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Narrating postcolonial identities in Zora Neale Hurston's "Dust Tracks on a Road" and Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father"

Narrating postcolonial identities in Zora Neale Hurston's "Dust Tracks on a Road" and Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father"

Baillie, Justine ORCID: 0000-0002-0056-9155 (2010) Narrating postcolonial identities in Zora Neale Hurston's "Dust Tracks on a Road" and Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father". In: Transformations of Narrative in the Postcolonial Era, AHRC Research Project, Pinter Centre, Goldsmiths, University of London. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper considers African-American life writing and its intersection with the form and structure of postcolonial literature. The fractured identities narrated in early examples of African-American autobiography, in particular Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on a Road, a text of strategic omissions and racial perspectives derived from dislocation and migration, is being reconfigured by Barack Obama in Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Here, the displacement and fragmentation of the diasporic experience are reshaped as empowerment. Obama’s memoir is representative of the tension apparent in narrating a fragmented postcolonial life whilst also negotiating a coherent identity from within America’s changing racial context. Obama’s ‘story of race and inheritance’ disrupts conventional understandings of postcolonial literature, essentially as an oppositional, fractured discourse that can only define itself as peripheral to, or ‘post’, metropolitan and Enlightenment 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’. More than autobiography, Dreams from My Father is a re-theorization of postcolonial identity articulating a trans-global and collective consciousness that now operates at the centre of American political life.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Life writing, memory, African-American literary tradition
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > Department of Literature, Language & Theatre
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2017 13:53
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/18006

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