Back from the USSR
Envisioning the Global Through Journey Narratives
In this chapter, Lucy Gasser traces the world-making practices of four journey narratives by travellers from the global South in the Soviet Union. Animated by postcolonial theory and decolonial aims, it contributes to questions of envisioning the global by understanding literature as practicing a 'species of world making' (Bell 2013: 257). The chapter seeks to identify the narratives of the global that latently structure the normative horizons of these writings. It articulates the world-making practices of British imperialism's 'civilising mission', and looks to writers from its former colonial dominions who displace and contest them. Rabindranath Tagore and Bisham Sahni from the Indian subcontinent, and Pauline Podbrey and Alex La Guma from South Africa each had opportunity to travel in Soviet Russia and its socialist satellites, and penned non-fictional accounts of their experiences. The chapter argues for how these heretofore marginalised texts furnish resources for productively contesting colonially determined narratives of the world, and hone a capacity for pluralising aspirational horizons. This serves the decolonial aim of dismantling the legacies of imperial ways of producing (knowledge of) the world.