Postcolonial Haunting: Anxiety, Affect, and the Situated Encounter

Michael F O'Riley


Postcolonial theory has relied, to a great extent, upon the idea of haunting in order to bring awareness of colonial history to the present while revising the conception of the contemporary nation and cultural relations. Hauntings of the colonial frequently turn on what is undoubtedly a well-intended desire to relate to the Other, the silenced, and the hidden, but also reveal a more problematic inability to situate resistance, and mobilize memory for such purposes, in relation to ever-increasing transnational conditions that often deny or obfuscate forms of situated or positioned resistance. In this article, I examine various seminal instances of the turn to the affective charge of haunting found in postcolonial studies. These instances exemplify a concern with locating an affective dimension in the encounter with the colonial past. Such an affective charge is treated as the nexus of a transformational haunting.This focus on the production of affect and anxiety in postcolonial models of haunting, I will suggest, discloses a postcolonial anxiety about the possibility of mapping or situating resistance under conditions of transnational empire and globalized incarnations of imperialism.


Haunting in Postcolonial Theory

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