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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 (2011) From margin to centre: Postcolonial identities and Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father. Life Writing, 8 (3). pp. 317-329. ISSN 1448-4528 (Print), 1751-2964 (Online) (doi:

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This article considers Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father (1995), as extending a tradition of African-American life writing that is characterised by negotiations of identity. It examines how Obama draws upon the rhetorical and literary strategies evident in nineteenth-century narratives and twentieth-century re-workings of the original African-American autobiographical form. The article suggests ways in which Dreams from My Father can also be viewed in relation to postcolonial theory and postcolonial life writing. Therefore, as well as focusing on the relationship between Obama's memoir and African-American autobiography, I also examine the links between postcolonial life writing and contemporary theory in relation to both Dreams from My Father and Obama's Presidential acceptance speech. The article aims to contribute to contemporary re-theorisations of the meaning of postcolonial that seek to expand the notion of a postcolonial canon to include not only the subject at the ‘periphery' but also those at the ‘centre' in the twenty-first century. Obama articulates a transnational and collective consciousness in his attempt to accommodate difference and the individual.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Version of record first published: 12 Aug 2011. [2] Paper published in 'Special Issue: Lives in Relation' of Life Writing (Volume 8, Issue 3, September 2011). [4] Papers in this volume emerged from a conference called ‘Lives in Relation: An interdisciplinary conference on life writing’, which was held 30 October 2009, at the University of Lincoln, UK.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Barack Obama, postcolonial, transnationalism, African-American, life writing, diaspora, identity, transnational
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Communications & Creative Arts
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:14
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None

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