Re-visions of place in transnational literatures of the long nineties

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rose A. Brister (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Alexandra Schultheis Moore

Abstract: This dissertation argues that transnational literatures of the 1990s emphasize everyday place-making during a period when physical distance might be erased through new technologies and social identities might be understood diffuse and "groundless." Drawing on a range of cross-disciplinary scholarship on space and transnationality, this project maps the literary place-consciousness of the "long nineties" (1989-2001) by attending to each text's representation of the multiple histories and geographies of a given place and how characters' identities are shaped by them. Specifically, each author imagines real places marked by vertical, (post)colonial relationships and lateral, transnational ones in a transitional period of geopolitics neither overdetermined by Cold War factionalism nor circumscribed by a twenty-first century, Euro-American "war on terror." The resulting transformation of these places offers Nadine Gordimer and Salman Rushdie (chapters 1 and 2, respectively) opportunities to grapple with spatial legacies of British imperialism while forging new place-making practices. Gordimer's The Pickup suggests that a productive sense of place might be recovered by fleeing corrupt postcolonial space for a "pure," local space, while Rushdie's The Satanic Verses recognizes that coming to terms with postcolonial spatial politics means understanding space as underwritten by racial and sexual difference. In contrast to the post-imperialist legacies that haunt but do not dominate Gordimer and Rushdie's work, Karen Tei Yamashita's Tropic of Orange (chapter 3) and Joe Sacco's Palestine (chapter 4) suggest that colonialist spatial practices continue to have real, material effects in the 1990s. The former engages the intersection settler colonialist boundary-making and neocolonial boundary erasure located at the U.S.-Mexico border; the latter represents national narration as an act of claiming place, therevy resisting settler colonialist logics of elimination. While previous scholarship tended to focus on representations of hyper-mobility, placelessness, and deterritorialization, this dissertation ultimately seeks to re-introduce overlooked spatial-historical contexts of the "long nineties" into current scholarship in postcolonial and transnational literature studies. Such an approach generates new ways of understanding how authors attempt to reconcile sweeping, globalized flows of power with everyday spatial practice.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Place, Postcolonialism, Transnationalism
Place (Philosophy) in literature
Nineteen nineties
Literature and transnationalism
Transnationalism in literature
Postcolonialism in literature

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