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At Home in the World

Christel R. Devadawson

By Virinder S. Kalra, Raminder Kaur and John Hutnyk
Sage Publications, London, 2005, pp. 158, £19.99

By Couze Venn
Sage Publications, London, 2006, pp. 219, £20.99


How exhilarating is it to actually watch history change? An epiphanic moment in Richard Attenbourgh’s 1982 film Gandhi gives the viewer a chance to see the Dandi march through the eyes of a youngster. To the adult viewer, Ben Kingsley’s stride seems ill assorted with the flailing and disjointed limbs on which it is based. The rabble that follows in his wake seems to have little purpose other than the excitement of association with the Mahatma. Certainly there is no immediate sense of any coherent plan of action. Even to protest the Salt Tax seems far from the minds of this motley crowd, and to see in it the possibility of the defeat of empire seems similarly remote. To the youngster however, it is a moment alive with the possibility of transfiguration. He scrambles up a tree not much taller than himself and as he pushes aside the branches to see Gandhi more clearly, something happens. The camera does not focus any longer on the cult of celebrity, or its worshippers. Instead the little urchin’s face suddenly lights up from within, as, lips parted, he becomes the change we see in the whole procession. In that moment, we go from apparently random adventure to deliberate historic intervention. As such, the shot celebrates and critiques a new way of making oneself at home in the world where terms of existence have to be continually renegotiated. To watch history change is to continually walk the line between the universal and the particular so that the one lights up the other.   The two books that are the subject of this review walk the line. They suggest terms on which we may interrogate the worlds in which we live, and intervene in them to ensure a more equitable life of thought and action. Both studies are critically positioned on the cusp of moving from the postcolonial to life after postcolonialism. They form part of the series entitled ‘Theory, Culture & Society,’ from the centre of the same name at Nottingham Trent University. The TCS project describes itself as catering to ‘the resurgence of interest in culture within contemporary social science and the humanities . . . [to offer] theoretically informed analyses of everyday life, popular culture, and new intellectual movements.’   Taken together, the books reconfigure concepts such as diaspora, hybridity, postcolonialism and postmodernism for a world in which the cultural promise once written into these concepts ...

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