Displaced memory: Oscar Micheaux, Carlos Bulosan, and the process of United States decolonization

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/280790
Title:
Displaced memory: Oscar Micheaux, Carlos Bulosan, and the process of United States decolonization
Author:
Pierce, Linda M.
Issue Date:
2004
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
"Displaced Memory: Oscar Micheaux, Carlos Bulosan, and the Process of U.S. Decolonization," uses new applications for existing colonial and postcolonial theories in order to explain common incongruities in ethnic minority autobiographies in early twentieth-century America. Using Carlos Bulosan (1914-1956) and Oscar Micheaux's (1894-1951) "fictional autobiographies" as case studies, I argue that the seemingly contradictory coexistence of assimilationist and subversive narratives can be explained when understood as textual representations of the process of decolonization. Reading these narrators as postcolonial subjects, however, would require both a radical rethinking of colonial and postcolonial theory and careful revaluation of early American mythology. While recognizing the United States as a former (or neo-) colonial power poses no insuperable problem for scholars in Philippine American studies, analyzing other disenfranchised ethnic communities in terms of a U.S. colonial context is more problematic. My project addresses precisely this problem: part one begins with the Philippine context and asks why even this overt example of colonization remains unacknowledged within U.S. cultural memory. The answer to this question is grounded in the literary, political and ideological national foundations emergent during nascent U.S. development. In the second part of my project, I stress the necessity of comparing multi-ethnic experiences within parallel historical trajectories, addressing questions about how a U.S. postcolonial theory would become complicated when applied to slavery and its aftermath. I argue that the unique position of displaced colonials occupied by African slaves and the colonial memory instilled in their offspring suggest the applicability of postcolonial theory to the African American community. Questions of U.S. postcoloniality are invariably tethered to multiple perspectives from early literature, from captivity to emancipation and reconstruction. Thus, understanding the ways in which African Americans have been colonized is important not only for re-reading African American literature like that of Micheaux, but for revising American ideological holdovers from the seventeenth century to the present. Read together within the postcolonial context, Bulosan's and Micheaux's views on nation, race, masculinity and women take on new significance.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Literature, Comparative.; Literature, Asian.; Literature, African.; Black Studies.; Literature, American.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; English
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Kolodny, Annette; Raval, Suresh

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleDisplaced memory: Oscar Micheaux, Carlos Bulosan, and the process of United States decolonizationen_US
dc.creatorPierce, Linda M.en_US
dc.contributor.authorPierce, Linda M.en_US
dc.date.issued2004en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstract"Displaced Memory: Oscar Micheaux, Carlos Bulosan, and the Process of U.S. Decolonization," uses new applications for existing colonial and postcolonial theories in order to explain common incongruities in ethnic minority autobiographies in early twentieth-century America. Using Carlos Bulosan (1914-1956) and Oscar Micheaux's (1894-1951) "fictional autobiographies" as case studies, I argue that the seemingly contradictory coexistence of assimilationist and subversive narratives can be explained when understood as textual representations of the process of decolonization. Reading these narrators as postcolonial subjects, however, would require both a radical rethinking of colonial and postcolonial theory and careful revaluation of early American mythology. While recognizing the United States as a former (or neo-) colonial power poses no insuperable problem for scholars in Philippine American studies, analyzing other disenfranchised ethnic communities in terms of a U.S. colonial context is more problematic. My project addresses precisely this problem: part one begins with the Philippine context and asks why even this overt example of colonization remains unacknowledged within U.S. cultural memory. The answer to this question is grounded in the literary, political and ideological national foundations emergent during nascent U.S. development. In the second part of my project, I stress the necessity of comparing multi-ethnic experiences within parallel historical trajectories, addressing questions about how a U.S. postcolonial theory would become complicated when applied to slavery and its aftermath. I argue that the unique position of displaced colonials occupied by African slaves and the colonial memory instilled in their offspring suggest the applicability of postcolonial theory to the African American community. Questions of U.S. postcoloniality are invariably tethered to multiple perspectives from early literature, from captivity to emancipation and reconstruction. Thus, understanding the ways in which African Americans have been colonized is important not only for re-reading African American literature like that of Micheaux, but for revising American ideological holdovers from the seventeenth century to the present. Read together within the postcolonial context, Bulosan's and Micheaux's views on nation, race, masculinity and women take on new significance.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectLiterature, Comparative.en_US
dc.subjectLiterature, Asian.en_US
dc.subjectLiterature, African.en_US
dc.subjectBlack Studies.en_US
dc.subjectLiterature, American.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEnglishen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorKolodny, Annetteen_US
dc.contributor.advisorRaval, Sureshen_US
dc.identifier.proquest3165788en_US
dc.identifier.bibrecord.b47210047en_US
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