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Sociopathetic Abscess or Yawning Chasm? The Absent Postcolonial Transition in Doctor Who

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  • Publication: The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
  • Date: 2010-06-01
  • Author: Lindy Orthia
  • Page: 207-225
  • Language: English
  • Abstract: This paper explores discourses of colonialism, cosmopolitanism and postcolonialism in the television series Doctor Who. Doctor Who has frequently allegorized past colonial scenarios and has depicted cosmopolitan futures as harmoniously multi-racial, constructing a teleological model of human history. Yet postcolonial transition stages between the overthrow of colonialism and the instatement of cosmopolitanism have received little attention within the programme. This “yawning chasm” — this inability to acknowledge the material realities of an inequitable postcolonial world shaped by exploitative trade practices, diasporic trauma and racist discrimination — is whitewashed by the representation of past, present and future humanity as unchangingly diverse. Harmonious cosmopolitanism is thus presented as a non-negotiable fact of human inevitability, casting instances of racist oppression as unnatural blips. Under this construction, the postcolonial transition needs no explication, because to throw off colonialism’s chains is merely to revert to a more natural state of humanness, that is, cosmopolitanism. Only a few Doctor Who stories break with this model to deal with the “sociopathetic abscess” that is real life postcolonial modernity.


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  • APA 6th ed.: Orthia, Lindy (2010-06-01). Sociopathetic Abscess or Yawning Chasm? The Absent Postcolonial Transition in Doctor Who. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature p. 207-225.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Orthia, Lindy. "Sociopathetic Abscess or Yawning Chasm? The Absent Postcolonial Transition in Doctor Who." The Journal of Commonwealth Literature [add city] 2010-06-01, 207-225. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Orthia, Lindy. "Sociopathetic Abscess or Yawning Chasm? The Absent Postcolonial Transition in Doctor Who." The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, edition, sec., 2010-06-01
  • Turabian: Orthia, Lindy. "Sociopathetic Abscess or Yawning Chasm? The Absent Postcolonial Transition in Doctor Who." The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 2010-06-01, section, 207-225 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Sociopathetic Abscess or Yawning Chasm? The Absent Postcolonial Transition in Doctor Who | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Sociopathetic_Abscess_or_Yawning_Chasm%3F_The_Absent_Postcolonial_Transition_in_Doctor_Who | work=The Journal of Commonwealth Literature | pages=207-225 | date=2010-06-01 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=20 October 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Sociopathetic Abscess or Yawning Chasm? The Absent Postcolonial Transition in Doctor Who | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Sociopathetic_Abscess_or_Yawning_Chasm%3F_The_Absent_Postcolonial_Transition_in_Doctor_Who | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=20 October 2019}}</ref>