Conflict and Transformation


Author: Bill Ashcroft, University of New South Wales, Australia
Email: [email protected]
Published: November 2014

Citation: Ashcroft, B. (2014). Conflict and Transformation. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 3(1).


The Twentieth Century was the most violent in history and prepared the way for the conflict with which this century has already been marked. Conflict comes in various forms but ultimately it is about power: a struggle for power or a struggle between the powerful and the powerless. The argument of this paper is that art and literature, far more than the language of politics, have the capacity to speak to power by speaking beyond it. They do this first by transformation. Resistance, as we see from the example of postcolonial literature, is most effective when it is transformative—when it takes the language of power and makes it work in the service of the powerless. But in addition, literature, through its capacity to imagine a different world, has a utopian function that conceives a world beyond conflict. This paper will focus on the phenomenon of utopian possibility, to show the function of art and literature in transforming power and imagining the future.


postcolonialism, resistance art and literature, revolution, utopia