Revisiting Resistance Literature—Writing in Juxtaposition

  • Elleke Boehmer


Chapter 3, ‘Revisiting Resistance literature’, explores the different poetic and yet also postcolonial possibilities of resistance writing, as first laid down by Barbara Harlow in 1986, and looks in particular at the device of juxtaposition as a striking if subtle instance of structural and linguistic resistance, or of writing-becoming-resistant. The chapter begins by asking how postcolonial literary works might go about resistance now, thirty and more years on from the publication of Harlow’s Resistance Literature, and proceeds by discussing this work alongside two contrasting successor texts, the poststructuralist-inflected The Empire Writes Back (1989) by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, and Neil Lazarus’s later, materialist The Postcolonial Unconscious (2011). The second part of the chapter considers juxtaposition as a way of shaping new creative possibilities in both texts and readers. Juxtaposition in writing demands of the reader a constant bridging across and zigzagging back and forth, and hence entails an especially suggestive process in the postcolonial field. The chapter closes with two examples of writing-becoming-resistant: Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), and Nelson Mandela’s contemplative life and reading on Robben Island in the 1960s and 70s.


Resistance writing Barbara Harlow Linguistic resistance Juxtaposition Writing-becoming-resistant Chinua Achebe Nelson Mandela 

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elleke Boehmer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK

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