Postcolonialism and the Hit of the Real
Conference March 6-8, 2008
Postcolonial Studies Group, Department of English, NYU, and
Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
Confirmed keynote speakers:
Pheng Cheah (University of California, Berkeley)
Simon Gikandi (Princeton)
Anne McClintock (University of Wisconsin)
Alok Rai (University of Delhi)
How valid, in retrospect, is the founding claim of the postcolonial that it offers a different view of the real?
If the world outside the west had been understood through traditions of western representation which ignored the reality of what was actually there, silencing different cultures, epistemologies, and the lives that were lived in them, how successfully has postcolonial studies intervened to enable the former subjects of Western representations to determine the representation of their own realities?
Reflecting a desire to address the materiality of questions that provided the original impetus for postcolonial thinking, scholars from a range of perspectives have attempted to reinsert the notion of the 'real' at the center of their academic praxis. Recent and historical interest in the value and valence of 'experience', the location and teleology of the 'vernacular', and a formalistic aesthetics of realism all converge around the specters of the real, together constituting a major theoretical effort to rearticulate the terms of what constitutes postcolonial reality and experience, and how, through what modes, forms, and genres, such realities might be best represented.
We seek to confront through this conference one of the ongoing tensions in postcolonial studies: the concern for articulating aesthetic issues of realism and representation and theoretical reflections upon the ‘real’, with the complex postcolonial realities of underdevelopment, violence, political instability and gender inequality. This conference hopes to augment these addresses to the ‘real’ and pursue further engagement with the conditions of its possibility or impossibility.
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