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Inheriting the other : an aesthetic of postcolonial custodianship

Menozzi, Filippo (2012) Inheriting the other : an aesthetic of postcolonial custodianship. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86520) (KAR id:86520)


This study provides a response to current controversies in postcolonial studies. While recent interventions have proposed a rerouting or reconstruction of the postcolonial, this research argues that the postcolonial could be redefined as a form of custodianship. Indeed, this notion has not yet been recognised as such, but it has always been a central issue in postcolonial criticism. It has been adopted to portray

the postcolonial intellectual as "custodian" or doorkeeper, in the derogatory sense of someone who claims to represent the essence of a culture. Yet custodianship does not correspond to the authority of cultural representation. Instead, it might be the fidelity to an ethical imperative, a responsibility for the other in forms of cultural and literary inheritance. For this reason, it is not something that needs to be formulated as an abstract theory, but rather it can be learned as a practice through the reading of literary and poetic forms. The aesthetic of custodianship presented in this research detects modes of transmission in the figurative, rather than strictly thematic aspects of canonical and non-canonical postcolonial literary objects. The thesis engages with influential postcolonial authors: Anita Desai, Mahasweta Devi, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Arundhati Roy, and a young tribal artist, Bhajju Shyam, whose work has received no extensive attention in the postcolonial discourse. This inquiry illustrates that the postcolonial has addressed, and continues to address, a crucial problematic about how to transmit, to read and to inherit, not only one's own tradition, but also legacies of the other. The postcolonial could still be relevant today as an aesthetic of custodianship, that is, as an understanding of literature itself as a practice of poetic transmission able to weave figuration and worldliness in a common ground.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86520
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: postcolonialism
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:55 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2021 11:49 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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