Homo impericus and ghosts of identity in the prose of modern writers


The article analyzes the formation of identity in colonial and postcolonial consciousness found in modern literature. We analyze the way the authors reproduce the already existing “phantom” mental constructs, with which the man of the former empire has to cope. The article suggests using the term Homo impericus to refer to people who created the Empire and, at the same time, became the objects of imperialism. Homo Impericus is a product of imperial consciousness, the clots of some residual ideas (ghosts) about the perception of oneself and one's identity, which has united victims and executioners, their relatives, objects and subjects of colonization since the time of the Russian empire conquests. The general colonial past left a special mark in the history of all the republics, peoples and nationalities of the former Soviet space and was reflected in contemporary literature, whose authors are direct descendants of Homo Impericus representatives. The common past of the inhabitants of the empire (both Russia and the USSR) is also associated with an attempt to build a common identity, with common aspirations and goals. This gave rise to disruptions in the way the Empire was represented in other countries and the way Russian people understood their own identity. Russian literature becomes an instance, in which the descendants of subjects and objects of the colonial struggle enter into communication and rethink the past by working with distorted memories of their former self-identity – “the ghosts of identity”. Haunting one generation after another, these ghosts are resurrected again and again to control a cultural narrative and a person’s understanding of themselves and their place in the world.

Key words: 

modern literature, colonial postcolonial prose, homo impericus, problem of self-identification, ghosts of identity.

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