Concepts of Exchange—Poetics in Postcolonial, World, and World-Systems Literatures

  • Elleke Boehmer


Chapter 7, ‘Concepts of exchange—poetics in postcolonial, world, and world-system literatures’, considers the interrelationship of postcolonial literary studies with world literature and world-system studies in the context of early 21st-century globalization. The chapter’s main question concerns the extent to which a postcolonial poetics may be impacted by these changes in the wider field. While always taking postcolonial literary study as the primary avenue through which writing from the world’s various margins (cultural, geographical, racial) has been approached since the 1980s, I ask whether and how the new rise of comparative and world literature study, and, as a further development, the emergence of world-systems or world-literature studies, might have challenged or alternatively developed and honed postcolonial tools of critique. Pushing towards the suggestion that no approach has been as effective as a heterogeneously constituted postcolonial criticism in resonating with the local yet global perspectives of postcolonial texts, the chapter closes with a discussion of British-Somali writer Nadifa Mohamed’s Black Mamba Boy (2010), a travelogue novel whose transnational and migratory energies invite world-literature yet also postcolonial readings.


Postcolonial literary studies World literature World-system studies 21st-century globalization Postcolonial poetics Nadifa Mohamed 

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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

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