Radicalizing Temporal Difference: Anthropology, Postoclonial Theory, and Literary Time
2014 (English)In: History and Theory, ISSN 0018-2656, E-ISSN 1468-2303, Vol. 53, no 4, 545-562 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
This article is an attempt to address on a theoretical level an antinomy in postcolonialapproaches to the question of temporal difference. Current scholarship tends bothto denounce the way in which the others of the Western self are placed notionally inanother time than the West and not only analytically affirm but indeed valorize multipletemporalities. I elaborate on the two problematic temporal frameworks—linear developmentalismand cultural relativism—that belong to a colonial legacy and generate theantinomy in question, and then proceed to discuss possible alternatives provided by aKoselleck-inspired approach to historical time as inherently plural. I thereby make twocentral claims: (1) postcolonial conceptions of multiple temporalities typically, if tacitly,associate time with culture, and hence risk reproducing the aporias of cultural relativism;(2) postcolonial metahistorical critique is commonly premised on a simplified and evenmonolithic understanding of Western modernity as an ideology of “linear progress.”Ultimately, I suggest that the solution lies in radicalizing, not discarding, the notion ofmultiple temporalities. Drawing on the Brazilian classic Os sertões as my key example,I also maintain that literary writing exhibits a unique “heterochronic” (in analogy with“heteroglossic”) potential, enabling a more refined understanding of temporal difference.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 53, no 4, 545-562 p.
temporal difference, multiple temporalities, postcolonial theory, cultural relativism, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Euclides da Cunha, Johannes Fabian, Reinhart Koselleck
Research subject Literature
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110791DOI: 10.1111/hith.10730ISI: 000346239000004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-110791DiVA: diva2:772851