Post-Manichean Aesthetics: Africa and the South Asian Imagination


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2009-2010


Histories of colonial societies in Africa often tend to read cultural and political struggles in terms of the competing demands of European settlers and African natives. This project asks how these discussions are transformed when the presence of a significant minority community—the South Asians in Eastern and Southern Africa—is taken into account. Rather than a society structured along the black/white binary, we see a complex system of discursive triangulation. While engaging with this issue at the conceptual level, the study presents a history of Asian literary production and a close reading of some of the key texts of this emergent tradition. This literature is read with an attention to the long term history of cultural exchanges across the Indian Ocean.