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, Quecha 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) investigates 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 forthcoming monograph Reading Across Worlds (Palgrave 2014).
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 Saenz, Charlotte Lange and Gemma Robinson on cultures of the Americas reinforces this turn, as does research on cultures of travel by Fiona Barclay, Michael Marten, and Aedin Ni Loingsigh. Dedenbach-Salazar Saenz’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. Barclay publishes on North African writing and Ni Loingsigh on Sub-Saharan African literary cultures with a particular emphasis on postcolonial travel cultures, practices and textualizations.
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. Padmini Ray Murray’s work on the Bengali book trade (initially funded by an AHRC/British Library/National Library of India workshop) prioritises the study of colonial and postcolonial cultures through archival research, a commitment shared by Marshall, Murphy, Ni Loingsigh, Marten and Robinson (the latter funded by the AHRC).
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.
Ray Murray was awarded an AHRC Unbox Fellowship and booster funding to complete a pilot version of the video game created in the first phase of the fellowship, and to use that as an object lesson for creating videogames in India. The research also involves a scoping exercise of the videogame industry in India and how it is perceived both locally and globally. The name of the project is 'Meghdoot: Using New Technologies to tell Age-Old Stories', and runs from August 2013 to January 2014.
Emphasis on creative practice is continued by Meaghan Delahunt, the award-winning Granta author of The Red Book (shortlisted for the Saltire Book of the Year 2008), in addition to the annual appointment of a Charles Wallace Fellowship for Indian creative writers (for 2014, Snehal Vadher) and our involvement in the Africa in Motion Film Festival.
Recent conferences include:
- 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)
- Latin American and Caribbean Studies in Scotland (2008)
- Death and the Dead (2009)
- European-Indigenous Trans/Mission: Translation Strategies in Colonial Latin America (2011; co-organised with the Free University of Berlin, and funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, at the Free University of Berlin)
- Andean Studies in the United Kingdom (2011)
- Latin American Women Writers, Artists and Filmmakers (2012)
- Haunting Memories – Unsettled pasts and Disputed Spaces (2012)
- 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.