Yogita Goyal, “Genres of Anticolonialism”

On November 2, 2023, Prof. Yogita Goyal (UCLA, African American Studies and English) gave a talk titled “Genres of Anticolonialism.” The event was co-sponsored by the Global and Comparative Literature Program and the Georgetown Humanities Initiative.

Prof. Goyal argued against influential narratives of failed states and failed genres to rethink the valence of anticolonial visions of revolution amid the pervasive sense of crisis and collapse that attends our time. Returning to varied genres of anticolonial thought – from manifesto to elegy to farce – allows for a reassessment of its utopian longings, often exceeding the paradigm of national liberation. Thinking further about the grip of narratives of failure on our imagination, about revolutions not just as ruptures but as endless processes of reinvention and remaking, and pondering forms of political life outside the state might thus help not only generate a more accurate portrayal of decolonization but also gauge whether its unfinished quest can indeed continue to animate our visions of futurity.

Yogita Goyal is Professor of African American Studies and English at UCLA and the author of Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature (2010) and Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery (2019), winner of the René Wellek and Perkins Prize. She edited a special issue of Research in African Literatures (2014), the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature (2017), and the Cambridge Companion to Contemporary African American Literature (2023), and co-edited special issues of American Literary History (2022) and Representations (2023). Past President of A.S.A.P., and editor of the journal Contemporary Literature (2015-2022), she is writing a book about the genres of anticolonial thought.