본문 바로가기
  • Home

The Crisis of Imagination: Postcolonial Studies and Migrant Literature

Eli Park Sorensen 1

1서울대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This article investigates the contemporary relationship between postcolonial theory and postcolonial literature, arguing that a problematic “agreement” between criticism and writing in recent years has emerged, which has marginalized and repressed a series of critical issues, thus compromising the utopian and radical potential of postcolonial thought. Tracing the developments of postcolonial criticism and writing, the article argues that whereas postcolonial literature has undergone a change from nationalist-based toward a migrant aesthetic, postcolonial theory was from the beginning orientated toward a cosmopolitan language– precisely because of its opposition to an earlier, nationalist-orientated postcolonial discourse. Postcolonial studies emerged as an academic discipline during a period of disillusionment–as a response to the unfulfilled or broken promises that had been bred by the event of independence. The academic field distanced itself from the dreams and hopes that had flourished–and failed–in the years after independence, by developing an alternative, more theoretical, set of imperatives. The current agreement between theory and literature constitutes an “ideological trap” in the sense that it represses the “original” failure, from which postcolonial studies initially emerged; a failure, the after-effects of which still constitute many of the critical issues crucial to contemporary postcolonial thought. The article finally argues for a critical rethinking of the relationship between criticism and writing, in order to reignite and reaffirm the dialectical tensions between them; and thus continue the radical and utopian potential of postcolonial thought.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.