Lying on the Postcolonial Couch - The Idea of Indifference

Lying on the Postcolonial Couch - The Idea of Indifference

Product ID: 7164

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Author: Rukmini Bhaya Nair
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 308
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195652223


A revealing look into the long afterlife of colonial conquest, Lying on the Postcolonial Couch offers an original, overarching concept that informs –and helps to explain-the workings of postcoloniality. This concept, indifference, is a play on the key critical term difference.

Rukmini Bhaya Nair traces a paper trail beginning in 1757 with the Battle of Plassey, winding through the contentious Mutiny of 1857, and ending with Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses predicament. Along this trail, she uncovers hidden residues of feeling, from guilt and mistrust to wonder and pleasure, and analyses the linguistic pillars that hold up the institution of bureaucratic indifference that she exposes.

Indifference is analyzed as a cognitive stance invented during the colonial period for the purpose of organizing the complex domain of the Indian subcontinent, one that created its own brand of poetics. Considering postcoloniality as a symptomatic condition, this book proposes a cure involving a return to buried memories of colonial trauma before the phenomenon itself succumbs to the absolute indifference of the slowly gathering amnesia of the new millennium.


An accomplished poet, philosopher of language, cultural historian, and literary critic of great skill, Rukmini bhaya Nair has wonderfully wide-ranging interests and an altogether unusual intellectual intensity and energy. Lying on the Postcolonial Couch has at its core a powerful account of indifference, but it will leave none of its readers indifferent to its rare intelligence and range.
-Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University

Nair’s book gives postcolonialism a decent burial and looks forward to a new language of community. It exposes the numbing rituals of colonial and postcolonial indifference with al light touch, pausing on postmodern theories on the way. In the wake of 9-11-01, I found the tabulation of Indian students’ stereotypes of the United States particularly instructive.

-Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University

This is quite literally, an amazing book. Full of spiky intelligence, it is written with verve and color and in a distinctive and convincing voice. Lying on the Postcolonial Couch is consistently persuasive in its brilliance and passion. Its voice is distinctive and original and will be of great interest to a wide range of academic intellectuals.

-James C. Edwards, Furman university

The range of the various pieces collected here is remarkable. Under Nair’s guidance, we move effortlessly from textual analysis… to historical frescoes heavy with drama of actuality, to more philosophical considerations cleverly connecting the testimonies of the actors of history and the impeccable logic of the author. Lying on the Postcolonial Couch is a seminal work.

-Michael Riffaterre, Columbia university




Interlocution: The Arrangement Of Couches

1.Reading Texts, Resurrecting Cultures
Colonial Poetry in India (1757-1857)

2.The Pedigree of the White stallion
Postcoloniality and Literary History

3.Translation as a Speech Act
Twelve Versions of One Subversive Verse

Circumlocution: The Institution of Indifference

The Dissimilar Twins of Language and literature

Other Worlds in Edgar Allan Poe and Satyajit Ray

Omeros Sails between the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean

Delocution: The Sacralization of Subjects

7.Acts of Agency and Acts of God
Postcolonial Narratives of Disaster

8.The Testament of the Tenth Muse
Toward a Feminist Sensibility

9.A Fatwa against Indifference?
Of Shamianas, Death, and the Platonic Censors