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'From margin to centre: Postcolonial identities and Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father"'

'From margin to centre: Postcolonial identities and Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father"'

Baillie, Justine ORCID: 0000-0002-0056-9155 (2009) 'From margin to centre: Postcolonial identities and Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father"'. In: Lives in Relation Life Writing Conference, 30 October 2009, University of Lincoln, Lincoln. (Unpublished)

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This paper is an intervention into the terrain of autobiographical studies at its intersection with postcolonial life writing. It considers problems associated with defining postcolonial life writing and proposes that we broaden its meaning to include texts once outside the category of postcolonial literature. To extend the meaning of postcolonial is timely as we are now witnessing its relocation from ‘margin’ to ‘centre’ with the election of Barack Obama. Rather than considering postcolonial literature as an essentially oppositional discourse defining itself as peripheral to, or ‘post’, metropolitan and economic concerns, this paper will expand the notion of a postcolonial canon to include not just the subject at the ‘periphery’ but also those now at the ‘centre’ in the twenty first century. Through an examination of the connections between postcolonial life writing, contemporary theory and African-American autobiography, I hope to open up the term ‘postcolonial’ to avoid condescension towards a narrow canon of indigenous literature and allow for a more nuanced engagement with oppressions and representations past, present and future. I will examine Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father (1995) and his political speeches as examples of new postcolonial life writing that also extend the African-American literary tradition in the articulation of a transnational and collective consciousness that can accommodate difference and the individual.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Autobiography, African-American literature, Transnationalism, Nationalism
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2017 13:24

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