Over the previous 12 months, as with many people, my Goodreads bookshelf (oxymoronic as that phrase is) has seen a rise in narratives which encourage us to decolonise our imperial understanding of historical past. We’ve been busy (re)educating ourselves and appearing on this information, not in order to prioritise one canon over one other, however to recalibrate our elementary understanding of the whitewashed curriculum now we have all been uncovered to. This recalibration isn’t simply by way of literary decolonisation, but in addition cultural and linguistic decolonisation. And while this has been a noticeable development throughout the arts and cultures world and past, it’s essential that this isn’t, in actual fact, understood as a development, however as a veritable want for change.
With that in thoughts, I hope that my suggestions can provide you some concepts when you’re on the lookout for some new materials and, like me, you’re on a quest to decolonise what you’re studying. I’ve chosen quite a lot of genres, so hopefully there’s one thing for everybody!
Afropean by Johny Pitts
A memoir of Pitts’s journey throughout Europe’s Black diaspora, together with in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Stockholm, Afropean presents an pressing and unromanticised understanding of the metropolitan constructions which have traditionally drowned out Black experiences. By means of his cinematic depictions of Europe’s whitewashed cities, nourished by his expertise as a photographer, Pitts recounts the belittling white gaze with unapologetic directness. Informative, however by no means dense, he deftly intertwines anecdotes with historic background, to create an interesting account of the best way that Black voices have constantly been seen as peripheral to the hegemony of whiteness, a phrase which Pitts observes has turn into synonymous with Europeanness. He proposes the ‘unhyphenated’ portmanteau, Afropean, as a manner of understanding his id inside European area.
A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
This autobiographical prolonged essay particulars Kincaid’s experiences of rising up in British-colonised Antigua. By means of the gaze of the Western vacationer, Kincaid denounces the best way that tourism encourages the Western eye to exoticise Antigua, seeing it for its picturesque views, reasonably than for its brutal colonial previous; a bent which has been amplified by the halting of international journey through the pandemic. Kincaid makes some sobering observations in regards to the realities of neo-colonialism in Antigua, which she explains by way of the truth that her narrative is written in English – the very language which oppressed her native archipelago within the first place. Kincaid attracts our consideration to the barbarity of colonialism, whereby colonised cultures are seen to be extra uncivilized than the violent realities of the act of colonisation itself.
Lullaby by Leïla Slimani
A translation of the French unique, entitled Chanson douce, Slimani, who not too long ago grew to become Emmanuel Macron’s Francophone Affairs Minister, has turn into one thing of an icon throughout the French-speaking world. This novel is easy but refined, coarse but compelling. In a Camus-esque opening, Slimani informs the reader of the horrifying infanticide dedicated by a nanny throughout the bourgeois Parisian residence.
But regardless of the climax being bathetically lowered by the choice to not delay it till the novel’s denouement, the narrative someway by no means loses its thrust. And while we’re by no means knowledgeable as to the nanny’s motivations for her diabolical act, Slimani attracts consideration to the existential loneliness of the nanny determine, who masquerades because the bourgeois mom through the day, but whose function in society paradoxically renders her invisible. A delicate critique of the capitalist financial system by which girls are exploited by way of their reproductive function, Slimani’s novel gripped me from begin to end. There’s good cause why the novel received the coveted Prix Goncourt in 2016.
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