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Postcolonial Critical Perspectives on 'the West', Social Hegemony and Political Participation

Powell, Edward John (2014) Postcolonial Critical Perspectives on 'the West', Social Hegemony and Political Participation. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis explores how postcolonial critics figure the centrality of imperialism to the cultures and socio-politics of those societies at the hegemonic apex of today’s geopolitical hierarchy. I begin by addressing the discipline’s homogenisation of ‘the West’, which I attribute to a totalist articulation of the category, whether as a geopolitical agency, a geojuridical bloc, a polity, an identity, or a central ideologeme within colonial discourse and contemporary imperialist ideology. I argue that this totalisation elides variances of consciousness, purpose, and practice that cut across whatever unity obtains within and among the constituent societies of the ‘geopolitical West’. I then look to the thought of Antonio Gramsci, Raymond Williams, Claude Lefort, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, and Jacques Rancière for a way of understanding that unity in light of these internal variances. Moreover, drawing on Rancière’s notion of ‘dis-identification’ and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s of occupying ‘a position without identity’, I establish how if we are to challenge the hegemonic ascendancy of ‘Western’ imperialism, then we must acknowledge these variances. I then explore how literary representations of ‘Westerners’ by Jamaica Kincaid, V.S. Naipaul, Gil Courtemanche, Bret Easton Ellis, and Nadine Gordimer variously question the claim that anyone that benefits from contemporary imperialism cannot ever oppose it with integrity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Postcolonial studies; the West; hegemony; imperialism; apartheid; Antonio Gramsci; Ernesto Laclau; Jacques Rancière; Neil Lazarus; Jamaica Kincaid; V.S. Naipaul; George Orwell; Gil Courtemanche; Bret Easton Ellis; Nadine Gordimer; Steve Biko; Richard Turner
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Edward Powell
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2015 15:19
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2015 15:19
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9243

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