chapter  5
Narratives of tainted empire
Pages 24

The first two chapters of this book focused on representations of white women in the West Indies, and the second two dealt with the region itself as constructed in a selection of writing by such women. In the last two chapters, I want to suggest some ways of reading these texts. Why read them at all? Well, according to Ashcroft et al., “the rereading and the rewriting of the European historical and fictional record is a vital and inescapable task at the heart of the postcolonial enterprise” (1989: 196). However, other critics worry that focusing on this record may distract from the more urgent need to recuperate the silenced and marginalized colonial subject. For example, Paxton (1992: 406) considers that “attention to the subjectivity of the colonizer can erase the subjection of the colonized.”1 Further, as Haggis notes, histories of white women in the colonies suggest that their accounts may be as guilty as those of their male counterparts in circulating “colonising and Eurocentric discourses” (1998: 45).