How Images of Young Women Facilitate the Narrative of Decolonization in Jan Lowe Shinebourne’s The Last English Plantation
Navigating the journey of decolonization can be daunting, especially without clarity of the processes involved. Hence, literature exploring such processes provides direction for the journey. Additionally, the directions suggested in the literature become more credible whenever a synergistic dialogue arises between diverse authors and different genres of texts. To such effect emerges the compelling conversation between Guyanese Jan Lowe Shinebourne’s 1988 novel The Last English Plantation and Hawaiian Poka Laenui’s essay “Processes of Decolonization.” This paper shows that when read side-by-side, Lowe Shinebourne’s novel set in the 1950s and Laenui’s essay advance the scholarship on how to measure the extent and quality of decolonization that has been accomplished by an entity. To illustrate this, this study observes the arrangement of images of four young women characters as they operate in Lowe Shinebourne’s landscape, and highlights the function of these four characters to the novel’s protagonist. The protagonist is interpreted as the schema – individual or country, through which the four characters derive meaning. These meanings are explored through perceived links between the four characters’ functions and Laenui’s five phases of decolonization, where the characters appear to have the capacity to function as facilitators or representations of the phases. Ultimately, the study finds that Lowe Shinebourne’s fiction strengthens Laenui’s proposal, and in turn his foundational theoretical work illuminates the processes that her novel investigates. Therefore, it can be concluded that if the processes of decolonization largely function in the way that the dialogue between these two texts confirms, Laenui’s template for measuring progress in decolonization can be applied to the understanding of other fictions of decolonization. Further, if this application continues to see consistently agreeable outcomes, it might be concluded that this template may be an effective instrument that can be formally implemented in assessing an individual or country’s progress in decolonization.