Theo D’haen is Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), and earlier taught at Utrecht and Leiden. PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Numerous publications on (post)modernism, (post)colonialism, American literature, popular fiction, and world literature. Recent publications in English: The Routledge Concise History of World Literature (2012), and (with co-authors and/or co-editors) Cosmopolitanism and the Postnational: Literature and the New Europe (2015), Major versus Minor? Languages and Literatures in a Globalized World (2015), Caribbeing: Comparing Caribbean Literatures and Cultures (2014), World Literature: A Reader (2013), The Routledge Companion to World Literature (2012), The Canonical Debate Today: Crossing Disciplinary and Cultural Boundaries (2011). Past President of FILLM. Editor of the European Review and the Journal of World Literature. Member of the Academia Europaea, Corresponding Fellow of the English Association.
World Literature and the Colonial World
In 1904 the British geographer Halford Mackinder published a paper entitled “The Geographical Pivot of History” in The Geographical Journal, the official organ of the Royal Geographical Society. The region corresponding to Mackinder’s definition spans all of European and Asian Russia and much of Central Asia, then also under Russian rule. Mackinder’s findings represented what we would now, following Heidegger’s coining of the term, and especially the use Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak have made of it, call a “worlding” of the world according to the dictates of colonialism and imperialism viewed from Great Britain. Said several times refers to Mackinder in his Culture and Imperialism (1993), giving a “contrapuntal” reading of him along postcolonial lines. In my paper I argue that our era of “globalization” calls for reading Said’s reading of Mackinder “contrapuntally” once again.