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Unlocking the Future: Utopia and Postcolonial Literatures

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Abstract

This essay argues that the prominence of future thinking in postcolonial creative production has underscored the utility of utopian theory to postcolonial criticism. It shows the importance of art and literature in postcolonial utopianism—their function in “anticipatory illumination,” to borrow Ernst Bloch’s words. Thus, postcolonial utopianism looks beyond the nation and its inheritance of colonial structures. It emphasizes the link between cultural memory and visions of the future. It recalibrates the linearity of time with a spiraling trajectory that imbricates the cultural past in a political future. Four different deployments of utopian thinking are examined here: the Chicano utopia of Aztlán; the archipelagic dynamic of the Caribbean; the Oceanic vision of the Pacific, and the vision of a new world in settler colonies.

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Fig. 2.1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    This is Zipes’s English translation from Das Prinzip Hoffnung (1970).

  2. 2.

    The idea of Palestine as a place with actual inhabitants refutes Golda Maier’s following notorious statement: “There were no such things as Palestinians … They did not exist.” It is quoted from Sunday Times (15 June 1969) and The Washington Post (16 June 1969).

  3. 3.

    “The Negro, as already observed, exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and untamed state. We must lay aside all thought of reverence and morality—all that we call feeling—if we would rightly comprehend him; there is nothing harmonious with humanity to be found in this type of character … At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the World; it has no movement or development to exhibit” (Hegel 1956, p. 99).

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Ashcroft, B. (2021). Unlocking the Future: Utopia and Postcolonial Literatures. In: Kim, D.D. (eds) Reframing Postcolonial Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-52726-6_2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-52726-6_2

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