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Mimicry à Trois

Namibia’s Double Colonial Past, the Practice of Putting on Other People’s Garments, the Scopes and Limits of Postcolonial Theory – and World Literature
  • Bruno Arich-GerzEmail author
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Abstract

Much as postcolonial theory promises to probe Namibian post-independence literature better than other concepts, this chapter takes a critical stance toward the overall usefulness of postcolonial models for the interpretation of social, cultural and historical circumstances as they come to be articulated in German-language fiction and nonfiction texts. The contribution seek to demonstrate how Homi K. Bhabha’s concept of mimicry, based as it is on a bi-polar arrangement of one colonizer and one colonized subject, needs to be modified to match the situation of Namibia 1940 passim. Instead of figuring as a strategy of sly subversion, executed by the colonial subject, mimicry here signifies a practice that enables the former (German) oppressor to cheat the present one, the white South-African rulers, by putting on the garments of that ethnic group which both have been oppressing, i.e. by wearing Herero woman’s dresses. Transposed to the seminal distinction of Eurocentrism versus Postcolonialism that World Literature theorists such as David Damrosch and others seek to transcend, the cunning cross-racial dressing practice is tantamount to a return of deeply Eurocentric stereotypes. As a factual incidence, confirmed and resonating in documentary and even fictional texts, it thus poses a challenge to any theorization of fact-based World Literature.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ruhr-UniversitätWuppertalDeutschland

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