What Is a World?: On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature
Pheng Cheah is Professor of Rhetoric and Chair of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Inhuman Conditions: On Cosmopolitanism and Human Rights and Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation.
Introduction: Missed Encounters: Cosmopolitanism, World Literature, and Postcoloniality
The introduction outlines why existing theories of world literature have failed to connect it to cosmopolitanism. This failure is the result of a normative deficit that arises from their conception of the world as a spatial category. The introduction outlines various temporal conceptions of the world, including teleology and the phenomenological concept of worlding, as resources for a normative conception of world literature. It then summarizes how postcolonial narrative literature draws on different temporalities to resist the destructive force of globalization and enable the emergence of postcolonial peoples in a genuinely plural world and the aporias they encounter when confronted with the coming of time as a force for change that is immanent to globalization.