Reflections on the postcolonial novel: an interdisciplinary approach

Margarida Pereira Martins

Abstract


The main objective of this paper is to propose an interdisciplinary reflection on how postcolonial fiction in English can help readers and scholars construct an idea of the post-colonial nation and the cultural identity of its people.

This theory is part of a larger research project developed in my thesis The Search for Identity and the Construction of an Idea of India in the novels of Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai (2016). As discussed in this paper, national history, identity and cultural representation are the three aspects which through an analysis of different artistic production, including narratives are crucial to the building of knowledge on a nation, its culture and people Historical processes are the key to the unfolding of present circumstances and fundamental to the construction of a national identity with a collective feel. However, the perceptions of the past change according to philosophical and ideological trends, placing historical objectivity in the hands of its subjective counterpart. It is cultural theory and how it evolves in simultaneity with the world and its social, political, economic and technological development that in effect dictates the forms and expressions that give shape to societies, nations and identities.

The function of the narrative, whether as text, visual arts, film, architecture, dance and other creative expressions of the self, is to tell a story. And every moment of every living being can be told in a story. History too is a story. Though it originally focused on the grand deeds of the European nations, with postcolonialism new stories began to emerge, revealing a world of diversity and deconstructing traditional views of history and power relations. However, this new approach to the historical, cultural and political dialectic was achieved through the effect of the postcolonial narrative which used Western forms and structures, such as the novel and the English language to achieve its aim. This appropriation of language and form resulted in an inversion of power relations as a cultural metaphor.   

For the purpose of this debate, the present paper focuses on the theory surrounding the postcolonial novel and is divided into three main sections: a historical approach, postcolonial theory and the relation between anthropology and fiction. 


Keywords


Postcolonial literature, history, culture, social anthropology, identity studies, India.

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