The Haunted City: Spectres of Colonial Past in Vandana Singh’s “Delhi”

Agnieszka Podruczna



Even though the British colonial rule over India ended in 1947, its spectres haunt the nation until this day. Since then, Indian postcolonial writing—both of the realist and fantastic kind—has attempted to reconcile the past of the nation with its present, addressing the legacy of the haunting spectres of the colonial rule. With that in mind, the following article seeks to explore the way in which Vandana Singh, in her short story “Delhi,” engages in a discussion concerning the intersection between spectral hauntings of the colonial past and the counter-discursive, revisionist practice of reclaiming and rewriting the colonial narrative by the Othered subject personifed by the protagonist. Adopting the postcolonial discourse as well as theory of science fction as the primary methodological framework, the paper argues that for Singh, the act of haunting facilitates reclamation of the lost history and memories of the city and ultimately contributes to the revision of the colonial account. Thus, in Singh’s “Delhi,” the spectres of the past become liminal, incorporeal entities, no longer confned to the sphere of abstraction and metaphor, enabling the postcolonial act of writing back.


postcolonial studies; hauntology; writing back; postcolonial haunting; urban space; historical narrative

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