Margins are popular these days. Everyone is claiming them. But one thing remains the same. Colonial and post-colonial literatures remain on the margins. We were marginal to the old critical approaches and we are marginal to the new. The new literatures in English have been discovered as fit subject matter for journals that would never have considered them of interest a few years ago. My problem is with the nature of this interest. To what extent does it represent a genuine discovery of cultural differences and to what extent can it be seen as a new form of cultural imperialism that now appropriates instead of silencing post-colonial literary productions? I am inspired by the new avenues for rethinking the discipline opened up by the pioneering work of critics such as Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak. But I am also disturbed by the implications of some of the work that is now appearing. This paper deals with some of my reservations about the language and approach now being applied to marginal literatures by mainstream critics. It asks about the implications of their quick dismissals of work in the fields of Commonwealth literatures and national literatures and their quick claiming of what they call marginal, minority or third world literatures.
Brydon, Diana, Commonwealth or Common Poverty?: the New Literatures in English and the New Discourse of Marginality, Kunapipi, 11(1), 1989.