Friday, July 23, 2004



Originally the term for a parchment on which several inscriptions had been made after earlier ones had been erased. The characteristic of the palimpsest is that, despite such erasures, there are always traces of previous inscriptions that have been 'overwritten.' Hence the term has become particularly valuable for suggesting the ways in which the traces of earlier 'inscriptions' remain as a continual feature of the 'text' of culture, giving it its particular density and character. Any cultural experience is itself an accretion of many layers, and the term is valuable because it illustrates the ways in which pre-colonial culture as well as the experience of colonization are continuing aspects of a post-colonial society's developing cultural identity. (from Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts)
1. Does it make sense?
2. Is it useful? (Is there a simpler word you would use to describe this?)
3. Think of examples?

1 comment:

Rob Breymaier said...

I think it makes sense but it'd be nice if we could come up with another word or phrase that describes the same thing. I suppose saying that "the palimpsest" is different than saying "the history" because it explicitly states that it means a long period of history over different eras. But, I wonder how often it's really necessary to qulaify somehting in that way. Shouldn't the context of an article already clue in the reader when one is referring to different eras or cultures or spaces etc.