Landscapes of Hope: Anti-Colonial Utopianism in America

Landscapes of Hope: Anti-Colonial Utopianism in America

Dohra Ahmad

Language: English

Pages: 250


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Landscapes of Hope: Anti-Colonial Utopianism in America examines anti-colonial discourse during the understudied but critical period before World War Two, with a specific focus on writers and activists based in the United States. Dohra Ahmad adds to the fields of American Studies, utopian studies, and postcolonial theory by situating this growing anti-colonial literature as part of an American utopian tradition. In the key early decades of the twentieth century, Ahmad shows, the intellectuals of the colonized world carried out the heady work of imagining independent states, often from a position of exile. Faced with that daunting task, many of them composed literary texts--novels, poems, contemplative essays--in order to conceptualize the new societies they sought. Beginning by exploring some of the conventions of American utopian fiction at the turn of the century, Landscapes of Hope goes on to show the surprising ways in which writers such as W.E B. Du Bois, Pauline Hopkins, Rabindranath Tagore, and Punjabi nationalist Lala Lajpat Rai appropriated and adapted those utopian conventions toward their own end of global colored emancipation.

















unthreatening, and palatably American. In a parallel process to his cure of the bourgeoisie through the surgical removal of the proletariat, Bellamy also cures the ills of Reconstruction by neatly excising the novel’s only character of color. That would be West’s “faithful colored man Sawyer,” who almost never appears without some indication of his loyalty (46). Upon awakening in 2000, West retroactively kills off his own faithful servant for the sake of narrative logic. As he ponders, “It only

literature with the racist and classist 1891 tract The Rapid Multiplication of the Unfit. The various objectives of the movement ranged from much-requested birth control (another neologism, invented by Margaret Sanger in 1914) to immigration restrictions and forced sterilization. The different components of a eugenics platform are particularly difficult to separate both because of their deceptive umbrella term and also because of the real alliances between the various strands of the movement.

during the Cold War. Zamyatin’s 1921 novel, a response to the early excesses of overly statist Soviet rule, delivers a pointed critique of developmentalism in all the forms I have discussed in this chapter: namely, linear understandings of progress; increased regularization of human activity; state control of reproduction; and the perception of the “primitive” as a benighted and long-vanished condition. As the jacket of a 1952 paperback edition proclaims, “We is a powerful challenge to all

relationships. In other words, Young India’s historical revisionism had both a negative valence (challenging the picture of India set out within colonial sources) and a positive one (replacing that picture with a new one of its own creation). Toward that dual objective, the periodical portrayed not only India’s present, but its past—and, specifically, revised the particular readings of Indian history that had been wielded as justifications of colonial rule. For us, the clearest entry into the topic

India from abroad and for a dual audience, Young India chose to translate the phrase for its American readers, while still retaining it as a central rallying call. As an exile periodical, Young India cannot afford to eschew “realizing my country in a visible image,” to use Sandip’s phrase. In New York, Bande Mataram reads as purely anti-colonial, whereas in Bengal it could too easily become antiMuslim. 104 landscapes of hope It should be unsurprising that Tagore later joined with some Muslim

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