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Professor Stephen Morton 


Professor Stephen Morton's photo

Stephen Morton is a Professor of English at the University of Southampton.

I was appointed as a lecturer in Anglophone Literature at Southampton in 2003 after teaching at Tampere, Finland and studying at Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2008, and to Professor in 2013.

My research interests include Anglophone postcolonial world literatures from Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, and South Asia, postcolonial theory, critical theory, poetics and politics, visual culture and globalisation.

I have published books, articles, essays, and reviews on postcolonial literatures, critical and cultural theory, and visual culture. I have also written on the importance of reading and teaching postcolonial approaches to literatures in schools, and have produced podcast material on the fiction of Chinua Achebe.

Research interests

My research interests include postcolonial and world literatures in English, including literatures from Africa, Canada, and South Asia, postcolonial theory, critical and cultural theory, poetics and politics, and visual culture. I have recently edited a special issue of the journal Research in African Literatures on Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God (with Ranka Primorac), and completed a chapter on 'Colonial Violence, Law, and Justice in Egypt' for a major new collection of essays on The Postcolonial Middle East, edited by Anna Ball and Karim Mattar. I have published books on States of Emergency in colonial and postcolonial literatures and law; the fiction of Salman Rushdie; and the postcolonial thought and criticism of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. I have also co-edited Terror and the Postcolonial (with Elleke Boehmer); Foucault in an Age of Terror (with Stephen Bygrave); and a special issue of the journal New Formations on Hannah Arendt after Modernity (with Devorah Baum and Stephen Bygrave).

Current Research projects

My current research includes two major new scholarly book projects: Indigenous Thought and the Invention of the World System and In the Debt Colony: A History of Colonial Debt.

Indigenous Thought and the Invention of the World System argues that indigenous thought, or the dynamic and complex knowledge systems of hunter gatherer societies, continue to offer valuable conceptual resources for understanding the modern world economy and the environment long after the colonial encounter with the cultures of European capitalist modernity. This research engages with the symbolic forms of indigenous thought in the specific contexts of Canada, Southern Africa, and West Africa as represented in anthropology, art, economics, and literature. It weaves these disciplines together to argue that indigenous thought offers a crucial resource for re-imagining the contemporary world system.

In the Debt Colony: A History of Colonial Debt argues that narratives of debt colonialism, or the relationship of indebtedness between European imperial powers and their colonies can shed important new light on the historical development of the modern economic world and its cultures of debt. In doing so, it seeks to answer the following questions: How has debt been understood as a colonial relationship? What role did credit and debt play in the management and negotiation of colonial sovereignty? And how significant is the language of debt in the formulation of anti-colonial resistance narratives? By comparing the language and rhetoric of debt in colonial archives and novels, banking records, the economic reports of imperial companies and global financial institutions, and representations of debt and austerity in postcolonial world literature and film, this book seeks to offer a major new account of the economic legacy of European imperialism.

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Book Chapters


I am Director of Taught Postgraduate Programmes for English, and convene the modules Images of Africa and Sweatshops, Sex workers, and Asylum Seekers: World Literature and Visual Culture after Globalisation.

I supervise or co-supervise a number of doctoral students, including Islam el Naggar, who is working on Edward Said and the Contemporary Egyptian Novel, Michael Duffy, who is exploring the representation of sovereignty in postcolonial fictions of Pakistan, and Dan Carter, who is completing a thesis on the oil encounter in twentieth-century American fiction. I have also supervised PhD theses on the Anthropocene in Contemporary British and American Fiction and Southern Spaces in Fiction from South Africa and the American South.

Professor Stephen Morton
Faculty of Arts and Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number: 65/2001

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