Using a "cultural studies" approach to the question of what constitutes literary study at the end of the twentieth century, the contributors address identity politics in specific cultural instances.
The sixteen original essays by scholars from around the world examine concerns common to writers who experience marginalization based upon their inescapable identification with two or more cultures. From Australian aboriginal and Maori, to Irish, Maghrebian, and South African, and on to the rich ethnic mix in North America, the book considers fiction, poetry, autobiography, and anthropological reportage to raise questions as determinative as one's choice of language, one's presentation of self in society, one's "recovery" of a history. This collection serves as a bridge between recent Eurocentric postmodern discourse dealing with the breakdown of the modernist stability in art, architecture, and electronic media, and those recent studies that problematize the issue of racial identity and literary practice.
Cross-Addressing discusses site-specific strategies of resistance to the imposition of identity in the terms imposed or implied by colonizers and their descendants: narrative empowerment, gender reconstruction, racial decategorization, an intersection of marginalities, and a cross-cultural Third World solidarity. The movement is from the individual to the collective, from the particular to the global. The theoretical approach is eclectic, echoing the current split in cultural studies between discussions of the cultural production of meaning, and an involvement in policy debates. The book contends that the heightened consciousness resulting from marginalization not only judges our world, but offers it a window onto its future possibilities. Contributors include Lyn McCredden, Suzette Henke, Trevor James, Mary O'Connor, S. M., Nejd Yaziji, Rosemary Jolly, Bernice Zamora, Gayle Wald, Arturo Aldama, Manuel M. Martín-Rodríquez, Barbara Frey Waxman, Mayfair Mei-hui Yang, Lien Chao, Karin Quimby, and Roger Bromley.
John C. Hawley is Associate Professor of English at Santa Clara University.