Journal Article

Tokens or Totems? Eccentric Props in Postcolonial Re-enactments of Colonial Consecration

Helga Ramsey-Kurz

in Literature and Theology

Volume 21, issue 3, pages 302-316
Published in print September 2007 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online August 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frm027
Tokens or Totems? Eccentric Props in Postcolonial Re-enactments of Colonial Consecration

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During colonial expansion the ceremonial insertion of archetypes of European civilisation into terra nullius served two opposing ends: to make visible territorial claims and to conceal the illegitimacy of these claims. While aware of this ambivalence, modern texts re-enacting colonial spectacles of territorial consecration are not always wholly critical of European cultivating zeal but may also trace a genuinely idealistic impulse in it. The films Fitzcarraldo and The Piano and the novels Oscar and Lucinda and Remembering Babylon are cases in point. They rewrite colonial history by telling intricately ironical stories of failure and ascribing special sacredness to the settings as well as to the mementos of the defeats they recount.

Journal Article.  6875 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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