Queer Postcolonial Narratives and the Ethics of Witnessing

Author(s): Donna McCormack

Literary theory

Queer Postcolonial Narratives and the Ethics of Witnessing is a critical study of the relationship between bodies, memories and communal witnessing. With a focus on the aesthetics and politics of queer postcolonial narratives, this book examines how unspeakable traumas of colonial and familial violence are communicated through the body. Exploring multisensory epistemologies as queer and anti-colonial acts of resistance, McCormack offers an original engagement with collective and public forms of bearing witness that may emerge in response to institutionalized violence. Intergenerational, communal and fragmented narratives are central to this analysis of ethics, witnessing, and embodied memories. Queer Postcolonial Narratives and the Ethics of Witnessing is the first text to offer a sustained analysis of Judith Butler's and Homi Bhabha's intersecting theories of performativity, and to draw out the centrality of witnessing to the performative structure of power. It moves through queer, postcolonial, disability and trauma studies to explore how the repetition of familial violence - throughout multiple generations -may be lessened through an embodied witnessing that is simultaneously painful, disturbing and filled with pleasure. Its focus is selected literary texts by Shani Mootoo, Tahar Ben Jelloun and Ann-Marie MacDonald, and it situates this literary analysis in the colonial histories of Trinidad, Morocco and Canada.


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Critiques Judith Butler's and Homi Bhaba's theories of performativity by showing how non-institutionalised forms of witnessing serve to reconfigure theories of literary performance

Donna McCormack is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Women's and Gender Research (SKOK) at the University of Bergen, Norway. She has published a book chapter in the edited collection Critical Perspectives on Indo-Caribbean Women's Literature (2012). She has also published articles in The Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, The Journal of West Indian Literature, The Journal of Transatlantic Studies and The Journal of Lesbian Studies.

Acknowledgements Introduction: Embodied Memories Queer Postcolonial Narratives, or A Note on Methodology Performative Listening Historicizing Witnessing Queer Postcolonial Structure Chapter One: Intergenerational Witnessing in Cereus Blooms at Night Unknowing Pain Historicizing Responsibility Embodied Survival Intergenerational Witnessing Chapter Two: Monstrous Witnessing in Tahar Ben Jelloun's L'Enfant de sable Embodied Stories Linguistic Touching Monstrous Encounters Tactile Correspondence Embodied Allegories Performative Pain Coda: Eyes at the Tips of the Fingers: Materializing the Self in Tahar Ben Jelloun's La Nuit sacree Chapter Three: Fossil Witnessing in Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees Unknowing the Family Witnessing Photographs Painting Memories Memories as Storytelling Intergenerational Fossils Conclusion: Silent Bodies, or Speaking with the Body Decolonizing Normativity Visceral Storytelling, or Multisensory Epistemologies Performative Endings Embodied Encounters Bibliography Index

General Fields

  • : 9781501310898
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Academic USA
  • : July 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Donna McCormack
  • : Paperback
  • : 224