Sophocles’ Oedipus and conflicts of identity in post-colonial contexts

Hardwick, Lorna (2004). Sophocles’ Oedipus and conflicts of identity in post-colonial contexts. Documenta, 22(4) pp. 376–386.



I propose to examine the potential of the play for the identification, interrogation and transformation of fissures in national, cultural and moral senses of identity in relation to post-colonial situations. Because each post-colonial history is different I have chosen to focus in some detail on the formal, linguistic and contextual aspects of one example, the Oedipus written by David Greig and staged by theatre babel in Scotland in 2000, directed by Graham McLaren. The theme of this conference in Gent invites us to read Oedipus as a way into discussion of cultural differential thinking. This theme suggests reflection on differential thinking within cultures as well as between them. It opens the way to questioning monolithic notions of culture and to the identification of points of stress and starting points for realignment. An understanding of this kind of cultural differentiation, of sensitivity to uncertainties and dilemmas and to the masking of the past in the present may perhaps lead to communication across cultural groupings as well as within them.

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