Span: Journal of the South Pacific Assoc for Cwlth Lit and Language Studies
Number 36, 1992
Postcolonial Fictions:
Proceedings of the SPACLALS Triennial Conference 1992
Edited by Michèle Drouart

Introduction: Postcolonial Fictions

Michèle Drouart

The present issue in two volumes bears the title of the triennial SPACLALS conference held in Fremantle, Western Australia, in December of 1992. The first part of this issue is given exclusively to the proceedings of that conference.

The term "postcolonial" cannot be used unproblematically. Even when it is meant in senses much broader than - and quite different from - "after colonialism," the temporal nuances of the prefix are too misleading to allow the term to pass unquestioned. That it should appear innocent is the first major "fiction" that provided the conference theme.

A feature of the conference that we believe contributed most to its success was the interplay of its dynamics, in particular the alternation of academic papers with fiction and poetry readings, of abstract theoretical and analytical presentations with earnest statements of political commitment, of formal papers with spontaneously convened forums and discussions, and, often within the same papers, of argumentation with performance. The articulated anger of some participants produced in many listeners a re-thinking of past assumptions. More significantly, it led to a couple of ad hoc changes in the program so that more voice could be given to those pushing the conference towards its own ontological "edge" by questioning the very nature of this white, Western, academic exercise.

Impossible to reproduce the moment, and in print! Still, an attempt has been made to give some sense of the conference's variety, interplay and flexibility within the pages of this issue. With very few exceptions, all the papers that were presented and then passed on to us for publication have been reproduced here. Readers will find articles interspersed with some of the fiction and poetry readings - or extracts from these - in much the same order as they appeared in the conference program. Since most of the conference papers were not originally intended as articles, we have allowed for a wider range in both manner and amount of referencing. Some articles have detailed footnotes, some incomplete internal references. Others, with no notes at all, manage to appear, even in print, very much as they were read and performed.

A few of the longer conference papers, having since been remade into full articles, have been placed in the second part of this issue, together with other articles, poems and stories sent to SPAN since December. For consistency of editing style in an issue that has grown beyond all expectation, the MLA handbook has been used as a guide.

This issue also contains the Newsletter at the end, with information on SPACLALS' new "home" for the next three years, as this is its final year with Murdoch University. While previous issues of SPAN bear the dates on which they were published, issue 33 (dated May 1992) in fact fulfils SPAN's publication requirements for 1991, and double issue 34 and 35 (October 1992 and May 1993) fulfils SPAN's publications requirements for 1992.

Special thanks to Kateryna Longley, conference chair and initiator, to fellow conference organizer, Kathryn Trees, and to all those (from Murdoch, UWA, Edith Cowan, Curtin and other institutions around Perth) members of the many committees formed throughout 1992 so that the conference could happen. And to the many participants from all parts of Australia and the world for making the conference the success it was.

Thanks also to Nicholas Strobbe and Dennis Batterham for their editing assistance in the early stages, and to Diana Clegg for her unflagging help in putting it together.


New: 7 January, 1997 | Now: 14 April, 2015