• Created by: KDallers-
  • Created on: 15-05-19 12:24

Intro to Postcolonialism

A critical theory based on the idea that the COLONIAL EXPERIENCE, which destroyed societies, is critical to our understanding of the world

- Colonialism led to a REORDERING and RESTRUCTURING of many nations; we hear of the COLONISERS, but not of the COLONISED - what happens to the OPPRESSED in society?

- Colonial history has been present since the 15/16th centuries - 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas and Cromwell in Ireland

- Example of the Ivory Coast - a French colony until 1945 with slavery, however following this it became dependent on imports; government ravaged by CORRUPTION - today, reliant on IMF restructuring, providing debt, austerity, poverty, civil war - NEW ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM is the reality nowadays

WHAT IS COLONIALISM: Loomba - 'the takeover of territory, exploitation of labour and interference with political... structures of another territory'

- An economic element to this re labour - provides a neoMarxist view of colonialism; take the Scramble for Africa as an example - there is territorial, population-based, cultural, knowledge-based colonialism also

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Theory of Postcolonialism - 'a mode of analysis'

This emerged in the 1970s following Said's Orientalism 1978 - a belief that colonialism was STILL ONGOING, meaning the hyphen is REMOVED from the word

- Chakraborty + Spirak - "we live in a postcolonial, neo-colonial world" - neo and post are still able to be used together

- Abrahamsen - "the structures... are still in place"

- Postcolonialism is a MODE OF ANALYSIS - a way of looking at things, and not 'othering' colonial peoples - a 'lens' to tackle Westerncentrism and grand narratives

- Based around listening to the MARGINALISED and showing an interest - liberating these COLONIAL PEOPLES and giving them a voice in today's 'power politics' scenarios

- A VOICE TO THE SUBALTERN - subaltern is the very bottom of society which no one listens to (Gramscian); we should give them the voice for bottom-up politics

- Look at LOCAL COLONIAL CULTURES rather than the colonisers, and work with them to UNDERSTAND why their culture is important

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Postcolonial Theorists

EDWARD SAID - Orientalism 1978 - a Palestinian who wrote the most influential, postcolonial text - wanted to know WHY WESTERNERS SEE 'ORIENTAL' PEOPLE IN A CERTAIN WAY

- Argued this was no coincidence, and was due to Western media; example of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War; Western media believed that the 'Arabs couldn't fight', so everyone else did - belief that the West sees the Orient as 'to be conquered' - the Orient was all about DESTRUCTION AND SUBVERSION to the Western mind

FRANTZ FANON - The Wretched of the Earth - psychologist, discussed 'colonisation of the mind' resulting from daily racism and violence - the COLONISED were also the subaltern in their MINDS; - a sense of dependency on the colony and the use of violence reifies this view - believed in VIOLENT UPRISING as the response (Algerian response to France)

AIME CESAIRE - believed in the concept of 'blackness' and an 'end to colonialism' and wrote a book on this - he wanted an AUTHENTIC CARIBBEAN VOICE to end the struggle against 'othering' - aka wanted to challenge power relations

Other key POSTCOLONIALISTS - Ho Chi Minh, Chakraborty + Spirak, Abrahamsen

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POST - means 'after', but does NOT refer to a time AFTER COLONIALISM here; the lack of a hyphen denotes this - colonialism still going on (Abrahamsen, Chakraborty) - the DOCTRINE OF COLONIALISM as governance is declining in the West, but colonial perspectives still continue

NEO - the rise of ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM (Chinese in Africa, dependency on large economies - a neoMarxist view); organisations such as the IMF and World Bank also promote economic imperialism - these two concepts are COMPATIBLE


- Today: Wallerstein (Marxist) - proposes 'WORLD SYSTEMS THEORY' - core nations which are more developed and seeking to exploit 'periphery' nations - these are former colonial properties

- As this process continues, there is a need to CHALLENGE ASSUMPTIONS and 'decolonise' IR theory - challenge GREAT POWERS and GREAT POWER WAR, and give the MARGINALISED a voice

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Criticisms of Postcolonialism

1) BINARY - proposes an idea of West vs East, coloniser vs colonised, when in reality there are non-colonial Western nations, and examples of colonialism by Eastern nations - the Indian Ocean Slave Trade, for example

2) NEOMARXIST - the economic element to postcolonialism mean that some believe the theory should look at critiquing captalism more - some theorists do, but others should more - Fanon looks at the social impacts of colonialism, and proposes political revolution, but he would have more success if he looked at how COLONIALISM HAS IMPACTED ECONOMICS

3) GENDERED - the history of the Orient and postcolonial thinkers tend to be MEN - marginalised groups in other sections of society do NOT GET A VOICE as a result - what can postcolonial theorists do to combat this?

4) CLASH OF CIVILISATIONS - Huntington's view that cultural identity clashes will be the cause of war; so West taking action against this early is forseeable? Some describe this as RACIST, however it may be a criticism of postcolonial theory - a 'level playing field' will result in conflict

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Key Postcolonial Thinkers

FANON (colonisation of the mind), SAID (orientalism and oppression of 'Oriental' cultures - stereotyping), CESAIRE (blackness, promoting black Caribbean culture)

NKRUMAH (Ghanaian that suggested there was a lack of economic autonomy due to colonialism having been in control)

WALLERSTEIN (World Systems Theory - a neoMarxist view)


HUNTINGTON (Clash of Civilisations)

LOOMBA (definition)

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