Imperial Postcoloniality: Narrative, Race and Reproduction in White Settler Histories Open Access

Stalsberg Canelli, Alyssa (2016)

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My dissertation proposes a term, "imperial postcoloniality," which describes the particular situation of settler colonialism in which independence is simultaneously elaborated through new configurations of colonialism, imperialism and racialization. The imperial postcolonial condition is reproduced through a complex set of affiliations, repudiations and reconciliations with the parent colonial power, and sustained through a kinship of shared whiteness. This project explores literary representations of the racialized narrative structures of the new white settler nations. By analyzing texts written by J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer and Zoe Wicomb to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Apess, I argue that at the heart of the imperial postcolonial nation's imagined community lies an anxiety over the origins and reproduction of the nation. Further, it is precisely this anxiety that exposes the modes of racialized desire that are central to the nation's ideological and material reproduction. However, this white settler narration is continually unsettled by other voices and presences, including its own fictions of whiteness. In fact, the cohesion of national narratives is always threatened by the historical reality of non-linear, dispossessed, obscured and rerouted lines of descent. Although the comparativism of this project is historically non-contiguous, it is grounded in a tradition of comparative historical work, inaugurated by George F. Frederickson's White Supremacy: A Comparative Study of American and South African History (1982). I draw upon the rich tradition of "nation and narration" scholarship by Homi Bhabha and other postcolonial studies scholars in order to examine how heterosexual (and occasionally same-sex) desire, reproduction and familial relations are incorporated into these racialized national narratives. I also engage with key arguments in queer theory about the relation between the figure of the child and the nation, and the ways in which contemporary queer identity formations are inextricable from white settler histories. By bringing together the fields of postcolonial studies, American studies and queer theory, this project addresses several issues in each discourse: the relative lack of analysis of sexuality in postcolonial studies and the controversial relationship of white settler histories to postcolonial theory; the ideological persistence of American exceptionalism; and the relation between whiteness and queerness.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Chapter 1. 11

Chapter 2. 44

Chapter 3. 79

Chapter 4. 137

Chapter 5. 209

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