oa Alternation - Mapping the Land/ Body/ Subject: Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies in African Narrative

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



It is no accident that maps and metaphors of mapping abound in postcolonial studies, because colonialism as a regime of power was largely organised through spatiality and subjectivity: spaces to capture, subjects to control. To capture the land, it first had to be explored and mapped, literally and figuratively. For the subject to be controlled, she first had to be contained, not only in terms of physical containment within subject territories-colonies and protectorates for example-but also contained in 'tribes', territorially demarcated, defined and culturally descriptionbed. Physical containment was necessary to circumscribe the natural mobility of the body (in space) and discursive containment served to define the limits of the cultural (identity) mobility available to the subject. To appropriate the subtitle of Carole Boyce Davies' (1994) book, colonial mapping rested on the denial of 'migrations of the subject'.

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