V Postcolonialism


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Authors: Chinua Achebe/ Edward Said/ Homi K.Bhabha/ Henry Louise Gates

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V Postcolonialism

  2. 2. ETHNIC AND POST-COLONIAL STUDIES <ul><li>Authors in previous study blocks have critiqued stable, fixed notions of identity, identity as a state, preferring to inscribe subjectivity within a fluid, variable, culturally determined and ongoing process. </li></ul><ul><li>In this section the emphasis shifts, however, from gender or sexuality to ethnicity, race and the post-colonial subject. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Stuart Hall has noted a revisioning or splitting of the term ethnicity, between the dominant notion which connects it to nation and ‘race’ and … a recognition that we all speak from a particular place, out of a particular history, out of a particular experience, a particular culture … We are all, in this sense, ethnically located. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Hall’s linkage of particularity to commonality (“we all speak from a particular place”, etc.) enfolds ethnicities such as Englishness which have traditionally survived “by marginalizing, dispossessing, displacing and forgetting other ethnicities. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>The totalizing project of Englishness in colonies under British imperial rule, and its questioning by intellectuals and critics of the second half of the 20 th century, lie at the heart of what has come to be known as post-colonial criticism. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Within a poststructuralist environment and drawing on its methodology, post-colonial critics analyze the repercussions of European cultural and territorial expansion from its beginnings to the present day. </li></ul><ul><li>They examine the mutually reinforcing enterprise of colonialism and the cultures of the colonizers, as well as the interaction between colonizers and colonized. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Post-colonial aims at recovering the marginalized excluded or otherwise silenced voices of colonial or subaltern voices. </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, post-colonial studies explore and theorize identity as determined by colonial and post-colonial experience, national affiliation and a globalised world. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>The field emerged in the second half of the 20 th century after WW II, when the colonial enterprise started breaking down and European colonial powers such as France and England granted independence to many of its colonies. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Internal colonial situations such as those suffered by African Americans in the United States and the black majority in South Africa faced significant and mounting challenges to racist practices and abuse. </li></ul><ul><li>Colonial hegemony had been enforced by the imposition of the colonizers’ language and cultures, and attention in the post-colonial studies turned to the role of literature which, </li></ul><ul><li>as Michael Ryan notes, came to be seen as a privileged site for understanding the social structures, cultural codes, and psychological tropes of cross-cultural and inter-ethnic understanding and misunderstanding . </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Race and ethnicity interest us for the ways in which they are represented, mediated or otherwise signify through literary texts. Ryan reminds us that culturally constructed racial or ethnic identities bear a specific relationship to literature. Much of the most influential post-colonial criticism has been generated by authors who were born in formerly colonized nations </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>The Nigerian author and critic Chinua Achebe’s essay An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a foundational text of post-colonial criticism. </li></ul><ul><li>It exposes the racism that lies at the heart of Heart of Darkness , a racism in which Western culture is given the privileged status of Conrad’s text in Western canon. </li></ul><ul><li>Palestinian-born American critic Edward Said’s Orientalism is one of the foremost landmarks credited with having laid the groundwork for the field. </li></ul>
  12. 12. SAID <ul><li>Interacting with the emerging poststructuralist theory, he was one of Michel Foucault’s most distinguished disciples, drawing on his studies of discourse and power, or discourse as power, to elucidate the function of cultural representations on the construction and maintenance of First / Third World relations . </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Said takes on the challenge of the post-colonial, to elucidate how knowledge that is non-dominative and non-coercive can be produced in a setting that is deeply inscribed with the politics, the considerations, the positions and the strategies of power ( Orientalism Reconsidered ). He put into circulation the term the other to describe the enduring stereotypes and thinking about the Orient generated by European imperialism. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Homi Bhabha, (Spivak is Bengali, Bhabha is Indian), have driven post-colonial criticism further down the route of imaginative interaction between theory and politics, analytical discourse and the anti-imperialist cause. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Said and Spivak explore the structures of imperial domination and their material impact on the lives of the colonized subject construed as the Other or the Subaltern . </li></ul><ul><li>Bhabha engages with deconstructive practice in order to critique certain violent hierarchies : the West and the Orient , the center and the periphery , the empire and the colonized , the oppressor and the oppressed , and the self and the other . </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Dismantling these binaries that conceptualize national cultures as stable, fixed and monologic, Bhabha argues that nationalities, ethnicities, and identities are dialogic, indeterminate, and characterized by hybridity </li></ul>
  17. 17. POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES AND RACE AND ETHNICITY STUDIES <ul><li>Postcolonial studies examines the global impact of European colonialism, from its beginnings in the 15 th up to the present. </li></ul><ul><li>Its aims are: to describe the mechanisms of colonial power, to recover excluded or marginalized subaltern voices, and to theorize the complexities of colonial and postcolonial identity, national belonging, and globalization. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>One major issue concerns the nature of representation. </li></ul><ul><li>Following Edward Said’s Orientalism , postcolonial critics have examined the ways in which Western representations of third world countries serve the political interests of their makers. </li></ul><ul><li>Postcolonial critics problematize “objective” perception, pointing out the unbalanced power relations that typically shape the production of knowledge. </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>The West has constructed the third world as an Other . </li></ul><ul><li>Such ideological projections typically become the negative terms of binary oppositions in which the positive terms are normative representations of the West. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>These damaging stereotypes circulate through anthropological, historical, and literary texts, as well as mass media such as newspapers, television, and cinemas. </li></ul><ul><li>A related line of inquiry in postcolonial theory studies how institutions of Western education function in the spread of imperialism. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Historical documents such as Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Minute on Indian Education show that education, including the study of English literature and the English language, plays a strategic part in ruling over colonized peoples. </li></ul><ul><li>As it inculcates Western Eurocentric values, literary education supports a kind of cultural colonization , creating a class of colonial subjects often burdened by a double consciousness and by divided loyalties. </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>It helps Western colonizers rule by consent rather than by violence. </li></ul>
  23. 23. WHAT POSTCOLONIAL CRITICS DO FROM BARRY <ul><li>1. They reject the claims to universalism made on behalf of canonical Western literature and seek to show its limitations of outlook, especially its general inability to empathize across boundaries of cultural and ethnic difference. </li></ul><ul><li>2. They examine the representation of other cultures in literature as a way of achieving this end. </li></ul><ul><li>3. They show how such literature is often evasively and crucially silent on matters concerned with colonisation and imperialism. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>4. They foreground questions of cultural difference and diversity and examine their treatment in relevant literary works. </li></ul><ul><li>5. They celebrate hybridity and 'cultural polyvalency ', that is, the situation whereby individuals and groups belong simultaneously to more than one culture (for instance, that of the coloniser, through a colonial school system, and that of the colonised, through local and oral traditions). </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>6. They develop a perspective, not just applicable to postcolonial literatures, whereby states of marginality, plurality and perceived 'Otherness ' are seen as sources of energy and potential change. </li></ul>