Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

The limits of postcolonial autobiography and the empowering capacity of life-writing for the postcolonial subject

Sandra Lila Maya Rota


Autobiography and life-writing are two opposite forms to represent the self: while the former is inextricably bound to assumptions of coherent subjectivity, wholeness of sight and universal validity, the latter leaves room for doubt and contradiction and gives voice to the fragmented, inconsistent self. Therefore, whereas autobiography still bears the intrinsic ideology of its making and represents the ‘mainstream’ subject, life-writing proves to be a more suitable means for those who are not inscribed in this ‘narrative’, that is, the postmodern, the postcolonial, and the female subject. Starting with some foundational examples of autobiography, the present study confronts where the attempts to assimilate this genre to give expression to the postcolonial self have failed, in that they have appropriated the Master’s tools without dismantling the Master’s house, and where life-writing has managed to convey one’s self in a disinterested way, free from the anxiety to ‘representativeness’ that characterizes the traditional autobiographer.

Full Text:



Anzaldúa, Gloria E. (1987), Borderlands/La Frontera - The New Mestiza, San Francisco, Aunt Lute Books.

Ashcroft, B., G. Griffith, and H. Tiffin (eds, 1995), The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, London, Routledge.

Cliff, M., D. Dabydeen, and O.P. Adisa (eds, 1998), Postcolonialism and Autobiography, Amsterdam, Rodopi.

Coetzee, John Maxwell (1986), Foe, Harmondworth, Penguin, 1987.

De Man, P. (1979), “Autobiography as De-facement”, MLN, 94/5: 919-30.

Fanon, Franz (1952), Black Skin, White Masks, London, Pluto, 1986.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (1927), An Autobiography, or The Story of my Experiments with Truth, London, Penguin, 1982.

Gusdorf, G. (1956), “Conditions and Limits of Autobiography”, in Olney (ed., 1980).

Hames-Garcia, M.R. (2000), “How to Tell a Mestizo from an Enchirito: Colonialism and National Culture in the Borderlands”, Diacritics 30/4: 102-122.

Heartfield, J. (2002), The ‘Death of the Subject’ Explained, Sheffield, Hallam UP.

Hooks, b. (1990), “Postmodern Blackness”, in Ashcroft, Griffith, and Tiffin (eds, 1995).

Hutcheon, L. (1989), ‘“Circling the Downspout of Empire’: Post-Colonialism and Postmodernism.”, Ariel 20/4: 149-75.

Judovitz, D. (1988), Subjectivity and Representation in Decartes - The Origins of Modernity, Cambridge, Cambridge UP.

Lunsford, A. (1997), “Interview with Gloria Anzaldúa. Remarks Prepared for ‘Feminism(s) & Rhetoric(s): From Boundaries to Borderlands’”, Oregon State University, http://weather.ou.edu/~femrhets/speech.html.

Lunsford, A. (1998), “Toward a Mestiza Rhetoric: Gloria Anzaldúa on Composition and Postcoloniality”, JAC, 18/1: 1-27.

Menchú, Rigoberta, (1983), I, Rigoberta Menchú, An Indian Woman in Guatemala, London, Verso, 1987.

Olney, J. (ed.,1980), Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical, Princeton, Princeton UP.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1782), Confessions, Oxford: Oxford U. P., 2000.

Selvon, Sam, (1956), The Lonely Londoners, Essex, Longman.

Selvon, Sam, (1975), Moses Ascending, London, Heinemann, 1985.

Smith, S. and J. Watson (2001), Reading Autobiography- A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives, London, University of Minnesota Press.

Spivak, G.C. (1998), “Three Women’s Texts and Circumfession”, in Cliff, Dabydeen, Adisa (eds, 1998).


Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (06/04/2012 n. 185)
Online ISSN 1724-8698 - Print ISSN 2281-8952

Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Studi Umanistici e Internazionali: Storia, Culture, Lingue, Letterature, Arti, Media
Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo

Editor-in-Chief: Roberta Mullini
Editorial Board: Maurizio Ascari - Stefano Beretta - Antonio Bertacca- Tania Collani - Chiara Elefante - Marina Guglielmi - Maryline Heck - Richard Hillman - Reinhard Johler - Stephen Knight - Cesare Mascitelli - Sonia Massai - Aurélie Moioli - Maria de Fátima Silva - Bart Van Den Bossche 

Editorial Staff: Margaret Amatulli - Alessandra Calanchi - Riccardo Donati - Ivo Klaver  - Massimiliano Morini - Antonella Negri - Luca Renzi

Referee List