Locating Lumumba

Vanhove, Pieter (2021) Locating Lumumba. Comparative Literature Studies, 58 (2). pp. 264-285. ISSN 0010-4132

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This article builds on Joseph Slaughter’s call at the 2017 American Comparative Literature Meeting to be more aware of the “locations of comparison” that scholars of literature inhabit. Slaughter reminds us of World Literature’s problematic emphasis on global marketability and translatability as well as its lack of attention to enduring postcolonial inequalities. I argue with Slaughter that an alternative conception of World Literature can be and has already been imagined. I show how during the Cold War and in the wake of decolonization competing visions for World Literature were proposed on both sides of the Iron Curtain. I do this through a comparative study of three “peripheral” Cold War–era texts that foregrounded the figure of Patrice Lumumba, who was a recurring symbol of this other World Literature: Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro (1964), the Cultural Revolution–era propaganda play Chidao zhangu《赤道战鼓》 (War Drums on the Equator) by Li Huang and his collaborators, and Valerio Zurlini’s 1968 Third-Worldist film Seduto alla sua destra (Black Jesus). These historical texts, I argue, ultimately point to the horizon of a World Literature and a Comparative Literature that have the ambition to never stop “locating” themselves.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Comparative Literature Studies
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? world literaturecomparative literaturepostcolonial studieslocations of comparisoncold warinternationalismsocialist cosmopolitanismpatrice lumumbaadrienne kennedyli huangvalerio zurliniliterature and literary theorycultural studies ??
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Deposited On:
07 Jun 2021 14:55
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 21:43