General Introduction to Postcolonialism LITERATURE AND CULTURE MA, 2013/2014 BŐDY EDIT
Postcolonial Studies • Prominent since the 1970s. • 1978: Edward W. Said’s work, Orientalism: a critique of western constructions of the Orient. • Term “postcolonial”: • First in a study of Bill Aschroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, The Empire Writes Back:Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures(1989). • Since then: widespread interest in postcolonial literature and criticism.
Definition of Postcolonialism General meaning of the term: “it is the study of the interactions bw. European nations and the societies they colonized in the modern period”.
Types of formercolonies • settler countries (eg. Australia, Canada) • non-settler countries (eg. India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka) • partially settled countries (eg. Zimbabwe, South Africa) • Immense difference bw. these countries → “postcolonial is a very loose term”. • the USA? – might be described as a postcolonial country but in general it is not perceived as such.
Term “postcolonial” In literal sense “postcolonial” is that which has been preceded by colonization. But: - not only temporal but spatial considerations - postcolonial may include countries which are not independent so they do not have a real postcolonial status. - neocolonialism, globalization, transnationalism. - in general it seems to describe the second half of the 20th century - it is also used to signify: “a position against imperialism and Eurocentrism, western ways of knowledge production and dissemination in the past.”
Major issues • How did the experience of colonization affect the colonized ones while also influencing the colonizers? • How were the colonial powers able to gain control over so a large part of the non-western world? • What traces have been left by colonial education, science and technology in postcolonial societies? • What are the forms of resistance against colonial control? • How did colonial education and language influence the culture and identity of the colonized?
Major issues • How did western science, technology and medicine change existing knowledge systems? • What are the emergent forms of postcolonial identity after the departure of the colonizers? • To what extent was decolonization possible? • How do gender, race and class function in colonial and postcolonial discourse?
Dominant issues in postcolonial literature • Should the writer use a colonial language to reach a wider audience or return to a native language? • Which writers should be in the postcolonial canon? • How can translated postcolonial texts contribute to our understanding of postcolonial issues? • Has the predominance of the postcolonial novel led to a neglect of other genres?
Major figures, theory • Edward W. Said • Franz Fanon • Homi K. Bhabha • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Literature • Chinua Achebe • Jamaica Kincaid • V. S. Naipaul • Ben Okri • Michael Ondaatje • Arundhaty Roy • Salman Rushdie • Jean Rhys, etc.
Sources • Deepika Bahri, PostcolonialStudies at Emory. • Selden, R., Widdowson & P., Brooker, P. (eds.), A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory. Longman, 2005. • Bókay A., Vilcsek B., Szamosi G. & Sári L., A posztmodern irodalomtudomány kialakulása. Osiris, 2002.