“The Rest” Writes Back: Collapse of the Empire

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Esmaeil Zeiny/ National university of Malaysia & La Trobe University
contact email: 


“The Rest” Writes Back: Collapse of the Empire

At the end of the World War II, the European territorial control over the colonies began to crumble. The former colonial masters, having relinquished territorial occupation, devised cultural and economic models of control that divided the world into developed and developing.  Contemporary imperialism and globalization perpetrate and perpetuate colonial inequities and structures of power, epistemology, and visuality which can sum up in their desire to return to the past. During the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the conservative and pro-Brexit British Member of Parliament, Heather Wheeler tweeted the map of the world showing former British colonies highlighted in red with the words “Empire goes for the gold.” In the same vein, the British vote in favor of ‘Brexit’ along with the white supremacists protests across the United States of America and many other similar instances prompted the West to rekindle the narratives of empires with a sense of longing for a supposedly better past. Niall Ferguson’s 2011 ‘Civilization: The West and the Rest’ is also indicative of such desire wherein he credits six "killer apps," or social developments: competition, science, property, medicine, consumption and work through which the West surpass the Rest. His ‘The West and the Rest’ seems to have involved the principle of ‘take the Best and leave the Rest’ as if the Rest is rotten and unpolished. These episodes of events represent continuum in the history of colonialism. Decolonization may have ended formal colonization, but discursive norms have perpetuated to exert dramatic impact, demonstrating themselves in new ways with various longings at different times.

However, the disintegration of European colonies in Africa and Asia and the consequent new models of control had a powerful influence upon the uprising of nationalist movements, increased the national historical consciousness, and brought about a worldwide sentiment against colonialism. Since then, debates over the interwoven issues of Eurocentrism, Orientalism, imperialism, and racism have exhausted themselves. They all have been concerned with the issue of decolonization as a process to emancipate the colonized people from the political, economic, social and intellectual dependency. Discussions of decoloniality and ‘epistemic disobedience’ have been offering fresh opportunities to interrogate the colonial legacies and to study the geopolitics of knowledge production. As both a political and epistemic project, decoloniality problematizes the colonial histories and contemporary power structures. Decolonial methodologies are therefore ways of thinking and doing that present options for “confronting and delinking from […] the colonial matrix of power” (Mignolo 2011: xxvii). The West has been gradually accepting the traumatic realization that the Rest has a mind of its own, philosophies of its own and a growing boosting economy of its own.

Drawing upon Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin’s The Empire Writes Back (1989) and Hamid Dabashi’s (2015) ‘Can Non-Europeans Think?,’ The Rest Writes Back seeks to bring together essays and scholarly examinations of the non-Western postcolonial authors’ literary works, either textual or visual, that ‘write back’ to the empire. A prime example is Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) that challenges the Western racist assumptions, its cultural superiority, and its economic exploitation of the colonized that exist in European literature. While introducing less-cited non-Western authors and highlighting their alternative thoughts, visions and perspectives, The Rest Writes Back explores how the binary opposition of ‘the West and the Rest’ does not have the same potency that it had once possessed. By focusing on the theme of ‘decolonization,’ this edited volume seeks for an interdisciplinary rethinking of the sociopolitical and cultural issues in the postcolonial contexts that challenge the notion of empire and shatter the West’s grand illusion of returning to the colonial era. The papers in this volume will accentuate that a new regime of knowledge will come to power and the dreams of sustaining the imperial grips are illusory.

Papers are invited from all disciplines addressing, but not limited to, the following topics:

Literary geography, cartography, mapping the world

Translation and cultural exchange

National literatures and narratives in view of world literature

‘Third-world’ literature and national allegories

Transnational theatre, performance, and film

Global movements in the arts

Universalism and human rights discourses

Class, race, and gender in a globalized world

Decolonization and reconciliation

Anti-colonial and Postcolonial literatures

Migration flows, diasporic literature, and border studies

The Politics of Gender and Postcoloniality

Knowledge circulation and local consequences

Indigeneity and civilizational interactions

Popular imagination and the narratives of clashing civilizations

The Western canon and pedagogy in Postcolonial locations


Please send a 500 word abstract along with your affiliation and biographical statement to Dr. Esmaeil Zeiny at esmaeilzeiny@gmail.com  by November 1. Full paper must be submitted no later than March 1, 2018.