in 1951. Enjoy the excerpt and then buy the book for 30% off with coupon E17FAMST.

978-0-8223-6387-3_pr w strokeIt is uncannily disconcerting to look back at my younger self, arriving in the port of Avonmouth in 1951, ready for a new life but absolutely unsure how it would happen, or what it would look like if it did. I was indeed elsewhere! I can say, however, that the colonial experience prepared me for England. Far from being an untroubled, innocent opportunity for me to step out into something new, this was an encounter which was mightily overdetermined.

My arrival preceded by some three months the general election in October in which the Conservatives ousted Labour and Winston Churchill regained the office of Prime Minister. After a short while I headed for Oxford University, into the very cultural heartland of England.

But this was an encounter which has not yet come to an end. It continues. It was, as Donald Hinds termed it a long while ago, ‘a journey to an illusion’ – or rather, a journey to the shattering of illusions, inaugurating a process of protracted disenchantment. I didn’t really know what I would find or what I would do with ‘it’ if I found ‘it’. I knew I didn’t want to be ‘it’, whatever that was. But I did want to encounter in the flesh, as it were, this phantasm of ‘other worlds’, swollen with – as it happened – false promise. What I really knew about Britain turned out to be a bewildering farrago of reality and fantasy. However, such illusions as I may have taken with me were unrealized because, fortunately, they were unrealizable. The episode was painful as well as exciting. It changed me irrevocably, almost none of it in ways I had remotely anticipated.

The whole experience was eerily familiar and disconcertingly strange at the same time. One can attribute this to the sense of déjà‑vu which assails colonial travellers on first encountering face-to-face the imperial metropole, which they actually know only in its translated form through a colonial haze, but which has always functioned as their ‘constitutive outside’: constituting them, or us, by its absence, because it is what they – we – are not. This is a manner of being defined from the beyond!

On the boat train to London, I kept feeling I’d seen this place somewhere before, as in a screen memory. It provoked a deep psychic recognition, an illusory after-effect. Had I been here before? Yes and no. I hadn’t anticipated what the English countryside would look like but, once I saw it whizzing past the train windows, I knew that this was how it should look: those proper, well-fed, black-and-white cows munching away contentedly in their neatly divided, hedgerowed fields surrounded by enormous, spreading sycamore trees. Everything I had read had prepared me for that. I knew, after all, the novels of Thomas Hardy. On the other hand, nothing had prepared me for the stark contrast between the sombre brick-and-cement hues and the well-disciplined dark, monotone character of London streets and the chaotic bustle of Kingston street life, with people shoving past one another on the crowded pavements, the handcarts and ice barrows with their rows of syrup bottles, the raucous hubbub and teeming vitality, provincial as it was.

London, when we got there, felt unwelcoming and forbidding. I guess my memories must have been infiltrated by what happened later, for what immediately comes to mind is the heavy, leaden autumn sky, the light permanently stuck halfway to dusk, the constant fine drizzle (where was the proper rain, the tropical downpour?), the blank windows of the square black cabs, the anonymity of the faces in the red double-decker buses, the yellow headlights glistening off the wet tarmac along the Bayswater Road. A dark, shuttered, anonymous city; high blocks of mansion flats,
turning up their noses at the life of the streets below. Everyone was buttoned up in dark suits, overcoats and hats, many carrying the proverbial umbrellas, scurrying with downcast eyes through the gathering gloom to unknown destinations. This was post-war austerity London, with its bombed-out sites, rubble and gaping spaces like missing teeth. A faint mist permanently shrouded Hyde Park, where ladies in jodhpurs and hard riding hats cantered their horses in the early mornings; the lights blazed in the Oxford Street department stores by three in the afternoon. There must have been bright and sunny days, for it was only the end of summer. But I don’t remember them.

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Interview with Ethnohistory co-editor John F. Schwaller

We recently sat down with new Ethnohistory co-editor John F. Schwaller to discuss his background, how he’d like to shape the journal in the future, and plans for upcoming special issues. To learn more about Ethnohistory, visit dukeupress.edu/ethnohistory.

How did you come to be co-editor of this journal?

ddeh_64_1Matthew Restall [former co-editor of Ethnohistory] is a colleague and friend of mine and when he had served the journal for almost 10 years, he asked me if I would be interested in taking over the position from him. I’ve been a long-time follower and sometime author in Ethnohistory. My work in early colonial Mexico and especially my work in Nahuatl was very close to the journal, so it was a fun opportunity.

How would you like to shape the journal in the future?

What I really want to do is continue to emphasize high quality work on the rest of the Americas. Ethnohistory always has had very strong pieces on British and French North America. For the last ten to fifteen years the journal has included increasingly important pieces on what we now consider Latin America and I want to continue that tradition. Many of the articles have come from Mesoamerica—that’s Mexico and Central America. We have published a little bit in South America and we now have a couple of articles in the queue focused on South America. I would like to expand the offerings for Mesoamerica and South America significantly, so we have a really great presence for both continents in the journal.

What are some under-researched areas that you hope to publish about in the future?

I think, in terms of the profession at large it may not be as underserved, but there are certainly a lot of native peoples of South America that have not been covered sufficiently. We’re only beginning to see some really good studies of some of the native peoples of South America, and I would love to see more ethnohistories of peoples from South America.

Do you have any plans for upcoming special issues?

We have two proposals for special issues right now. One deals with Nahuatl speaking people, and I’m very excited about that. It’s an outgrowth of a panel at the American Society for Ethnohistory meeting in Nashville [November 2016] in which we looked at language and cultural identity in modern Mexico. We had several native Nahuatl speakers who were part of the panel. The organizers of the panel have asked if Ethnohistory would be interested in looking at the papers and the presentations for a special issue and I’ve told them absolutely. If it comes to fruition, at least one or perhaps two of the shorter presentations will be in Nahuatl with English translations.

What are you looking for in submissions?

I’m excited about everything. I really want people to think of Ethnohistory as an important place for their work to appear if they work on native peoples of the Americas.

Obviously with the revolution in languages that we’ve had since the 1970s, many of us are very excited by documentation and works based on documentation in native languages. We need not be blind to the fact that there still are valid and important sources that are only Spanish, Portuguese, English, or French, that can also enlighten us as to the history of native peoples.

To learn more about the journal or to subscribe, visit dukeupress.edu/ethnohistory. To submit your work to the journal, review the submission guidelines.

David Scott wins CELJ Distinguished Editor Award for 2016

0105171630Congratulations to David Scott, editor of Small Axe, for his 2016 Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Distinguished Editor Award. The awards were announced on Thursday, January 5, 2017, during the 2017 Modern Language Association annual meeting held in Philadelphia.

The Distinguished Editor Award is given to an editor who has had a major influence on the field of scholarship in which they publish. Small Axe focuses on publishing critical work that examines the ideas that guided the formation of Caribbean modernities. It mainly includes scholarly articles, opinion essays, and interviews, but it also includes literary works of fiction and poetry, visual arts, and reviews.

ddsmx_20_2_50The journal, now in its 20th volume, just published its 50th issue, “What is Journal Work?” which features a preface by David Scott on the journal and the ethos of journal work. From the preface:

When, in the company of a few fellow travelers, I initiated Small Axe in Kingston in 1996–97, many people said to me, confidentially and with my interest in view, that it would be at best a short-lived enterprise. It was grand, yes, ambitious even, but it wouldn’t last. That was always the thing—it wouldn’t last. Nothing like it did. The Caribbean is awash, they knowingly said, with well-intentioned initiatives that run aground sooner than later. In fact, nothing is more characteristic of Caribbean intellectual life than this penchant for starting new ventures that never have any chance whatsoever of reproducing themselves. And so on . . . Now, honestly,I never took these prophecies of doom to be expressions of ill will, of what Jamaicans lyrically call badmindedness—though of course they might well have been. After all, the truth is that I too was wondering, not because of a wavering or uncertain commitment on my part, need‐less to say, but as a matter, if you like, of thinking the future in the present. Beginnings are one thing, hard enough, to be sure. But what would “lasting” mean? What would be the point at which Small Axe could be said to have “lasted”? These were, in part, abstract questions(in any case, I brushed them aside) because although I was always self-conscious of seeking something larger in the Small Axe initiative (remember, New World Quarterly and Savacou were the models I had before me, and they styled themselves as expressions of “movements”), I was at that early point literally feeling my way from one issue of the journal to the next. And from the haphazard and chaotic inside of each of these issues, encountering and resolving their specific challenges, it was impossible to discern what they would add up to—whether the shape of something more than the sum of all the issues put together would emerge from within what we were anyway carrying on with.

David Scott has edited Small Axe since its inception in 1997. To learn more about the journal and to read a sample issue, visit smallaxe.dukejournals.org.

Labor and Empire

ddlab_13_3_4In the most recent issue of Labor, “Land and Empire,” edited by Leon Fink and Julie Greene, contributors consider the question: “Who built the US empire?” By taking us into the world of working class people across North and South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, the essays in this double issue recount a history of empire building focused on the interconnections between capitalist and state expansionism.

Topics include labor and resistance in the US Army during the Civil War, Imperial politics of Filipino labor, Puerto Rican laborers in the Dominican Republic, and the decolonization of Korean labor under US occupation, among others.

From the introduction:

The articles in this double issue of Labor thus emerge from and reflect an exciting field of historical research and intellectual engagement, including new directions in transnational and imperial history and renewed engagement in both of these fields by labor historians. Together they demonstrate the inextricable connections between the history of US empire and the history of labor. The articles reveal dynamics in the logic of US empire that would not be visible in a top-down historical methodology. Furthermore, they demonstrate that what we think of as “US labor history” involved working people and sites of labor around the world. They challenge us not only to make global processes and interactions relevant to our narratives and interpretations of labor and working-class history but, more particularly, to realize the significance of imperial and colonial power relations in shaping that broader labor history. Five major themes weave through the essays as they engage with the labor history of empire. They draw our attention to the unfree labor of military service and its central role in building North American and US empire; struggles over citizenship in the unequal territories of the United States; the complex role of colonial and postcolonial subjects as migrant laborers; the labor tensions involved in US occupations; and labor migration as central to the logic of empire.

Read the full introduction, made freely available.