Literature and Decolonisation: Versions of Autonomy

On 17th October, Professor Stefan Helgesson will give the annual lecture at the Centre for World Literatures (University of Leeds).

‘Decolonisation’ is both an historical experience and (once again) a frequently invoked ideal and polemical concept. Its field of reference is nonetheless often vague. In a 2011 article, Simon Gikandi challenged scholars to provide ‘a critical language that can adequately speak about the literature of decolonization as a distinctive event in literary history’, something that he saw as a peculiar lack in the European and North American institutionalisation of postcolonial studies.

This lecture responds to Gikandi by considering not just the literature but also the critical language of decolonisation itself as a central conceptual resource. A key set of examples will be drawn from the Mozambican literary journal Charrua, published in the 1980s. The underlying hypothesis is that both literature and decolonisation can be understood as projects of autonomy. The question, however, is to what extent the two autonomies intersect, and whether they need to be kept distinct. 

Time: Thursday 17th October 2019, 17:15 – 18:30
Place: Chemistry LT D (G.35), University of Leeds


Stefan Helgesson is Professor of English at Stockholm University and principal investigator in the Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics in World Literatures research programme. 

written by Alice Duhan
14 October, 2019