The predominantly spatial cultural forms and transformations usually identifled as 'postmodern' (by European and American theorists) are also characteristic of postcoionial cultural production. While the 'postmodern' concern with space, rather than history, may appear to be apolitical, the assertion of space within postcolonial discourse can be seen as strategic, as crucial to the process of unmasking and resisting imperialist space/power relations. This study offers a 'postcolonial' reading of what is often referred to as the 'postmodern' transformation of the space of modernity.
By drawing on the work of Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau, and Fredric Jameson, it is asserted that space is discursively determined, that it is a crucial, though often suppressed factor in power relations, and that space/power relations are constituted and contested through discourse. It is argued that the 'modern' conception of space, which is integrally connected with modern conceptions of subjectivity and knowledge, arose in conjunction with European Imperialism. It is shown to have developed through strategic techniques and practices__ such as surveying, mapping and building__ which, facilitate the imperialist conquest of space (and of peoples). This space of modernity has also developed through imperialist discourses; it is examined in connection with Enlightenment philosophy and narratives (in particular, some nineteenth century European narratives of exploration) which naturalize imperialist expansion, and assume that the rational ordering and conquering oi space is necessary for human emancipation. In these discourses, space is suppressed by time and history, subordinated for the sake of Progress. This space is cartographic or architectonic; it is mapped or constructed as a uniform, continuous, enclosed totality. Imperialist space/power relations and their effects (ofdisplacement, dislocation and dispossession) are maskedf as the space of
the 'other' is mapped in imperialist terms.
This detailed discussion of the 'modern' (European imperialist) constitution of space, throws light on the political and epistemological implications of many contemporary discourses which describe social and cultural transformations in spatial terms. Architectural and cartographic figures recur in postmodern and post-structuralist theory, signalling the breakdown or deconstruction of a totalizing, hegemonic spatial order. Such figures also recur within contemporary Australian fiction. A postcoionial reading is made of the spatial fgures_ of cartography and architecture__ in some Australian fiction, to demonstrate the discursive transiormtion of imperialist space/power relations, the strategic (re)mapping of the space of the 'other', the repositioning of the postcolonial subject in space. The work of Jessica Anderson, David Malouf and Elisabeth Jolley will be examined in detail, while some works by Patrick White and Peter Carey will be briefly considered.