front cover of Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices
Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices
Ella Shohat
Duke University Press, 2006
Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices brings together for the first time a selection of trailblazing essays by Ella Shohat, an internationally renowned theorist of postcolonial and cultural studies of Iraqi-Jewish background. Written over the past two decades, these twelve essays—some classic, some less known, some new—trace a powerful intellectual trajectory as Shohat rigorously teases out the consequences of a deep critique of Eurocentric epistemology, whether to rethink feminism through race, nationalism through ethnicity, or colonialism through sexuality.

Shohat’s critical method boldly transcends disciplinary and geographical boundaries. She explores such issues as the relations between ethnic studies and area studies, the paradoxical repercussions for audio-visual media of the “graven images” taboo, the allegorization of race through the refiguring of Cleopatra, the allure of imperial popular culture, and the gender politics of medical technologies. She also examines the resistant poetics of exile and displacement; the staging of historical memory through the commemorations of the two 1492s, the anomalies of the “national” in Zionist discourse, the implications of the hyphen in the concept “Arab-Jew,” and the translation of the debates on orientalism and postcolonialism across geographies. Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices not only illuminates many of the concerns that have animated the study of cultural politics over the past two decades; it also points toward new scholarly possibilities.


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Tempest In The Caribbean
Jonathan Goldberg
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Places sexuality at the center of Caribbean responses to Shakespeare's play. Shakespeare's The Tempest has long been claimed by colonials and postcolonial thinkers alike as the dramatic work that most enables them to confront their entangled history, recognized as early modernity's most extensive engagement with the vexing issues of colonialism--race, dispossession, language, European displacement and occupation, disregard for native culture. Tempest in the Caribbean reads some of the "classic" anticolonial texts--by Aimé Césaire, Roberto Fernández Retamar, George Lamming, and Frantz Fanon, for instance--through the lens of feminist and queer analysis exemplified by the theoretical essays of Sylvia Wynter and the work of Michelle Cliff. Extending the Tempest plot, Goldberg considers recent works by Caribbean authors and social theorists, among them Patricia Powell, Jamaica Kincaid, and Hilton Als. These rewritings, he suggests, and the lived conditions to which they testify, present alternatives to the masculinist and heterosexual bias of the legacy that has been derived from The Tempest. By placing gender and sexuality at the center of the debate about the uses of Shakespeare for anticolonial purposes, Goldberg's work points to new possibilities that might be articulated through the nexus of race and sexuality. Jonathan Goldberg is Sir William Osler Professor of English Literature at The Johns Hopkins University. His previous books include Shakespeare's Hand (2003), Desiring Women Writing (1997), Sodometries (1992), and, as editor, Reclaiming Sodom (1994) and Queering the Renaissance (1994).

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Feminist Esoterisms and the Abolition of Man
Nathan Snaza
Duke University Press, 2024
In Tendings, Nathan Snaza brings contemporary feminist and queer popular culture’s resurging interest in esoteric practices like tarot and witchcraft into conversation with Black feminist and new materialist thought. Analyzing writing and performances by Maryse Condé, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, Starhawk, Christina Sharpe, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and others, Snaza introduces his theory of tending as a concept that links ontology, attunement, care, and anticipatory action to explore how worlds persist through everyday acts of participation. In contrast to the universalizing presuppositions of the enlightenment, Snaza shows how certain feminist occult and esoteric practices constitute what he calls an endarkenment that embraces decolonial spiritual knowledge. Highlighting how endarkenment practices challenge universal presumptions and reject the racializing and colonialist mission of enlightenment modernity, Snaza demonstrates the ways esoterism affirms a pluriversal worldview that reimagines what it means to live in a more-than-human world.

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The Third Space of Sovereignty
The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.–Indigenous Relations
Kevin Bruyneel
University of Minnesota Press, 2007

The imposition of modern American colonial rule has defined U.S.–indigenous relations since the time of the American Civil War. In resistance, Kevin Bruyneel asserts, indigenous political actors work across American spatial and temporal boundaries, demanding rights and resources from the government while also challenging the imposition of colonial rule over their lives. This resistance engenders what he calls a “third space of sovereignty,” which resides neither inside nor outside the U.S. political system but rather exists on its boundaries, exposing both the practices and limitations of American colonial rule. 

The Third Space of Sovereignty offers fresh insights on such topics as the crucial importance of the formal end of treaty-making in 1871, indigenous responses to the prospect of U.S. citizenship in the 1920s, native politics during the tumultuous civil rights era of the 1960s, the question of indigenousness in the special election of California’s governor in 2003, and the current issues surrounding gaming and casinos.

In this engaging and provocative work, Bruyneel shows how native political actors have effectively contested the narrow limits that the United States has imposed on indigenous people’s ability to define their identity and to develop economically and politically on their own terms.

Kevin Bruyneel is assistant professor of politics at Babson College.


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Tracking Modernity
India’s Railway and the Culture of Mobility
Marian Aguiar
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
From Mohandas Gandhi’s nineteenth-century tour in a third-class compartment to the recent cinematic shenanigans of Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, the railway has been one of India’s most potent emblems of modern life. In the first in-depth analysis of representations of the Indian railway, Marian Aguiar interprets modernity through the legacy of this transformative technology.

Since the colonial period in India, the railway has been idealized as a rational utopia—a moving box in which racial and class differences might be amalgamated under a civic, secular, and public order. Aguiar charts this powerful image into the postcolonial period, showing how the culture of mobility exposes this symbol of reason as surprisingly dynamic and productive. Looking in turn at the partition of India, labor relations, rituals of travel, works of literature and film, visual culture, and the Mumbai train bombings of 2006, Aguiar finds incongruities she terms “counternarratives of modernity” to signify how they work both with and against the dominant rhetoric.  Revealing railways as a microcosm of tensions within Indian culture, Aguiar demonstrates how their representations have challenged prevailing ideas of modernity.

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Transnational Philippines
Cultural Encounters in Philippine Literature in Spanish
Axel Gasquet and Rocío Ortuño Casanova, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2024
Transnational Philippines: Cultural Encounters in Philippine Literature in Spanish approaches literature that has been forgotten or neglected in studies on other literatures in Spanish due, in part, to the fact that today Spanish is no longer spoken in the Philippines or in Asia. However, isolation has not always been the case, and by omitting Philippine literature in Spanish from the picture of world literatures and Spanish-language literatures, the landscape of these disciplines is incomplete. Transnational Philippines studies how this literary production stemmed from its relationship with other cultures, literature, and arts. It attempts to break this literature’s isolation and show how it is part of the broad literary system of literature written in Spanish. 

Yet Transnational Philippines also questions the constraints of traditional literary genres in order to make room for Philippine texts and other colonial and postcolonial texts, so that those texts can be taken into consideration in literary studies. Its chapters elaborate on the problems surrounding the cultural and identity relations of the Philippines with other regions and the literary nature of Philippine texts. By addressing the need for a postnational approach to Spanish-language Philippine literature, the book challenges the Spain/Latin America dichotomy existing in Spanish language literary studies and leans toward a global conception of the Hispanophone.

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