Interrogations and Interventions: Who Speaks for Whom?

  • E. San JuanJr.


In her introduction to a recent PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America) issue devoted to “Colonialism and the Postcolonial Condition,” Linda Hutcheon placed her imprimatur on the institutionalization of postcolonial theory and discourse, ascribing to it the “complexities” that scholars privilege as the mark of legitimacy. “Heterogeneity” is the salient code word that characterizes this “broad anti-imperialist emancipatory project,” a “counter-discourse” of dissensus that is also “performative, provisional, and situated” (1995: 12). Indeed, the term “post,” for Hutcheon and like-minded colleagues, becomes emblematic of “the dynamics of cultural resistance and retention” (1995:10): “post” implies not only “after” but also “inclusive,” even more explicitly anticolonial in its task of valorizing the “multiplication of identities.” Next to the PMLA’s official blessing, the entry on “Postcolonial Cultural Studies” in The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism surveys the variety of this genre from a historical perspective. Postcolonial cultural studies (PCS), according to Georg Gugelberger, “is the study of the totality of ‘texts’ (in the largest sense of ‘text’) that participate in hegemonizing other cultures and the study of texts that write back to correct or undo Western hegemony” (1994: 582); but he also observes that the term “postcolonial” has a “jargonizing quality and lacks precision” (583).


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© E. San Juan 1998

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  • E. San JuanJr.

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