'Locating a Post-Saidean Cultural Identity through Contemporary Gibraltarian Anglophone Literary Discourse'
Cultures and Imperialisms Conference at the University of Roma Tre, Italy (17 January, 2013)
Speaker: Professor John Stotesbury, University of Eastern Finland.
Title of Paper: ‘Locating a Post-Saidean Literary Identity through Contemporary Gibraltarian Anglophone Literary Discourse.’
Abstract: For understandable reasons, Anglophone Gibraltarian literary culture has (evidently) attracted no previous sustained attention. Where academic and popular attention has been paid previously to Gibraltar, it has focused overwhelmingly on the imperial military history and status of the Rock. In addition, Stephen Constantine (2009) has examined in depth the socio-cultural formation of the present-day community, while several studies have revealed a keen awareness of the complex linguistic identity of Gibraltar’s ethnically “Mediterranean” population. Until recently, however, only a marginal Gibraltarian literary voice was detectable, part Spanish, part English, along with numerous allusions to Gibraltar in literary works by outsiders. Since the turn of the new millennium, however, a handful of local fiction writers have been publishing in English: Sam Benady and Mary Chiappe have produced several popular, historical detective fiction titles, all co-written, while Francisco Javier Oilva, a local journalist, has published a volume of magical realist stories. In addition, however, M. G. [Mark Gerard] Sanchez has produced two volumes of short fiction with an explicitly local literary-cultural agenda. In a recent interview he made a startling claim on behalf of the post/colony: “We don’t have our own stories.” Drawing on an extensive academic education in postcolonial studies, Sanchez is nevertheless achieving a credible Gibraltarian literary presence, including a forthcoming full-length novel that may help him to further his perception that a community with no stories of its own may be considered a community with no identity of its own. Given this post/colonial context, the intention of this paper will be to explore the present small surge in Anglophone Gibraltarian literary discourse with a view to establishing a post-Saidean understanding of its significance and direction.