Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Modern Languages and Literatures
How does one build an imaginary in the face of a system that perpetuates the catalogued discourse of “the Orient,” a distorted vision of “the Rest,” and a colonial epistemology anchored by erasure? How can an immaterial culture be represented in a way that manifests a sense of collective identity? The answer to these questions has not yet been fully addressed by postcolonial scholars. My work attempts to address this lack, examining contemporary cultural examples of the construction of the postcolonial archive; this text addresses how the postcolonial artist can render presence from absence and bring volume to the voices of people minorisé, performing an archaeology of the colonial archive.
In recent years, postcolonial artists in Francophone countries have employed photography, film, literature, and museum exhibitions to participate in the elaboration of a postcolonial archive. An examination of their work constitutes a study of the first records of the postcolonial archive; analysis of their texts reveals the unique role of the postcolonial artist, how the challenges of the postcolonial archive might be addressed, and where challenges remain. To examine how the postcolonial artist has begun to address the difficulty of creating the postcolonial archive – and how art has served as a tool not simply for re-appropriating the past, but also for reimagining a future – I analyze four artists and mediums of art.
Indeed, this text examines how the postcolonial artist employs its liberty to signify, re-appropriate, critique, and create. Such an examination serves not only to comprehend how postcolonial artists reformulate the past, but also to embrace the new, proposed epistemology advanced by the creators of the postcolonial archive.
Popham, Kristen, "The Artist as Archaeologist of the Colonial Archive: Towards a New Political Imaginary" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1465.