Completing one’s first book project is perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring
moments of an academic’s career. One spends many years looking forward to
its completion, and yet when it is done, one cannot help but feel nostalgic over
the many trials and tribulations it has posed and the many persons in many
places that have sometimes unknowingly provided encouragement, guid-
ance, and occasional solace during its composition. Many of these are persons
who to the writer remain nameless—the countless librarians and desk atten-
dants in libraries, the various audiences at conferences, the many coVee-shop
owners who let us sit in their cafes for hours pondering over the latest argu-
ments of a Ngugı
˜ or a Foucault. These are the many faces that appear before
me and whom I wish I could thank individually.
But in addition to these persons who continue to remain nameless are
those who deeply aVect one’s life and who are responsible in no small measure
for both the content as well as the form of one’s thinking. In this regard, I owe
a great debt to Simon Gikandi, who almost single-handedly steered me in the
direction of a career in literary studies. As a graduate instructor at Northwest-
ern University, he took me to my first academic conference, and it was this
experience that began my academic trajectory. With the encouragement of
strong mentors like Dwight Conquergood, Francoise ¸ Lionnet, Gerald GraV,
and John Brenkman, I entered the graduate program in English at Duke, and
it would be no exaggeration to say that the subsequent few years were some of
the most exciting years I have had in the academy. It was at Duke that Subject
to Colonialism began to take shape, and although the book has seen many rein-
carnations before its final version, the comments I received at this early stage
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