"Doing History": Nuruddin Farah's "Sweet and Sour Milk", Subaltern Studies, and the Postcolonial Trajectory of Silence
R. John Williams
This essay argues that "Sweet and Sour Milk," which should be understood as both a political and literary text, "does history," which is not to say that it merely "tells" the history of postcolonial Somalia, but that it participates in a kind of historiography that is, to borrow a phrase from Edward Said, both "frankly revisionist" and "fiercely theoretical and intellectually insurrectionary." In this paper, using the theoretical work of a group of Indian historians, collected in the journal of "Subaltern Studies" over the past two decades, I show how Nuruddin Farah's "Sweet and Sour Milk" uses the trope of "silence" to dramatize the potentially fruitful (and problematic) process of writing histories "from below."
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