In his brief “Note on Modernism” in Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said describes canonical Anglo-European modernism as an aesthetic attempt to contain the crises of early twentieth-century imperialist capitalism. He closes his short discussion with the suggestion that modernist styles arise “as more and more regions - from India to Africa to the Caribbean - challenge the classical empires and their cultures.” Although later in Culture and Imperialism Said considers scenes of anti-colonial resistance in texts such as E. M. Forster's Passage to India, he never fully develops the implications of his note about the relation between anti-colonial insurgency and the appearance of modernism. These implications are far-reaching: in fact they point toward a deep revision of the paradigm in which we read twentieth-century modernist and postcolonial literature in English. This chapter explores some of those implications, building on recent work in modernist studies. I describe the ways that not only colonialism but also anti-colonialism, and not only slavery and racism but also anti-slavery, have constituted world conditions since the late eighteenth century, and I suggest that a history of insurgency and global conflict provokes what can thus be called the “geomodernist” practices of diverse artists from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.