Abstract


GLOCALCOLLOQUIES - Vol 2, Issue 1, June 2016

Pages: 76-98

Detecting Postcolonial:McCall Smith’s Lady Detective and Botswanian Crime Scene

Author: Saren, Somali

Category: Research

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Abstract:

Detective fiction is not inherently a conservative genre but fluid in nature as evident from the constant revision the genre has gone through rereading and rewriting. Still the popularity of the genre remains unhindered, like any other popular work of art, for its combination of familiarity and uniqueness. Crime fictions from postcolonial world take part in this subversion of the genre in a prominent manner, primarily to comment on socio-political predicament of contemporary society. Detective fiction, a genre founded in the West, is defined by its rigid structure: starting with a crime/murder, entrance of a white male detective figure, ending with the solution of crime by the intellectually superior detective. Therefore manipulating the genre can be a natural way of ‘writing back,’ and indeed postcolonial detectives have been breaking away from all the stereotypes established by the western detectives. However, this breaking away has not been as unambiguous as one might expect especially when it is the white writers who pioneered the adoption of the genre in postcolonial setting. Set in Botswana Alexander McCall Smith’s immensely successful The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series is probably the best example. The black female detective Mme Ramotswe undeniably changed the African crime fiction scenario by overturning conventional features, but at the same time it seems to be exoticizing Africa. This paper would like to explore how the western detection and African detection cohabits in Mme Ramotswe mysteries which can be termed as a postcolonial detective fiction for its attempt to inhabit what Homi Bhabha called ‘liminal space’. I would like to argue, in trying to make peace with the dichotomy existing in the postcolonial African society The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series (as authored by a sympathetic ex-colonizer) cannot help but reflecting and reconciling differences that exist in these two worlds through both the genre’s structure and content rather than ‘writing back’, as a result simultaneously breaking away and following the stereotypes of the genre and its representation of Africa.

Keywords: postcolonial Botswana, post-colonial detective, liminal space

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