Postcolonial Criticism Powerpoint_Cindy

Some quick
To understand Postcolonial Crit…
you have to understand a little
about the history of colonialism
and the kinds of injustice which it
= the project of
European political,
economic, and
military world
domination from
the late 15th to the
mid-late 20th
In the late 15th century,
“colonialism increased decisively because of
technological developments in navigation
that began to connect more remote parts of
the world. Fast sailing ships made it possible
to reach distant ports while sustaining closer
ties between the center and colonies.
Thus, the modern European colonial
project emerged when it became
possible to move large numbers of
people across the ocean and to
maintain political sovereignty in spite
of geographical dispersion.”
Who did the colonizing?
Early 20th Cen. British Empire
“Colonialism and imperialism
were forms of conquest
expected to benefit Europe
economically and
Of course, um…
the same
could not be
said for
those who
had been
Subjugated peoples have had to
cope with:
 Shattered IDENTITY: cultural, social, and
The alienation, culture shock, fear, humiliation,
and grief caused by losing or being forced to
suppress their own values, habits, beliefs, and
Example: laws which forced subjects to speak only
English. Forbidding the use of one’s native
tongue can do long-lasting and pervasive
emotional, psychological, and social damage.
 CULTURAL GENOCIDE. The colonized country doesn’t simply
adopt the culture and values of their colonizers. You don’t just
replace deeply held social and personal beliefs at the flick of a
switch. A whole process of decay, cultural limbo, and
displacement sets in as one country is overtaken by another.
Breakdown of social structures is virtually inevitable.
With colonization, a country’s history, codes, and values are lost
or confused between generations. Anthropology, History, and
Sociology show that the ill effects of imperial intrusion and native
culture collapse can remain long after a conquering force has
departed, permeating the culture at all levels and persisting
through generations.
 Colonized peoples develop DOUBLE CONSCIOUSNESS: a way of
perceiving the world that is divided between two antagonistic
cultures: that of the colonizer and that of the indigenous
 Colonized peoples develop UNHOMELINESS (Said) : the feeling of
being a psychological refugee caught between cultures and not
properly “at home” anywhere; the trauma of cultural displacement
and marginalization.
More Key Terms
Post-colonialism: refers to the
political, cultural, and
psychological struggles of
societies transitioning out of
political dependence to
It’s Not Just Physical (More Key Terms)
 Cultural Oppression = the colonizing country’s
control of language, religion, knowledge,
communication, social codes, and customs.
 Colonial Ideology = the belief system of the invading
country which holds that the indigenous people are
inferior or less than fully human. (They are demonic
or exotic “others.”) This ideology (explicitly and
implicitly) marks the colonizer as “the center” and
the subjugated person as “the margin.”
 Colonial Subjects = colonized peoples who do not
resist subjugation because they have internalized the
oppressor’s ideology. I.e., they actually come to
believe that they themselves are inferior and the
oppressor is superior.
Right Here at Home…
“In 1493, when Columbus returned to the
Hispaniola, he quickly implemented policies of
slavery and mass extermination of the Taino
population of the Caribbean. Within three years,
five million were dead.
Las Casas, the primary historian of the Columbian
era, writes of many accounts of the horrors that
the Spanish colonists inflicted upon the
indigenous population: hanging them en mass,
hacking their children into pieces to be used as
dog feed, and other horrid cruelties.
The works of Las Casas are often omitted from
popular American history books and courses
because Columbus is considered a hero by many,
even today.”
Genocide: the deliberate and
systematic destruction of an
ethnic, religious or national group.
"By conservative estimates, the
population of the United states prior to
European contact was greater than 12
million. Four centuries later, the count
was reduced by 95% to 237 thousand.”
The number of indigenous
people annihilated in the
U.S. exceeds the number
of natives “eliminated” in
any other invaded country
on earth?
The U.S. Government failed to
honor ANY of its original
treaties with native people
1868 Treaty at Fort Laramie
U.S. government designates the Black
Hills as belonging to the Great Sioux
Reservation, “set aside for exclusive
use by the Sioux people,” for their
children and grandchildren forever.
That is, oops, until the discovery of gold
there in 1874, at which point we
promptly violated our treaty and took
back that land.
Source: U.S. National Archives
Of course, of course, of course…
None of the above is without debate.
Postcolonial Studies is a complex field, with
considerable discord over a range of issues.
Was European colonialism in any way good
for the colonized countries?
Was European colonialism worse than the
kinds of oppression wrought by nonEuropeans on their own peoples?
Most people these days, though,
no longer think of “colonialism” or
imperialism” as ETHICALLY OR
not as “natural” givens.
No one has the right to parade into another country to
plunder its resources.
No one has the natural right to impose their own culture on
anyone else, or to irreparably damage the culture of another
country for financial or strategic gain.
If we thought
any of that were
ok, we’d be
violating the
principles of
our own
Declaration of
A current issue of
is colonialism a thing of the
past? Is “post” colonialism
even an accurate term? Some
would say that we’re currently
in an age of:
NEOCOLONIALISM: the present, corporate globalized
form of colonialism. Subjugation of vulnerable
nations at the hands of international corporations…
“…often at IMPERIALISM:
the expense ofthe
of an
own struggling
practices, and
and ecological well-being.”
The spread and global dominance of American corporate
products and consumer culture might be considered a
form of “cultural imperialism.” (You’re travelling along a
barren stretch of the Mongolian desert and suddenly
there’s…a McDonald’s! Or you’re in Napal to learn about
their particular brand of Buddhism and their ancient
customs, and you find that all of the remote mountain
temples you visit have Coke machines! Or you’ve gone
to the Yucatan to learn about the native people there and
find children wearing t-shirts that read “Britney Spears
Rocks” or “Shop Till You Drop.”)
Under this form of imperialism, American consumer
goods, TV shows, music, etc. are considered central
while the cultural productions of other countries
(especially those lacking huge corporate presences) are
regarded as marginal.
Is the Iraq War…
a colonialist enterprise?
Of course, all of this
the LITERATURE which
emerges from a country—
either by the colonized
peoples themselves or by the
settler peoples.
Anyone who studies English literature
must necessarily contend with Postcolonial Criticism
and postcolonial issues.
The British empire at one time covered a quarter of
the globe—with the result that a great number of the
world’s peoples came to speak and write English as a
first or second language.
And American genocide and imperialism along with
the phenomenon of globalization have of course
spread English around the world.
Postcolonial Crit, like Feminist
and Marxist Crit.,
aims to change things.
“A foundational concept of
postcolonial criticism is
anticolonial resistance” (424)
Poco Crit also wants to bring “to
the fore the works of Third and
Fourth World writers” (426).
pp. 427-428; and especially p. 431.
 How are various forms of postcolonial trauma represented
in a work?
 What binaries are operating in the work, and which half of
the binary is privileged over the other?
 How does a given work demonize, marginalize, or “other” a
particular group in order to affirm its own identity as “the
standard,” “the center,” or the positive side of the binary?
 What does a work tell us about the personal experience of
people whom history has ignored? After all, literature
dramatizes the lives of ordinary characters; it’s a perfect
laboratory or screen for playing out and investigating what
ideology does to people at the micro-levels of culture and
Poco Crit
is not a simple, clear-cut way of analyzing literature,
and it can take many forms.
Poco Crit can actually be applied to texts which have
no direct connection to literal colonialism. Its uses,
in other words, are quite broad.
Whatever else you may think of
this sort of criticism…
it gives you a
language and a
strategy for
identifying abuses
of power and for
protecting yourself
or anyone else from
It can’t hurt to educate yourself about the relationship between
power and ideology. After all, it affects everything we do—
including the writing and study of literature.
Identifying Poco
Criticism in Practice
What terms are you likely to encounter in a work of postcolonial
What would a postcolonialist essay likely be trying to do in regards to
the literature it is analyzing?
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