23 Pages

Introduction: Bethan Benwell, James Procter and Gemma Robinson


By evoking the “postcolonial audience” in the title of this book we do not mean to conjure a particular demographic that, as Ien Ang puts it in a different context “is analogous to that of ‘population’, ‘nation’ or ‘the masses’” (Ang 1991, 2). Rather we use the term to think in the broadest possible way about the different theoretical and empirical consequences of reception, from ideal to real readers. Ang’s reservations regarding audience as an identifi able grouping would appear magnifi ed many times within the context of postcolonial studies, where any conception of audience is likely to be global (as well as local), where reading, viewing and listening are frequently activities involving mobile, exilic and diasporic audiences, and where the potential distances between producers and consumers place an increased emphasis on translation and mistranslation. As Gayatri Spivak writes in Outside in the Teaching Machine, “The audience is not an essence, the audience is a blank. An audience can be constituted by people I cannot even imagine . . . ” (1993, 22).