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Colonial and Postcolonial Studies

  • About

    In an age after the formal end of European empire, how do we rethink global relations between nations and cultures? Research in the Colonial and Postcolonial Studies group traces the local and global links between cultures, societies and histories. Through the study of literature, film, language, and popular culture colleagues are dedicated to refining the critical vocabularies and disciplinary interests that help us understand colonial and postcolonial systems. We research original language materials in Bengali, Caribbean Creole, English, French, Hindi, Quechua and Latin American Spanish, and focus our research on Africa, the Americas, India, the Middle East and the UK.

    The major AHRC Devolving Diasporas grant (Bethan Benwell, Jackie Kay (Newcastle), James Procter (Newcastle), Gemma Robinson, 2007-10) investigated the production and reception of diasporic writing, seeking out new ways to understand national and diasporic cultural formations. The project led to an edited collection, Postcolonial Audiences (Routledge 2012) a Bloodaxe poetry anthology, Out of Bounds: British Black and Asian Poets (launched at the British Library in 2012), special issues in New Formations and the International Journal of Scottish Literature, and the monograph Reading Across Worlds: Transnational Book Groups and the Reception of Difference (Procter and Benwell, Palgrave 2014). Robinson succeeded in gaining further funding for a project based on the Out of Bounds anthology (2015-2017) This project invited the next generation to explore issues of national and regional belonging through the creation of an online multimedia resource, and a series of live poetry events across England, Scotland and Wales led by OOB poet, Vahni Capildeo.

    William Marshall’s monograph, The French Atlantic, supported by a Carnegie grant, has been influential in questioning the linguistic and geographical parameters of colonial and postcolonial studies; the work of Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz, Peter Baker and Gemma Robinson on cultures of the Americas reinforces this turn, as does research on cultures of travel by Fiona Barclay. Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz’s monograph, Entrelazando dos mundos: Experimentos y experiencias con el quechua de la cristianización en el Perú colonial, on the creation of a colonial Quechua verbal art, was supported by an AHRC fellowship. Baker’s British Academy-funded research project focuses on how indigenous media practices throughout Latin America construct collective ideas of what it means to be indigenous in our globalised world. Gyorgy Toth has explored the potential of cultural representations to inform transnational political movements, specifically the alliance between the radical Native American sovereignty movement and Central European solidarity groups in the late Cold War. His main focus in this field is decolonization, with the central concept of US-based Native American sovereignty. In his work, Clemens Hoffmann addresses questions of the postcolonial in international politics, especially in relation to the environment.Barclay publishes on North African writing. David Murphy’s edited work – Postcolonial Thought in the French-Speaking World (co-ed. Charles Forsdick) (Liverpool University Press, 2009) and Comparing Postcolonial Diasporas(co-eds Michelle Keown and James Procter (Palgrave, 2009)) – is leading debate on the comparative and multilingual demands of postcolonial studies. A British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship supported his research on Lamine Senghor and early twentieth century African anti-colonialism, linking to Robinson’s investigations of Guyanese anti-colonialism and Lange’s work on parodic forms of political critique in Latin American prose. Bashir Saade's work centres on post-colonial Islamic movements in the Middle East and nationalism and also focuses on the ​changes to pre-modern Arabic scholarship in its encounter with Western colonialism. Carla Sassi (Verona) joined the group as an RSE Caledonian Fellow to work collaboratively with Gemma Robinson and the Scottish Studies group on Caribbean-Scottish colonial relations.

    Recent conferences include:

    • ‘Translating God’ Colloquium (Stirling, May 2017) (publication edited by Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz forthcoming in 2018/19)
    • Colloquium on Iberian and Amerindian Confessionaries, 15th-18th century (Stirling, September 2016) (publication edited by  Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz forthcoming in 2018)
    • Translating Christianities Colloquium (December 2015) (publication edited by Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz forthcoming in 2018/19)
    • The French Slave Trade (2008; Carnegie Trust)
    • Caribbean-Scottish Passages: History, Language, Literature (2008; British Academy)
    • Reading After Empire: Local, Global and Diaspora Audiences (2008; AHRC)
    • Locating African Culture (2008; 3 workshops funded by Carnegie Trust, one at Aberdeen)
    • Performing Pan-Africanism: The History, Politics and Culture of an Idea (2012; study day at the University of London in Paris, funded as part of David Murphy’s British Academy mid-career Fellowship)
    • Utopian Archives: Excavating Pasts for Postcolonial Futures’ (2013; two-day research workshop as part of AHRC-funded network)

    Staff in this group also discuss their work within the theme of Crossing Cultures: Place, Memory, Identity to focus attention on the categories of ‘European’ and ‘non-European’ cultural models and their reception and reworking. Studies in the framework of Translating Christianities address the translation of culture, in colonial and postcolonial contexts.

  • Staff

    Dr Fiona Barclay

    Dr Bethan Benwell

    Dr Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz

    Dr Peter Baker

    Dr Clemens Hoffmann

    Professor Bill Marshall

    Professor David Murphy

    Dr Gemma Robinson

    Dr Bashir Saade

    Professor Angela Smith (Emeritus)

    Dr Gyorgy Toth

  • Postgraduate

    Supported by and working closely with a team of supervisors, students can devise a tailor-made Masters degree programme in colonial and postcolonial studies, via the MRes in Humanities. The programme director is Peter Milne. We have a strong research culture and welcome Master and PhD applications and enquiries. In 2010 students at Stirling held the Postcolonial Studies Association’s Postgraduate Conference.

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