Vying Empires, Gendered Labor, and the Literary Arts of Alliance

Book Pages: 392 Illustrations: Published: December 2020

Author: Laura Doyle

History > World History, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In Inter-imperiality Laura Doyle theorizes the co-emergence of empires, institutions, language regimes, stratified economies, and literary cultures over the longue durée. Weaving together feminist, decolonial, and dialectical theory, she shows how inter-imperial competition has generated a systemic stratification of gendered, racialized labor, while literary and other arts have helped both to constitute and to challenge this world order. To study literature is therefore, Doyle argues, to attend to world-historical processes of imaginative and material co-formation as they have unfolded through successive eras of vying empires. It is also to understand oral, performed, and written literatures as power-transforming resources for the present and future. To make this case, Doyle analyzes imperial-economic processes across centuries and continents in tandem with inter-imperially entangled literatures, from A Thousand and One Nights to recent Caribbean fiction. Her trenchant interdisciplinary method reveals the structural centrality of imaginative literature in the politics and possibilities of earthly life.


“Notable for its recognition of the crucial, but often ignored, dialectical relationship between political economy and literary production, Inter-imperiality provides powerful examples of how a scholar can engage with one problematic across disciplines, using literary texts as an anchor. This big, bold book is a major intervention in continuing debates on the emergence of literature in relation to a world defined by the phenomenon of empires of time and space.” — Simon Gikandi, author of Slavery and the Culture of Taste

“This ambitious and truly global book provides a new framework for analyzing literature and culture across time and space. Located in the "shatterzone" between empires, both old and new, this ingenious work creates enlivening intersections among literature, language, feminism, resistance, and decoloniality.” — Isabel Hofmeyr, Professor of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand, and Global Distinguished Professor, New York University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Laura Doyle is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and author of several books, including Freedom's Empire: Race and the Rise of the Novel in Atlantic Modernity, 1640–1940, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Theoretical Introduction. Between States  1
Part I. Co-Constituted Worlds
1. Dialectics in the Longue Durée  35
2. Refusing Labor's (Re)production in The Thousand and One Nights  68
Part II. Convergence and Revolt
3. Remapping Orientalism among Eurasian Empires  95
4. Global Revolts and Gothic Interventions  121
5. Infrastructure, Activism, and Literary Dialectics in the Early Twentieth Century  156
Part III. Persisting Temporalities
6. Rape, Revolution, and Queer Male Longing in Carpentier's The Kingdom of This World  195
7. Inter-imperially Neocolonial: The Queer Returns of Writing in Powell's The Pagoda  227
Conclusion. A River Between  251
Notes  255
Bibliography  331
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1109-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1004-3