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Humanities 2015, 4(3), 369-392; doi:10.3390/h4030369

The Question of “Solidarity” in Postcolonial Trauma Fiction: Beyond the Recognition Principle

Department of English, Daemen College, 4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY 14226, USA
Academic Editor: Sonya Andermahr
Received: 28 June 2015 / Revised: 8 August 2015 / Accepted: 28 August 2015 / Published: 7 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Trauma Studies: Trauma and Postcolonialism)
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Abstract

Dominant theorizations of cultural trauma often appeal to the twinned notions of “recognition” and “solidarity”, suggesting that by inviting readers to recognize distant suffering, trauma narratives enable forms of cross-cultural solidarity to emerge. This paper explores and critiques that argument with reference to postcolonial literature. It surveys four areas of postcolonial trauma, examining works that narrate traumatic experiences of the colonized, colonizers, perpetrators and proletarians. It explores how novelists locate traumatic affects in the body, and suggests that Frantz Fanon’s model of racial trauma in Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth remains essential for the interpretation of postcolonial texts, including those to which it is not usually applied. The analysis further reveals tensions between different texts’ appeals for recognition, and suggests that these tensions problematize the claim that solidarity will emerge from sympathetic engagement with trauma victims. As such, the paper makes three key arguments: first, that trauma offers a productive ground for comparing postcolonial fiction; second, that comparison uncovers problems for theorists attempting to “decolonize” trauma studies; and third, that trauma theory needs to be supplemented with systemic material analyses of particular contexts if it is not to obfuscate what makes postcolonial traumas distinct. View Full-Text
Keywords: Postcolonial literature; trauma studies; Frantz Fanon; settler colonialism; African literature; migrant literature; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; recognition; solidarity Postcolonial literature; trauma studies; Frantz Fanon; settler colonialism; African literature; migrant literature; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; recognition; solidarity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Dalley, H. The Question of “Solidarity” in Postcolonial Trauma Fiction: Beyond the Recognition Principle. Humanities 2015, 4, 369-392.

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