Much attention has focused on the South Asian novel’s connection to nation, language and its impact on processes of narration. However, the question of history and its relation to wider questions of genre have thus far been situated more on the margins of these debates. This talk will consider, through an analysis of the Ibis trilogy by Amitav Ghosh, how the historical novel approaches the issue of globalisation and how a re-examination of Empire and its rhetoric of free trade allows for a recalibrated view of the contemporary. How do the novels challenge ideas of nationalism and thenetworked globe and how can the colonial archive be used to further investigate these issues? How do Ghosh’s engagements with indentured labour and slavery coalesce with the modern period? Does it enable us to consider further the silenced voices that are excluded from historical and contemporary considerations of an economic logic of progress and
modernity? I seek to investigate some of the textual and rhetorical strategies with which Ghosh animates these questions and consider how the novel as a literary form has responded and questioned the processes of globalisation, and how a postcolonial reading practice allows us to further our understanding of colonialism and its consequences in a globalising world.
Florian Stadtler is Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Exeter, UK. He has published on South Asian Writing in English, Indian Popular Cinema and British Asian Literature and History. His monograph Fiction, Film and Indian Popular Cinema: Salman Rushdie’s Novels and the Cinematic Imagination is published by Routledge. He is Reviews Editor of Wasafiri: The Magazine of International Contemporary Writing.