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Ethnic and Post-Colonial Studies


ETHNIC AND POST-COLONIAL STUDIES ETHNIC AND POST-COLONIAL STUDIES Authors in previous study blocks have critiqued stable, fixed notions of identity, identity as a ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ethnic and Post-Colonial Studies

Ethnic and Post-Colonial Studies
Ethnic and Post-Colonial Studies
  • 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.
  • In this section the emphasis shifts, however,
    from gender or sexuality to ethnicity, race and
    the post-colonial subject.

  • 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

  • Halls 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

  • The totalizing project of Englishness in colonies
    under British imperial rule, and its questioning
    by intellectuals and critics of the second half
    of the 20th century, lie at the heart of what has
    come to be known as post-colonial criticism.

  • 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.
  • They examine the mutually reinforcing enterprise
    of colonialism and the cultures of the
    colonizers, as well as the interaction between
    colonizers and colonized.

  • Post-colonial aims at recovering the marginalized
    excluded or otherwise silenced voices of colonial
    or subaltern voices.
  • Finally, post-colonial studies explore and
    theorize identity as determined by colonial and
    post-colonial experience, national affiliation
    and a globalised world.

  • The field emerged in the second half of the 20th
    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.

  • 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.
  • 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,
  • 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.

  • 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

  • The Nigerian author and critic Chinua Achebes
    essay An Image of Africa Racism in Conrads
    Heart of Darkness is a foundational text of
    post-colonial criticism.
  • 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
    Conrads text in Western canon.
  • Palestinian-born American critic Edward Saids
    Orientalism is one of the foremost landmarks
    credited with having laid the groundwork for the

  • Interacting with the emerging poststructuralist
    theory, he was one of Michel Foucaults 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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

Postcolonial Studies and Race and Ethnicity
  • Postcolonial studies examines the global impact
    of European colonialism, from its beginnings in
    the 15th up to the present.
  • 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.

  • One major issue concerns the nature of
  • Following Edward Saids Orientalism, postcolonial
    critics have examined the ways in which Western
    representations of third world countries serve
    the political interests of their makers.
  • Postcolonial critics problematize objective
    perception, pointing out the unbalanced power
    relations that typically shape the production of

  • The West has constructed the third world as an
  • Such ideological projections typically become the
    negative terms of binary oppositions in which the
    positive terms are normative representations of
    the West.

  • These damaging stereotypes circulate through
    anthropological, historical, and literary texts,
    as well as mass media such as newspapers,
    television, and cinemas.
  • A related line of inquiry in postcolonial theory
    studies how institutions of Western education
    function in the spread of imperialism.

  • Historical documents such as Thomas Babington
    Macaulays 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.
  • 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.

  • It helps Western colonizers rule by consent
    rather than by violence.