12 December 2019

Stephen Morton

Allegories of the World System

18:00 c.t. - room IG 411

This paper presents research from my current book project, Allegories of the World System. Against the histories of dispossession and extraction which have shaped the development of the modern world economy, the book considers how postcolonial art and literature variously draws on the resources of allegory to project a powerful dialectical image of a decolonising world. Extending Fredric Jameson’s claim that all allegories are utopian, the book traces the utopian expression of the global commons in the allegorical form of postcolonial literature and visual culture. Since utopian thought has always been concerned to counter the rule of property, it is particularly well placed to articulate the collective work of ‘commoning’, which Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval (2019) see as crucial to addressing the political, economic, and ecological crises of the twenty-first century. Moreover, the utopian impulse of postcolonial allegory has sought to imagine alternatives to the histories of colonial dispossession, extraction, ecological devastation, social reproduction, and labour exploitation, which have shaped and determined the development of the modern world–system. Through original comparative readings of a wide range of literary texts by Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Zakes Mda, Helon Habila, Tomson Highway, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Maryse Condé, and visual artworks by Sondra Perry, William Kentridge, Steve McQueen, Nadia Myre, and Brian Jungen, this book argues that the allegorical codes of postcolonial world literature and art engage readers in the collective work of reimagining the planet as commons.


Stephen Morton is a Professor of English at the University of Southampton. He recent books include States of emergency: colonialism, literature and law (Liverpool University Press), co-edited collections, Terror and the postcolonial: a concise companion (Wiley-Blackwell) and Foucault in an age of terror: essays on biopolitics and the defence of society (Palgrave).


14 November 2019

Maryam Mirza (Durham University)

"Resisting Activism: The Politics of Apathy and Disengagement in South Asian Women’s Fiction"

18:00 c.t. - room IG 4.201

My talk will draw on an ongoing book project which focuses on the theme of resistance in Anglophone fiction by South Asian women writers. Moving beyond a conceptualization of resistance developed purely in response to colonialism and/or patriarchal oppression, my book calls attention to the emancipatory politics, contradictions and disturbing manifestations of resistance, as well as its ambiguous affective implications. Through the lens of Manju Kapur’s novel Difficult Daughters (1998), and Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses (2005), my talk will grapple with the depiction of political apathy and disengagement in the context of two significant moments of female activism in contemporary South Asian history: the anti-colonial nationalist movement during the years leading up to the Partition of India in Kapur’s novel, and General Zia-ul-Haq’s military dictatorship and his Islamization movement in Shamsie’s. Deploying an interdisciplinary framework, I will examine the ways in which political apathy in these texts is intimately bound up with the concepts of freedom, choice and agency and, more broadly, with fundamental questions of female identity.


Maryam Mirza is Assistant Professor in World Literatures in English at Durham University, UK. Her first monograph Intimate Class Acts (2016) was published by Oxford University Press, and her essays have appeared in journals such as The Journal of Commonwealth Literature and the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, as well as in anthologies. She is currently working on her second monograph, which is under contact with Manchester University Press and is provisionally entitled Resistance and Its Discontents in South Asian Women’s Fiction.


Past Events

2019

  • 11 July 2019: "Interlopers: Mapping Creative and Destructive Encounters between Asia and the West". Guest lecture by Elmar Schenkel. More information here...
  • 27 June 2019: ‘A real event in slow motion’: (Northern) Irish Poetry After Brexit’. Guest lecture by Colin Graham. More information here...
  • 23 May 2019: Narrating Globalisation, Contesting Politics of Space in the Work of Amitav Ghosh. Guest lecture by Florian Stadtler More information here...
  • 09 May 2019: Queer Writing in Uganda – The Struggle for Literary Space. Guest lecture by Beatrice Lamwaka. More information here...
  • 25 April 2019: Australia’s Postcolonial Turn. The Mabo Decision and Australian Fiction. Guest lecture by Geoffrey Rodoreda (Stuttgart). More information here ...

     
  • 19 January 2019: Towards a Narrative of (Re)Conciliation? Post-War Sri Lankan Literature in English. Guest by Birte Heidemann-Malreddy (Bremen). More information here ...
     

2018

  • 15 November 2018: The Return of the Admiral: Re-fashioning Swahili waters in the 'Dragonfly Sea'. AFRASO guest lecture by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Nairobi/Berlin). More information here ...

     
  • 1 November 2018: Soundtrack included: How Music Adds an Extra Layer of Storytelling to a Bildungsroman. Guest lecture by Campbell Jefferys. More information here ...

     
  • 24 October 2018: Bandhani, emankeeki and kanga – Three Sisters of an Asian-African Heritage. The Complexities of Gendered and Race Relations in the Work of Sultan Somjee. Guest lecture by Mala Pandurang (Mumbai). More information here ...

     
  • 7 June 2018: The negotiation of (im)mobility in Anglophone Maori short stories. Guest lecture by Leonie John. Download the flyer here ...
     

  • 17 May 2018: Transcultural competence and English literature classes. A reconstructive study on the use of fictions of migrations in the EFL classroom. Guest lecture by Annika Kreft. Download the flyer here ...
     

  • 3 May 2018: Ngũgĩ in India: A Transcultural Dialogue. Guest lecture by Venugopalrao Nellutla. More information here ...
     

  • 8 February 2018: Can the Slum-dweller Speak? Katherine Boo and the Postcolonial Politics of Literary Journalism. Guest lecture by Alex Tickell. More information here ...
     

  • 1 February 2017: Concepts of Development in Postcolonial Kenyan Writing. Guest lecture by Martina Kopf. More information here ...
     

2017

  • 7 December 2017: ‘Travelling Cultures’:  Reading Nineteenth-Century British Narratives about Movement and Mobility. Guest lecture by Nadia Butt (University of Giessen). More information here ...

     
  • 26 October 2017: In Transition: The Aesthetics and Politics of the ‘Across Factor’. In Transition lecture by Ranjan Ghosh (University of North Bengal). More information here ...
     

  • 4 - 6 October 2017: South Asian Diaspora International Reseacher’s Network (SADIRN) Graduate Academy 2017. More information here ...
     

  • 13 July 2017: Sovereignty On Camera: Documentary, Performance and War in Syria. Guest Lecture by Enrique Galvan-Alvarez. More information here ...

  • 6 July 2017: Towards Transcultural Ecology: Learning | Reading. Guest lecture by Roman Bartosch. More information here ...
     

  • 13 June 2017: Indian Ocean Memories and African Migrants. AFRASO Lecture and Film Screening by Shihan de Silva More information here ...

  • 4 May 2017: Sperm Count. The Scoresbys and the North. In Transition lecture by Graham Huggan. More information here ...
     

2016

Older

  • 1-7 December, 2014, Dakar (Senegal): Photographs of 19th and 20th century Africa: Changing perspectives and object histories in school textbooks and digital archives. More information here ...
     

  • 21-23 September, 2014: Postgraduate Forum Reading Across Cultures. New Comparative Approaches in a Globalized World.  More information here ...