Colonial, Postcolonial, and Decolonial Encounters in the English-speaking World: Rethinking the Other
CFP: Alizés 43 (2023)
Deadline for abstracts (400 words) and short biographical notes (150 words): September 15, 2022
Notification of acceptance: October 15, 2022
Submission of full draft papers: February 1, 2023
Submission of final papers: June 15, 2023
Languages: English, French
Created in 1990, the peer-reviewed academic journal Alizés dedicated to English Studies (civilization, literature, linguistics, and didactics), will now be published online annually by the Presses Universitaires Indianocéaniques (PUI), Université de La Réunion. The next issue is scheduled for publication in 2023. It will be devoted to the following theme:
Colonial, Postcolonial, and Decolonial Encounters in the English-speaking World: Rethinking the Other
Accounts of intercultural contacts abound in colonialist writing, the idea of the pristine encounter, of a “first encounter” with the non-Western Other having largely inspired a whole section of British and American narrative discourse: Robinson Crusoe meeting Friday, Ilke and Yarico, etc (Hulme). The theme of savagery, of encountering the “uncivilized native” is characteristic of colonial discourse with the discovery of cultural differences serving a specific function in colonial ideology and cultural hegemony. By instigating racial and social hierarchies between Europeans and Natives, colonial societies further asserted their vision of what was seen as a “natural balance” between the East and the West, the South and the North, “Them” and “Us” (Lahiri). Colonial life was consequently imbued with the idea of “Otherness”, leading to misconceptions and fraught perceptions of the “subaltern natives”. As demonstrated by post-colonial academics such as Stuart Hall, or Gayatri Spivak, representations and images of the natives, of the culture of the “Other” lead to generalized and preconceived racial and cultural assumptions, becoming essentially a tool for control and restriction, a way of maintaining and justifying the colonizer’s hegemony (Spivak; Hall).
With the rise of postcolonial theory and the analysis of colonial discourse, the ramifications and continuing legacy of colonial encounters have led theorists and critics towards highlighting the links between ideology, culture and empire (Said). Their reinterpretations of cultural encounters, Otherness and Othering also consider the intersecting race and gender biases that underlie the fluid social construction of identity and difference. Decolonial thinkers call for a non-Western critique of Eurocentrism and modernity, using “subalternized silenced knowledges” (Mignolo) and challenging hegemonic narratives based on colonial binaries.
For this next issue of Alizés, we invite contributions that focus on colonial, postcolonial, or decolonial encounters, examining the concept of the Other and its representations in the English-speaking world from the colonial period to the 21st century.
The concept of the “Other” will be studied from the perspective of Westerners and also from the perspective of the colonized subjects and alternative images of the Self and the Other, of Us and Them. While the instrumentalization of racial prejudice and cultural stereotyping will be considered, other processes such as that of “colonial mimicry” will also provide possible research topics (Bhabha). The idea of cultural assimilation and the process of “hybridization” (Hall) and studies on migration to the UK will also provide another take on the concept of Otherness, allowing us to examine what is now known as “reverse colonialism”. The successive waves of migration from the Global South to the UK, but also to North America or Australia, have led to multiple encounters, the emergence of new “contact zones”, and the necessity of redefining and negotiating one’s sense of cultural identity “in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power” (Pratt).
At times welcomed, tolerated, put up with or rejected, encounters also entailcivilization studies. Researchers may here question the When, Why and How surrounding these encounters – which thus includes considerations on the history of encounters in the English-speaking world, their contexts, shapes, representations, reception, and the way relations can be revisited. A wide range of concepts may thus engender interdisciplinary perspectives, as for instance studies on formal and informal empires, on the “Old” and “New” British Commonwealth, American imperialism, or Australian imperialism in the Pacific. Turning points will be of particular interest since they entail analyses of colonialism, anticolonialism, decolonization or postcolonialism: the Suez Crisis, Macmillan’s 1960 “Wind of Change” speech; Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” 1947 speech; the institutionalization of apartheid in 1948…
Topics of interest include migration, transnational circulations, the creation of networks (whether economic, political, intellectual, artistic), social policies, cultural policies and the representation of ethnic minorities, internal and foreign policies, diplomacy, soft power, and all the answers provided by state and non-state actors to face, welcome, confront, regulate or use the encounters.
In the fields of arts and literature, the poetics of encounter will be studied in relation to the discourse of the Other and the emergence of postcolonial or decolonial aesthetics. Responding creatively or “writing back” (Ashcroft), several generations of artists and writers have reinterpreted a history of conflictual encounters with Westerners, at home and abroad, as transformative experiences. We also welcome papers that consider the theme of spectral encounters in speculative novels and films, as rewritings of a haunting colonial past.
Such artistic and literary productions can be seen as sites of “performative encounters” (Rosello) in the sense that they are creative expressions of problematic cross-cultural interactions, of permanent negotiations that lead to the production of new ways of being-in-the-world, in contact with the dominant Other. While representing bodies and beings in contact, postcolonial artists and writers cross cultural, aesthetic, and linguistic borders through processes of borrowing, mixing, grafting, hybridization, or creolization, thus highlighting difference and diversity. They may also use vernacular, indigenous forms of creation and expression of self as Other that deconstruct and reject European canons and systems of thought in more radical, disruptive ways.
Many of these artists and writers live in diaspora and/or have become cosmopolitan travelers in a global world, thus generating new encounters. We invite papers that examine how transnational artists and writers explore the experience of being/becoming the Other in contemporary multicultural societies. Contributors may also address the topic of returning home and the othering of returnees in arts and literature.
Whether fruitful or conflictual, social and cultural encounters also translate as linguistic ones. Not only do interactions between speakers of different languages require reflections on sociolinguistics, but they also entail “contact linguistics” – a field which examines the influence languages have on one another. The voices may be in consonance or dissonance, and the consequences of such contacts are often remarkably polymorphous. Linguistic encounters have offered different landscapes and forms of creolization (Glissant) and although postcolonial writers found ways of using and appropriating the English language (the language of the Other, the oppressor), the decolonization of language has been a complex endeavour (Fanon; Thiong’o).
Through cross-fertilization, languages may influence one another; yet the influence may be constrained to a one-way direction, while the spectre of linguistic hegemony stands at the apex of language contact. The polyphony may also give birth to pidgins, Creoles and mixed languages; or take the forms of code-switching or translanguaging (Canagarajah; Garcia & Wei).
Three standpoints can thus be taken: a specific outlook can be given on societies, and more particularly on their multilingual aspects, sociolinguistic contexts and educational policies; a second perspective may focus on the individual level, questioning a wide variety of themes such as language power, representations, bilingualism and pedagogy (Cummins) or the plurilingual skills of the speakers (Coste, Moore, Zarate). A third stance will call forth a reflection on the languages themselves and contact linguistics.
The next issue of Alizés will therefore take a multidimensional approach to the notion of colonial encounters and the construction of Otherness, welcoming papers with varied, innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to our chosen topic.
We invite authors to submit proposals – a 400-word abstract along with a short biographical note (150 words) – by September 15, 2022. The proposals will be emailed to the editors:
Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures. London & New York: Routledge, 2nd ed., 2002.
Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London & New York: Routledge, 1994.
Canagarajah, Suresh. Translingual Practice, Global Englishes and Cosmopolitan Relations. Routledge, 2013.
Coste, Daniel, Danièle Moore et Geneviève Zarate. Compétence plurilingue et pluriculturelle : vers un Cadre Européen Commun de Référence pour l’enseignement et l’apprentissage des langues vivantes (rév. 2009). Strasbourg : Conseil de l’Europe, Division des politiques linguistiques, Version originale publiée en 1997. https://rm.coe.int/168069d29c
Cummins, Jim. Language, Power and Pedagogy: Bilingual Children in the Crossfire. Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit: Multilingual Matters, 2000. https://doi.org/10.21832/9781853596773
Fanon, Frantz. Peau noire, masques blancs. Paris : Éditions du Seuil, 1952.
García, Ofelia et Wei, Li. Translanguaging : Language, bilingualism and education. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Glissant, Edouard. Traité du Tout-Monde, Poétique IV. Paris : Gallimard, 1997.
Hall, Stuart. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. Ed. Jonathan Rutherford. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990. 222-237.
Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean 1492-1797. London: Routledge, 1992.
Lahiri, Shompa. Indians in Britain, Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880-1930. London: Frank Cass, 2000.
Mignolo, Walter D. Local Histories/Global Designs: Essays on the Coloniality of Power, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020.
Pratt, Mary Louise, “Arts of the Contact Zone”. Profession (1991): 33-40.
Rosello, Mireille. France and the Maghreb: Performative Encounters. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005.
Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1994.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty: "Can the Subaltern Speak?". In: Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Eds. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1988: 271-313.
Thiong’o, Ngugi wa. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: J. Currey, 1986.