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Theorising the en-gendered nation
Elleke Boehmer

BOEHMER Makeup 3/22/05 2:55 PM Page 22 John's G5:Users:john:Public:John's Mac: John's Jobs 1 Motherlands, mothers and nationalist sons: theorising the en-gendered nation Woman is an infinite, untrodden territory of desire which at every stage of historical deterritorialisation, men in search of material for utopias have inundated with their desires. (Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies)1 Among postcolonial and feminist critics it is now widely accepted that the nationalist ideologies which informed, in particular, the first wave of independence movements and of

in Stories of women
Open Access (free)
Gender and narrative in the postcolonial nation
Author: Elleke Boehmer

Why is the nation in a post-colonial world so often seen as a motherland? This study explores the relationship between gender icons and foundational fictions of the nation in different post-colonial spaces. The author's work on the intersections between independence, nationalism and gender has already proved canonical in the field. This book combines her keynote essays on the mother figure and the post-colonial nation with new work on male autobiography, ‘daughter’ writers, the colonial body, the trauma of the post-colony and the nation in a transnational context. Focusing on Africa as well as South Asia, and sexuality as well as gender, the author offers close readings of writers ranging from Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri and Nelson Mandela to Arundhati Roy and Yvonne Vera, shaping these into a critical engagement with theorists of the nation such as Fredric Jameson and Partha Chatterjee. Moving beyond cynical deconstructions of the post-colony, the book mounts a reassessment of the post-colonial nation as a site of potential empowerment, as a ‘paradoxical refuge’ in a globalised world. It acts on its own impassioned argument that post-colonial and nation-state studies address substantively issues hitherto raised chiefly within international feminism.

Gender and nationalism in the early fiction of Flora Nwapa
Elleke Boehmer

common national mother is, significantly, one to which postindependence women writing from Africa and India have also paid their respects. Buchi Emecheta, the London-based, Nigerian-origin novelist, for example, once expressed the opinion that ‘the white female intellectual may still have to come to the womb of Mother Africa to re-learn how to be a woman’.6 For the Zimbabwean poet and former guerrilla fighter Freedom Nyamubaya, writing in the 1980s, to speak of the Zimbabwean nation is to speak of the motherland. To her the concepts knit together so tightly that she

in Stories of women
Open Access (free)
Elleke Boehmer

Caribbean – by way of illustration. As a structure Stories of women falls roughly into three (unmarked) parts, framed by the Introduction and the Conclusion, though there are numerous intertextual links connecting different chapters between and across these ostensible divides. First, chapters 1 to 4 group together to theorise and exemplify the gendered formation of the nation in text. Chapter 1, ‘Motherlands, mothers and nationalist sons’, examines why and how, overdetermined by colonial history, national structures in post-independent nations have conventionally been

in Stories of women
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Colonial body into postcolonial narrative
Elleke Boehmer

reinforces the tendency. If the most grievous colonial violations were those inflicted upon the utterly objectified body, that of the subjected motherland, or of the dumb subaltern, nationalist texts invoke this body as the ultimate signifier of sacrifice endured. So it remains the case that, as in other symbolic systems, femininity in nationalism ‘is experienced as a space that . . . carries connotations of the depths of night (God being space and light), while masculinity is conceived of in terms of time [national history and myth]’.14 As Nuruddin Farah graphically

in Stories of women
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New generation Northern Irish poets (Sinéad Morrissey and Nick Laird)
Michael Parker

. 16). This last line hints at the blinding absurdity of the militant republicans’ bombing campaign, the mismatch between their idealised vision of ‘Ireland’ (‘the green hills’) and the destruction they wreak on their ‘motherland’. In a three-part sequence entitled ‘Thoughts in a Black Taxi’, Morrissey depicts her own return to Belfast and her problematic, liminal position as one who is neither/nor. Absorbed, watching loyalists preparing for the twelfth, she thinks about questioning ‘the bare-chested men swanking about’ high up on the bonfire. In time she recalls how

in Irish literature since 1990
Open Access (free)
Defining the nation differently
Elleke Boehmer

fundamentalist formations from the site of her subversive love affair when she and Pipee briefly join a Yatra or pilgrimage across India in the train of a religious ‘Leader’, organised to demonstrate belief in the united motherland (MW 157–8, 184–6, 193, 246 ff). Although Pipee has professional reasons for her participation, and both women are happy about the opportunity of spending time together, the Yatra soon inspires in Astha a different sort of excitement, stimulated by the symbolic geography of the trip. At the beginning, for example, the lovers stand together at the

in Stories of women
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Debatable lands and passable boundaries
Aileen Christianson

his anlayses. The very term horizontal comradeship, although theoretically genderneutral, brings with it connotations of masculine solidarity’ (McDowell 1999: 195). His five pages of bibliography cited only seven or eight articles or books by women. Is this because women were not attracted by the study of the ‘nation’ because of the patriarchal nature of the states embodying nations? Perhaps we imagine a different community, one in which we are not represented by Britannia, the ‘motherland’, or Kathleen ni Houlihan. Ellen Galford’s cantankerous Pictish Queen

in Across the margins
Open Access (free)
The adolescent girl and the nation
Elleke Boehmer

107 fest content of their work, but also, for example, in their preoccupation with rewriting authoritative cultural texts. Instead of resuscitating and resituating the fetishised tropes of motherlands, some women writers have chosen to revise the family dramas that structure national narratives, including the male Bildungsroman and nationalist autobiography, by focusing on the roles and character of daughters. In particular, they have explored the daughter’s relationship to her immediate, father-led family, and to the patrilineal community of which it is a

in Stories of women