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The Aesthetic Cold War

Decolonization and Global Literature

Peter J. Kalliney

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Belletristik / Essays, Feuilleton, Literaturkritik, Interviews


How decolonization and the cold war influenced literature from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean

How did superpower competition and the cold war affect writers in the decolonizing world? In The Aesthetic Cold War, Peter Kalliney explores the various ways that rival states used cultural diplomacy and the political police to influence writers. In response, many writers from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean—such as Chinua Achebe, Mulk Raj Anand, Eileen Chang, C.L.R. James, Alex La Guma, Doris Lessing, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, and Wole Soyinka—carved out a vibrant conceptual space of aesthetic nonalignment, imagining a different and freer future for their work.

Kalliney looks at how the United States and the Soviet Union, in an effort to court writers, funded international conferences, arts centers, book and magazine publishing, literary prizes, and radio programming. International spy networks, however, subjected these same writers to surveillance and intimidation by tracking their movements, tapping their phones, reading their mail, and censoring or banning their work. Writers from the global south also suffered travel restrictions, deportations, imprisonment, and even death at the hands of government agents. Although conventional wisdom suggests that cold war pressures stunted the development of postcolonial literature, Kalliney's extensive archival research shows that evenly balanced superpower competition allowed savvy writers to accept patronage without pledging loyalty to specific political blocs. Likewise, writers exploited rivalries and the emerging discourse of human rights to contest the attentions of the political police.

A revisionist account of superpower involvement in literature, The Aesthetic Cold War considers how politics shaped literary production in the twentieth century.

Weitere Titel von diesem Autor



Persuasion, Archivist, Intellectual freedom, Admiration, African art, Author, Western Europe, Censorship, Utilitarianism, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Transliteration, Acronym, Editorial, Nation state, Coercion, Edition (book), Cultural imperialism, Socialist realism, Freedom of speech, British Empire, Congress for Cultural Freedom, Harry Ransom Center, Salman Rushdie, Decolonization, Publishing, Colonization, Non-governmental organization, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Indigenous peoples, Literature, Harold Pinter, Doris Lessing, Almaty, Law enforcement, Racism, Archive, Intellectual history, Arthur Koestler, Behalf, C. T. Hsia, Intimidation, Edward Said, Radio producer, Anachronism, Politics, Political party, Writing, African literature, Deportation, Hybridity, Soviet Union, Power of arrest, Kampala, Aesthetic Theory, Afro-Asian (African Asian), Claudia Jones, Individualism, Tashkent, Utterance, USIS (company), Central Intelligence Agency, Poetry, Cosmopolitanism, Susan Sontag, Wole Soyinka, British Library, Nationality, Attempt, Special Branch, Kazakhstan, Cynicism (philosophy), Ibadan, Harassment, Secret Intelligence Service, Republic of Letters, United States Information Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Ethnic group, Political movement, Imprisonment, International relations, Secret police, World War II, Anti-communism, Publication, Cultural diplomacy, Radio program, Narrative, Blockchain, Franco Moretti, Informant, International non-governmental organization, North America, Political dissent, Copyright, Imperialism, Cynicism (contemporary), Intellectual property, MI5, Classical realism (international relations)