Richard Wright's Oneiropolitics Academic Article uri icon


  • Tuhkanen argues that Richard Wright, with his references to dreaming in Native Son, Black Power, and elsewhere, develops a theory of postcolonial becoming, where the world's extant realities are challenged by the different speeds of the oneiric realm. In the controversial travel narrative Black Power, Wright figures the movement of decolonization in terms of dreaming and waking. Here, his engagement with oneirocriticism continues the work of the postcolonial and African diasporic writers who have been drawn to Shakespeare's Caliban in their efforts to conceptualize (post)coloniality. It also links his thinking to Western philosophy, including Edmund Husserl's phenomenology, in which the task of thought is frequently understood in terms of an awakening. Tuhkanen suggests that in Wright and Husserl the slippery distinction between dreaming and wakefulness is best represented by the topological figure of the Mobius strip. While Wright often understands the oneiric world as an escapist realm of whimsical or guilt-ridden daydreaming, it also seems to offer possibilitiesoften figured as speedsthat are unavailable within the extant phenomenological horizon. Moving from oneirocriticism to oneiropolitics, Wright thus turns to dreaming to illustrate a movement of decolonization whose speed and trajectory may radically depart from those of Western modernity.

published proceedings

  • American Literature

author list (cited authors)

  • Tuhkanen, M.

complete list of authors

  • Tuhkanen, Mikko