Epidemic Empire: Colonialism, Contagion, and Terror, 1817-2020
A Poetics & Theory Book Talk with Anjuli Raza Kolb
Terrorism is a cancer, an infection, an epidemic, a plague. For more than a century, this metaphor has figured insurgent violence as contagion in order to contain its political energies. In Epidemic Empire, Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb shows that this trope began in responses to the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and tracks its tenacious hold through 9/11 and beyond. The result is the first book-length study to approach the global War on Terror from a postcolonial literary perspective.
Raza Kolb assembles a diverse archive from colonial India, imperial Britain, French and independent Algeria, the postcolonial Islamic diaspora, and the neoimperial United States. Anchoring her book are studies of four major writers in the colonial-postcolonial canon: Rudyard Kipling, Bram Stoker, Albert Camus, and Salman Rushdie. Across these sources, she reveals the tendency to imagine anticolonial rebellion, and Muslim insurgency specifically, as a virulent form of social contagion. Exposing the long history of this broken but persistent narrative, Epidemic Empire is a major contribution to the rhetorical history of our present moment.
Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb is associate professor of English at the University of Toronto. She is a scholar of colonial and postcolonial literature and theory with particular research interests in the history of science and intellectual history, poetry and poetics, gender and sexuality studies, political theory and independence movements, the gothic and horror, and comparative literary studies. Her book, Epidemic Empire: Colonialism, Contagion, and Terror 1817-2020 is out now from the University of Chicago Press, and her poems, essays, and translations have appeared in many venues.
For access to the Introduction of Epidemic Empire, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Organized by Santiago Ospina Celis and Zakir Paul.