Imaginary Homelands in Rushdie’s Mind

September 23rd, 2021

Colonial-era caused exile, diaspora, and forced migration. Nevertheless, the memory of the relocated is reconstituted because of replacement. Humans leave their physical homelands; however, their memory probably freezes mentally at the very moment of their migration. The scattering of the migrated is the reason for the lasting alienation resulting from mental incompatibility. People’s relocation causes the inconsistent and fragmented cognition that what is bygone is no longer bygone. The cognition leads what has passed still dwelled and fermented in their deepest minds. The inconsistent cognition forms their past rather nostalgic than imaginary. Rushdie’s Imaginary Homelands shows his feeling of being in exile is nostalgic and unforgettable. Rushdie’s nostalgia represents his imaginary homelands that exist nowhere, but in his illusions of memory because the diaspora triggers nostalgia that is inherited from the memory of the past, which merely exists mentally but not physically.

Rushdie draws memory of the past as the bursting bubbles which seem so near, but yet far. The narratives of nostalgia, blurriness, and fragments are fulfilled with Rushdie’s books. The glacial pacing of his novel, Midnight’s Children, with an abundance of everything thrown at the reader in an incoherent and scattered way is unreal and mythical. As Rushdie says, if a conflict arose between literal and remembered truth, he would favor the remembered version in his writing. In Rushdie’s view, history is ambiguous, but memory can capture the essence of the plot. In this sense, the protagonist, Saleem, in Midnight’s Children makes several errors that reflect Rushdie’s erroneous memory. In his mind, truth or wrongness matters not much; the reconstructed memory matters his sketching, narrative, and plot, which weave his story in a state of ambiguity and vagueness. The ambiguity triggers disconnectedness because his remembrance is based on imagination rather than fact. Accordingly, it is an interesting phenomenon in his novels, particularly in plots elected by his remembered truth even if though it is not true.

His memory mingles the colonial past and the postcolonial present so that physical displacement entails confusion between the imagination and fact. Thus, the unreliable narrators in Midnight’s Children omit fact, so that the memory is not the true reflection of the past instead of the reshaping of threads of what has gone before. In this sense, the physical displacement combined with ex-colonial memory has difficulty in resilience to the gap between fact and illusion. The gap illustrates puzzles and myths that bring readers in a shuffle and confuses them with what is true or not.

The phenomenon of Imaginary Homelands in Rushdie’s mind prevails an interesting phenomenon that triggers nostalgia dwelling in minds with disconnectedness and incompatibility. The incompatibility brings mystery and enchantment which is peculiar to postcolonial literature.

 

Cheng-Fen Wang

The White Lotus

August 17th, 2021

 

It’s time to kick the fall semester off in just two weeks. In the start of August, with just a month to the start of the semester, I started looking for podcasts or books or easy-read articles to get my head back in the game, to fire me up. By chance, desperate for something playing in the background as I washed my dishes, I stumbled upon HBO series White Lotus. And boy, did the 6 hour long drama get me exited for deep diving into thick books on landgrabbing, white fragility, decolonizing hipsters, and so on. I am not about to spoil the whole thing, just tell you exactly why this is a good show to get you back into the burning questions of decolonialism:

1. The series starts off with a new group of tourists arriving to the White Lotus, a luxurious hotel somewhere on Hawaii. The employees greeting the new guests have big smiles on their faces as they take care of the guests every need. Throughout the series we get to see the hardships of putting those smiles in place. The self-disipline of these underpayed service personal must be huge – to not crack even when you are in labour, or when you get a presumtios question about you sex life? In the end, after a eventful week (and I wouldn’t count this as a spoiler, since the series start in the end), the rich guests leaves, and the employees of the White Lotus have to shapen up, and start all over with a new group of guests arriving. It is such a good way to end a series that pinpoints just what is so fucked up about class and race differences, and about the industry that is tourism. I spend six good hours being fired up, my dislike for most of the characters growing and growing, just to be left with all of it starting right over – the employees of the White Lotus smiling big at new rich guests who see right through them. Brilliant!

2. The two gen-z drug liberal activist girls giving us a kind of a comment track of the unique ways in which events throughout each episode is problematic is SUCH good satire. They are by far the creepiest of all the characters (and the makers of this series has done a really good job creating unlikeable characters, so that is not to say little). With mild disgust they watch the world around them and do nothing. When one of them is asked for some actual action, all she can do is go into a moral panic. (Which I must assume passes, just like everything else does for these girls).

3. I sincerely hope that this well executed and sharp satire highlighting the problems of colonial tourism and mocking tourists who think they are entitled to every last bit of nature and culture this planet has to offer does not go over peoples heads. What makes this series so good is the fact that the story of Hawaii and its anticolonial resistance is so intricately weaved into the episodes. What if viewers miss it? Hawaii is not done dirty in its depiction, it is beautiful and fiercy, it is ocean and greenery and super goodlooking actors. I hope this series if anything makes people question the tourism industry and not make them long for maitai’s on a white beach. But who knows. Maybe in the end, the wheels on this thing will just keep on spinning and spinning.

Alva Blomkvist

Bridging theory and practice

May 11th, 2021

One of the main points of conducting research is improving the quality of ‘something’ or finding the answer to ‘something’. It also seems to be reasonable that the aim goes further than writing a paper, book, dissertation etc. with some magnificent conclusions. However, there are many areas of our lives about which magnificent words have been written, but for some reasons are perfect only for a paper, basically, because they are not used in reality. This is why I believe that it is important to look a bit at bridging theory and practice, which would prevent losing endless hours spent on the fieldwork and writing somewhere in between.

An example on which this blog is based is Edward Said and his thoughts and beliefs about which he was writing extensively in the book ‘Orientalism’.  In the book, the author argues that the Western world has created a vision of non-Western areas as hard to define Orient. He argues that the vision of the Orient is full of mixed aspects of various countries and cultures, which were full of stereotypes, assumptions and to some extend imagination of the speaker. Eventually, Said in ‘Orientalism’, aims to teach a reader that the West by its ‘adventures ought now to be creating a more sober, more realistic “Oriental” awareness’ (2). By formulating this perspective, he has started a new era of looking at the colonial and postcolonial world, but the question is if he managed to go further than academia. In the environment of scholars could be found those who are against his words and pro, but it is undeniable that he underlined a problem of overgeneralisation of the non-Western cultures.

Already mentioned aspects were all analysed in the book ‘Orientalism’, which was launched almost 40 years ago and seemed to revolutionise the way of thinking of many scholars, but then there is reality and forty years later in which songs like ‘Princess of China’ by Rihanna and Coldplay, Dark Horse by Katy Perry, Wild Dreams by Taylor Smith are launched and present exactly the same vision of ‘the created Orient’ about which Said was writing to be dangerous.

Apart from the music industry, there are many areas which up till these days recreate or still create the false picture of the ‘Orient’ (like the movie Coming to America from 1988 and its sequel from 2021) and they do not seem to have changed since the last century. These are the only couple of examples of how apart from the great importance in academia knowledge is not used in the daily lives of people. However, this issue is not only connected with this particular area but can be found in various disciplines. This is why crucial is to think through how the written word may be transferred to the world of mass media and those who are not interested in reading academic journals.

Kasia Kiryluk

Same rights in the midst of cobalt hunt in Sweden

May 1st, 2021

During the past few months there have been several news reporting of the considerable value to be found in minerals and mines in Sweden. In particular with regards to cobalt, a mineral used in the production of batteries, and thus one for which demand is deemed to increase considerably taking into consideration the changes related to environmental policies and environmental friendly-technology.

Several mining companies have now received the necessary governmental authorizations in order to explore the possibilities to commercially mine cobalt. And it is most certainly so that from actually finding a place where mining activities could take place to actually putting in place a mine, several legal procedures (difficult and often cumbersome ones) are required. In this process, the Swedish government has a key role. A decision to exploit minerals in Sweden may be appealed to the Department of Commerce, in the end it is the government that decides where a mine is to be placed. In March this year, the Swedish Government initiated a governmental inquiry concerning ways that may make this process much faster (Kommitédirektiv 2021:16).

While mining becomes a key factor in the development and flourishing of environmental friendly technologies, and thus a priority for the modern society, it is important to remember that a mine considerably influences the area in which it is placed as well as the inhabitants. Very often the areas chosen by mining companies are those found in the North of Sweden, mostly on the basis of the scarse population and the vast unhabited areas. In such areas, there are not so many other actors opposing such a development and there are less factors to consider in the legal procedures. This also means that these activities have historically (and most probably also in the future) placed in Sápmi land.

This means that once more the Sami communities will have to fight against a prioritized commercial activity, namely environmental-friendly technologies. What they have to juxtapose to what seems to be a global priority, is their reindeer herding, something that seems exotic and very old-fashioned. In the existing lengthy legal procedure required in order for a new mine to be established same communities are given an opportunity to react and protect their lands and rights. It is difficult to be certain, but one could worry that in a faster, simplified procedure oppositions will not be paid so much attention and will not be able to influence the process.

It seems in the process of this report as a result of the governmental inquiry, Sami rights are not represented and thus one could without a doubt worry that the new procedure (if now a new one is the result of this process) will be a formalized way of circumventing Sami rights to the benefit of what is perceived as modern society imperative, the boosting of environmental technology. This seems like a step backwards for Swedish legislation.

Frantzeska Papadopoulou

Mike Davis (2006) Planet of Slums. Slums as Neoliberal Spaces and the Overurbanization of the Poor

April 23rd, 2021

Slum, semi-slum, and super slum…
to this has come the evolution of cities.1
– Patrick Geddes (cited in Davis, 2006)

 

Mike Davis (2006) Planet of Slums begins his book with this quote from Patrick Geddes. Davis expands on this and writes that perhaps the future of cities is not as what past generations of urbanists had envisioned as ‘cities of light soaring toward heaven’ and ‘made out of glass and steel’ but instead what awaits is an overcrowded, highly polluted urban world of ‘squats in squalor’ surrounded by ‘excrement and decay’. A city constructed out of scraps, ‘crude brick, straw and recycled plastic’.2 It is thus a very distressing and pessimistic vision of the urban future, but it is important to note that in many poorer nations, this is already an ongoing and grim reality for many of its growing cities. Although written 15 years ago, Planet of Slums is still as compelling and as relevant today. In this book, Davis excavates various details regarding the proliferation of slums. Taking into account historic (colonial) roots as wells as its development upto the present and how it became deeply linked with the formation of the third world. As Davis explains, the neoliberal restructuring of the political economy that arose from the late 1970s, led by financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank has to a considerable extent reconfigured the economic trajectory of many developing countries through policies of downsizing and redistribution of public spending and the enforcement of Structural Adjustments Programs (provisional loans or debt entrenchment disguise as developmental aid). As David Harvey (2007) also explains, neoliberalism refers to an economic policy through the liberalization of trade and finance i.e., free trade, and privatization through property rights, encouraging individual capital freedom, whilst limiting state intervention through deregulation and withdrawal on many aspects regarding social provisions. Neoliberal processes entail the forceful expulsion of people, often from the peasantry and poorer groups, due to policies of land commodification and through the conversion of common collective rights into private property rights.3 A form of systematic dispossession that remained as the dominant framework of contemporary capitalism. The transfer of common land rights to privatization have thus divested common people out of their homes, not only that it meant the proliferation of poverty, but it also meant loss of secure tenure and livelihood among many marginalized communities.

Estimates directs that more than half of the world’s population now resides in cities. It has been projected that by the year 2050, about 90 percent of population increase will occur in the already exploding cities of poorer nations.4 Rapid urbanization is a recent phenomenon among developing nations and the growth of slum populations has increased during the 1990s and has ever since continuing in an upward trend.5 The major lack of adequate provisions for social infrastructure and accommodations for the poor such as public housing in par with rapid urbanization has been one of the most pressing issue intricately link with the persistence and the proliferation of slums. Due to the rapid pace of urban growth along with the mass exodus of rural populations into cities, it is evident that slums are increasingly becoming the paradigm of spatial formation of major cities in the global south. According to United Nations UNSD report (2019) there are now more than a billion people living in the slums. As indicated further in the UNSD report, 80 percent of urban slum populations or informal settlements can be attributed within the regions of the global south. Slum populations in East and South Asia accounts to about 370 million, sub-Saharan with 238 million and Central and south Asia at about 227 million.6 Slum growth is still increasing at an unprecedented speed and has been projected to escalate further. It has been estimated that by the year 2030, 1 in every 4 people will be living in the slums7. The slums thus mark a key element of contemporary urbanization and is increasingly becoming a central theme within the development global urban transformation.

The term slum (squatters/shantytowns/barrios/favelas) is often synonymous with descriptions such as abject poverty and environmental deterioration. In the general context, slums are defined by a vast urban agglomeration of informal settlements characterized by its dense population and are often located at the periphery of the city. Due to its informal character, the majority of its inhabitants lacks access to basic services such as clean water and sanitation, they also lack secure tenure and are often prone to evictions and dislocation. These spaces are often situated within hazardous, highly polluted, and congested spaces of the city. Although casts at margins of the city, considered ‘unmapped’ and ‘undeveloped’, nestled within them are the lives of those excluded, where the underprivileged majority have been forced to sought refuge in their struggle for the right to the city. The proliferation and persistence of the slums is thus a manifestation of social exclusion in the city, wherein spatial inequality becomes the visible outcome of a deprived population as a result of economic and social injustices waged upon by regimes that prioritizes private interest over the the well-being of communities and the environment. The slums, therefore, is a testimony to the inevitable yet violent frontier process of urbanization when subjected to the dictums of capitalistic forces and the failure of governance. Within the neoliberal logic, privatization and commodification of spaces continues to prevail. Davis explains that ever since the formation of these policies, it has not only proliferated an increase in urban poverty, the growth of slums is already outpacing urbanization. And thus, as Davis writes, overurbanization has simply become a ‘reproduction of poverty’8.

 

Lauren Solomon

Bibliography 

1,2,8 Davis Mike. (2006) Planet of Slums. Verso.

3 David Harvey. (2007). Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 610(1), 22-44.

 4 United Nations 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects (2018). World Urbanization Prospects. The 2018 Revision. https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html

5 United Nations Human Settlements Programme. (2012). The Challenge of Slums Global Report on Human Settlements 2003. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. https://unhabitat.org/the-challenge-of-slums-global-report-on-human-settlements-2003

6 United Nations Statistics Division. (2019).—SDG Indicators. unstats.un. https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2019/goal-11/

7 What is a Slum? Definition of a Global Housing Crisis. (n.d.). Habitat for Humanity GB.https://www.habitatforhumanity.org.uk/what-we-do/slum-rehabilitation/what-is-a-slum/

Nomadland, The narrator of movement and settlement

April 14th, 2021

Nomadland is a movie written, produced and directed by Cloe Zhao and published in 2020. It has wined lots of artistic awards such as Golden Globe 2021 in both Best director and Best motion picture, and Venice Film Festival 2020 in Golden Lion for best film, Fair play cinema and Honorable mention. It stars Frances McDormand as a woman who leaves her home forcefully and lives in her van. Empire, a company town for US Gypsum Corporation disappeared since closing mines and leaving labors. Fran was living in Empire with her husband when he worked in gypsum mines. She lost her husband and it was the start of her nomadic life.

The story of movie is a straight line. It is about a period of a woman’s life. But interestingly the movie isn’t story centric. It is about the trajectory of changing in a woman’s characteristics. Fran is mostly seen in moving during the whole film but just while she is moving, she has settled down. Firstly it looks paradoxical, but it’s real. She has stuck in her memories and doesn’t like to stop and settle down in a real place since she doesn’t feel any attachment and belonging. Memories of her husband are strongly alive in her life and she tries to keep them alive by saving stuff that she and her husband had memories with them. Nostalgia and love of her husband are just like a circle that continuously doesn’t let her to feel belonging to any specific place but her home in Empire. She said that she is not homeless but houseless, and we can see that she attaches to her “home” in Empire. The golden sentence of this movie is a sentence that is quoted from Fran’s father: “what has remembered is alive”. Although Fran tries to leave her memories and start a new life until the end of movie, but the end scene shows that she had a long way to get her home, a long way as a long road.

This movie seems to be more symbolic than a true story of a person. Empire is the symbol of traditional and old-fashioned life of people and Fran is the symbol of people who forced to move because of modern life and modern world. She looks like a particularlist person, a person who attaches to a particular place, things, people and memories. She likes moving but at the same time she brings all her stuff that related to her attachment to old-fashioned world, since she is alive with them, she needs them, because it is her “home”. The movie shows us fantastically the feeling of belonging, the concept of “home” and the influence of having and keeping “nostalgia” in this feeling. Director tries to tell us that we can keep nostalgias for granted since we will see our beloved future at the end of the road and the modern world cannot through away all our belongings. Finally this movie is one of recommendations for those people who want to know better about the concept of “home” and “nostalgia”.

 

Fatemeh Shirazizadeh

Welcome to A Decolonial View

April 1st, 2021

Welcome to this decolonial student-led blog! We who run the blog are the current class in the masters programme Colonial and Postcolonial Studies in Linneaus University, in Växjö, Sweden. The ten of us make out a small and diverse group of students, with different experiences of academia as well as of colonialism/decolonialism. This blog will hopefully become a valuable platform for us to exchange ideas and to get to use in practice what we learn theoretically in the classroom. To start things of, we have all answered a couple of questions about ourselves as an introduction.

 

Frantzeska Papadopoulou Skarp

Who am I: Frantzeska Papadopoulou Skarp, a Greek living in Sweden.

What discipline am I from: I come from the field of legal sciences in which I have been conducting research for the past twenty years.W

hy did I choose this programme: I chose this programme because I am very much interested in colonial and post-colonial legislation and I wanted to get acquainted with the theoretical and methodological framework.

What has been most interesting so far in this program? It has been really a great experience, lots of new things to learn, exciting discussions and challenging tasks.

 

Cheng-fen Wang

My name is Cheng-fen Wang. I am from Taiwan, a place of conflicts because of the postcolonial era. I have finished my studies in Taiwan in Journalism. To be honest, I am a bit shy even though I have been a journalist for a few years. Few years later, I realized myself and would like to continue to study. At the beginning, I’m interested in International Relations, however, the Postcolonial Faculty seems more interesting. Eventually, I chose Postcolonial Faculty as my profession. Insofar, I enjoy literature most, particularly in postcolonial literature. I have read numerous classical pieces no matter from the East or the West. Somehow, it is still not enough for the scope of literature is extensive. It is always good to stay hungry, stay foolish.

 

Fatemeh Shirazizadeh

My name is Fatemeh Shirazizadeh. I was born in 1981 in Iran.my studies were about comparative religion and mysticism; I graduated in master in 2008 from Azad University. My Master thesis is about Pluralism in the World Religion. It was the translation of a book with the same name written by Harold Coward into Farsi and a brief research about pluralism in religion.

I stated my job as a volunteer teacher in educational ministry in Iran and after some years worked as an English teacher for beginners in IranMehr English Institute. Although I loved my academic major, but there were never opportunity to work directly in that region. Therefore I decided to continue my education and take a chance in another country. I could get the Colonial and Postcolonial Studies in LNU in 2020 and this was my best chance in my whole life. At first it looks strange and hard for me to study in LNU since I didn’t have any foreign experience before but after a while I understood that how much I like it and it is good opportunity for me to work about subjects that I like.

 

Fahmid Islam

1) What is your name?

Answer: Fahmid Islam

2) Where are you from?

Answer: I am from Bangladesh, a South Asian country.

3) What is your academic background?

Answer: I have post-graduation in English literature.

4) Why did you choose this programme at LNU?

Answer: I would like to get thorough understanding of post coloniality and decolonization; I also want to find out the reasons of migration of South Asian people to Europe especially to Nordic countries.

5) What is something from these 1.5 semesters that has made an impact on you?

Answer: Various theories learned through these courses, particularly different migration theories have opened up vision about current scenarios regarding increasing maltreatment towards migrants around the world.

 

Ejner Pedersen Trenter

My name is Ejner Pedersen Trenter, and I am at the time of writing living in Malmö, which is also where I received my bachelor’s in international relations. My main focus was on issues of sovereignty and political myth, something which I have carried with me over to this masters’s programme. While IR is a field of study which has seen a high level of progression over the last years, there is s

till a need for a strong, decolonial dimension, something which unfortunately is rather under researched. The focus of this programme, which is on literature, social work and history, is a brilliant way to find new ways of analysing the political world, through a more intersectional lens.

 

Mehvish Tania

My name is Mehvish Tania.

I am from Pakistan.

I have done a master in English literature from Pakistan and an MBA in marketing from South Korea in marketing. I have teaching experience in Pakistan.

I chose this programme because I am very much interested in historical information and postcolonial literature and I have another master in English literature and during the master I chose a postcolonial subject that was very interesting. I chose the programme because I want to know more about postcolonial literature.

This 1.5 semester made a very deep impact on my life because I have learnt so much about literature totally with a new aspect. This span of time increased my knowledge and experience of study as well.

 

Katarzyna Kiryluk

My name is Katarzyna and the discipline of my biggest interest is education. However, I have chosen this programme as I believe that getting another perspective in looking at the contemporary world may help me in becoming a better teacher. Also, what I have realised after a while, the covered material and conversations are the most fascinating aspects of the programme. They do not only help in understanding colonialism and postcolonialism, but also help me in developing intercultural competences thanks to which I start to understand my country and culture better – which itself is fascinating.

 

Alva Blomkvist

My name is Alva Blomkvist. I have a bachelor’s degree in history from Umeå University, Sweden. I grew up in the north of Sweden, also known as Sápmi – indigenous Sámi land. While studying history in a northern university (that arguably should be oriented towards indigenous history) I was made very aware the lack of interest in the topic of Swedish colonialism in Sweden today, inside and outside of academia. I was drawn to this programme to fill the gaps my bachelor’s studies left in the topic of colonialism. My favorite thing about the programme so far is the way it challenges us of thinking not only about colonialism in history and today, but in the struggle of decolonialism now and in the future.

 

Lauren Solomon

My name is Lauren Solomon and I was born in Manila, Philippines and I moved to Sweden when I was still in my teens. I have a bachelor degree in Fine Arts with a major in Visual Communication, which is a programme oriented towards questions of social, environmental and political issues both on the local and global context. One of the projects that I worked on in my bachelor studies was about the issue of poverty in the neocolonial Philippines. While in the course of the project, I stumbled upon a question posed by Filipino activist Alejandro Lichauco. In paraphrasing Lichauco, he asks— why is there mass hunger in this land of plenty? how can such opulence exist alongside unnecessary (and vicious) deprivation? how then to set forth the process of (real) decolonization? These are the questions that I also aim to find explanations for and expand on further. In choosing Colonial and Postcolonial Studies many of the themes we discuss in this programme already poses these very notorious questions. My early encounters with Postcolonial studies was through my readings of Edward Said’s (1978) Orientalism and Frantz Fanon’s (1961) Wretched of the Earth. Wanting to delve more and better understand these issues had been some of the reasons that prompted me to apply to this master programme. As an individual growing up in a complicated intermixture of cultures, from (ex) colonial Philippines, then as a migrant and as a diasporic identity, I relate to both of Said’s and Fanon’s writing. I always felt that I am in the borderline of contrasting worlds and speaking impartially yet ineloquently in these hotchpotch of languages (Tagalog/Spanish/English/Swedish). Straddling the fence between these different worlds (tropic/ nordic/monsoon/winter), all seemingly incongruent, yet they are worlds I constantly navigate to as well as re-negotiate their many clashing meanings. Perhaps as Edward Said might also say —(we are) I am simultaneously —outside, inside and between these worlds. I do feel closely to all of the courses that I have encountered in this programme. Some of the elective courses that made an impact on me recently was on Modern Natures and Postcolonial Ecologies in which I explore topics regarding rivers, urbanization and the persistence of slums. Another recent and very interesting elective course I had was on Postcolonial Studies in Comparative Literature where we discussed on themes of postcolonial identities and hybridity as well as issues on climate change and how to extend understandings and concepts of nature beyond Anthropogenic claims. And Lastly, I would like to impart here a quote I often return to as I read Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth:

 

“Hence the dreams of the colonial subject are muscular dreams, dreams of action, dreams of aggressive vitality. I dream I am jumping, swimming, running, and climbing. I dream I burst out laughing, I am leaping across a river and chased by a pack of cars that never catches up with me.”.