Hugo Claus in ‘Bongo Bongo Land’ | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5829
  • E-ISSN: 2352-118X



() is a complex and obscure novel in which Hugo Claus ridicules the postcolonial, imperialistic attitude of the members of a European film crew spending a working holiday on a sunny island. This article uses the analytic concept of othering as it was coined by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak to investigate the ways in which the novel ironically constructs the identity of the native people on the island as different from and inferior to that of the tourists. It demonstrates how it makes use of strategies of exclusion, which are based on naive ideas and misconceptions, to keep the islanders at a social distance. But exclusion is only one side of the story. What will be shown is that deals with the warring forces of exclusion and inclusion, distance and relationship, difference and exchange. The novel ultimately reveals the crossover between the two groups and deconstructs the demarcation line between cultural identities (the discursive opposition between self/other or us/them). It blurs the idea of cultural identity as a unitary totality.


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