This book explores literary representations of cultural hybridity spanning nearly half a century, a period marked by major shifts in Franco-Vietnamese relations. How can identity be thought and represented outside of the oppositional categories that divide cultures, histories, languages and races? Can the intercultural subject be understood as more than a site of cultural contestation, as anything other than a confrontation between incompatible binary opposites? This book offers compelling responses to these questions through a series of close readings of francophone novels written by Vietnamese authors during and just after the colonial period. While many contemporary studies of cultural hybridity tend to privilege the postmodern, deconstructive play of postcolonial identities, Disorientation seeks to uncover what is often obscured in such celebratory analyses: the rigid and potentially traumatic conditions under which colonized subjects experienced the tensions and contradictions of intercultural identity. The close readings that form the core of the book are inflected by cultural and historical considerations, and informed by a range of primary documents that includes training manuals for colonial administrators, works of imperialist propaganda, tourist guidebooks and travel writing, and textbooks from Franco-Vietnamese schools. These contextualized analyses recast the problem of interculturality in an Asian francophone context, expanding the historical and cultural fields within which questions of identity and difference are currently discussed and offering a striking perspective from which to question postcolonial theories of hybridity.
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