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Palgrave Macmillan

History, Trauma, and Healing in Postcolonial Narratives

Reconstructing Identities

ISBN 9781137367334
Publication Date November 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Future of Minority Studies

Did colonialism, a world-historical catastrophe, inflict only material damage on the colonized, or did it cause psychic injury as well? What would it mean, then, to read postcolonial writings under the prism of trauma? In History, Trauma, and Healing in Post-Colonial Narratives, Ifowodo tackles these questions through a psycho-social examination of the lingering impact of imperialist domination. His hybrid method that encompasses historicism, psychoanalysis and a realist concept of linguistic reference stakes a bold, new ground in postcolonial studies. The focus is trans-continental and the analysis centered on primary texts that explore the African, African-American, and Caribbean experience of slavery/colonialism. The result is a refreshing and necessary complement to the cultural-materialist studies that dominate the field.

Ogaga Ifowodo is Assistant Professor at Texas State University, San Marcos. Trained originally as a lawyer, he is also a poet and author of three books of poetry, the last being The Oil Lamp. His poems have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, The Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, and The Dalhousie Review, among others.

1. 'Into the Zone of Occult Instability': Frantz Fanon, Post-Colonial Trauma and Identity
2. Identity or Death! The Trauma of Life and Continuity in Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman
3. Experience as the Best Teacher: Trauma, Reference and Realism in Toni Morrison's Beloved
4. Trauma and Experience: LaCapra's Caveat to Realists
5. Trauma and Literary Theory
6. 'But How Will You Know Me?' Trauma, Memory and Meaning
7. Reference as Epistemic Access: Trauma's Horizon of Meaning
8. Conclusion: Specifying Morrison's Locus of Referentiality
9. 'Till the Word and the Wound Fit': History, Memory, and Healing of the Post-Colonial Body-Politic in Derek Walcott's Omeros
10. A Free-Floating Wound? Hybridity, Social Complexity and Identity
11. 'You all see what it's like without roots in this world?'Acting-Out and Working-Through Trauma
12. 'I Felt Every Wound Pass': From African Babble through Greek Manure to a Language that Carries its Cure
13. Conclusion: Reading Postcolonial History as a History of Trauma


"Ogaga Ifowodo's book is boldly ambitious in coverage and outstanding in theoretical and scholarly density. There is no question about it: this is a major contribution to African diaspora postcolonial literary and cultural studies." - Tejumola Olaniyan, Louise Durham Mead Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
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