This chapter presents an introduction to the study in this book. It is a combination of literary, cultural and theoretical discussions, united by a number of critical concerns and by a desire to engage contemporary postcolonial thinkers in productive dialogue. The chapter emphasizes the broader contexts of anti-colonial nationalism as antecedents and legitimate elements of the field, and addresses the disparagement of formal oppositional political activity within black diaspora, transnational and nationalist studies. Such disparagement takes a number of forms, but frequently involves the suggestion that these organized mobilisations work against the interest of subaltern masses and share the repressive values of patriarchal, racist and capitalist bourgeois society. The chapter also argues against static conceptions of ‘empire’, and places an emphasis on the dynamic processes of imperialism as a project of capitalist expansion and political domination. The national particularities of metropoles, as they exoticize, consume and canonize different cultures of the world, bear further critical exploration.
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