Monday, March 28, 2011

Former Draper Faculty Fellow at CUNY Postcolonial Studies Group Colloquium Series (4/1)

Nicole Rizzuto, Draper's former faculty fellow in Literary Cultures, will be giving a talk as part of the CUNY Graduate Center's Postcolonial Studies Group Colloquium Series on April 1st. More information is below.

The CUNY Graduate Center Postcolonial Studies Group Colloquium Series 2010-2011

Nicole Rizzuto

Oklahoma State University

Confession and the Juridical Crisis of the Colonial State in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat (1967) circles around the Emergency in Kenya, a traumatic historical event of anticolonial insurgency and counter-insurgency. In detailing this period of indefinite detention and torture undertaken in the name of a benevolent civilizing mission, the novel states that the struggle over two specific losses suffered under British colonialism are at the heart of the Emergency. Those losses are land and freedom. And yet, the work’s formal strategies simultaneously challenge this direct statement by indirectly constituting the Emergency as an event whose losses exceed that of territory and control of the polity; the Emergency is staged also as a crisis of the juridico-legal order by which the category “human” becomes the contested site of, and justification for, exceptional state violence. Placing Nggi’s writing in conversation with Judith Butler’s and Giorgio Agamben’s theorizations of sovereignty and bare life in modernity reveals how the novel might displace a Euro-centered trajectory in Trauma Studies. By elaborating a state of exception in Africa under colonial rule, A Grain of Wheat both calls for and enacts what Michael Rothberg terms “multi-directional memory,” by which the insights of Holocaust studies and postcolonial studies illuminate each other while addressing the ethico-politics of responding to occluded pasts.

April 1st at 2 p.m.

CUNY Graduate Center, Room 5409

All are welcome

Nicole Rizzuto is Assistant Professor of English at Oklahoma State University. She has published on issues of testimony and trauma in journals such as World Picture and Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, and is completing a book manuscript entitled Spectral Witnesses: Testimony, Historical Memory, and the Modern Novel.

The CUNY Graduate Center is located at 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

The Postcolonial Studies Group is a chartered organization of the Doctoral Students' Council. Please visit our website at Questions? Email Lily Saint at

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