‘The Killer That Doesn’t Pay Back’: Chinua Achebe's critique of cosmopolitics

Laura Chrisman

in Postcolonial Contraventions

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780719058271
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700136 | DOI:
‘The Killer That Doesn’t Pay Back’: Chinua Achebe's critique of cosmopolitics

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‘Cosmopolitics’ is what a number of liberal thinkers now advocate: a freely created, cosmopolitan cultural identity based on notions of ‘global’ citizenship. This chapter focuses on Achebe's historical account of imperialism through the Royal Mail, his suggestion that its promise of global citizenship is not only false but also fatal. Achebe's Home and Exile subtly and powerfully implicates contemporary cosmopolitical thought in the historical violence practised by European colonialism in Africa. Cosmopolitan perspectives are ultimately present-day expressions of the old ‘Pax Britannica’: the liberal story that Empire likes to tell about itself. Economic theft, social chaos and physical violence are beautifully condensed in the phrase ‘The Killer That Doesn't Pay Back’, which Achebe's youthful villagers used to describe the colonial British Post Office.

Keywords: cosmopolitics; cosmopolitan cultural identity; global citizenship; European colonialism; economic theft; colonial British Post Office

Chapter.  2802 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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