This PhD project analyses recent novels by a number of writers associated with the field of postcolonial literature. At the heart of these novels are temporary, heterogeneous communities that are formed in deserted, dilapidated, or dangerous places. The members of these communities must all come to terms with traumatic events in their past (e.g. war, dislocation, and the loss of loved ones). In the communities, they become aware of the fact that they must acknowledge the repressed aspects of their past in order to conceive of their future. Moreover, their engagement with individuals from different sociocultural backgrounds encourages the characters to consolidate their sense of self in a mediatory position between different sociocultural environments.
The main thesis of my project is as follows: the communities established in the novels are liminal entities, i.e. groups of people who are simultaneously on the margins of, and central to society, and who share the creative potential with which, according to the anthropological research of Victor Turner, ritualised societies endow individuals who alter their social function. Aided by the characteristics of their immediate environment, the liminal communities produce an interstitial space, into which the characters are integrated after the dissolution of their small social units. It is from this space, which I will initially approach as a form of the postcolonial 'in-between', that the characters may productively connect to various sociocultural environments without renouncing their individuality, which enables them to effect social change. In understanding the interstice produced by the communities as a space of continuous, productive liminality, I aim to shed new light on the novels' seemingly static endings and to re-approach the hybrid 'in-between', one of the key concepts in postcolonial studies.
By reconceptualising the 'in-between', this PhD project sets out to establish new perspectives on the nature and potential of the space, in-between different sociocultural environments, in which ever more individuals (are compelled to) locate their sense of self. Thus, the project contributes to the on-going academic discourse on the role of postcolonial theory in the contemporary, globalised world and to current socio-political debates on issues such as migration, integration, and multiculturalism.