Transfiguring
Colonial body into postcolonial narrative
in Stories of women

The silenced and wounded body of the colonised is a pervasive figure in colonial and post-colonial discourses, although its valencies obviously shift with the transition from colonial into post-colonial history. In the post-colonial process of rewriting, certainly, the trope of the dumb, oppressed body undergoes significant translations or transfigurations. In Maru (1971), a novelistic indictment of intra-black racism, the South African writer Bessie Head stakes out a number of epigraphic moments with which to begin the discussion. This chapter explores post-colonial retrieval of the figure of the native body in colonial discourse and unpicks the complex interconnections between colonialism, nationalism, hysteria, gender and sexuality. It concentrates in particular on post-colonial attempts – by Nuruddin Farah, Bessie Head and Michelle Cliff, among others – to recuperate or transfigure the native/colonised body by way of the ‘talking cure’ of narrative.

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Stories of women

Gender and narrative in the postcolonial nation

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