Date of Award

1995

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

William W. Demastes

Abstract

This dissertation traces the politics of decolonization dramatized in selected plays from the contemporary American playwrights: African Americans (Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, and August Wilson), white Americans (Arthur Kopit and David Rabe), and a Chinese American (David Hwang). Through the application of cultural theory to an analysis of dramatic texts, I demonstrate how the plays enact the struggle for decolonization on social, political, and cultural levels. In keeping with the interactions of race, power, and ideology, the plays deconstruct the white cultural formulations of racial minorities. I explore the ways in which the playwrights reclaim the authority of racial minorities over their own ethnic identity, self-determination, and independence through the recovery of voice and power. In exploring racial minorities' struggle for decolonized freedom, I examine in what context and how racial minorities are internally colonized. Fundamental to the internal colonization is the idea of space whose projections produce various limits in terms of its physical places, social roles or status, and stereotypes. This colonization is conceptualized through differentiation or discrimination stemming from spatial binarism. I argue that this system of difference is internalized in the social structure and even in the psychological field. Behind this system lies the prestige for which white ideology serves to inscribe racial minorities within the world of discursive hierarchies based on the racial order. The playwrights utilize their writing as a vehicle for interrogating the legitimation of white ideology as they expose its contradictions. Thus problematized, white ideology and its production of racial difference become an object to be disrupted for the formulation of a distinctive cultural identity. The plays call for a new order essential to racial minorities' autonomy, by decentering the white authority over the officially sanctioned force and reterritorializing the arbitrarily drawn yet degrading space. The playwrights' writing as revision thus has the power to act upon human consciousness necessary for refashioning history.

Pages

195

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