Colonial Letters and the Contact of Knowledges

Glory Essien Otung

English Linguistics

PhD Candidate Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence - BIGSAS, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Research Focus

Intercultural Communication, Pragmatics, Postcolonial Pragmatics


Summary of research topic in the CL&CK project

Identity and power in colonial letters

My PhD thesis argues that identity and power in a colonial contexts transcend a simple colonised-coloniser binary. Social stratification in this context is complex and fluid. Drawing from critical discourse analysis and some decolonial theories, colonial correspondences are considered texts with embedded social practices by the authors namely, Chiefs, Family Heads and colonialists. The aim is centred on the multiplicity of identity and power, their linguistic realisation and enactment by the authors, and their (power) relations in select discourses from a set of correspondences curled from the Project Corpus which were collected during my archival research in the national archives in Cameroon, Nigeria and the United Kingdom between 2021 and 2022. The analysis reveals the dynamics of (de-, re-)construction of family, village, and individual identities, traditional and colonial powers enacted and (dis)approved, and multiple layers of asymmetry in in-group as well as outgroup relations. These findings contribute to the understanding of the colonial experience in British Southern Cameroons.