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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with a discussion of the continuing neglect in postcolonial studies of the radical antecedents of postcolonial theory’s core concepts, including that of resistance. The point of departure is Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin’s influential work The Empire Writes Back (1989). Published at the heady end of the Cold War, Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin’s study explored and even celebrated the wayward, subversive effects of what was broadly termed ‘cultural hybridity’—a hybridity which, according to its critics, occluded resistant local specificities and histories of struggle, rewriting the colonial project of invasion and oppression as ‘symbolic encounter’. Developing this focus on resistance in its practice-based specificity, the second half of the chapter goes on to examine the political career of Nelson Mandela, taking this as a case study of how anti-colonial practice might generate values and perceptions that we now term ‘postcolonial’, and on which postcolonial critique is based.

Keywords: Postcolonial critique, practice-based theory, resistance, Nelson Mandela

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