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Global designs, postcolonial critiques: rethinking Canada in dialogue with diaspora Global designs, postcolonial critiques: rethinking Canada in dialogue with diaspora

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Author(s): Diana Brydon

Journal: Ilha do Desterro
ISSN 0101-4846

Issue: 40;
Start page: 061;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Postcolonialism | Globalization | intercultural studies

ABSTRACT
This paper approaches the comparative examination of Brazil and Canada in the context of engagements with postcolonial theory obliquely, rather than directly, through reframing the comparison within the contexts posed by Paul Gilroy in The Black Atlantic, and by contemporary globalization theories and indigenous global activism, when considered through a postcolonial lens. Accepting John Tomlinson’s idea (in Globalization and Culture) that the “complex connectivities” of globalizing practices and discourses “confound” conventional social science practices, this paper suggests that literary texts that engage these issues may enjoy an advantage in negotiating such complexities. But it also argues that new configurations of diaspora and globalization offer writers and readers the chance to shift literature away from its conventional constructions as both autonomous and transcendent, on the one hand, and nation-affirming, on the other. Through a close comparative reading of Okanagan writer Jeannette Armstrong’s novel, Whispering in Shadows, and Caribbean-Canadian Nalo Hopkinson’s utopian science fiction, Brown Girl in the Ring, I seek to model a postcolonial reading practice attentive to cultural difference and global challenges. Each story addresses colonial legacies and global designs through the reconstruction of a relational autonomy that redefines humanity and community through re-energizing beliefs and practices abandoned under colonial modernity. Each text challenges mainstream models for mapping Canadian identity and its place within the Americas. They work to break the illusion of Western progress that fuels contemporary globalization and to redefine global connectivities from within the perspectives of formerly subjugated knowledge systems and a local ground. This paper approaches the comparative examination of Brazil and Canada in the context of engagements with postcolonial theory obliquely, rather than directly, through reframing the comparison within the contexts posed by Paul Gilroy in The Black Atlantic, and by contemporary globalization theories and indigenous global activism, when considered through a postcolonial lens. Accepting John Tomlinson’s idea (in Globalization and Culture) that the “complex connectivities” of globalizing practices and discourses “confound” conventional social science practices, this paper suggests that literary texts that engage these issues may enjoy an advantage in negotiating such complexities. But it also argues that new configurations of diaspora and globalization offer writers and readers the chance to shift literature away from its conventional constructions as both autonomous and transcendent, on the one hand, and nation-affirming, on the other. Through a close comparative reading of Okanagan writer Jeannette Armstrong’s novel, Whispering in Shadows, and Caribbean-Canadian Nalo Hopkinson’s utopian science fiction, Brown Girl in the Ring, I seek to model a postcolonial reading practice attentive to cultural difference and global challenges. Each story addresses colonial legacies and global designs through the reconstruction of a relational autonomy that redefines humanity and community through re-energizing beliefs and practices abandoned under colonial modernity. Each text challenges mainstream models for mapping Canadian identity and its place within the Americas. They work to break the illusion of Western progress that fuels contemporary globalization and to redefine global connectivities from within the perspectives of formerly subjugated knowledge systems and a local ground.
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