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Native Intelligence: Aesthetics, Politics, and Postcolonial Literature
by Deepika Bahri
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Cloth: 978-0-8166-3940-3 | Paper: 978-0-8166-3941-0
Library of Congress Classification PR9080.B34 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 820.9358

A compelling reclamation of the place of aesthetics in postcolonial literature.

"Literature" though it may be, postcolonial literature is studied and understood largely--and often solely--in social and political terms. In neglecting its aesthetic dimension, as this book forcefully demonstrates, we are overlooking not only an essential aspect of this literature but even a critical perspective on its sociopolitical function and value. In Native Intelligence, Deepika Bahri focuses on postcolonial literature's formal and aesthetic negotiations with sociopolitical concerns.

How, Bahri asks, do aesthetic considerations contest the social function of postcolonial literature? In answering, her book takes on two tasks: First, it identifies the burden of representation borne by postcolonial literature through its progressive politicization. Second, it draws on Frankfurt School critical theory to reclaim a place for aesthetics in literary representation by closely engaging works of Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, and Arundhati Roy. Throughout, Bahri shows how attention to the aesthetic innovations and utopian impulses of postcolonial works uncovers their complex and uneven relationship to ideology, reanimating their potential to make novel contributions to the larger project of social liberation.

Deepika Bahri is associate professor in the Department of English at Emory University and coeditor, with Mary Vasudeva, of Between the Lines: South Asians and Postcoloniality (1996).
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