chapter  15
12 Pages

A postcolonial aesthetic: Repeating upon the present

ByELLEKE BOEHMER

The task of rerouting involves not only a remapping but also a revision (a redoing as well as a new way of seeing) of what we take as read in our practice as postcolonial critics. If we assume this to be the case, then a central concept we might want to revise, to look at again, and attempt to make more transparent, is the too-little-examined notion of a postcolonial aesthetic. Driving this contention is, at one level, the awareness that ‘postcolonial aesthetic’ represents nothing less than a contradiction in terms, perhaps even an oxymoron. Insofar as the postcolonial, always a contentious term, is used to refer not merely chronologically but politically, and is taken to designate writing in opposition to empire and its oppressions, then there is little sense in which postcolonial writing can be both political and implicated in a (purely) aesthetic stance.