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Foreclosing *others in cultural representationHuei-ju Wang
University of Florida
This dissertation investigates the representation of racial Others in James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers, Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Joseph Conrad's Nostromo. The project appropriates Gayatri G. Spivak's critique in A Critique of Postcolonial Reason of the invocation and foreclosure of the "native informant" in Western epistemology and David Harvey's argument in The New Imperialism that "accumulation by dispossession" has long been the lynchpin of the capitalist mode of production in its geographic history. First examining American director Alexander Payne's film, About Schmidt, in which a retired American man wrote letters to his adopted son, an African boy in Tanzania, it argues that the political unconscious of invoking and foreclosing the non-Western Other is still being practiced in the Western cultural production. It then proceeds to examine the three novels produced during the 19th and early 20th century capitalist society when the history of accumulation of Western capital based on the expropriation of the natives had been ideologically justified as regrettable but inevitable, as part of capitalist development and progress. It thus examines the dialectical link between accumulation of capital and the dispossession of the native Other in The Pioneers and Nostromo. It also explores the conscription of the Islamic Orient in Moby Dick and Melville's subversion of conventional Orientalism by his refusal to explain the Oriental Other. It finally explores the possibility of self representation of non-Western Others in the age of globalization by looking at Chinese director Zhang Yimou's role as native informant/cultural translator. It argues that even in his film, Not One Less, that deals with the problem of rural poverty and migration in contemporary China, the figure of (young) migrant worker is still being invoked and foreclosed.
Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Conrad, Joseph; Cooper, James Fenimore; Cultural representation; Foreclosing; Herman Melville; James Fenimore Cooper; Joseph Conrad; Melville, Herman; Orientalism; Others; Passing; American literature; British and Irish literature; Minority & ethnic groups; Sociology; Literature; 0593:British and Irish literature; 0298:Literature; 0591:American literature; 0631:Sociology; 0631:Minority & ethnic groups
J. P. Leavey, Jr.
University of Florida
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