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De-ideologizing Colonial and Postcolonial Sri Lanka: Family Tales and Historical Revisitation in Michael Ondaatje’s Memoir Running in the Family

Journal: International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (Vol.6, No. 3)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 22-35

Keywords : Communal memory; Counter-narrative; Family tales; Historical revisitation; Myth.;

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Recent theories of history have engendered large conceptual reviews at the level of historical representation, which has created gradual ruptures with the traditional perception of national history and its inherent assumptions of unity, They have produced profound epistemological shifts in the modes of national historical writings in postcolonial literatures These emerging writings celebrate productive elaborations of counter-hegemonic historical narratives, which break with the reductionist historical assumptions premised in dominant nationalist historiographies. By revisiting the national past through the trope of communal memory, and by exposing the obscured diversities of national experiences, contemporary minority writings have engaged in the task of interrogating the putative authority of official memory and historical documents by divulging the discursive erasure of representational differences characterizing the dominant nationalist historical narratives. In this context, postcolonial diasporic autobiographies have been offering dynamic sites of contestation whereby the authority of official history is undermined by competing narratives. Diasporic postcolonial autobiographical writings, for instance, have suggested productive literary spaces where unauthorized biographies of the nation have been introduced and subversive counter-narratives have been elaborated. It is within the context of South Asian re-configurations of representational praxis that I will locate my paper. The latter seeks to address the question of historical representation vis-à-vis nationalist discursive hegemony in postcolonial Sri Lanka, and to explore the narrative strategies deployed to disclose the flagrant injustices underlying the mainstream version of the colonial Sri Lankan history purveyed by nationalist ideologies evidenced in Michael Ondaatje's memoir Running in the Family.

Last modified: 2021-05-29 14:09:53