A watershed moment of the twentieth century, the end of empire saw upheavals to global power structures and national identities. However, decolonisation profoundly affected individual subjectivities too. Life Writing After Empire examines how people around the globe have made sense of the post-imperial condition through the practice of life writing in its multifarious expressions, from auto/biography through travel writing to oral history and photography. Through interdisciplinary approaches that draw on literature and history alike, the contributors explore how we might approach these genres differently in order to understand how individual life writing reflects broader societal changes. From far-flung corners of the former British Empire, people have turned to life writing to manage painful or nostalgic memories, as well as to think about the past and future of the nation anew through the personal experience. In a range of innovative and insightful contributions, some of the foremost scholars of the field challenge the way we think about narrative, memory and identity after empire. This book was originally published as a special issue of Life Writing.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Life Writing After Empire Astrid Rasch
1. Collusions and Imbrications: Life Writing and Colonial Spaces Charles Lock
2. Tears and Garlands: Lim Chin Siong, Coldstore, and the End(s) of Narrative Philip Holden
3. ‘National Awakening’, Autobiography, and the Invention of Manning Clark Mark McKenna
4. The Relational Imaginary of M.G. Vassanji’s A Place Within Vera Alexander
5. ‘A Nation on the Move’: The Indian Constitution, Life Writing and Cosmopolitanism Javed Majeed
6. ‘This Union-Jacked Time’: Memories of Education as Post-Imperial Positioning Astrid Rasch
7. Gibraltarian Oral Histories: Walking the Line Between Critical Distance and Subjectivity Jennifer Ballantine Perera and Andrew Canessa
8. Review: How Empire Shaped Us, edited by Antoinette Burton and Dane Kennedy Stephen Howe
Afterword – The Ends of Empire: In memory of Bart Moore-Gilbert, 1952-2015 Gillian Whitlock
Astrid Rasch teaches imperial history and postcolonial literature in the English Department at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She recently submitted her Ph.D. thesis ‘Remembering Britishness: Negotiating Identity in End of Empire Autobiography’, which examines the relationship between individual and collective memory after decolonisation in autobiographies from the Caribbean, Australia, and Zimbabwe.