Landscapes of Hope: Anti-Colonial Utopianism in America
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Landscapes of Hope: Anti-Colonial Utopianism in America examines anti-colonial discourse during the understudied but critical period before World War Two, with a specific focus on writers and activists based in the United States. Dohra Ahmad adds to the fields of American Studies, utopian studies, and postcolonial theory by situating this growing anti-colonial literature as part of an American utopian tradition. In the key early decades of the twentieth century, Ahmad shows, the intellectuals of the colonized world carried out the heady work of imagining independent states, often from a position of exile. Faced with that daunting task, many of them composed literary texts--novels, poems, contemplative essays--in order to conceptualize the new societies they sought. Beginning by exploring some of the conventions of American utopian fiction at the turn of the century, Landscapes of Hope goes on to show the surprising ways in which writers such as W.E B. Du Bois, Pauline Hopkins, Rabindranath Tagore, and Punjabi nationalist Lala Lajpat Rai appropriated and adapted those utopian conventions toward their own end of global colored emancipation.
identiﬁes Sawyer as a “colored man” belies that disingenuous statement—as do Edith Leete’s “deep-blue eyes” and “delicately tinted complexion.” In fact, Bellamy quite deliberately creates a whites-only twenty-ﬁrst century; his vision of Reconstruction has the United States centralized, supreme, and racially pure. The unit of governance for Bellamy’s utopia would have been as recognizable to his readers as the habit of an after-dinner cigar. It is a cleanly bordered United States, so taken for
interested in the social question,” Morris writes, Looking Backward “could not be at all an attractive book.”28 He assails Bellamy’s lack of imagination (“Mr Bellamy’s ideas of life are curiously limited; he has no idea beyond existence in a great city; his dwelling of man in the future is Boston beautiﬁed”), his failure to accept the necessity of violent resistance, and his acceptance developing nations 37 of the basic conditions of modernity. Within Morrisian vocabulary, this last is the
according to their laws, they drive from the territory which they carve out from themselves. If they resist, they wage war against them.46 As so many subsequent utopian writers would do as well, More views population as raw material to be managed by the state in order to avoid scarcity 54 landscapes of hope or glut. Later authors, of course, could not be so extraordinarily blithe in the assumption that “unoccupied and uncultivated land” would be perennially available for utopian annexation.
“vague.”10 As a result, it could encompass myriad activities, from promoting local crafts to developing large-scale industry, from encouraging interfaith cooperation, to promoting an exclusively Hindu idiom of emancipation. All the tensions inherent to domestic nationalism play out in the pages of Young India. Whereas Looking Backward provides for Bellamy an opportunity to cast his lot with bourgeois state socialism over anarchism, whereas News from Nowhere allows Morris to illustrate the beneﬁt
straightening her hair with a hot comb under cover of night. Indeed, the shocked roommate conﬁrms to Wright that the pitiable journalist, having run out of fuel, “begged and begged for a can of Sterno” (188). The incident provides Wright with a convenient opportunity to reﬂect on the depth of internalized racism: even in Indonesia, “where everybody was dark, that poor American Negro woman was worried about the hair she was born with” (186). Outside of The Color Curtain, though, the testimony of