Social Scientist. v 28, no. 320-321 (Jan-Feb 2000) p. 68.


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68 SOCIAL SCIENTIST

BOOK REVIEW

Footprints of the Colony

Ania Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism, London and New York, Routledge, 1998, pp. xviii+289; Rs. 275

Since its ascendancy to vogue status, 'postcolonialism' has exuded both theoretic light and argumental heat - the latter at times exceeding the threshold that sequesters critique from animus. Against the distracting background noise of crusaders and anathematisers, Ania Loomba's Colonialism/Postcolonialism strives refreshingly for a measure of balance - not so much by proffering an 'outside' metacomment upon other people's postcolonial squabbles, as by carrying out a nitty-gritty 'inside' probe of what the field itself might actually enfold. Without purporting to centrally redraw the map of 'postcolonialism' via primary macrotheorisation of her own - though she intervenes with various formulations on existing postulates -Loomba undertakes a no less important task in scholarship: to legibly cartograph the map itself, etching into sight the contours of an uneven, expansive, hazy terrain, one whose very predicates and wherefores are somewhat at issue. It therefore helps that she is a clear, succinct explainer, easily and rapidly translating the essentials of a challenging theoretical framework into a readily accessible re-presentation. This renders her book eminently useful to students, while the 'initiated' reader is engaged in polemics of a more advanced nature - a versatility of usefulness to which Loomba's lucid and smoothly crafted (but never overwritten) style and emulatable economy of organization, as well as the book's resourcefully contemporary critical vocabulary, are equally contributory.

Loomba's notable achievement is that her account persuasively establishes the non-gainsayable legitimacy of postcolonialism as an



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