In the last few years, the postcolonial world has been mapped with the help of economic, social, political and linguistic methodologies, which have helped us to understand how mechanisms of subjection and resistance play out in imperialist, neo-imperialist and globalizing contexts and how cultural norms and sign systems are translated in the process. There is, however, also an ‘inside’ story to intercultural contact, a story concerning the psychological and the affective dimensions, which shows up in collections of letters, in autobiographies, in novels and plays. This story has traditionally been mapped onto binary oppositions of containment vs. lack of restraint, of mind vs. body, which have led to stereotypical projections, for example of the noble savage, of the cannibal, of Western returns to savagery (Heart of Darkness) or of afrocentric concepts of the ‘sun people’ vs. the ‘ice people’. While acknowledging this history of the mapping of the passions and emotions, the essays in this volume attempt to move beyond traditional oppositional images and to anticipate more intricate – though generally not yet symmetrical – forms of intercultural exchange, which result when affections – along with the disaffections they quite often inspire – are translated.
The main focus of this collection of essays is on an extended version of the Black Atlantic and thus follows up some themes from our former volume Beyond the Black Atlantic (London: Routledge, 2006). Questions of silencing, alienation and stereotyping are raised in many of the contributions (Benjamin-Labarthe, Kossew, Msiska), paired with more optimistic appraisals of emotional exchanges and strategies of self-assertion (Ashcroft, Ahrens, Schabio). This volume was inspired by a number of conferences in the field of postcolonial studies which were held at the University of Stuttgart and sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.