The Negotiation of Trauma in Postcolonial Culture

Neeves, Mairi Emma. 2009. The Negotiation of Trauma in Postcolonial Culture. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis seeks to bring Trauma Studies and Postcolonial Studies into closer conjunction. In recent years, each of these fields has attracted much interest. Recent studies of trauma show that, despite a considerable preoccupation with the Holocaust, other subjects, for example AIDS and sexual trauma (including rape and incest), are worthy of serious focus. The study of postcolonial culture has now become a widely recognized discipline within many academic institutions. This growing discipline continues to emphasize the legacy of historical oppression, cultural imperialism, and economic and political deprivation as an important factor in international relations and global society. Yet watching daily news reports, which survey escalating violence in the Middle East, Sudan, and other regions, suggests that further insight is much needed into the psychological traumas which continue to affect large parts of the globe following colonialism. This thesis will argue that trauma and postcolonial studies need urgently to be brought together in order for, on the one hand, trauma studies to extend its remit and, on the other hand, the ongoing traumatic nature and legacy of a significant number of experiences of postcolonialism to gain greater recognition. Using a comparative study of four different genres of narration, this thesis considers the extent to which different modes of cultural representation may assist in redressing this imbalance. It argues that, in the highly pressurized contexts of postcolonial trauma, strain is placed upon creative processes from which culture is formed. In particular, those who seek to represent experiences of postcolonial trauma through narrative find themselves facing a series of ethical dilemmas. Overcoming these dilemmas proves fruitful for the narrative process, as it forces a meaningful engagement with the past and stimulates creative innovation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


trauma studies, postcolonial studies, postcolonial culture, postcolonial trauma, psychological traumas, narration, narrative

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2020 08:42

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:35


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