Temporality and postcolonial critique

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

43 Scopus citations


How does time signify in postcolonial analysis? This question has occasionally been taken up as a matter of deciding the status of the prefix “post.” Theorists who approach the question in this way have answered it by periodizing the postcolonial - that is, by situating it in epochal terms, relative to such other putative eras as the colonial, the modern, the postmodern, and so on (Appiah 1991; Hutcheon 1994). Since the attempt here has been to separate the postcolonial from these other epochs or eras (to specify when it emerges and its distinctive constituent features as an epoch), this approach has usually emphasized nominal and categorical rather than conceptual or epistemological issues. The periodizing approach to the question of time in postcolonial analysis has generated some thought-provoking insights. Its weakness, however, is that it has tended to eschew larger philosophical meditations on what makes epochal pronouncements intelligible in the first place (e.g., explorations of how time has figured in the analysis of the postcolonial). Temporality has been explored rather more fruitfully in postcolonial studies by approaches that regard the postcolonial not as an epoch or age but as a particular mode of historical emergence. Here, the issues have entailed characterizing the “alterity” associated with postcolonial forms of being; in other words, the focus has been on the ways in which, and the degree to which, the postcolonial has been taken to represent an “other” time whose logic and historical expression are incommensurable with the normative temporality of clock and calendar associated with Western modernity. What follows is a discussion of such lines of enquiry into time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to: Postcolonial Literary Studies
Subtitle of host publicationPostcolonial Literary Studies
EditorsNeil Lazarus
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780511606755
ISBN (Print)0521826942, 9780521826945
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


Dive into the research topics of 'Temporality and postcolonial critique'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this