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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Toward a Philosophy of Transnationalism


This essay suggests, first of all, that the power of transnational studies lies in its fundamentally dialectical approach, and, secondly, that this approach opens the way to a fresh consideration of the human subject of history. In the kind of transnational studies highlighted here, the focus is less strictly on the movements of people and capital across national borders and more on the implicitly other-oriented interactions between and among nations, making them mutually contingent phenomena, a situation which in turn entails intersubjective and intertextual events and calls for a fresh philosophy of the subject. Doyle draws on the thinking of Frantz Fanon, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Louis Althusser to explore one such possible "transnational philosophy." The second half of the essay pursues the idea that literature offers a micro-world of the dialectics of both transnational history and existential intersubjectivity. Doyle interprets Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative in relation to each other as well as in relation to transnational Atlantic history. Such readings model a method for transnational literary studies, one grounded in philosophy as well as history.

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