North-South East-West: Global Entanglements in Post-Imperial French and German Writing
Russel West-Pavlov – 2010
This book reads a number of contemporary texts in French and German in the context of the post-imperial order which has emerged after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It maps the newly emergent East-West frontiers which have become visible in the wake of the break up of the Soviet “empire”, borders which have been transposed onto the North-south frontiers increasingly structuring the postcolonial world formed after the demise of European empires in the mid-twentieth century. The end of the Cold War’s East-West divide merely triggered an invidious re-inscription of earlier colonial and neo-colonial borders along the southern borders of Europe, and a displacement of the old East-West border to the Russian, Balkan and Near-Eastern littoral. This book is written under the sign of these new North-South and East-West borders, and brings together a number of exemplary analyses of literary or theoretical texts. The authors it reads (Tahar Ben Jelloun, Marica Bodrožić, Maryse Condé, Vilém Flusser, Edouard Glissant, Durs Grünbein, Ingo Hasselbach, Hamid Skif, Paul Virilio and others) explore the dynamics of these newly evolving relations of exclusion but also of limited permeability before and after 1989. The book’s purview embraces French- and German-language texts, many of them emerging from outside of metropolitan culture or straddling its borders. The texts are aligned with the North-South and East-West axes of cultural interaction, and with the post-colonial and post-imperial paradigms of cultural critique. The book seeks thereby to map some of the cultural manifestations of the often perplexing and rapidly evolving new world order in which we live.