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Critique and Utopia in Postcolonial Historical FictionAtlantic and Other Worlds$
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Greg Forter

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198830436

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198830436.001.0001

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The Politics of Hybridity-Mimicry in Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist and Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat

The Politics of Hybridity-Mimicry in Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist and Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat

Chapter:
(p.141) 4 The Politics of Hybridity-Mimicry in Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist and Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat
Source:
Critique and Utopia in Postcolonial Historical Fiction
Author(s):

Greg Forter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198830436.003.0004

This chapter critiques the continued influence of Homi Bhabha’s theories of hybridity and mimicry in the colonial context, while putting Bhabha’s ideas into dialogue with those of Roberto Retamar. Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist and Marlene van Niekerks’ Agaat offer nuanced revisions of both theorists’ positions. They elaborate versions of hybridity and mimicry that are intensely attuned to the interplay between historical forces and subjective experience; they grasp the limited yet real agency of colonized selves in fashioning responses to colonial power; and they situate colonialist textuality in a dynamic relation both to extra-discursive institutions of domination and to subjective interiority. These shared commitments result in fictional historiographies that emphasize the politically variable effects of hybridity-mimicry rather than the inevitable subversion described by Bhabha or the linguistic guerrilla warfare outlined by Retamar.

Keywords:   hybridity, colonial mimicry, historical novel, Homi Bhabha, Hari Kunzru, Marlene van Niekerk, Roberto Retamar

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