Colonialism and Cultural Identity

Crises of Tradition in the Anglophone Literatures of India, Africa, and the Caribbean

By Patrick Colm Hogan

Subjects: Postcolonial Studies
Series: SUNY series, Explorations in Postcolonial Studies
Paperback : 9780791444603, 373 pages, January 2000
Hardcover : 9780791444597, 373 pages, February 2000

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Table of contents


Introduction. Identities and Universalism

1. Literatures of Colonial Contact: Cultural Geography and the Structures of Identity

2. Dialectics of Mimeticism and Nativism: Derek Walcott's Dream on Monkey Mountain

3. Colonialism, Patriarchy, and Creole Identity: Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea

4. Culture and Despair: Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

5. Worship and "Manness": Earl Lovelace's The Wine of Astonishment

6. Lives of Women in the Region of Contact: Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood

7. Orthodoxy and Universalism: Rabindranath Tagore's Gora

8. The Economics of Cultural Identity: Attia Hosain's Sunlight on a Broken Column

Afterword. Socialism and the Politics of Otherness

Appendix. Analytic Glossary of Selected Theoretical Concepts

Works Cited


Explores diverse cultural identities, both theoretically and through concrete, specific interpretations of selected major texts from former British colonies.


This book examines the diverse responses of colonized people to metropolitan ideas and to indigenous traditions. Going beyond the standard isolation of mimeticism and hybridity—and criticizing Homi Bhabha's influential treatment of the former—Hogan offers a lucid, usable theoretical structure for analysis of the postcolonial phenomena, with ramifications extending beyond postcolonial literature. Developing this structure in relation to major texts by Derek Walcott, Jean Rhys, Chinua Achebe, Earl Lovelace, Buchi Emecheta, Rabindranath Tagore, and Attia Hosain, Hogan also provides crucial cultural background for understanding these and other works from the same traditions.

Patrick Colm Hogan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut. He is the coeditor of Literary India: Comparative Studies in Aesthetics, Colonialism, and Culture, with Lalita Pandit, also published by SUNY Press.


"…systematic in building a Marxian theory for postcolonial studies, … Hogan's … contributions to postcolonial theory will broaden the appeal of Marxism to postcolonial theorists while raising questions about which critical, artistic, and activist figures belong to the postcolonial canon." — College Literature

"Learned and prolific, Hogan has in the past decade written and edited half a dozen books on literature and critical theory … In the present volume, Hogan addresses some of the major concepts routinely deployed by postcolonial theorists writing about colonialism and its aftermath (e.g., mimeticism, hybridity, creolization, cultural identity, universalism). Simultaneously, he offers illuminating readings of half a dozen postcolonial texts, including Nobelist Derek Walcott's play Dream on Monkey Mountain and Rabindranath Tagore's novel Gora. In an unusual section on Attia Hossain's Sunlight on a Broken Column, Hogan presents inconclusive but intriguing arguments about various concepts of identity. A contentious theoretical appendix and a helpful glossary complete the volume. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and scholars." — CHOICE

"Patrick Hogan analyzes literary works to tell the story of the annihilation of selves and the death of cultures that accompanied colonialism. But it is also a story of the emancipatory visions that have emerged from the crucibles of self-disavowal and massive cultural dislocations. This book is a homage to human creativity under oppressive and humiliating conditions and to the indomitable resilience of the defeated and the forgotten. In Hogan's analysis, the homelessness produced by colonialism becomes the bedrock of a new tension in the postcolonial world, between categories that sustain conventionality and categories tinged with a new transcultural vision." — Ashis Nandy, coeditor of Creating a Nationality: The Ramjanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self

"With great learning and a polished, accessible literary style, Hogan has undertaken—with the use of carefully defined terminology and intellectually rigorous interpretation—the formidable task of examining a large body of literature produced in postcolonial societies to show it as an integral part of the universal human heritage. His penetrating reading of Rabindranath Tagore's great novel, Gora, and Derek Walcott's play, Dream on Monkey Mountain, are indicative of his pioneering work that marks a breakthrough in scholarship in the field." — Ainslie T. Embree, author of Utopias in Conflict: Religion and Nationalism in Modern India