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Writing Subject and Cognitive Mapping

Kang Min-gun


Prefiguring the proliferation of postcolonial discourses in the next two decades,this essay attempts to illuminate the key issues pertaining to collectivity andindividuality in postcolonial relations: territorial consciousness, linguistic domination,and cultural imperialism among others. The essay examines these interrelatedquestions in terms of what I would define as "postcolonial cognitive mapping."Cognitive mapping involves demarcating cultural territories as self and other, centerand margin, and indigenous intellectuals in the third world and minority intellectualsin the first world.
In relation to this mapping, Fredric Jameson demonstrates that third-world texts,even those which are seemingly private and invested with a properly libidinaldynamic necessarily project a political dimension in the form of "national allegory."That is to say, the story of the private individual destiny is always an allegory ofthe embattled situation of the Third World's culture and society. Meanwhile, AubdulJanMohamed argues that the minority discourse should be located in non-identity-thatis, not in shared identity such as race, nation, and gender, but rather in the sharedexperience of economic and cultural marginalization.
At this juncture, the writing subject should be in the cultural and politicalthinking which is able to dialectically encompass both the collective tactics in thirdworld and the individual one in First World. By doing this, the postcolonial writercan achieve the autonomy of his/her poetics of identity. If the postcolonial projectin writing is at once to recognize and resist the continuing influence of colonialism,the only choice given is to use cognitive mapping strategically in order to achievecreative transcendence.

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