Postcolonialism | Wikipedia audio article


Postcolonialism or postcolonial studies is
the academic study of the cultural legacy of colonialism and imperialism, focusing on
the human consequences of the control and exploitation of colonized people and their
lands. Post colonialism is a critical theory analysis
of the history, culture, literature, and discourse of European imperial power.
The name postcolonialism is modeled on postmodernism, with which it shares certain concepts and
methods, and may be thought of as a reaction to or departure from colonialism in the same
way postmodernism is a reaction to modernism. The ambiguous term colonialism may refer either
to a system of government or to an ideology or world view underlying that system—in
general postcolonialism represents an ideological response to colonialist thought, rather than
simply describing a system that comes after colonialism. The term postcolonial studies
may be preferred for this reason. Postcolonialism encompasses a wide variety
of approaches, and theoreticians may not always agree on a common set of definitions. On a
simple level, it may seek through anthropological study to build a better understanding of colonial
life from the point of view of the colonized people, based on the assumption that the colonial
rulers are unreliable narrators. On a deeper level, postcolonialism examines
the social and political power relationships that sustain colonialism and neocolonialism,
including the social, political and cultural narratives surrounding the colonizer and the
colonized. This approach may overlap with contemporary history and critical theory,
and may also draw examples from history, political science, philosophy, sociology, anthropology,
and human geography. Sub-disciplines of postcolonial studies examine
the effects of colonial rule on the practice of feminism, anarchism, literature and Christian
thought.==Purpose and basic concepts==
As an epistemology (the study of knowledge, its nature and verifiability), as an ethics
(moral philosophy), and as a politics (affairs of the citizenry), the field of postcolonialism
addresses the politics of knowledge—the matters that constitute the postcolonial identity
of a decolonized people, which derives from: (i) the colonizer’s generation of cultural
knowledge about the colonized people; and (ii) how that Western cultural knowledge was
applied to subjugate a non–European people into a colony of the European mother country,
which, after initial invasion, was effected by means of the cultural identities of ‘colonizer’
and ‘colonized’.Postcolonialism is aimed at destabilizing these theories (intellectual
and linguistic, social and economic) by means of which colonialists “perceive”, “understand”,
and “know” the world. Postcolonial theory thus establishes intellectual spaces for subaltern
peoples to speak for themselves, in their own voices, and thus produce cultural discourses
of philosophy, language, society and economy, balancing the imbalanced us-and-them binary
power-relationship between the colonist and the colonial subjects.===Colonialist discourse===Colonialism was presented as “the extension
of civilization”, which ideologically justified the self-ascribed racial and cultural superiority
of the Western world over the non-Western world. This concept was espoused by Joseph-Ernest
Renan in La Réforme intellectuelle et morale (1871), whereby imperial stewardship was thought
to affect the intellectual and moral reformation of the coloured peoples of the lesser cultures
of the world. That such a divinely established, natural harmony among the human races of the
world would be possible, because everyone has an assigned cultural identity, a social
place, and an economic role within an imperial colony. Thus: The regeneration of the inferior or degenerate
races, by the superior races is part of the providential order of things for humanity….
Regere imperio populos is our vocation. Pour forth this all-consuming activity onto countries,
which, like China, are crying aloud for foreign conquest. Turn the adventurers who disturb
European society into a ver sacrum, a horde like those of the Franks, the Lombards, or
the Normans, and every man will be in his right role. Nature has made a race of workers,
the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity, and almost no sense of honour;
govern them with justice, levying from them, in return for the blessing of such a government,
an ample allowance for the conquering race, and they will be satisfied; a race of tillers
of the soil, the Negro; treat him with kindness and humanity, and all will be as it should;
a race of masters and soldiers, the European race…. Let each do what he is made for,
and all will be well. From the mid- to the late-nineteenth century,
such racialist group-identity language was the cultural common-currency justifying geopolitical
competition amongst the European and American empires and meant to protect their over-extended
economies. Especially in the colonization of the Far East and in the late-nineteenth
century Scramble for Africa, the representation of a homogeneous European identity justified
colonization. Hence, Belgium and Britain, and France and Germany proffered theories
of national superiority that justified colonialism as delivering the light of civilization to
unenlightened peoples. Notably, la mission civilisatrice, the self-ascribed ‘civilizing
mission’ of the French Empire, proposed that some races and cultures have a higher purpose
in life, whereby the more powerful, more developed, and more civilized races have the right to
colonize other peoples, in service to the noble idea of “civilization” and its economic
benefits.===Postcolonial identity===
Decolonized people develop a postcolonial identity that is based on cultural interactions
between different identities (cultural, national, and ethnic as well as gender and class based)
which are assigned varying degrees of social power by the colonial society. In postcolonial
literature, the anti-conquest narrative analyzes the identity politics that are the social
and cultural perspectives of the subaltern colonial subjects—their creative resistance
to the culture of the colonizer; how such cultural resistance complicated the establishment
of a colonial society; how the colonizers developed their postcolonial identity; and
how neocolonialism actively employs the Us-and-Them binary social relation to view the non-Western
world as inhabited by The Other. The neocolonial discourse of geopolitical
homogeneity relegating the decolonized peoples, their cultures, and their countries, to an
imaginary place, such as “the Third World”, an over-inclusive term that usually comprises
continents and seas, i.e. Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. The postcolonial critique
analyzes the self-justifying discourse of neocolonialism and the functions (philosophic
and political) of its over-inclusive terms, to establish the factual and cultural inaccuracy
of homogeneous concepts, such as “the Arabs” and “the First World”, “Christendom” and “the
Ummah”, actually comprise heterogeneous peoples, cultures, and geography, and that accurate
descriptions of the world’s peoples, places, and things require nuanced and accurate terms.===Difficulty of definition===
As a contemporary-history term, postcolonialism occasionally is applied temporally, to denote
the immediate time after colonialism, which is a problematic application of the term,
because the immediate, historical, political time is not included in the categories of
critical identity-discourse, which deals with over-inclusive terms of cultural representation,
which are abrogated and replaced by postcolonial criticism. As such, the terms postcolonial
and postcolonialism denote aspects of the subject matter, which indicate that the decolonized
world is an intellectual space “of contradictions, of half-finished processes, of confusions,
of hybridity, and of liminalities”.In Post-Colonial Drama: Theory, Practice, Politics (1996),
Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins clarified the denotational functions, among which: The term post-colonialism—according to a
too-rigid etymology—is frequently misunderstood as a temporal concept, meaning the time after
colonialism has ceased, or the time following the politically determined Independence Day
on which a country breaks away from its governance by another state. Not a naïve teleological
sequence, which supersedes colonialism, post-colonialism is, rather, an engagement with, and contestation
of, colonialism’s discourses, power structures, and social hierarchies…. A theory of post-colonialism
must, then, respond to more than the merely chronological construction of post-independence,
and to more than just the discursive experience of imperialism. The term post-colonialism is also applied
to denote the Mother Country’s neocolonial control of the decolonized country, effected
by the legalistic continuation of the economic, cultural, and linguistic power relationships
that controlled the colonial politics of knowledge (the generation, production, and distribution
of knowledge) about the colonized peoples of the non–Western world. The cultural and
religious assumptions of colonialist logic remain active practices in contemporary society,
and are the basis of the Mother Country’s neocolonial attitude towards her former colonial
subjects—an economical source of labour and raw materials.==Notable theoreticians=====
Frantz Fanon===In The Wretched of the Earth (1961), the psychiatrist
and philosopher Frantz Fanon analyzed and medically described the nature of colonialism
as essentially destructive. Its societal effects—the imposition of a subjugating colonial identity—are
harmful to the mental health of the native peoples who were subjugated into colonies.
Fanon wrote the ideological essence of colonialism is the systematic denial of “all attributes
of humanity” of the colonized people. Such dehumanization is achieved with physical and
mental violence, by which the colonist means to inculcate a servile mentality upon the
natives. For Fanon the natives must violently resist colonial subjugation. Hence, Fanon
describes violent resistance to colonialism as a mentally cathartic practice, which purges
colonial servility from the native psyche, and restores self-respect to the subjugated.
Thus, Fanon actively supported and participated in the Algerian Revolution (1954–62) for
independence from France as a member and representative of the Front de Libération Nationale.As postcolonial
praxis, Fanon’s mental-health analyses of colonialism and imperialism, and the supporting
economic theories, were partly derived from the essay Imperialism, the Highest Stage of
Capitalism (1916), wherein Vladimir Lenin described colonial imperialism as a degenerate
form of capitalism, which requires greater degrees of human exploitation to ensure continually
consistent profit for investment.===Edward Said===
Cultural critic Edward Said is considered by E. San Juan, Jr. as “the originator and
inspiring patron-saint of postcolonial theory and discourse” due to his theory of Orientalism
explained in his 1978 book of the same name. To describe the us-and-them “binary social
relation” with which Western Europe intellectually divided the world—into the “Occident” and
the “Orient”— Said developed the denotations and connotations of the term Orientalism (an
art-history term for Western depictions and the study of the Orient). Said’s concept (which
he also termed “Orientalism”) is that the cultural representations generated with the
us-and-them binary relation are social constructs, which are mutually constitutive and cannot
exist independent of each other, because each exists on account of and for the other.Notably,
“the West” created the cultural concept of “the East”, which according to Said allowed
the Europeans to suppress the peoples of the Middle East, of the Indian Subcontinent, and
of Asia, from expressing and representing themselves as discrete peoples and cultures.
Orientalism thus conflated and reduced the non–Western world into the homogeneous cultural
entity known as “the East”. Therefore, in service to the colonial type of imperialism,
the us-and-them Orientalist paradigm allowed European scholars to represent the Oriental
World as inferior and backward, irrational and wild, as opposed to a Western Europe that
was superior and progressive, rational and civil—the opposite of the Oriental Other.
In “Edward Said: The Exile as Interpreter” (1993), about Said’s Orientalism (1978), A.
Madhavan said that “Said’s passionate thesis in that book, now an ‘almost canonical study’,
represented Orientalism as a ‘style of thought’ based on the antinomy of East and West in
their world-views, and also as a ‘corporate institution’ for dealing with the Orient.”In
concordance with the philosopher Michel Foucault, Said established that power and knowledge
are the inseparable components of the intellectual binary relationship with which Occidentals
claim “knowledge of the Orient”. That the applied power of such cultural knowledge allowed
Europeans to rename, re-define, and thereby control Oriental peoples, places, and things,
into imperial colonies. The power–knowledge binary relation is conceptually essential
to identify and understand colonialism in general, and European colonialism in particular.
Hence, To the extent that Western scholars were aware
of contemporary Orientals or Oriental movements of thought and culture, these were perceived
either as silent shadows to be animated by the Orientalist, brought into reality by them,
or as a kind of cultural and international proletariat useful for the Orientalist’s grander
interpretive activity. Nonetheless, critics of the homogeneous “Occident–Orient”
binary social relation, said that Orientalism is of limited descriptive capability and practical
application, and proposed that there are variants of Orientalism that apply to Africa and to
Latin America. Said replied that the European West applied Orientalism as a homogeneous
form of The Other, in order to facilitate the formation of the cohesive, collective
European cultural identity denoted by the term “The West”.With this described binary
logic, the West generally constructs the Orient subconsciously as its alter ego. Therefore,
descriptions of the Orient by the Occident lack material attributes, grounded within
land. This inventive, or imaginative interpretation subscribes female characteristics to the Orient
and plays into fantasies that are inherent within the West’s alter ego. It should be
understood that this process draws creativity, amounting an entire domain and discourse. In Orientalism, Said mentions the production
of “philology [the study of the history of languages], lexicography [dictionary making],
history, biology, political and economic theory, novel-writing and lyric poetry” (p. 6). Therefore,
there is an entire industry that exploits the Orient for its own subjective purposes
that lack a native and intimate understanding. Such industries become institutionalized and
eventually become a resource for manifest Orientalism, or a compilation of misinformation
about the Orient. The ideology of Empire was hardly ever a brute jingoism; rather, it made
subtle use of reason, and recruited science and history to serve its ends. —Imperial
Fictions: Europe’s Myths of Orient (p. 6) These subjective fields of academia now synthesize
the political resources and think-tanks that are so common in the West today. Orientalism
is self-perpetuating to the extent that it becomes normalized within common discourse,
making people say things that are latent, impulsive, or not fully conscious of its own
self.===Gayatri Spivak===
In establishing the Postcolonial definition of the term subaltern, the philosopher and
theoretician Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak cautioned against assigning an over-broad connotation.
She argues: … subaltern is not just a classy word for
“oppressed”, for The Other, for somebody who’s not getting a piece of the pie. … In postcolonial
terms, everything that has limited or no access to the cultural imperialism is subaltern—a
space of difference. Now, who would say that’s just the oppressed? The working class is oppressed.
It’s not subaltern. … Many people want to claim subalternity. They are the least interesting
and the most dangerous. I mean, just by being a discriminated-against minority on the university
campus; they don’t need the word ‘subaltern’ … They should see what the mechanics of
the discrimination are. They’re within the hegemonic discourse, wanting a piece of the
pie, and not being allowed, so let them speak, use the hegemonic discourse. They should not
call themselves subaltern. Spivak also introduced the terms essentialism
and strategic essentialism to describe the social functions of postcolonialism. The term
essentialism denotes the perceptual dangers inherent to reviving subaltern voices in ways
that might (over) simplify the cultural identity of heterogeneous social groups and, thereby,
create stereotyped representations of the different identities of the people who compose
a given social group. The term strategic essentialism denotes a temporary, essential group-identity
used in the praxis of discourse among peoples. Furthermore, essentialism can occasionally
be applied—by the so-described people—to facilitate the subaltern’s communication in
being heeded, heard, and understood, because a strategic essentialism (a fixed and established
subaltern identity) is more readily grasped, and accepted, by the popular majority, in
the course of inter-group discourse. The important distinction, between the terms, is that strategic
essentialism does not ignore the diversity of identities (cultural and ethnic) in a social
group, but that, in its practical function, strategic essentialism temporarily minimizes
inter-group diversity to pragmatically support the essential group-identity.Spivak developed
and applied Foucault’s term epistemic violence to describe the destruction of non–Western
ways of perceiving the world and the resultant dominance of the Western ways of perceiving
the world. Conceptually, epistemic violence specifically relates to women, whereby the
“Subaltern [woman] must always be caught in translation, never [allowed to be] truly expressing
herself”, because the colonial power’s destruction of her culture pushed to the social margins
her non–Western ways of perceiving, understanding, and knowing the world.In June of the year
1600, the Afro–Iberian woman Francisca de Figueroa requested from the King of Spain
his permission for her to emigrate from Europe to New Spain, and reunite with her daughter,
Juana de Figueroa. As a subaltern woman, Francisca repressed her native African language, and
spoke her request in Peninsular Spanish, the official language of Colonial Latin America.
As a subaltern woman, she applied to her voice the Spanish cultural filters of sexism, Christian
monotheism, and servile language, in addressing her colonial master: I, Francisca de Figueroa, mulatta in colour,
declare that I have, in the city of Cartagena, a daughter named Juana de Figueroa; and she
has written, to call for me, in order to help me. I will take with me, in my company, a
daughter of mine, her sister, named María, of the said colour; and for this, I must write
to Our Lord the King to petition that he favour me with a licence, so that I, and my said
daughter, can go and reside in the said city of Cartagena. For this, I will give an account
of what is put down in this report; and of how I, Francisca de Figueroa, am a woman of
sound body, and mulatta in colour […] And my daughter María is twenty-years-old, and
of the said colour, and of medium size. Once given, I attest to this. I beg your Lordship
to approve, and order it done. I ask for justice in this.
[On the twenty-first day of the month of June 1600, Your Majesty’s Lords Presidents and
Official Judges of this House of Contract Employment order that the account she offers
be received, and that testimony for the purpose she requests given.] Moreover, Spivak further cautioned against
ignoring subaltern peoples as “cultural Others”, and said that the West could progress—beyond
the colonial perspective—by means of introspective self-criticism of the basic ideals and investigative
methods that establish a culturally superior West studying the culturally inferior non–Western
peoples. Hence, the integration of the subaltern voice to the intellectual spaces of social
studies is problematic, because of the unrealistic opposition to the idea of studying “Others”;
Spivak rejected such an anti-intellectual stance by social scientists, and about them
said that “to refuse to represent a cultural Other is salving your conscience […] allowing
you not to do any homework.” Moreover, postcolonial studies also reject the colonial cultural
depiction of subaltern peoples as hollow mimics of the European colonists and their Western
ways; and rejects the depiction of subaltern peoples as the passive recipient-vessels of
the imperial and colonial power of the Mother Country. Consequent to Foucault’s philosophic
model of the binary relationship of power and knowledge, scholars from the Subaltern
Studies Collective, proposed that anti-colonial resistance always counters every exercise
of colonial power.===Homi K. Bhabha===
In The Location of Culture (1994), the theoretician Homi K. Bhabha argued that viewing the human
world as composed of separate and unequal cultures, rather than as an integral human
world, perpetuates the belief in the existence of imaginary peoples and places—”Christendom”
and “The Islamic World”, “The First World”, “The Second World”, and “The Third World”.
To counter such linguistic and sociologic reductionism, postcolonial praxis establishes
the philosophic value of hybrid intellectual spaces, wherein ambiguity abrogates truth
and authenticity; thereby, hybridity is the philosophic condition that most substantively
challenges the ideological validity of colonialism.===R. Siva Kumar===
In 1997, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of India’s Independence, Santiniketan: The
Making of a Contextual Modernism was an important exhibition curated by R. Siva Kumar at the
National Gallery of Modern Art.In his catalogue essay, Kumar introduced the term Contextual
Modernism, which later emerged as a postcolonial critical tool in the understanding of Indian
art, specifically the works of Nandalal Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Ramkinkar Baij and Benode
Behari Mukherjee. Santiniketan artists did not believe that
to be indigenous one has to be historicist either in theme or in style, and similarly
to be modern one has to adopt a particular trans-national formal language or technique.
Modernism was to them neither a style nor a form of internationalism. It was critical
re-engagement with the foundational aspects of art necessitated by changes in one’s unique
historical position. In the postcolonial history of art, this marked
the departure from Eurocentric unilateral idea of Modernism to alternative context sensitive
Modernisms. The brief survey of the individual works of
the core Santiniketan artists and the thought perspectives they open up makes clear that
though there were various contact points in the work they were not bound by a continuity
of style but buy a community of ideas. Which they not only shared but also interpreted
and carried forward. Thus they do not represent a school but a movement. Several terms including Paul Gilroy’s counter
culture of modernity and Tani E. Barlow’s Colonial modernity have been used to describe
the kind of alternative modernity that emerged in non-European contexts. Professor Gall argues
that ‘Contextual Modernism’ is a more suited term because “the colonial in colonial modernity
does not accommodate the refusal of many in colonized situations to internalize inferiority.
Santiniketan’s artist teachers’ refusal of subordination incorporated a counter vision
of modernity, which sought to correct the racial and cultural essentialism that drove
and characterized imperial Western modernity and modernism. Those European modernities,
projected through a triumphant British colonial power, provoked nationalist responses, equally
problematic when they incorporated similar essentialisms.”===
Dipesh Chakrabarty===In Provincializing Europe (2000), Dipesh Chakrabarty
charted the subaltern history of the Indian struggle for independence, and countered Eurocentric,
Western scholarship about non-Western peoples and cultures, by proposing that Western Europe
simply be considered as culturally equal to the other cultures of the world, that is,
as “one region among many” in human geography.===Derek Gregory===
Derek Gregory argues the long trajectory through history of British and American colonization
is an ongoing process still happening today. In The Colonial Present, Gregory traces connections
between the geopolitics of events happening in modern-day Afghanistan, Palestine, and
Iraq and links it back to the us-and-them binary relation between the Western and Eastern
world. Building upon the ideas of the other and Said’s work on orientalism, Gregory critiques
the economic policy, military apparatus, and transnational corporations as vehicles driving
present day colonialism. Emphasizing ideas of discussing ideas around colonialism in
the present tense, Gregory utilizes modern events such as the September 11 attacks to
tell spatial stories around the colonial behavior happening due to the War on Terror.===Amar Acheraiou===
Acheraiou argues that colonialism was a capitalist venture moved by appropriation and plundering
of foreign lands and was supported by military force and a discourse that legitimized violence
in the name of progress and a universal civilizing mission. This discourse is complex and multi-faceted.
It was elaborated in the 19th century by colonial ideologues such as Joseph-Ernest Renan and
Arthur de Gobineau, but its roots reach far back in history. In Rethinking Postcolonialism:
Colonialist Discourse in Modern Literature and the Legacy of Classical Writers, Amar
Acheraiou discusses the history of colonialist discourse and traces its spirit to ancient
Greece, including Europe’s claim to racial supremacy and right to rule over non-Europeans
harboured by Renan and other 19th century colonial ideologues. He argues that modern
colonial representations of the colonized as “inferior”, “stagnant” and “degenerate”
were borrowed from Greek and Latin authors like Lysias (440–380 BC), Isocrates (436–338
BC), Plato (427–327 BC), Aristotle (384—322 BC), Cicero (106–43 BC), and Sallust (86–34
BC), who all considered their racial others – the Persians, Scythians, Egyptians as
“backward”, “inferior”, and “effeminate”. Among these ancient writers Aristotle is the
one who articulated more thoroughly these ancient racial assumptions, which served as
a source of inspiration for modern colonists. In The Politics, he established a racial classification
and ranked the Greeks superior to the rest. He considered them as an ideal race to rule
over Asian and other ‘barbarian’ peoples, for they knew how to blend the spirit of the
European “war-like races” with Asiatic “intelligence” and “competence”.Ancient Rome was a source
of admiration in Europe since the enlightenment. In France, Voltaire (1694-1778) was one of
the most fervent admirers of Rome. He regarded highly the Roman republican values of rationality,
democracy, order and justice. In early-eighteenth century Britain, it was poets and politicians
like Joseph Addison (1672–1719) and Richard Glover (1712 –1785) who were vocal advocates
of these ancient republican values. It was in the mid-eighteenth century that
ancient Greece became a source of admiration among the French and British. This enthusiasm
gained prominence in the late-eighteenth century. It was spurred by German Hellenist scholars
and English romantic poets: Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768), Wilhelm von Humboldt
(1767–1835), and Goethe (1749–1832), Lord Byron (1788–1824), Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(1772–1834), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), and John Keats (1795–1821). These scholars
and poets regarded ancient Greece as the matrix of Western civilization and a model of beauty
and democracy.In the nineteenth century when Europe began to expand across the globe and
establish colonies, ancient Greece and Rome were used as a source of empowerment and justification
to Western civilizing mission. At this period, many French and British imperial ideologues
identified strongly with the ancient empires and invoked ancient Greece and Rome to justify
the colonial civilizing project. They urged European colonizers to emulate these “ideal”
classical conquerors, whom they regarded as “universal instructors”. For Alexis de Tocqueville
(1805–1859), an ardent and influential advocate of la “Grande France,” the classical empires
were model conquerors to imitate. He advised the French colonists in Algeria to follow
the ancient imperial example. In 1841, he stated: ‘what matters most when we want to
set up and develop a colony is to make sure that those who arrive in it are as less estranged
as possible, that these newcomers meet a perfect image of their homeland….the thousand colonies
that the Greeks founded on the Mediterranean coasts were all exact copies of the Greek
cities on which they had been modelled. The Romans established in almost all parts of
the globe known to them municipalities which were no more than miniature Romes. Among modern
colonizers, the English did the same. Who can prevent us from emulating these European
peoples?’. The Greeks and Romans were deemed exemplary conquerors and “heuristic teachers”,
whose lessons were invaluable for modern colonists ideologues. John-Robert Seeley (1834-1895),
a history professor at Cambridge and proponent of imperialism stated in a rhetoric which
echoed that of Renan that the role of the British Empire was ‘similar to that of Rome,
in which we hold the position of not merely of ruling but of an educating and civilizing
race.”The incorporation of ancient concepts and racial and cultural assumptions into modern
imperial ideology bolstered colonial claims to supremacy and right to colonize non-Europeans.
Because of these numerous ramifications between ancient representations and modern colonial
rhetoric, 19th century’s colonialist discourse acquires a “multi-layered” or “palimpsestic”
structure. It forms a “historical, ideological and narcissistic continuum,” in which modern
theories of domination feed upon and blend with “ancient myths of supremacy and grandeur”.==”Postcolonial literary study”==
As a literary theory, postcolonialism deals with the literatures produced by the peoples
who once were colonies of the European imperial powers (e.g. Britain, France, and Spain) and
the literatures of the decolonized countries engaged in contemporary, postcolonial arrangements
(e.g. Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and the Commonwealth of Nations) with their
former mother countries. Postcolonial literary criticism comprehends the literatures written
by the colonizer and the colonized, wherein the subject matter includes portraits of the
colonized peoples and their lives as imperial subjects. In Dutch literature, the Indies
Literature includes the colonial and postcolonial genres, which examine and analyze the formation
of a postcolonial identity, and the postcolonial culture produced by the diaspora of the Indo-European
peoples, the Eurasian folk who originated from Indonesia; the peoples who were the colony
of the Dutch East Indies; in the literature, the notable author is Tjalie Robinson.J.M
Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians(1980) depicts the unfair and inhuman situation of
people dominated by settlers. To perpetuate and facilitate control of the
colonial enterprise, some colonized people, especially from among the subaltern peoples
of the British Empire, were sent to attend university in the Imperial Motherland; they
were to become the native-born, but Europeanised, ruling class of colonial satraps. Yet, after
decolonization, their bicultural educations originated postcolonial criticism of empire
and colonialism, and of the representations of the colonist and the colonized. In the
late twentieth century, after the dissolution of the USSR (1991), the constituent soviet
socialist republics became the literary subjects of postcolonial criticism, wherein the writers
dealt with the legacies (cultural, social, economic) of the Russification of their peoples,
countries, and cultures in service to Greater Russia.Postcolonial literary study is in two
categories: (i) that of the postcolonial nations, and (ii) that of the nations who continue
forging a postcolonial national identity. The first category of literature presents
and analyzes the internal challenges inherent to determining an ethnic identity in a decolonized
nation. The second category of literature presents and analyzes the degeneration of
civic and nationalist unities consequent to ethnic parochialism, usually manifested as
the demagoguery of “protecting the nation”, a variant of the Us-and-Them binary social
relation. Civic and national unity degenerate when a patriarchal régime unilaterally defines
what is and what is not “the national culture” of the decolonized country; the nation-state
collapses, either into communal movements, espousing grand political goals for the postcolonial
nation; or into ethnically mixed communal movements, espousing political separatism,
as occurred in decolonized Rwanda, the Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
thus the postcolonial extremes against which Frantz Fanon warned in 1961.
Regarding sociolinguistic interpretations of literary texts through postcolonial lenses
we may refer to Jaydeep Sarangi’s book, Indian Novels in English: A Sociolinguistic Study
(2005).==Application=====The Middle East===
In the essays “Overstating the Arab State” (2001), by Nazih Ayubi, and “Is Jordan Palestine?”
(2003), by Raphael Israel, the authors deal with the psychologically fragmented postcolonial
identity, as determined by the effects (political and social, cultural and economic) of Western
colonialism in the Middle East. As such, the fragmented national identity remains a characteristic
of such societies, consequence of the imperially convenient, but arbitrary, colonial boundaries
(geographic and cultural) demarcated by the Europeans, with which they ignored the tribal
and clan relations that determined the geographic borders of the Middle East countries, before
the arrival of European imperialists. Hence, the postcolonial literature about the Middle
East examines and analyzes the Western discourses about identity formation, the existence and
inconsistent nature of a postcolonial national-identity among the peoples of the contemporary Middle
East. In the essay “Who Am I?: The Identity Crisis
in the Middle East” (2006), P.R. Kumaraswamy said: Most countries of the Middle East, suffered
from the fundamental problems over their national identities. More than three-quarters of a
century after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, from which most of them emerged, these
states have been unable to define, project, and maintain a national identity that is both
inclusive and representative. Independence and the end of colonialism did
not end social fragmentation and war (civil and international) in the Middle East. In
The Search for Arab Democracy: Discourses and Counter-Discourses (2004), Larbi Sadiki
said that the problems of national identity in the Middle East are a consequence of the
Orientalist indifference of the European empires when they demarcated the political borders
of their colonies, which ignored the local history and the geographic and tribal boundaries
observed by the natives, in the course of establishing the Western version of the Middle
East. In the event, “in places like Iraq and Jordan,
leaders of the new sovereign states were brought in from the outside, [and] tailored to suit
colonial interests and commitments. Likewise, most states in the Persian Gulf were handed
over to those [Europeanised colonial subjects] who could protect and safeguard imperial interests
in the post-withdrawal phase.” Moreover, “with notable exceptions like Egypt, Iran, Iraq,
and Syria, most [countries] … [have] had to [re]invent, their historical roots” after
decolonization, and, “like its colonial predecessor, postcolonial identity owes its existence to
force.”===Africa===In the late 19th century, the Scramble for
Africa (1874–1914) proved to be the tail end of mercantilist colonialism of the European
imperial powers, yet, for the Africans, the consequences were greater than elsewhere in
the colonized non–Western world. To facilitate the colonization the European empires laid
railroads where the rivers and the land proved impassable. The Imperial British railroad
effort proved overambitious in the effort of traversing continental Africa, yet succeeded
only in connecting colonial North Africa (Cairo) with the colonial south of Africa (Cape Town).
Upon arriving to Africa, the Europeans encountered the native African civilizations of the Ashanti
Empire, the Benin Empire, the Kingdom of Dahomey, the Buganda Kingdom (Uganda), and the Kingdom
of Kongo, all of which were annexed by imperial powers under the belief that they required
European stewardship, as proposed and justified in the essay “The African Character” (1830),
by G. W. F. Hegel, in keeping with his philosophic opinion that cultures were stages in the course
of the historical unfolding of The Absolute. Nigeria was the homeland of the Hausa people,
the Yoruba people and the Igbo people; which last were among the first people to develop
their history in constructing a postcolonial identity. (See: Things Fall Apart, 1958).
About East Africa, the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o wrote Weep Not, Child (1964),
the first postcolonial novel about the East African experience of colonial imperialism;
in The River Between (1965), with the Mau Mau Uprising (1952–60) as political background,
he addressed the postcolonial matters of native religious culture, and the consequences of
the imposition of Christianity, a religion culturally foreign to Kenya and to most of
Africa; and the essay Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature
(1986). In postcolonial countries of Africa, the Africans
and the non–Africans live in a world of genders, ethnicities, classes and languages,
of ages, families, professions, religions and nations. There is a suggestion that individualism
and postcolonialism are essentially discontinuous and divergent cultural phenomena.===Asia===French Indochina was divided into five subdivisions:
Tonkin, Annam, Cochinchina, Cambodia and Laos. Cochinchina (southern Vietnam) was the first
territory under French Control. Saigon was conquered in 1859. Then, in 1887, the Indochinese
Union (Union indochinoise) was established. In 1924, Nguyen Ai Quoc Ho Chi Minh wrote
the first critical text against the French colonization: Le Procès de la colonization
française (French Colonization on Trial) Trinh T. Minh-ha has been developing her innovative
theories about postcolonialism in various means of expression, literature, films, and
teaching. She is best known for her film “Reassemblage”, made in 1982, in which she tried to deconstruct
anthropology, as a “western male hegemonic ideology”. In 1989 she wrote “Woman, Native,
Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism”, where she focuses on the acknowledgement of
oral tradition.===Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs)
===Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) implemented
by the World Bank and IMF are viewed by some postcolonialists as the modern procedure of
colonization. Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) calls for trade liberalization, privatization
of banks, health care, and educational institutions. These implementations minimized government’s
role, paved pathways for companies to enter Africa for its resources. Limited to production
and exportation of cash crops, many African nations acquired more debt, and were left
stranded in a position where acquiring more loan and continuing to pay high interest became
an endless cycle.Osterhammel’s The Dictionary of Human Geography uses the definition of
colonialism as “enduring relationship of domination and mode of dispossession, usually (or at
least initially) between an indigenous (or enslaved) majority and a minority of interlopers
(colonizers), who are convinced of their own superiority, pursue their own interests, and
exercise power through a mixture of coercion, persuasion, conflict and collaboration”. The
definition adopted by The Dictionary of Human Geography suggests that the Structural adjustment
programmes implemented by the Washington Consensus is indeed an act of colonization.==Criticism=====
Undermining of universal values===Indian Marxist scholar Vivek Chibber has critiqued
some foundational logics of postcolonial theory in his book Postcolonial Theory and the Specter
of Capital. Developing on Aijaz Ahmad’s earlier critique of Said’s Orientalism and Sumit Sarkar’s
critique of the subaltern studies scholars. Chibber focuses on and refutes the principal
historical claims made by the subaltern studies scholars, claims which are representative
of the whole of postcolonial theory. Postcolonial theory, he argues, essentializes cultures,
painting them as fixed and static categories. Moreover, it presents the difference between
East and West as unbridgeable, hence denying people’s “universal aspirations” and “universal
interests”. He also criticized the postcolonial tendency to characterize all of Enlightenment
values as Eurocentric. According to him, the theory will be remembered “for its revival
of cultural essentialism and its acting as an endorsement of orientalism, rather than
being an antidote to it.”===
Fixation on national identity===The concentration of postcolonial studies
upon the subject of national identity has determined it is essential to the creation
and establishment of a stable nation and country in the aftermath of decolonization; yet indicates
that either an indeterminate or an ambiguous national identity has tended to limit the
social, cultural, and economic progress of a decolonized people. In Overstating the Arab
State (2001), by Nazih Ayubi, the Moroccan scholar Bin ‘Abd al-‘Ali proposed that the
existence of “a pathological obsession with … identity” is a cultural theme common to
the contemporary academic field Middle Eastern Studies.Nevertheless, Kumaraswamy and Sadiki
said that such a common sociological problem—that of an indeterminate national identity—among
the countries of the Middle East is an important aspect that must be accounted in order to
have an understanding of the politics of the contemporary Middle East. In the event, Ayubi
asks if what ‘Bin Abd al–’Ali sociologically described as an obsession with national identity
might be explained by “the absence of a championing social class?”==Foundation works==
Le Procès de la colonization française (French Colonization on Trial) (1924), by Nguyen Ai
Quoc known as Ho Chi Minh Discourse on Colonialism (1950), by Aimé
Césaire Black Skin, White Masks (1952), by Frantz
Fanon The Wretched of the Earth (1961), by Frantz
Fanon The Colonizer and the Colonized (1965), by
Albert Memmi Consciencism (1970), by Kwame Nkrumah
Orientalism (1978), by Edward Said Can the Subaltern Speak? (1988), by Gayatri
Chakravorty Spivak==
Postcolonial literature=====
Contemporary authors of postcolonial fiction===
Chinua Achebe (1930–2013) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977–)
Ama Ata Aidoo(1942–) Mariama Ba (1929–1981)
Giannina Braschi(1953–) Edwidge Danticat(1969–)
Buchi Emecheta (1944–2018) Amitav Ghosh (1956–)
Mohsin Hamid (1971–) Jamaica Kincaid (1949–)
Jhumpa Lahiri (1967–) Ben Okri (1959–)
Michael Ondaatje (1943–) Arundhati Roy (1961–)
Jean Rhys (1890–1979) Salman Rushdie (1947–)
Sam Selvon (1923–1994) Ousmane Sembene (1923–2007)
Bapsi Sidhwa (1938–) Zadie Smith (1975–)
Wole Soyinka (1934–) Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1938–)
Derek Walcott (1930–)==Postcolonial works of non-fiction until
2000==The Myth of the Lazy Native (1977), by Syed
Hussein Alatas. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin
and Spread of Nationalism (1983, 1991), by Benedict Anderson. London: Verso. ISBN 0-86091-329-5
The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literature (1990), by B.
Ashcroft, G. Griffiths, and H. Tiffin. The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (1995), B.
Ashcroft, G. Griffiths, and H. Tiffin, Eds. London: Routledge ISBN 0-415-09621-9.
Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies (1998), B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths, and H. Tiffin,
Eds. London: Routledge. L’eurocentrisme (Eurocentrism, 1988), by Samir
Amin. The Heathen in his Blindness. . .” Asia, the
West, and the Dynamic of Religion. (1994, 2005), by S. N. Balagangadhara. ISBN 90-04-09943-3.
The Location of Culture (1994), H.K. Bhabha. The Post-Colonial Question (1996), I. Chambers
and L. Curti, Eds. Routledge. Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial
Histories, P. Chatterjee, Princeton University Press.
Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction (1998), by Leela Gandhi, Columbia University
Press: ISBN 0-231-11273-4. Colonialism is Doomed, by Ernesto Guevara.
Woman, Native, Other. Writing postcoloniality and feminism (Indiana University Press, 1989)German
Edition: trans. Kathrina Menke, Vienna & Berlin: Verlag Turia & Kant, 2010.
Japanese Edition: trans. Kazuko Takemura, Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1995. by Trinh T. Minh-haThe
Commonwealth, Comparative Literature and the World: Two Lectures (1998), by Alamgir Hashmi.
Islamabad: Gulmohar. African Philosophy: Myth & Reality (1983),
Paulin J. Hountondji. Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World
(1986), by Kumari Jayawardena. Manichean Aesthetics: The Politics of Literature
in Colonial Africa (1988), A. JanMohamed. Inventing Ireland (1995), by Declan Kiberd.
Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (1916), by Lenin.
Prospero and Caliban, the Psychology of Colonization Octave Mannoni and P. Powesland.
The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism (1983), by Ashis Nandy.
Traditions, Tyranny, and Utopias: Essays in the Politics of Awareness (1987), by Ashis
Nandy. “The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term
‘Postcolonialism’ ” (1994), by Anne McClintock, in Colonial Discourse/Postcolonial Theory
(1994), M. Baker, P. Hulme, and M. Iverson, Eds.
Local Histories/Global designs: Coloniality (1999), by Walter Mignolo.
Infinite Layers/Third World? (1989), by Trinh T. Minh-ha.
Under Western Eyes (1986), by Chandra Talpade Mohanty.
The Invention of Africa (1988), by V. Y. Mudimbe. Dislocating Cultures (1997), by Uma Narayan.
Contesting Cultures(1997), by Uma Narayan. Delusions and Discoveries (1983), B. Parry.
Postcolonial Student: Learning the Ethics of Global Solidarity in an English Classroom,
by Masood Ashraf Raja. “Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality” (1991),
in Globalizations and Modernities (1999), by Aníbal Quijano.
“Calibán: Apuntes sobre la cultura de Nuestra América” (Caliban: Notes About the Culture
of Our America, 1971), in Calibán and Other Essays (1989), by Roberto Fernández Retamar
Culture and Imperialism (1993), by Edward Said
“New Orientations:Post Colonial Literature in English” by Jaydeep Sarangi, Authorspress,
New Delhi Can the Subaltern Speak? (1988), by Gayatri
Chakravorty Spivak. The Postcolonial Critic (1990), by Gayatri
Chakravorty Spivak. Selected Subaltern Studies (1988), by Gayatri
Chakravorty Spivak. A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Towards
a History of the Vanishing Present (1999), by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (1986), by Ngũgĩ wa
Thiong’o. White Mythologies: Writing History and the
West (1990), by Robert J.C. Young. Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture
and Race (1995), by Robert J.C. Young.==Postcolonial works of non-fiction after
2000==Cahiers du CEDREF on Decolonial Feminist and
Queer Theories (2012), by Paola Bachetta Iran: A People Interrupted (2007), by Hamid
Dabashi. At the Risk of Being Heard: Indigenous Rights,
Identity, and Postcolonial States (2003), B. Dean and J. Levi, Eds. University of Michigan
Press. ISBN 0-472-06736-2. “Postkolonial Theorie. Eine kritische Einführung”
(Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Enquiry, 2005), by N. Dhawan
Beginning Postcolonialism (2010), by J. McLeod, second edition, Manchester University Press.
The Idea of Latin América” (2005), by Walter Mignolo.
“The Postcolonial Ghetto” (2010), by L Paperson Prem Poddar and David Johnson, ed. (2008).
A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures in English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University
Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-3602-0. Retrieved 2016-02-23. The Disappointed Bridge: Ireland and the Post-Colonial
World (2014), by Richard Pine New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities
in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy (2018), by Roopika Risam
Postcolonial Theory and the Arab–Israeli Conflict (2008), Ph. C. Salzman and D. Robinson
Divine, Eds. Routledge. Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction
(2001), by Robert J.C. Young. “Presentations of Postcolonialism: New Orientations”
(2007),Jaydeep Sarangi,Authorspress,New Delhi Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations, by
G. Ankerl. Geneva INU PRESS; 2000 ISBN 2-88155-004-5. On the Postcolony (2000), by Achille Mbembe.
The Regents of the University of California.==Scholarly projects==
In an effort to understand postcolonialism through scholarship and technology, in addition
to important literature, many stakeholders have published projects about the subject.
Here is an incomplete list of projects. Bodies and Structure (2019), on the spatial
history of Japan and its empire Chicana Diasporic (2018), a research hub that
highlights the Chicana Caucus of the National Women’s Caucus from 1973–1979
Harlem Shadows (2018), an open source collection of Claude McKay’s 1922 collection of poems
Passamaquoddy People: At Home on the Oceans and Lakes (2014), a digital archive of photos
and recordings of the Passamaquaddy people Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds (2017), critical
reading of Black and Asian British literature Torn Apart/Separados (2018), visualizations
and scholarly journal tracking global crisis situations
W.E.B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America (2019), charts from W.E.B. Du
Bois in color about the lives of Black Americans==
See also==Ali Shariati
Amina Wadud Audre Lorde
Burn! (1969), directed by Gillo Pontecorvo Cultural cringe
Cross-culturalism Decolonization
The Dogs of War (1980), directed by John Irvin Ethnology
Fatima Mernissi An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart
of Darkness” (1975), by Chinua Achebe Inversion in postcolonial theory
Leila Ahmed Linguistic imperialism
Lila Abu-Lughod Kimberle Crenshaw
Kecia Ali Nation-building
Paulo Freire Postcolonial anarchism
Postcolonial feminism Postcolonial theology
Post-communism Ranajit Guha
Ranjit Hoskote Robert J.C. Young
Saba Mahmood Talal Asad
Teju Cole, “The White-Savior Industrial Complex,” The Atlantic

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