Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation

National Consciousness and Literary Cosmopolitics
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Reflections on exile and other essays. Cambridge, MA: Convergences. Toer, P.

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PART II. SURVIVING (POSTCOLONIALITY)

Abstract This article tries to explore how the conception, birth, and development of novel can become a tool to shed lights to our understanding of the conception, birth, and development of nationalism. The discussion departs from a powerful finding by Edward Said that prominent exiles he happened to know and befriend with had deliberately chosen to be novelists. Most contemporary theorists are therefore skeptical, if not altogether dismissive, of the idea of the nation and the related metaphor of the political body as an organism. Going against orthodoxy, Pheng Cheah retraces the universal-rationalist foundations and progressive origins of political organicism in the work of Kant and its development in philosophers in the German tradition such as Fichte, Hegel, and Marx.

Cheah argues that the widespread association of freedom with the self-generating dynamism of life and culture's power of transcendence is the most important legacy of this tradition.

Addressing this legacy's manifestations in Fanon and Cabral's theories of anticolonial struggle and contemporary anticolonial literature, including the Buru Quartet by Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and the Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's nationalist novels, Cheah suggests that the profound difficulties of achieving freedom in the postcolonial world indicate the need to reconceptualize freedom in terms of the figure of the specter rather than the living organism. Pheng Cheah is assistant professor in the department of rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley.

Pheng Cheah.

Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation

On the Organismic Metaphor of the Social. Freedom Culture and Organism.

Kants Cosmopolitanism and the Technic of Nature. Organismic Causality and Freedom.

Spectral Nationality

This far-ranging attempt to rethink post-colonial theory's discussion of the nation and nationalism brings the problems of the postcolonial condition to bear on the philosophy of freedom. Closely identified with totalitarianism and fundamentalism, the nation-state has a tainted history of coercion, ethnic violence and even, as in ultranationalist Nazi Germany, genocide.

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Most contemporary theorists are therefore sceptical, if not altogether dismissive, of the idea of the nation and the related metaphor of the political body as an organism. Going against orthodoxy, Pheng Cheah retraces the universal-rationalist foundations and progressive origins of political organicism in the work of Kant and its development in philosophers in the German tradition such as Fichte, Hegel and Marx. Cheah argues that the widespread association of freedom with the self-generating dynamism of life and culture's power of transcendence is the most important legacy of this tradition.

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Addressing this legacy's manifestations in Fanon and Cabra's theories of anticolonial struggle and contemporary anticolonial literature, including the Buru Quartet by Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and the Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's nationalist novels, Cheah suggests that the profound difficulties of achieving freedom in the postcolonial world indicate the need to reconceptualize freedom in terms of the figure of the spectre, glimpsed and misunderstood by Marx and Derida, rather than the living organism.

Pheng Cheah is assistant professor in the department of rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley. Grand Eagle Retail is the ideal place for all your shopping needs!

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