Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Humberto Burcet

Tracing Changing Postcolonial Identities: Witi Ihimaera's Challenges to Establishment in the Third Space

Supervisor: Anthony Pym

Research summary

The representation of cultural identities within the postcolonial world in literary and film productions portrays the situation of societies that have experienced colonial submission in the past. Through their fiction, postcolonial authors have the possibility to raise their voices within counter-colonialist power. This is possible through different strategies such as precolonial language interference, the questioning of traditional structuring models, and inclusion of new artistic genres. Nevertheless, this challenge can also concern the establishment of native collective assumptions in fields such as ethnicity, gender and sexual identity that are taboo issues in their traditional conceptions. This research project tries to identify those strategies through the production of the Maori writer Witi Ihimaera. His fiction and non-fiction books (and film versions) represent and challenge colonial and precolonial assumptions both in his country and abroad (in part though translation). His oeuvre also performs a two-way translation of values in both Maori and Pakeha societies. It is a clear example of the hybridity that a bi-cultural country as Aoteaora/New Zealand is living nowadays in the paradigm of Bhabha's third space. Our research explores these issues through the analysis of the original work and their translations abroad, and studies the implication of them in both New Zealand society and internationally.


Burcet, Humberto. 2012. "The reader as translator: cognitive processes in the reception of postcolonial literatures". In Translation Research Projects 4, eds. Anthony Pym and David Orrego-Carmona, Tarragona: Intercultural Studies Group. pp. 81-102.

Research design (defended January 2008

Nune Ayvazyan