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Colonial discourse theories

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  • 1. COLONIAL DISCOURSE THEORIES Postcolonial Literatures Prof. José Santiago Fdez. Vázquez
  • 2. INTELLECTUAL HISTORY: FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE  Criticism of the traditional view of history:  Nietzsche criticizes linear progression and causality.  Emphasis on discontinuity ⇒ epistemological break
  • 3. INTELLECTUAL HISTORY: FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE  Interest in the concept of power:  Historical change determined by the “will to power”.  Truth depends on power.
  • 4. INTELLECTUAL HISTORY: FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE  Nietzsche anticipates the critique of the subject:  Challenge to the idea of a homogeneous subject: conscious and unconscious.  There is no preexistent subjectivity. Subjectivity is constructed by supraindividual structures (language, ideology, discourse).  Double meaning of the term subject in postructuralist theory.
  • 5. INTELLECTUAL HISTORY: LOUIS ALTHUSSER  Distinction between Repressive State Apparatuses and Ideological State Apparatuses.  Gramscian concepts of hegemony and domination by consent ⇒ Internalization of dominant values ⇒ Interpellation.
  • 6. INTELLECTUAL HISTORY: JACQUES LACAN  Lacan distinguishes several stages in the construction of human subjectivity:  Imaginary phase: the “mirror stage”.  Initial state of confusion.  Identification with the “imago”: the fiction of a unified self.  Dialectic of recognition: ambivalence towards the “imago”
  • 7. INTELLECTUAL HISTORY: JACQUES LACAN  Lacan distinguishes several stages in the construction of human subjectivity:  Symbolic phase:  Entry into the language system.  Assimilation of social values.
  • 8. INTELLECTUAL HISTORY: MICHEL FOUCAULT  Rejection of conventionally accepted views and assumptions.  Discourse transports and produces Power.
  • 9. KNOWLEDGE =POWER  “We should admit … that power produces knowledge (and not simply by encouraging it because it serves power or by applying it because it is useful); that power and knowledge directly imply one another; that there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge; nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations”.
  • 10. WHAT IS POWER?  “Strategic” view of power: power is present in all forms of social relation ⇒ All of us are the recipients and the agents of power.  Foucault is interested in the microphysics of power: how power is exercised in ordinary relations, at all levels of society.
  • 11. WHAT IS POWER?  “Power works over free subjects” ⇒ The subject cooperates in his/her own subjection to the structures of power ⇒ Internalization of dominant discourses ⇒ Cf. Interpellation / Hegemony-Domination by consent.  Power is productive ⇒ The subject is an effect of power.
  • 12. THE PROBLEM OF AGENCY: IS IT POSSIBLE TO RESIST POWER?  There is no possibility to be outside power ⇒ Even resistance takes place within the realm of power.  Two possible interpretations:
  • 13. THE PROBLEM OF AGENCY: IS IT POSSIBLE TO RESIST POWER?  There is no possibility to be outside power ⇒ Even resistance takes place within the realm of power.  Two possible interpretations:  Resistance is controlled by power ⇒ Acts of resistance enable power to work more effectively.
  • 14. THE PROBLEM OF AGENCY: IS IT POSSIBLE TO RESIST POWER?  There is no possibility to be outside power ⇒ Even resistance takes place within the realm of power.  Two possible interpretations:  Resistance is controlled by power ⇒ Acts of resistance enable power to work more effectively.  Power can be subverted from the inside.
  • 15. SUBVERTING POWER FROM THE INSIDE “The answer was sure to go unchallenged. Of late, the white people of Top Rock had been complaining that the police were letting too many people use the area as a thoroughfare, that too many houses in the area were being broken into, and that people were vandalizing the well- manicured lawns and stealing the mangoes off the trees in the back yards. So the police chief, who himself lived in Top Rock, and whose wife was a good friend of Pretty’s mistress, had put more policemen with bicycles on patrol in the area with orders to stop everyone” (No Man in the House)
  • 16. DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH  Inquiry on the origin of prisons.  Rejection of the humanitarian argument ⇒ See quotations.  Disciplinary power represents a shift from the control of the body to the control of the mind ⇒ Cf. Interpellation / Hegemony- Domination by consent.
  • 17. DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH  Surveillance as the major strategy of control in disciplinary societies.  The Panopticon as the epitome of surveillance ⇒ Self-transformation.
  • 18. THE PANOPTICON
  • 19. THE PANOPTICON IN LITERATURE: AN EXAMPLE “Something was happening in his head, and he stared blankly waiting for it to pass out. But suddenly the boy might look up, and catching the teacher’s eye would feel captured. He had done nothing wrong, and it was not his intention to do anything wrong. He had simply be seen by the teacher ... He did nothing wrong, but that didn’t matter. He was seen by the teacher. It didn’t happen between the boy and the teacher only, because it had nothing to do with authority. It also happened between teacher and teacher ... He had been seen by another. He had become a part of the other’s world, and therefore no longer in complete control of his own. The eye of another was a kind of cage. When it saw you the lid came down, and you were trapped. It was always happening. Sometimes when you stood alone in the public square where the buses parked, and the people went to and fro buying nuts, looking around, you got the feeling sometimes that they were looking at you, and if you were too sensitive you wanted to hide. Or in the cinema before the lights were dimmed ... It seemed the whole cinema like the public square had turned into an enormous eye that saw you. A big cage whose lid came down and caught you”. (In the Castle of My Skin)
  • 20. EDWARD SAID  Major critical works:  Orientalism (1978)  Culture and Imperialism (1993)  Main influences on Orientalism:  Gramsci’s theory of hegemony.  Foucault’s theory of discourse and power.
  • 21. ORIENTALISM  Definitions of “Orientalism”:  The history of the cultural relations between Europe and Asia.  Scientific discipline producing specialists in Oriental languages and culture.  The ideology about the Orient produced by Western scholars.
  • 22. ORIENTALISM  The distinction between ‘the Occident’ and ‘the Orient’ is culturally made.  In Orientalist discourse non-Western people are “othered” in order to reaffirm the Western self.  Orientalism is legitimising and institutional. Literary presence.  Latent and Manifest Orientalism.
  • 23. ORIENTALIST REPRESENTATION
  • 24. SOME OBJECTIONS TO ORIENTALISM  Monolithic and static definition of “Orientalism”.  Misrepresentation of material realities.  Absence of counter-hegemonic thought.
  • 25. GAYATRI SPIVAK  Main influences: deconstruction theory, feminism, Marxism.  Some issues studied by Spivak:  The role of the postcolonial critic and postcolonial studies and their complicity with colonialist practices.  The construction of “otherness”.  “Can the subaltern speak?”
  • 26. HOMI BHABHA  The construction of the colonial subject is an ambivalent process:  “Othering” of the colonial subject vs. civilizing mission.  Partial reproduction of Western culture.  Mimicry becomes mockery ⇒ Subversive potential of “hybridity” and “appropriation”.