What Postcolonial Theory Doesn't Say

Ziad Magdy Elmarsafy (Editor), Anna Lacy Bernard (Editor), Stuart Murray (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book reclaims postcolonial theory, addressing persistent limitations in the geographical, disciplinary, and methodological assumptions of its dominant formations, and emerging from an investment in the future of postcolonial studies and a commitment to its basic premise; namely the conception of particular cultural and literary articulations in relation to larger structures of colonial and imperial domination as a way of putting the theory back in postcolonial theory. To a certain extent, postcolonial theory is a victim of its own success, in part from the institutionalization of the insights that it has enabled: now that they no longer seem new, it is hard to know what the field’s work should be beyond these general commitments, or what its practitioners should be debating. The renewal of popular anti-imperial energies across the globe provides a rare opportunity to reassert the political and theoretical value of the postcolonial as a comparative, interdisciplinary, and oppositional paradigm. This collection makes a claim for what postcolonial theory can say through the work of scholars articulating what it still cannot or will not say. It explores ideas that a more aesthetically sophisticated postcolonial theory might be able to address, focusing on questions of visibility, performance, and literariness. Contributors highlight some of the shortcomings of current postcolonial theory in relation to contemporary political developments such as Zimbabwean land reform, postcommunism, and the economic rise of East Asia. Finally, they address the disciplinary, geographical, and methodological exclusions from postcolonial studies through a detailed focus on new disciplinary directions (management studies, theories of the state), overlooked places and perspectives (Palestine, Weimar Germany, the environmentalism of the poor), and the necessity of materialist analysis for understanding both world and world literary systems.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages256
ISBN (Print)978-0415857970, 041585797X
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2015

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures


  • Literary theory and criticism
  • Postcolonial Studies

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