Abstracts

Gary Cape (University of Stirling):

Thomas Christie (University of Stirling):

Juan Manuel Espinoza Benza (University of St. Andrews): Othering the Bolivian State’s Nation? Indigenous vs National Identities.

During the last decade, along with the decline of state-sponsored, assimilationist policies, indigenous identities in Bolivia have emerged as a political force, permeating other official and subaltern spheres and inspiring indigenous groups to frame their political and territorial claims in terms of ethnic sovereignties at a national level. This phenomenon has challenged the liberal model of the Bolivian state, its politics of identity, and the very foundations of the ongoing nation-building process. As such, it has also generated radical reactions from the hegemonic creole and mestizo sectors of society. Reactions that, at best, continue to advocate for the homogenisation of the nation-state through the ‘integration’ of the indigenous society and, at worst, promote attitudes of fascist-racist characteristics. The election of an indigenous man as the Bolivian national president in 2005 has radically intensified expectations of structural reform and fears of reversed racism, thus, polarising society even further. I am currently exploring the structural contradictions between ethnic and national identities in Bolivia that lie behind this process of apparent mutual exclusion, or mutual ‘othering’. By looking at indigenous communities in the north of Potosí, an overwhelmingly indigenous area in the Bolivian Andes, I aim to contests the notion that political difference in Bolivia stems simply from opposing ethnic ideals of what the nation should look like. So far, I suggest that an analysis on competing nationalisms and national reforms in this context, one must take distance from current definitions of the state’s nation, and consider the long history of how diverse and competing notions of the State itself coexist in the Bolivian rural indigenous margins.

Mary Healy (University of Limerick): Uncovering the Life Narrative, Artistic Career and Oeuvre of the 19th century French Orientalist Artist Marie Elizabeth Aimee Lucas Robiquet (1858-1959)

My current Ph.D. work is an investigation into the unknown women Orientalist artists of nineteenth century France. The artistic work of these women (women who were also part of the French colonial settlers in Northern Africa known as the pied noir) led them to explore, analyse and portray within their paintings the people and cultures of Northern Africa. My recently completed Masters dissertation is an investigation into one such artist and shall be the focus of this proposed presentation.
Lucas-Robiquet was a French 19th century Orientalist artist who enjoyed over forty years of artistic honour and success within the highly acclaimed Paris Salon de la Société des Artistes Français. For over fourteen years the artist lived, travelled and created a vast number of works in Algeria and Tunisia; she was awarded a bachelor of quality by the Salon in 1910 (fig. 1) and she was honoured with the title Chevalier de Légion d'Honneur by the French government in 1922 for her outstanding artistic achievements.
The early French Orientalists, such as Delacroix, Chassériau and Regnault (to name but a few), executed highly theatrical scenes and false western idealisations of the ‘orient’ within their works; these works are deemed as the pinnacle of 19th century French Orientalism and today adorn many prestigious European galleries. By contrast, the Orientalist works of Lucas-Robiquet may be considered as recording and implementing truthful and diplomatic depictions of the people and cultures within 19th century Algeria and Tunisia; yet the artist has not received art historical attention and her works, her artistic successes and methodologies, her explorations in Northern Africa during the French colonial era and her major contribution to the French Orientalist movement have gone unrecorded?

Nara Importa Franca (University of Stirling):

The Yoruba are an ethnic group today localised mainly in southern Nigeria, West Africa. The identity of the Yoruba as a unified group was constructed between the late 19th century and early 20th century in a historical process which combined different factors. Among these, the most important ones were three, namely, the work of the missionaries in their project of Christianization; the contribution of liberated Yorubas settled in Sierra Leone who returned to Yorubaland; and the contribution of former slaves returned from the Americas to the West African coast. These factors interacted within a context given by wars among Yoruba sub-groups and the increasing influence and intervention of the United Kingdom, both of which resulted in the colonization of Yorubaland in 1901.
In this study I am analysing the interaction of these three factors, with especial attention to the case of Lagos, where the definition of Yoruba was widely discussed by the educated elite of the city in an intellectual movement named “Cultural Nationalism”, which debated Yoruba identity, culture, and history, among other topics. The products of this intellectual debate are available in the form of print records in the UK and Nigeria and constitute the main sources of this research project.

Nara Improta is a PhD student at the Department of History of the University of Stirling. Her research is about the construction of the Yoruba Identity in West Africa, under the supervision of Professor Law and Dr. Phia Steyn. Her first degree was in History at Universidade Federal Fluminense, in Brazil and the second was a Masters in African Studies at El Colegio de Mexico.

Naomi McLeod (University of St Andrews): The role of ethnic identity as represented in contemporary Equatorial Guinean narratives.

Equatorial Guinea is situated in the unique position of being the only former Spanish colony in sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, the Spanish language literature produced by its authors has become increasingly resistant to classification in the fields of both of Hispanic and African literary studies. Such resistance is particularly evident when one begins to question the role of cultural identity and processes of identity formation as explored and expressed in these contemporary narratives. This paper will explore two novels by Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo entitled: Los poderes de la tempestad (1997) and El metro (2007) as well as two novels by José Siale Djangany, Cenizas de kalabó y termes (2000) and Autorretrato con un infiel (2007). The objective of this presentation is to identify one of the ways in which post-colonial, post-independence African authors negotiate the concept of identity. Furthermore, this brief literary overview will include an examination of how the negotiation of identity is represented in the selected texts and expressed in a European language. These texts offer a reaction to the repressive dictatorships that have plagued the country since gaining independence in 1968. Similarly, the texts entre into dialogue with post-colonial discourse and the search for identity. For that reason, there are multiple facets of identity that must be considered. However, for the purposes of this paper, only the area of ethnic identity will be considered.

Naomi McLeod is a second year PhD candidate in the field of Hispanic Studies at the University of St Andrews. She completed an undergraduate honours degree at the University of Guelph (Canada) in 2004. She went on to complete my Masters degree at the University of Western Ontario in the area of Spanish peninsular literature. She is currently working on contemporary Equatorial Guinean literature written in Spanish with a focus on the processes of postcolonial identity formation.

John Miller (University of Glasgow): Empire and the Animal Body

This paper sets out the relation of my doctoral research on exotic animals in Victorian adventure fiction to the well-established field of postcolonial studies and the more marginal one of animal studies. As such it comprises a consideration of the many links between them, and some of the difficulties these connections raise.

The boys’ adventure is often seen by critics, perhaps too simplistically, as a vehicle par excellence of imperial propaganda. As Martin Green argued in a much-quoted phrase, these texts ‘provided the energising myth of English imperialism…[that] charged England’s will with the energy to go out into the world and explore and conquer and rule’. To environmental historians, this trajectory involved in many regions an unprecedented ecological impoverishment: a ‘clearing’ or ‘subduing’ of land through hunting and agriculture that was intimately involved with the ideology and economics of imperial expansion (though also, paradoxically, significant in the emergence of modern environmentalism).

While traditional approaches to literary animals have followed the anthropocentric viewpoint encapsulated by Levi-Strauss’ famous dictum ‘animals are good to think with’, recent developments in animal studies and ecocriticism have attempted to reinsert material animals into critical discourse: in the words of Erica Fudge, ‘we should think about animals as themselves’. This epistemologically problematic intention to locate an extra-textual animal offers a readjustment, in common with postcolonial studies, of ideologically loaded constructions of centre and periphery that complements the clear historical associations of postcolonial and ecological criticisms. Yet the privileging of the environmental seemingly over the human in animal studies has at the same time evoked a disquiet that questions the ethical basis of animal studies and mirrors wider philosophical debates on animal rights and environmental politics.

John Miller is an AHRC funded doctoral candidate and tutor at the University of Glasgow. He has published articles on Victorian big game hunting and on the Scottish children’s author R. M Ballantyne, has co-edited an edition of the journal Green Letters and has a piece on politics and ecology in the work of John Buchan forthcoming in 2009. He had given numerous conference papers, many on the early cultural history of the gorilla and some on ecocriticism and the tattooed body.

Brian Rock (University of Stirling):

Clare Rossouw (University of Stirling): Re-Imagining Africa's Cinematic Cities; Modernity, Urbanization, Corruption.

Jacqueline Ryder (University of Strathclyde): Highland Lady and Tribal Mother: postcolonialism in the work of Naomi Mitchison.

Postcolonialism is an elusive term and within the context of Scottish Studies arguably even more so; the ambivalent position of being both coloniser and colonised makes it difficult for Scotland to locate itself easily within the discourse. Those engaged in the debate for postcolonialism in Scotland have failed to reach a consensus on whether to employ the theory and if so, how is it applied to Scottish literature. Despite the advantages of using the theory in order to evaluate texts, few have actually done so. Being both a Highland Lady and Tribal Mother in Botswana, Naomi Mitchison mirrors Scotland’s dichotomy and provides an interesting project in which to examine how Scottish literature can engage with postcolonialism. My research analyses her claim that her characters ‘were all Africans’ in order to consider if, and how, Mitchison was producing postcolonial texts. I am currently grappling with the issue of whether is it enough to write about colonialism and oppression in its many forms or whether “the post-coloniality of a text resides in its discursive features, [in] which they construct counter-discursive rather than homologous views of the world” (Selmon 1987) (Ashcroft 2005 [1989], p.191). Even if Mitchison is shown to employ these ‘discursive features’, can she be considered a postcolonial writer in light of the complexities inherent in Scotland’s relationship with Empire.

Jacqueline Ryder is a second year PhD student in the Department of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde. Her research interests include Scottish literature and postcolonial theory and writing. Her thesis analyses the work of Naomi Mitchison from a postcolonial perspective, and she is currently working on her first novel The Conquered (1923) and the way in which it engaged with the Irish political situation of that period.

Stefanie Van de Peer (University of Stirling)

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