Date of Award

8-9-2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Renee Schatteman

Second Advisor

Dr. Jay Rajiva

Third Advisor

Dr. Gina Marie Caison

Abstract

The turn to multilingualism due to the complex dynamics of globalization, global migration and multiculturalism has pushed postcolonial writers and theorists to begin taking into account the complicated facets of plurality, hybridity, and the multiplicity of language and language usage. Surpassing the pattern established in earlier phases of postcolonial thought of writing back to the empire or grabbing the center by adopting and adapting the language of the colonizer, contemporary writers and critics assess the problem of linguistic imperialism and the globalization of English that work to destabilize the cultural valency of indigenous languages. The plurality of languages in contemporary postcolonial spaces impels Anglophone native writers to examine the altering relations between language, power, epistemic violence and territory, and to question the hegemony of dominant national languages in the multilingual postcolonial society. Analyzed against the Spivakean theorization of articulation and representation of the other, postcolonial language theories and works reveal the complexity of speaking for/about the other in postcolonial multilingual space. Writing in a multilingual postcolonial space, Anglophone postcolonial writers either “speak for” or “speak about” the other, consequently silencing the voices of the marginalized language groups. However, a more expansive consideration of language and its uses suggests that the Anglophone literature produced in multilingual postcolonial countries has the potential to unfold a trajectory from “speaking for” to “speaking with” the other. In my dissertation, I explore the long-established debate around “speaking for/about” and to expand the alternative stance of “speaking with/to” (postulated by Spivak and Alcoff) as a means of transcending the limits of representation in previous attempts of articulation in the postcolonial subject.

Studying postcolonial language theory, the concept of translation, strategies of transformation in postcolonial writing, and the idea of positionality and accountability of postcolonial writer, my work discusses the contemporary South African Anglophone texts that address the problematic concept of “speaking with/to” the other rather than “speaking about/for” them. While furthering the discussion on “speaking with/to,” this study aims to advance the debate on the articulation and representation of the other in multilingual postcolonial space.

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