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Postcolonial Realms of MemorySites and Symbols in Modern France$
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Etienne Achille, Charles Forsdick, and Lydie Moudileno

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620665

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620665.001.0001

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Post and the Postage Stamp

Post and the Postage Stamp

Chapter:
(p.351) Post and the Postage Stamp
Source:
Postcolonial Realms of Memory
Author(s):

David Scott

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789620665.003.0033

If, as this essay argues, the postage stamp is an exemplary place of memory, what is its status in ‘postcolonial’ guise? To what extent has the stamp been able to free itself from the framing devices (formal and thematic) that governed it in its colonial guise? Or is it, both as place of memory and as instrumental device, condemned to operate in the same way? This paper argues that there can be no ‘post–’ used as a prefix to Post. Although the Post was itself a pre-colonial invention, European imperialism very quickly came to instrumentalize the postage stamp and when the Empire wrote back it sent its messages in the same way, using the same envelopes and forms of legitimization as in colonial times. In this sense, the post-colonial becomes synonymous with ‘universal’ and the scope for subversion of internationally agreed practices is limited to the stamp’s thematic sphere which sometimes, by playing with the signs that conventionally signify ‘place of memory’, can mark a certain irony or signal a critique of the stamp as sign of imposed power or violence. This contribution investigates examples of such practice.

Keywords:   Postage stamp, Semiotics

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