Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World: The Idea of "the Middle Ages" Outside Europe
2009 456 pp., 4 b&w illus.
This fascinating study explores the intersection of postcolonial theory and medievalism. While the latter has traditionally been defined primarily in terms of European nationalism, the essays in this volume discuss medievalism in regions as wide—ranging as the United States, India, Latin America, and Africa. This innovative approach demonstrates the ways alternative conceptions of medieval and modern history can provide new insights into the idea of the Middle Ages and the origins and legacy of colonialism.
Through diverse and thought—provoking essays, the contributors demonstrate that writing the Middle Ages has been key in colonial and postcolonial struggles over racial, ethnic, and territorial identity. They also argue that colonial medievalisms are crucial to understanding the history of entrenched temporal and political partitions, such as medieval/modern and East/West.
The essays are divided into four sections that address a set of related questions raised by the literary and political intersections of medievalism and colonialism. Each section is followed by a response -- two are by postcolonial theorists and two by medievalists -- that carefully considers the essay's arguments and comments on its implications for the respondent's field of study.
This volume is the first to bring medievalists and postcolonial scholars into conversation about the shared histories of their fields and the potential for mutual endeavor. Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World will both redirect scholarship in medievalism and inform approaches to temporality in postcolonial studies.
"A worthy volume that will be of interest to scholars of the premodern world as well as postcolonialists. It marks a welcome move away from a Eurocentric focus, ranging into new territorial areas that will raise new and exciting questions for scholars, teachers, and graduate students." -- Ania Loomba, University of Pennsylvania
Kathleen Davis teaches medieval literature at the University of Rhode Island and is the author of Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time and Deconstruction and Translation. Nadia Altschul teaches medieval and Latin American studies at the Johns Hopkins University and is author of La literatura, el autor y la crítica textual.
Decolonizing medieval Mexico / José Rabasa -- An enchanted mirror for the capitalist self : the Germania in British India / Ananya Jahanara Kabir -- Most gentle indeed, but most virile : the medievalist pacifism of George Arnold Wood / Louise D'Arcens -- Response: Historicism and its supplements : a note on a predicament shared by medieval and postcolonial studies / Dipesh Chakrabarty -- "Reconquista" and the "three religion Spain" in Latin American thought / Hernán G. Taboada -- Medievalism, colonialism, orientalism : Japan's modern identity in Natsume Soseki's Maboroshi no tate and kairo-ko / Haruko Momma -- Crossing history, dis-orienting the orient : Amin Maalouf's uses of the medieval / Francesca Canadé Sautman and Hamid Bahri -- Response: Working through medievalisms / Kathleen Davis -- Andrés Bello and the poem of the Cid : Latin America, occidentalism, and the foundations of Spain's national philology / Nadia Altschul -- Postcolonial gothic : the medievalism of America's national cathedrals / Elizabeth Emery -- An American in Paris : Charles Homer Haskins at the Paris Peace Conference / Heather Blurton -- Response: Medievalism and the making of nations / Michelle R. Warren -- African medievalisms : caste as a subtext in Ahmadou Kourouma's Suns of independence and Monnew / Sylvie Kandé -- A clash of medieval cultures : Amerindians and conquistadors in the thought of Wilson Harris / Kofi Campbell -- Medieval studies and the voice of conscience in twentieth-century South Africa / Victor Houliston -- Response: Africa and the signs of medievalism / Simon Gikandi.