Introduction
in Stories of women

This book argues that literary texts – here especially novels and autobiographies – are central vehicles in the imaginative construction of new nations, and that gender plays a central, formative role in that construction. Post-colonial nationalist identities, iconographies and traditions are refracted through gender-tagged concepts of power, leadership, lineage and filiation, including, for instance, maternal images of nurturing and service. Developing these ideas, the book considers how national father/son and mother figures were used in the independence era to imagine the nation into being. It also shows that gendered, predominantly familial (patriarchal), forms have been invoked, paradoxically, to imagine post-colonial nations into being, and that, reciprocally, constructions of the nation in fiction and other discourses are differentially marked by masculine and feminine systems of value. Finally, the book explores community, nationality, subjectivity, sexuality or the native body.

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Stories of women

Gender and narrative in the postcolonial nation

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