Postcolonial writing and theories


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Postcolonial writing and theories

  1. 1. Postcolonial writing and theories
  2. 2. What is it?• As a theory: a reaction to the power structures of the (ex) colonial rulers• As a group of writers: writers of fiction and non-fiction from the (ex) colonies
  3. 3. problems• Not all nations studied have been colonies• Many titles were written before independence• Colonialism is not over• It is Eurocentric and not the only experience of postcolonial nations• Not all postcolonial writers write of colonialism• Not everyone wants to be labelled as postcolonial
  4. 4. Theorists – an overview• The theory evolved as a reaction to colonialism: – Militarily – physical rule• But more importantly – Culturally – mental rule• And now increasingly – financially – economic rule
  5. 5. Edward Said – Orientalism (1978)• The study of orientalism leads to divisions between east (the orient) and west (the occident)• The image of the orient is constructed, and creates the idea that all “eastern” cultures are fundamentally similar to each other
  6. 6. Gyatri Spivak – the subaltern• Subaltern – persons outside of the political hegemony• Can the Subaltern Speak? (1988) – Marginalised groups have no “voice” – Postcolonial theorists continue to use the language, power, educational and political structures of the ruling
  7. 7. Homi K. Bhabha - hybridization• Homi K. Bhabha and hybridization• The Location of Culture (1994)• Writers belong to both cultures• Postcolonial writers, using colonial forms: – Hybridize, change and add nuance
  8. 8. A few postcolonial writers...• Problem:• “I am not a postcolonial writer – I am a writer”• Studying the postcolonial writer – continued orientalism?• We have to deconstruct the postcolonial writer as the Other
  9. 9. Chinua Achebe• Nigeria• Things Fall Apart 1958• A reaction to Heart of Darkness• Neutral standpoint?• Gives Africans a voice
  10. 10. V.S.Naipaul• Trinidad• A House for Mr Biswas 1961• Explores the territory that exists between cultures• An allegory for the post- colonial nation’s search for identity
  11. 11. Jean Rhys• Dominican• Wide Sargasso Sea 1966• A prequel to Brontës Jane Eyre• Gives voice to the “Madwoman in the attic”• Marginalises the colonial rulers
  12. 12. Salman Rushdie• India• Midnight’s Children 1981• A retelling of India’s and Pakistan’s independence• Magic realism – challenging western tradition of narrative, and questioning the neutrality of historical narratives• Hybridity – blending colonial and indigenous viewpoints
  13. 13. Arundhati Roy• The God of Small Things 1997• Example of the modern postcolonial novel• A refocusing on internal social and political issues• But we can see how the western hegemony is partly responsible
  14. 14. In fact...• If we are dealing with the problems of colonialism..• Then why not Jonathan Swift?
  15. 15. What postcolonial critics do• Reject the universalism of the western canon• Examine how western literature represents other cultures• Reveal how colonization is “covered up”, even justified• Accept hybrid combining of cultures• Revalue “otherness” as a site for potential change
  16. 16. View of the orient as immoral and corruptan-Leon Gerome: Snake Charmer 1870
  17. 17. Positions?Edouard Richter – The Fortune Teller
  18. 18. Whirling Dervishes Jean-Leon Gerome 1899
  19. 19. Cairo 1880
  20. 20. The moral high ground...Painting of a Zulu attack on a “Voortrekker” camp, Charles Bell 1813-1882
  21. 21. And what of the postcolonial view of the self?SANDY ESAU: Coon Carnival II
  22. 22. The Scramble for Africa Yinka Shonibara
  23. 23. Disney’s Aladdin • Intro song: “it’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home” • Good guys – fair skinned, Caucasian features, American accents • Bad guys – dark skinned, Semitic noses and foreign accents • Film is replete with stereotypical oriental characters