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The Prodigal Sons of Africa Proselytized to Christianity: Cultural Renegades and Apostates in Achebe’s Novels

Virender Pal

Department of English, University College Kurukshetra. ORCID: 0000-0003-3569-1289. Email: p2vicky@gmail.com

 Volume 10, Number 2, 2018 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v10n2.15

Received January  11, 2017; Revised March 15, 2018; Accepted March 25, 2018; Published May 07, 2018.

Abstract

In the postcolonial world the literary writers and postcolonial theorists have made immense contributions to piercing through the veil of the policies of colonialism. While the theories of the theorists written by Colonialism remain and are read and understood by a privileged few, literature is read by people across all the cultures and nationalities. Chinua Achebe is one of the most important name among such writers who have contributed immensely to postcolonial studies. His novels show that colonialism was an enterprise to plunder the natural resources of the enslaved countries in the name of spreading the light of civilization. This spreading of light of civilization lead to the annihilation of local cultures as the local cultures were systematically obliterated and replaced with the alien white culture. His first novel Things Fall Apart was written as a reply to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The novel asserted that Africa was civilized before the arrival of the whites. In No Longer at Ease (1960) he studies the impact of sustained colonial rule on his people. The current paper is a study of Chinua Achebe’s novel No Longer at Ease and Things Fall Apart. The novesl shows that the indigenous culture and religion was the best for the Africans. The imposition of an alien culture has created intractable problems for the Nigerians and the remedy lies only in going back to the roots, to the Ibo “commonsense.”

Keywords: colonialism, Christianity, Ibo, Africa, corruption.

Clashing Masculinities: Amos Oz’s Panther in the Basement

Can Bahad?r Yüce

Indiana University, 1011 E 3rd St, Bloomington, IN 47405, cbyuce@indiana.edu, orcid.org/0000-0001-5904-8007. Email: cbyuce@indiana.edu

 Volume 10, Number 2, 2018 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v10n2.09

Received December 14, 2017; Revised March March 31, 2018; Accepted April 10, 2018; Published May 06,  2018.

 Abstract

In Middle Eastern fiction, the East-West discourse has largely been discussed through gender representations. Amos Oz’s 1998 novel Panther in the Basement follows this pattern by offering a complex portrayal of concurrent themes regarding the creation of the modern Middle East such as nation-building and empire. The novel narrates the friendship between a Jewish boy and a British soldier. The contrast between the boy’s emerging manhood and the soldier’s deficient masculinity suggests a reading of the tension between nationalism and colonialism through the realm of gender. The boy’s manliness features represent the idealism of the emerging nation-state whereas the soldier’s vulnerable masculinity represents declining imperial colonialism. The novel’s presentation of “clashing masculinities” indicates that a variety of masculinities exist, instead of one type of masculinity. This paper explores how Panther in the Basement offers cultural criticism by deconstructing the conventional conceptualizations of gender.

Keywords: masculinity, nationalism, colonialism, cultural criticism, gender, Amos Oz, the New Man, Middle Eastern literature.

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Man-Eaters of Kumaon: a Critique of Modernity

Parul Rani & Nagendra Kumar

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Roorkee. Email: parulnet.e@gmail.com

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.21

Received February 14, 2017; Revised April 14, 2017; Accepted April 20, 2017; Published May 7, 2017.

Abstract

The present paper attempts to link the animals’ colonization with modernity as a form of European ‘mind-set’ through a short story collection of Jim Corbett, Man Eaters of Kumaon. The focus is laid on the disfigurement of the non-human entities in the colonial anthropocentric advancement; manifested through the hunting practices in colonial India. This study analyzes: first, the hunting practices as a power mechanism of colonials to dominate native subjects: human and non-human, and traces the conflict it creates between human life and wildlife. It also studies the sporting and systematic controlling over the wild animals with the help of technological enrichment. Secondly, it investigates the ambiguous presence of Jim Corbett, primarily a hunter, vacillating between his duties for the British colonial administration and for the native people, as a sahib.

Keywords: wildlife, modernity, Jim Corbett, colonialism, colonial ideology.

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Revising the Colonial Discourse in The Last of The Mohicans

Saddik M. Gohar

 Chair of the English Literature Department, United Arab Emirates University- P.O.BOX 15551, Alain City- United Arab Emirates, Email: s.gohor@uaeu.ac.ae

Volume 8, Number 3, 2016 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v8n3.16

Received May 25, 2016; Revised August 07, 2016; Accepted August 07, 2016; Published August 18, 2016


Abstract

Within the framework of postcolonial studies of Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi, Edward Said, the paper critically examines the entanglements of colonial and racial trajectories in The Last of the Mohicans in order to subvert traditional critical assumptions which categorized the novel as an adventure story or Indian Romance or travel narrative affiliated with a multi-ethnic frontier community. Negotiating the dynamics of colonialism, through the economy of its central trope, the Manichean allegory which creates boundaries of inclusion and exclusion, the paper argues that Cooper’s novel, modeled on seventeenth-century captivity narratives, aims to exterminate or marginalize the indigenous American subaltern or associate him/her with a status of cultural decadence and savagery. The paper also illustrates that Cooper’s fiction blends the legacies of the colonized and the colonizer to reconstruct a biased narrative integral to the authorial vision of the confrontations between the native Indian community and the European settlers during the American colonial era. Reluctant to introduce a balanced view of the situation on the western frontier, Cooper emphasizes crucial colonizer / colonized constructs engaging cultural trajectories which lead to conflict rather than dialogue between both sides.

Keywords: Colonialism, captivity narrative, American colonialism, Manichean allegory, colonizer/ colonized.

Manifestations of Social Darwinism in Colonial Reflections: A Study of the Writings of Sahibs, Memsahibs and Others

Iti Roychowdhury, Amity University, Madhya Pradesh, India

Amanpreet Randhawa, Amity University, Madhya Pradesh, India

Abstract

The Orient has always conjured up images of an exotic land, mystic practices, of snake charmers and tight rope walkers. Contemporary fiction reinforced these images. However, the literature of the Raj is not confined to the writers of fiction alone. A vast body of literature which is largely unexplored yet exists. This comprises the writings of the Sahibs, the Memsahibs, the missionaries and other sundry visitors to India. The present paper explores these myriad images to ascertain the designs and patterns of writings on India. The paper also attempts to explore the motives if any behind the emerging frameworks of these diverse writings.

[Key Words: Social Darwinism, Orientalism, Occidental, Imperialism, Indologists, Colonialism]

The European Renaissance ushered in a spirit of enquiry and exploration. Geographical discoveries, scientific inventions, growth and appreciation of the arts were some of its essential features. Kings and nobles vied with each other to patronize the arts and learning for which one of the prerequisites was of course large quantities of money. Colonies represented power and pelf, while the search for and acquisition of colonies also satisfied the spirit of enquiry and exploration. And so Europe went about acquiring colonies across the globe, principally in Africa and Asia. The first dictum of Colonialism of course was that the colonies existed for the good of the mother country and the second, that the natives were an inferior people. However, the European Renaissance also swept in the spirit of humanism, which mandated dignity of man as man. Britain in particular prided itself on its spirit of justice and fair play. The dilemma therefore was how to reconcile the imperialistic motives with humanistic ideas. Kipling makes a sardonic interpretation of the dilemma by calling it ‘ the white man’s burden’.

Of all the colonies of the far flung British Empire, India was deemed the jewel in the crown. England gloried in the material prosperity and strategic advantage that India brought to it. India always had porous borders, and myriad visitors kept pouring into India from times immemorial. Some of them chose to make their home here. Those who went back carried with them tales of splendor and glorious riches, of magical land and exotic peoples. This in turn attracted the traders who came to India with gifts and entreaties, requesting permission to trade. The embassies of Captain William Hawkins and Thomas Roe are significant landmarks .It was the pioneering work of these gentlemen that subsequently led to the colonization of India.

The British arrival in India marked the beginning of a new kind of literature – depicting an exotic land, alien culture and inferior people. Edward Said says that the Orient was an invention of the West, whereby the West judged, studied or disciplined the East, depending upon the perspective of the viewer/ writer. For example, the image of India has been captured by 3 broad categories of writers: the writers of fiction, the reports and observations of the Sahibs (administrators), and finally, the writings of lay visitors such as the Memsahibs (wives of Sahibs), other members of the families of officials serving in India, the missionaries, etc.

The Man – Portrayal of the Indian Character

Some of the most celebrated books on India penned by the British are Foster’s A Passage to India’, Kipling’s Kim, Paul Scott’s Jewel in the Crown, etc. Foster’s protagonist, Aziz, is meant to represent the typical Indian – emotional, susceptible to kindness, generous, but mean, and having a way with truth. The character of Godbole is even more of an enigma. Foster does not even attempt to decipher him. It is as if Godbole is purposefully created to baffle and defy the Western understanding of Eastern character.

Another defining character in the British fiction on India is that of Kim, the protagonist in the eponymous work of Rudyard Kipling. Kipling’s Kim grew up a street urchin, and is familiar with every nook and corner of the city of Lahore. This helps him in carrying out his nefarious tasks – passing on messages, espionage and the like – typically sly, underhand things that an imperialist would expect a native to do. The Tibetan Lama in Kim is akin to Foster’s Godbole – a mystic – unearthly and unrealistic. These images of Indians are recurring- either a morally less evolved, devious, unscrupulous, lying brute, or an inscrutable mystic, communing with his pagan gods and immersed in his Eastern spirituality…Access Full Text of the Article

“And What Are You Dreaming About?”: An Analysis of Tomson Highway’s Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing

Lindsay Diehl, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus

Abstract

This paper argues that it is necessary to approach Tomson Highway’s play, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, from a culturally appropriate perspective that draws on Cree understandings of the Spirit World, for such a perspective can create enriched possibilities for understanding the play, as well as greater awareness of Indigenous struggles and experiences in Canada. More specifically, this paper draws on the traditional meaning of dreams in Cree epistemology,in order to demonstrate that the play’s framing as a dream can be seen as having a dual purpose: first, to envision and prepare for possible trials and difficulties, and second, to find creative and peaceful solutions to pervasive problems (Ferrara, 2004; Nabigon 2006). This paper considers, furthermore that since the dreamer in Dry Lips is a male character, theplay’s dream-framing addresses what Sam McKegney (2012) has identified as a common crisis of identity for Indigenous men, mainly their colonially-imposed alienation “from tribal-specific roles and responsibilities” (p. 241).Importantly, it is within this colonial context that the male characters in Dry Lips interact with, and express a lack of understanding and appreciation for, women. By paying attention to the colonial context and by using the Cree notion of ‘dream’ to analyze Indigenous masculinities, then, this paper provides an illustration of how the play gestures to Indigenous ‘ways of knowing’ as a means toward healing and decolonizing ends.

[Key words: Canada, Indigenous Criticism, Cree epistemology, colonialism, gender, masculinity]

 1. Introduction

Near the end of Tomson Highway’s controversial play Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing (1989), the lead character, Zachary Jeremiah Keechigeesik, awakens from a protracted nightmare. He has been sleeping, naked and snoring on the couch in his living room. He is startled when his wife, Hera Keechigeesik, enters the room with their newborn baby girl—he jumps up and falls off the couch, inciting Hera to ask him, “And what are you dreaming about?” (Highway, 1989, p. 128). Yet Zachary is too distraught to answer. Only when Hera sits down beside him and passes him the baby does he seem to calm down. He bounces the baby on his knee, and then holds her lovingly up in the air. As the stage instructions indicate, this is how the play concludes—with this image of “a beautiful naked Indian man lifting this naked baby Indian girl in the air, his wife sitting beside them, watching and laughing” (p. 130). This scene, which is remarkable for its sense of domestic happiness, peace, and balance, contrasts sharply with the alcohol abuse, violence, and dysfunction that characterize the majority of the play. Significantly, however, these darker aspects occur solely within Zachary’s dream—a framing that, this paper argues is crucial to carefully consider in ongoing critical discussions of the play. Indeed, this papers aims to show that this dream-framing intends to exaggerate, and thus meaningfully illuminate, the underlying and colonially-derived struggles, which shape the background of the fictional Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve.

2. Responding to Dry Lips’ Contentious Reception History

Although Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasinghas generated an archive of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholarly engagements, the majority of these engagements characterize the play as forwarding problematic and colonially informed misconceptions of Indigenous peoples. The play premiered at Theatre PasseMuraille in Toronto on April 21, 1989 and soon garnered critical attention and awards. In particular, it won the Ontario Art Council’s Chalmers Award and was short-listed for the Governor General’s Award the year that it premiered. In 1991, however, subsequent performances of the play at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa drew a great deal of negative criticism, most notably from Indigenous women. Two of the most disapproving responses were those of Anishnaabe writer Marie Annharte Baker and Metis poet Anita Tuharsky, both of whom expressed concern that the play does not adequately assign responsibility to non-Indigenous people and institutions for the damages that they have caused to Indigenous communities. As Baker (1991) explains, “I worry about the unintended…A yuppie would go home [from the play] feeling relieved that Indians live on the rez [the Indian reservation] and in other parts of the city” (p. 89). Likewise, Tuharsky (1991) contends that Dry Lips perpetuates damaging perceptions of Indigenous peoples. She posits that the play even accedes “to create pleasures for the [wider Canadian] public which enjoys [negative] stereotypes and images,” especially of women (p. 5). Following these responses, non-Indigenous critics also added to the condemnation of the play. Alan Filewod (1992), for example, asserts that Dry Lips “lets the Anglo audience off the hook,” by not obliging non-Indigenous peoples to confront their own culpability in a history of colonial oppression (p. 21). The commonality between these criticisms is that they see the play as supporting, instead of questioning, colonial misunderstandings about Indigenous peoples. This paper refers to this reception history, because in turning to its own analysis—which utilizes the Cree notion of ‘dream’ to interpret Dry Lips—it aims to follow the lead of Anishinaabe scholar Armand Garnett Ruffo (2009), who contends that Indigenous concepts and ‘ways of knowing’ can provide an alternative method of interpreting this play,a method which may begin to productively address some of the complex and difficult issues raised by such criticisms…Access Full Text of the Article

Smudge on an Illuminated Manuscript: a Postcolonial Reading of Shalimar the Clown

Javaid Bhat, University of Kashmir

Abstract:

This Paper begins with Timothy Brennan’s riposte to Amir Mehmud and Sara Suleri, underlining, simultaneously, the problem of Post colonialism as described by Brennan. His rather hasty definition is used to underscore the different postcolonial propensity in Pachigam, a fictional village created by Salman Rusdie in the novel Shalimar the Clown (henceforth SC). This village is posited as hybrid, fluid, and a space marked by difference. It is a typical but not an unproblematic post colonial space, one which Brennan ignores in his categorical definition of post colonialism. Finally, the essay highlights the essentially ambiguous relationship of Pachigam, a microcosm of Kashmir, with the larger ‘postcolonial’, ‘post-imperial’ entities of India and Pakistan.

Mary Magdalene or Virgin Mary: Nationalism and the Concept of Woman in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power

Sayyed Rahim Moosavinia, Seyyede Maryam Hosseini & Shahid Chamran

University of Ahvaz, Iran

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Abstract

Foucault believes that people live in systems of power different from one era to another. He applies the term “power archives” to demonstrate that those inside an institute cannot be aware of the subtle ways of power imposed on them. Likewise, it would be oversimplification to think that with the apparent end of colonialism, the colonized subjects will be free from subjugating contexts. In the case of women, the situation is even worse since they are repressed by both the colonialist and the post-colonial nationalist. “Under the anxiety of the influence” of the former colonial father, the once-belittled colonial men turn to support their females in terms of their body and soul, and in this way define them inside a strictly demarcated roles of good wives, mothers, and households or vicious prostitutes. Bessie Head in her semi-autobiographical masterpiece subtly examines this idea and through her coloured protagonist, Elizabeth, attempts to re-deconstruct this notion.

Representation of the ‘National Self’— Novelistic Portrayal of a New Cultural Identity in Gora

Dipankar Roy,Visva-Bharati, India

 Abstract

Any colonial rule involves a systematic and ruthless attack on the culture and heritage of the colonized race. This often results in a total loss or at least maiming of the sense of ‘self’ for the colonized people. The masculinist self of the colonizer labels the self of the colonized as ‘effeminate’. In reaction to this, the nationalist consciousness of the colonized people often tries to replicate the macho virility of the colonial masters in an act of fashioning a ‘nationalist self.’ In the context of Indian colonial history we see development in similar lines. But, the codification of the dominant strand of the nationalist consciousness in overt masculinist terms often have strange reverberations. This paper is about such an act of fashionning selves and its after-effects. To study the issue in the Indian colonial contexts I have chosen Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Gora as a case-study. The conception of this novel’s central character is largely modelled on the issue of an ‘ideal’ national self.  The author, however, by observing the dialogic principle consistently in the text, problematises the dominant ideas connected with the figure of ‘nationalist self’. How he does it will be my main concern in this article. Whether it is possible to arrive at a general tendency of the nature of India’s colonial encounter with the British in relation to the issue of the development of the national character will be dealt with in the concluding section of this essay.

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