Postcolonialism

Postcolonialism

Overview
Post-colonialism is a specifically post-modern intellectual discourse that consists of reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

. Postcolonialism comprises a set of theories
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

 found amongst history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, human geography
Human geography
Human geography is one of the two major sub-fields of the discipline of geography. Human geography is the study of the world, its people, communities, and cultures. Human geography differs from physical geography mainly in that it has a greater focus on studying human activities and is more...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, feminism
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

, religious and theological studies, and literature.

The ultimate goal of post-colonialism is accounting for and combating the residual effects of colonialism on cultures.
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Quotations

Ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied.

Orientalism (1978)

[An elaborated culture has a] density, complexity, and historical-semantic value that is so strong as to make politics possible... Antonio Gramsci|Gramsci's insight is to have recognised that subordination, fracturing, diffusion, reproducing, as much as producing, creating, forcing, guiding, are necessary aspects of elaboration.

Quoted in Richard Middleton, Studying Popular Music (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-335-15275-9), p.248
Encyclopedia
Post-colonialism is a specifically post-modern intellectual discourse that consists of reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

. Postcolonialism comprises a set of theories
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

 found amongst history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, human geography
Human geography
Human geography is one of the two major sub-fields of the discipline of geography. Human geography is the study of the world, its people, communities, and cultures. Human geography differs from physical geography mainly in that it has a greater focus on studying human activities and is more...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, feminism
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

, religious and theological studies, and literature.

Goals


The ultimate goal of post-colonialism is accounting for and combating the residual effects of colonialism on cultures. It is not simply concerned with salvaging past worlds, but learning how the world can move beyond this period together, towards a place of mutual respect.

Post-colonialist thinkers recognize that many of the assumptions which underlie the "logic" of colonialism are still active forces today.

A key goal of post-colonial theorists is clearing space for multiple voices. This is especially true of those voices that have been previously silenced by dominant ideologies - subalterns. It is widely recognized within the discourse that this space must first be cleared within academia. Edward Said
Edward Said
Edward Wadie Saïd was a Palestinian-American literary theorist and advocate for Palestinian rights. He was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a founding figure in postcolonialism...

, in his book Orientalism
Orientalism (book)
Orientalism is a book published in 1978 by Edward Said that has been highly influential and controversial in postcolonial studies and other fields. In the book, Said effectively redefined the term "Orientalism" to mean a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the...

, provides a clear picture of the ways social scientists, specifically Orientalists, can disregard the views of those they actually study - preferring instead to rely on the intellectual superiority of themselves and their peers.


To the extent that Western scholars were aware of contemporary Orientals or Oriental movements of thought and culture, these were perceived either as silent shadows to be animated by the Orientalist, brought into reality by them, or as a kind of cultural and international proletariat useful for the Orientalist's grander interpretive activity. (Said, 1978: 208)


Much debate has since taken place regarding how to effectively and fairly incorporate the subaltern voice into social studies. With such a huge mass of criticism against the idea of studying "others", many social scientists felt paralyzed, fatalistically accepting it as an impossibility. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is an Indian literary critic, theorist and a University Professor at Columbia University. She is best known for the essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?", considered a founding text of postcolonialism, and for her translation of Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology. She...

, an Indian post-colonialist thinker, rejects this outright. "To refuse to represent a cultural Other is salving your conscience, and allowing you not to do any homework."

Spivak recognizes the project is problematic, as recovery and presentation of a subaltern voice would likely essentialize its message, negating the subaltern masses' heterogeneity. Spivak suggests "strategic essentialism" - speaking on behalf of a group while using a clear image of identity to fight opposition - is the only solution to this problem. Applying this approach, bell hooks
Bell hooks
Gloria Jean Watkins , better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, feminist, and social activist....

 addresses the white academic reader on behalf of subalterns in the conclusion to her paper "Marginality as a site of resistance".


This is an intervention. A message from that space in the margin that is a site of creativity and power, that inclusive space where we recover ourselves, where we meet in solidarity to erase the category colonized/colonizer. Marginality is the space [site] of resistance. Enter that space. Let us meet there. Enter that space. We greet you as liberators. (hooks, 1990: 152)


Some post-colonial theorists make the argument that studying both dominant knowledge sets and marginalized ones as binary opposites perpetuates their existence as homogenous entities. Homi K. Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and the Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University. He is one of the most important figures in contemporary post-colonial studies, and has coined a number of the field's neologisms and...

 feels the post-colonial world should valorize spaces of mixing; spaces where truth and authenticity move aside for ambiguity. This space of hybridity
Hybridity
Hybridity refers in its most basic sense to mixture. The term originates from biology and was subsequently employed in linguistics and in racial theory in the nineteenth century. Its contemporary uses are scattered across numerous academic disciplines and is salient in popular culture...

, he argues, offers the most profound challenge to colonialism. (Bhabha, 1994: 113) Critiques that Bhabha ignores Spivak's stated usefulness of essentialism have been put forward. Reference is made to essentialisms' potential usefulness. An organized voice provides a more powerful challenge to dominant knowledge - whether in academia or active protests.

Frantz Fanon
Frantz Fanon
Frantz Fanon was a Martiniquo-Algerian psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary and writer whose work is influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory and Marxism...

  offers a violent prescription for moving beyond the colonial mindset. But violence in Fanon, who was trained as a psychoanalyst, is a cathartic practice aimed at "cleansing" the male colonized psyche from the effects of the epistemic violence of colonialism. That is why Fanon supported the most violent factions of FLN
National Liberation Front (Algeria)
The National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Algeria. It was set up on November 1, 1954 as a merger of other smaller groups, to obtain independence for Algeria from France.- Anticolonial struggle :...

 in Algeria. It is important to read Fanon's emphasis on revolutionary violence within the discourse of psychoanalysis.

Ultimately, however, Post-colonialism is a hopeful discourse. The very "post" defines the discipline as one that looks forward to a world that has truly moved beyond all that colonialism entails, together. Mbembe finds it gives him "hope in the advent of a universal brotherly [and I would add sisterly] community". Asking what it means to be human together, post-colonialism aims at decolonizing the future.

Subject matters


The critical nature of postcolonial theory entails destabilizing Western ways of thinking
Western thought
The term Western thought is usually associated with the cultural tradition that traces its origins to Greek thought and the Abrahamic religions...

, therefore creating space for the subaltern, or marginalized groups, to speak and produce alternatives to dominant discourse. Often, the term postcolonialism is taken literally, to mean the period of time after colonialism.
This however is problematic because the ‘once-colonized world’ is full of “contradictions, of half-finished processes, of confusions, of hybridity
Hybridity
Hybridity refers in its most basic sense to mixture. The term originates from biology and was subsequently employed in linguistics and in racial theory in the nineteenth century. Its contemporary uses are scattered across numerous academic disciplines and is salient in popular culture...

, and liminalities”. In other words, it is important to accept the plural nature of the word postcolonialism, as it does not simply refer to the period after the colonial era. By some definitions, postcolonialism can also be seen as a continuation of colonialism, albeit through different or new relationships concerning power and the control/production of knowledge. Due to these similarities, it is debated whether to hyphenate postcolonialism as to symbolize that we have fully moved beyond colonialism.
Postcolonialism as a literary theory
Literary theory
Literary theory in a strict sense is the systematic study of the nature of literature and of the methods for analyzing literature. However, literary scholarship since the 19th century often includes—in addition to, or even instead of literary theory in the strict sense—considerations of...

 (with a critical approach
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

), deals with literature produced in countries that once were colonies of other countries, especially of the European colonial powers Britain, France, and Spain; in some contexts, it includes countries still in colonial arrangements. It also deals with literature written by citizens of colonial countries that portrays colonized people as its subject matter. In Dutch literature a specific colonial and post colonial segment is named Indies (after Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

) literature. A sub-segment specifically focuses on post colonial identity formation and culture of the diasporic Indo-Europeans, a (Eurasian) community originally from Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. Its main author was Tjalie Robinson
Tjalie Robinson
Tjalie Robinson is the main alias of the Indo intellectual and writer Jan Boon also known as Vincent Mahieu. His father Cornelis Boon, a KNIL sergeant, was Dutch and his Indo-European mother Fela Robinson was part English and Javanese...

. Colonized people, especially of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, attended British universities and with their access to education, created this new criticism. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 during the late 20th century, its former republics became the subject of this study as well.

Often, previously colonized places are homogenized in western discourse under an umbrella label such as the ‘Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

’. Postcolonialism demonstrates the heterogeneity of colonized places by analyzing the uneven impact of Western colonialism on different places, peoples, and cultures. This is done by engaging with the variety of ways in which “relations, practices and representations” of the past is “reproduced or transformed”, and studying the connections between the “heart and margins” of the empire. Moreover, postcolonialism recognizes that there was, and still is, resistance to the West. This resistance is practiced by many, including the subaltern, a group of marginalized, and least powerful.

Postcolonial theory provides a framework that destabilizes dominant discourses in the West, challenges “inherent assumptions”, and critiques the “material and discursive legacies of colonialism”. In order to challenge these assumptions and legacies of colonialism, postcolonial studies needs to be grounded, which entails working with tangible identities, connections, and processes. Postcolonial theorist Edward Said's 1978 book Orientalism has been described as a seminal work in the field.

Furthermore, Postcolonialism deals with cultural identity in colonized societies: the dilemmas of developing a national identity
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 after colonial rule; the ways in which writers articulate and celebrate that identity (often reclaiming it from and maintaining strong connections with the colonizer); the ways in which the knowledge of the colonized (subordinated) people has been generated and used to serve the colonizer's interests; and the ways in which the colonizer's literature has justified colonialism via images of the colonised as a perpetually inferior people, society and culture. These inward struggles of identity, history, and future possibilities often occur in the metropolis and, ironically, with the aid of postcolonial structures of power, such as universities. Not surprisingly, many contemporary postcolonial writers reside in London, Paris, New York and Madrid.

The creation of binary opposition structures changed the way we view others. In the case of colonialism, the Orient
Orient
The Orient means "the East." It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is a metonym that means various parts of Asia.- Derivation :...

al and the Westerner
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 were distinguished as different from each other (i.e. the emotional, static, Orient vs. the principled, progressive Occident). This opposition justified the "white man's burden," the coloniser's self-perceived "destiny to rule" subordinate peoples. In contrast, post-colonialism seeks out areas of hybridity and transculturalization. This aspect is particularly relevant during processes of globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

.

In Post-Colonial Drama: theory, practice, politics, Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins write: "the term postcolonialism according to a too-rigid etymology is frequently misunderstood as a temporal concept, meaning the time after colonialism has ceased, or the time following the politically determined Independence Day on which a country breaks away from its governance by another state. Not a naïve teleological sequence which supersedes colonialism, postcolonialism is, rather, an engagement with and contestation of colonialism's discourses, power structures, and social hierarchies ... A theory of postcolonialism must, then, respond to more than the merely chronological construction of post-independence, and to more than just the discursive experience of imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

."

Colonized peoples reply to the colonial legacy by writing back to the center, when the indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 write their own histories and legacies using the coloniser's language (e.g. English, French, Dutch) for their own purposes. "Indigenous decolonization
Indigenous decolonization
Indigenous Decolonization is a process that Indigenous people whose communities were grossly affected by colonial expansion, genocide and cultural assimilation may go through in understanding the history of their colonization and rediscovering their ancestral traditions and cultural values...

" is the intellectual impact of postcolonialist theory upon communities of indigenous peoples, thereby, their generating postcolonial literature.

A single, definitive definition of postcolonial theory is controversial; writers have strongly criticised it as a concept embedded in identity politics
Identity politics
Identity politics are political arguments that focus upon the self interest and perspectives of self-identified social interest groups and ways in which people's politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity through race, class, religion, sexual orientation or traditional dominance...

. Postcolonial Theory - as epistemology, ethics, and politics - addresses matters of identity, gender, race, racism and ethnicity with the challenges of developing a post-colonial national identity, of how a colonised people's knowledge was used against them in service of the coloniser's interests, and of how knowledge about the world is generated under specific relations between the powerful and the powerless, circulated repetitively and finally legitimated in service to certain imperial interests. At the same time, postcolonial theory encourages thought about the colonised's creative resistance to the coloniser and how that resistance complicates and gives texture to European imperial colonial projects, which utilised a range of strategies, including anti-conquest narratives, to legitimise their dominance.

Postcolonial writers object to the colonised's depiction as hollow "mimics" of Europeans or as passive recipients of power. Consequent to Foucauldian argument, postcolonial scholars, i.e. the Subaltern Studies collective, argue that anti-colonial resistance accompanies every deployment of power.

Edward Said


Said took the term Orientalism
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

, which was used in the West neutrally to describe the study and artistic depiction of the Orient, and subverted it to mean a constructed binary division of the world into the Orient and the Occident
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. This binary, also referred to as the East/West binary, is key in postcolonial theory. Said argued that the Occident could not exist without the Orient, and vice versa. In other words, they are mutually constitutive. Notably, the concept of the ‘East’ i.e. the Orient, was created by the ‘West’, suppressing the ability of the ‘Orient’ to express themselves. Western depictions of the ‘Orient’ construct an inferior world, a place of backwardness, irrationality, and wildness. This allowed the ‘West’ to identify themselves as the opposite of these characteristics; as a superior world that was progressive, rational, and civil.

Furthermore, Said, following Foucault's
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 belief, states that power and knowledge are inseparable. The ‘West’s’ claim to knowledge of the East gave the ‘West’ the power to name, and the power to control. This concept is essential to understanding of colonialism, and therefore recognizing postcolonialism.

Some postcolonial writers have critiqued Said's homogeneous binary of Occident and Orient, insisting that multiple variations of Orientalism have been created within the western world and are at work. Said believes that Europe used Orientalism as a homogeneous "other
The Other
The Other is a 1972 psychological horror film directed by Robert Mulligan, adapted for film by Tom Tryon, from his bestselling novel. It stars Uta Hagen, Diana Muldaur, and Chris & Martin Udvarnoky.-Plot:...

" to form a more cohesive European identity.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


Spivak's main contribution to Postcolonial theory came with her specific definition of the term subaltern. Spivak also introduced terms such as 'essentialism', 'strategic essentialism'. The former term refers to the dangers of reviving subaltern voices in ways that might simplify heterogeneous groups, creating stereotyped impressions of their diverse group. Spivak however believes that essentialism can sometimes be used strategically by these groups to make it easier for the subaltern to be heard and understood when a clear identity can be created and accepted by the majority. It is important to distinguish that 'strategic essentialism' does not sacrifice its diversity and voices but that they are being downplayed temporarily to support the essential element of the group.

Spivak also uses the term 'epistemic violence' (from Foucault) which refers to the destruction of non-western ways of knowing and resulting dominance of western ways of understanding. This concept relates to Spivak's "Subaltern must always be caught in translation, never truly expressing herself" because of the destruction and marginalization of her way of understanding.

Furthermore, Spivak criticizes those who ignore the "cultural others" (the subaltern) and has offered constructive theories for allowing the West to go beyond its current position through self-criticism of western methods and ideals of understanding and exploring the alternatives offered by post-colonialism.

Dipesh Chakrabarty


Dipesh Chakrabarty
Dipesh Chakrabarty
Dipesh Chakrabarty is a Bengali historian who has also made contributions to postcolonial theory and subaltern studies.He attended Presidency College of the University of Calcutta, where he received his undergraduate degree in physics. He also received a diploma in business management from the...

, writing in the nineties, made a major attempt to chart the subaltern's history of the Indian struggle for independence. In his book Provincializing Europe (2000) he seeks to counter scholarly eurocentric views by arguing that Europe should only be seen as "one region among many".

Frantz Fanon


Fanon is one of the earliest writers associated with postcolonialism. In his book The Wretched of the Earth
The Wretched of the Earth
The Wretched of the Earth is Frantz Fanon's most famous work, written during and regarding the Algerian struggle for independence from colonial rule...

, Fanon analyzed the nature of colonialism and those subjugated by it. He describes colonialism as a source of violence rather than reacting violently against resistors which had been the common view. His portrayal of the systematic relationship between colonialism and its attempts to deny "all attributes of humanity" to those it suppressed laid the groundwork for related critiques of colonial and postcolonial systems.

Earliest Works


Although Fanon is generally considered to be one of the earliest writers in this field, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's Hind Swaraj (Indian Home Rule) had already proposed strongly post colonial theories in 1909. Besides Gandhi, Benoy Kumar Sarkar
Benoy Kumar Sarkar
Benoy Kumar Sarkar was an Indian social scientist, professor, and nationalist. He founded several institutes in Calcutta, including: the Bengali Institute of Sociology, Bengali Asia Academy, Bengali Dante Society, and Bengali Institute of American Culture.Sarkar graduated from the University of...

 (1887–1949) had authored major works in this field.

The Middle East and national identity


In the last decade, Middle Eastern studies and research produced works focusing upon the colonial past's effects on the internal and external political, social, cultural, and economic circumstances of contemporary Middle Eastern countries; cf. Raphael Israeli's "Is Jordan Palestine?" A particular focus of study is the matter of Western discourses about the Middle East, and the existence or the lack of national identity formation
Identity formation
Identity formation is the development of the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity in a particular stage of life in which individual characteristics are possessed and by which a person is recognised or known . This process defines individuals to others and themselves...

:



“... [M]ost countries of the Middle East, suffered from the fundamental problems over their national identity. More than three-quarters of a century after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, from which most of them emerged, these states have been unable to define, project, and maintain a national identity that is both inclusive and representative”.


Independence and the end of colonialism have not ended social fragmentation and war in the Middle East. Larbi Sadiki wrote in The Search for Arab Democracy: Discourses and Counter-Discourses (2004), because European colonial powers drew borders discounting peoples, ancient tribal boundaries and local history, the Middle East’s contemporary national identity
National identity
National identity is the person's identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one's citizenship status....

 problem can be traced back to imperialism and colonialism.

Kumaraswamy writes that "in places like Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, leaders of the new state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 were brought in from the outside, [and] tailored to suit colonial interests and commitments. Likewise, most states in the Persian Gulf were handed over to those who could protect and safeguard imperial interests in the post-withdrawal phase".

According to Sadiki, "with notable exceptions like Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, most [countries] ... had to [re-]invent, their historical roots" after colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

. Therefore, "like its colonial predecessor, postcolonial identity owes its existence to force".

Africa


The interior of Africa was not colonised until almost the end of the 19th century, yet the impact of colonialism was even more significant to the indigenous cultures, especially because of the Scramble for Africa
Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa or Partition of Africa was a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914...

. The increasingly efficient railway helped European powers to gain control over all regions of Africa, with the British particularly emphasizing goals of conquest. The British Empire sought to build a single railway through the continent and succeeded in building tracks from Egypt to Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

.

Many African empires existed in the pre-colonial era, such as the Empires of Ashanti
Ashanti Empire
The Ashanti Empire , also Asanteman was a West Africa state of the Ashanti people, the Akan people of the Ashanti Region, now in Ghana. The Ashanti or Asante are a major ethnic group in Ghana, a powerful, militaristic and highly disciplined people of West Africa...

 and Benin
Benin Empire
The Benin Empire was a pre-colonial African state in what is now modern Nigeria. It is not to be confused with the modern-day country called Benin, formerly called Dahomey.-Origin:...

, and the Kingdoms of Dahomey
Dahomey
Dahomey was a country in west Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a powerful west African state that was founded in the seventeenth century and survived until 1894. From 1894 until 1960 Dahomey was a part of French West Africa. The independent Republic of Dahomey...

, the Buganda Kingdom, [now Uganda] and Kongo
Kingdom of Kongo
The Kingdom of Kongo was an African kingdom located in west central Africa in what are now northern Angola, Cabinda, the Republic of the Congo, and the western portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

. Nigeria was home to the Haussa
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

, Yoruba
Yoruba people
The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

 and Igbo
Igbo people
Igbo people, also referred to as the Ibo, Ebo, Eboans or Heebo are an ethnic group living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria. They speak Igbo, which includes various Igboid languages and dialects; today, a majority of them speak English alongside Igbo as a result of British colonialism...

 cultures and Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe
Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe popularly known as Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic...

 was among the first to take up this history in the construction of a postcolonial identity, as in Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apartis a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African...

.

Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

n Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a Kenyan author, formerly working in English and now working in Gĩkũyũ. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children's literature...

 was educated at the British University of Leeds
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England...

 and wrote the first postcolonial East African novel, Weep Not, Child
Weep Not, Child
Weep Not, Child is Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's first novel, published in 1964 under the name James Ngugi. It was the first English novel to be published by an East African. Thiong'o's works deal with the relationship between Africans and the British colonists in Africa, and are heavily...

, in 1964. The later The River Between addresses postcolonial religious issues. His essay Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature is considered one of the most important pieces of African literary criticism.

Criticism of focusing on national identity


Scholars criticise and question the recent post-colonial focus on national identity. The Moroccan scholar Bin 'Abd al-'Ali argues that what is seen in contemporary Middle Eastern studies is 'a pathological obsession with ... identity'. Nevertheless, Kumaraswamy and Sadiki argue that the problem of the lack of Middle Eastern identity formation is widespread, and that identity is an important aspect of understanding the politics of the contemporary Middle East. Whether the countries are Islamic regimes, republican regimes, quasi-liberal monarchies, democracies, or evolving democracies, ‘the Middle Eastern region suffers from the inability to recognize, integrate, and reflect its ethno-cultural diversity.’
Ayubi (2001) questions if what Bin 'Abd al-'Ali described as an obsession with national identity may be explained by 'the absence of a championing social class?'

Founding works on postcolonialism

  • Edward Said: Orientalism (1978)
  • Aimé Césaire
    Aimé Césaire
    Aimé Fernand David Césaire was a French poet, author and politician from Martinique. He was "one of the founders of the négritude movement in Francophone literature".-Student, educator, and poet:...

    : Discourse on Colonialism
    Discourse on colonialism
    Discours sur le colonialisme is a text written by Aimé Césaire and published in 1955. It is a key text of postcolonial literature....

    (1950)
  • Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Masks
    Black Skin, White Masks
    Black Skin, White Masks is a 1952 book written by Frantz Fanon originally published in French as Peau noire, masques blancs.In this study, Fanon uses psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical theory to explain the feelings of dependency and inadequacy that Black people experience in a White world...

    (1952)
  • Frantz Fanon: The Wretched of the Earth (1961)
  • Albert Memmi
    Albert Memmi
    Albert Memmi is a Tunisian Jewish writer and essayist who migrated to France.- Biography :Born in colonial Tunisia,from a Tunisian Jewish mother and a Tunisian-Italian Jewish father, he speaks Hebrew and Tunisian-Arabic...

    : The Colonizer and the Colonized
    The Colonizer and the Colonized
    The Colonizer and the Colonized is a well-known nonfiction book of Albert Memmi, published in French in 1957 and in English at first in 1965.This work explores and describes the psychological effects of colonialism on colonized and colonizers alike...

    (1965)
  • Kwame Nkrumah
    Kwame Nkrumah
    Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana...

    : Consciencism (1970)

Other important works

  • Samir Amin
    Samir Amin
    Samir Amin is an Egyptian economist. He currently lives in Dakar, Senegal.- Biography :Samir Amin was born in Cairo, the son of an Egyptian father and a French mother . He spent his childhood and youth in Port Said; there he attended a French High School, leaving in 1947 with a Baccalauréat...

    . L’eurocentrisme (1988)
  • Vladimir Lenin
    Vladimir Lenin
    Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

    . "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
    Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
    Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism , by Lenin, describes the function of financial capital in generating profits from imperial colonialism, as the final stage of capitalist development to ensure greater profits...

    ", (1916)
  • O. Mannoni and Pamela Powesland . "Prospero and Caliban, The Psychology of Colonization"
  • Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. "The Empire Writes Back" , (1989)
  • Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffths and Helen Tiffin. Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, Routledge: 1998.
  • Benedict Anderson
    Benedict Anderson
    Benedict Richard O'Gorman Anderson is Aaron L. Binenkorb Professor Emeritus of International Studies, Government & Asian Studies at Cornell University, and is best known for his celebrated book Imagined Communities, first published in 1983...

    . Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, [1983] (1991) rev. ed., London: Verso. ISBN 0-86091-329-5..
  • Guy Ankerl. Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations, Geneva INU PRESS; 2000 ISBN2-88155-004-5
  • Ashis Nandy
    Ashis Nandy
    Ashis Nandy is an Indian political psychologist, a social theorist, and a contemporary cultural and political critic. A trained sociologist and clinical psychologist, his body of work covers a variety of topics, including public conscience, mass violence, and dialogues of civilizations.He was...

    . The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism. (1983)
  • Ashis Nandy. Traditions, Tyranny, and Utopias: Essays in the Politics of Awareness (1987).
  • Balagangadhara. "The Heathen in his Blindness..." Asia, the West, and the Dynamic of Religion. (1994, 2nd ed. 2005) ISBN 90-04-09943-3.
  • Benita Parry: Delusions and Discoveries (1983)
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" (1988)
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: "The Postcolonial Critic" (1990)
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: "Selected Subaltern Studies" (1988)
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: "A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Towards a History of the Vanishing Present" (1999)
  • Hamid Dabashi
    Hamid Dabashi
    Hamid Dabashi born 1951 in Ahvaz is an Iranian-American Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York City.He is the author of over twenty books...

    , "Iran: A People Interrupted
    Iran: A People Interrupted
    Iran: A People Interrupted is a book written by Hamid Dabashi, the noted scholar of Iran and Islam at Columbia University. The book was published in 2007 by The New Press and is a one-volume analysis of Iranian history--from the nineteenth century up until today...

    " (2007)
  • Homi K. Bhabha: The Location of Culture (1994)
  • Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (1993)
  • Abdul JanMohamed, Manichean Aesthetics: The Politics of Literature in Colonial Africa (1988)
  • Valentin Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa (1988)
  • Paulin J. Hountondji
    Paulin J. Hountondji
    Paulin Hountondji is a Beninese philosopher and politician.Hountondji was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, graduating in 1966, and taking his doctorate in 1970...

    , African Philosophy: Myth & Reality (1983)
  • Ngugi Wa Thiong'o
    Ngugi wa Thiong'o
    Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a Kenyan author, formerly working in English and now working in Gĩkũyũ. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children's literature...

    , (1986) "Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature"
  • Bill Ashcroft The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literature (1990)
  • Roberto Fernández Retamar
    Roberto Fernández Retamar
    Roberto Fernández Retamar is a Cuban poet, essayist, literary critic and President of the Casa de las Américas. In his role as President of the organization, Fernández also serves on the Council of State of Cuba. An early close confidant of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, he has remained a central...

    : "Calibán: Apuntes sobre la cultura de Nuestra América" (1971), reissued in "Calibán and Other Essays" (1989)
  • Robert J.C. Young, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (1990)
  • Robert J.C. Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race (1995)
  • Robert J.C. Young Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (2001)
  • Trinh T. Minh-ha
    Trinh T. Minh-ha
    Trinh T. Minh-ha is a filmmaker, writer, academic and composer. She is a world-renowned independent filmmaker and feminist, post-colonial theorist. She teaches courses that focus on women's work as related to cultural politics, post-coloniality, contemporary critical theory and the arts...

    , "Infinite Layers/Third World?" (1989)
  • Anibal Quijano
    Anibal Quijano
    Anibal Quijano is a Peruvian sociologist and humanist thinker, known for having developed the concept of "coloniality of power". His body of work has been influential in the fields of post-colonial studies and critical theory....

    , Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality (1991), reissued in Globalizations And Modernities (1999)
  • Chandra Talpade Mohanty
    Chandra Talpade Mohanty
    Chandra Talpade Mohanty is a prominent postcolonial and transnational feminist theorist. She became well known after the publication of her influential essay, "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses" in 1988...

    , "Under Western Eyes" (1986)
  • Uma Narayan
    Uma Narayan
    Uma Narayan is a feminist scholar, and Chair of Philosophy at Vassar College. She is the author of Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions and Third World Feminism in which Narayan disputes feminism as a solely Western notion, while challenging assumptions that East Indian feminism is based...

    , Dislocating Cultures (1997), and Contesting Cultures"(1997)
  • Leela Gandhi
    Leela Gandhi
    Leela Gandhi is Professor of English at The University of Chicago and a noted academic in the field of postcolonial theory. She is the co-editor of the academic journal Postcolonial Studies, the author of the summary text Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction and she serves on the editorial...

     Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction. Columbia University Press:1998 ISBN 0-231-11273-4.
  • Anne McClintock
    Anne McClintock
    Anne McClintock is a renowned writer, feminist scholar and public intellectual who has published widely on issues of sexuality, race, imperialism, and nationalism; popular and visual culture, photography, advertising and cultural theory. Her work has influenced a wide variety of disciplines...

    , "The angel of progress: pitfalls of the term 'postcolonialism'" Colonial Discourse/Postcolonial Theory, edited by M. Baker, P. Hulme and M. Iverson (1994)
  • John McLeod
    John McLeod
    John McLeod was a Scottish-born explorer of Canada, in his capacity as a fur trader with the North West Company and Hudson's Bay Company...

    , Beginning Postcolonialism, second edition (Manchester University Press, 2010).
  • Bartholomew Dean and Jerome Levi eds., At the Risk of Being Heard: Indigenous Rights, Identity, and Postcolonial States (2003) University of Michigan
    University of Michigan
    The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

     Press. ISBN 0-472-06736-2 http://www.press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=11605http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?hlasbib:2:./temp/~hlas_kSCR::@@@mdb=hlasbib,hlasretro
  • Achille Mbembe
    Achille Mbembe
    Achille Mbembe is a philosopher and political scientist. He was born in Cameroon in 1957. He obtained his Ph.D. in History at the University of Sorbonne in Paris, France, in 1989. He subsequently obtained a D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in the same city...

    , "On the Postcolony", edited by The Regents of the University of California (2000)
  • La Paperson, "The Postcolonial Ghetto" (2010)
  • Declan Kiberd
    Declan Kiberd
    Declan Kiberd is an Irish writer and scholar. He is known for his literary criticism of Irish literature in Irish and English, and his contributions to public cultural life....

    , "Inventing Ireland" (1995)
  • Ernesto "Che" Guevara: Colonialism is Doomed
  • Partha Chatterjee (1993)Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Post-colonial Histories, Princeton University Press.
  • Walter Mignolo
    Walter Mignolo
    Walter D. Mignolo is an Argentine semiotician and professor at Duke University, who has published extensively on semiotics and literary theory, made up over a dozen new words, and worked on different aspects of the modern and colonial world, exploring concepts such as global coloniality, the...

    : "The Idea of Latin América" (2005)
  • Walter Mignolo: "Local histories/global designs: Coloniality" (1999)
  • Dhawan, Nikita: "Postkolonial Theorie. Eine kritische Einführung" (2005)
  • Iain Chambers and Lidia Curti (ed.): The Post-Colonial Question, Routledge: 1996
  • Masood Ashraf Raja
    Masood Ashraf Raja
    Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Assistant Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of North Texas and the editor of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies, a journal that he founded in 2009...

    : http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:BToWs4i_Vy4J:130.102.44.245/journals/radical_teacher/v082/82.raja.pdf+masood+ashraf+raja&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgT66N1vwQ0U2XVxbSTIoppFIQ8L5UsJVI0zNUmL8CrXpkUqqUZ4EntVzzQZKO0IBifp1pgZd2xNyvQCwylM4YTiZzQ3RkUDAfYidXUw8RUwCNFxcWDx_2ecCNcwpd-zAzUBxhY&sig=AHIEtbRzeG0WEUciyi_S-9kBpTeoMRIYIw/ThePostcolonial Student: Learning the Ethics of Global Solidarity in an English Classroom]
  • Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths & Helen Tiffin, eds. (1995) The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. London: Routledge ISBN 0415096219
  • Alamgir Hashmi
    Alamgir Hashmi
    Alamgir Hashmi is a major English poet of Pakistani origin in the latter half of the 20th century. Considered avant-garde, both his early and later works were published to universal critical acclaim and widespread influence...

     (1988) The Commonwealth, Comparative Literature and the World: two lectures. Islamabad: Gulmohar

See also

  • Inversion in postcolonial theory
    Inversion in postcolonial theory
    The concept of inversion in postcolonial theory and subaltern studies refers to a discursive strategy which opposes or resists a dominant discourse by turning around its categories and re-enacting an asymmetrical relation with the terms the other way around...

  • Cultural Alienation
    Cultural cringe
    Cultural cringe, in cultural studies and social anthropology, is an internalized inferiority complex which causes people in a country to dismiss their own culture as inferior to the cultures of other countries...

  • Cultural cringe
    Cultural cringe
    Cultural cringe, in cultural studies and social anthropology, is an internalized inferiority complex which causes people in a country to dismiss their own culture as inferior to the cultures of other countries...

  • Ethnology
    Ethnology
    Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

  • Cross-culturalism
  • Post-Communism
    Post-Communism
    Post-communism is a name sometimes given to the period of political and economic transformation or "transition" in former Communist states located in parts of Europe and Asia, in which new governments aimed to create free market-oriented capitalist economies with some form of parliamentary...

  • Nation-building
    Nation-building
    For nation-building in the sense of enhancing the capacity of state institutions, building state-society relations, and also external interventions see State-building....

  • Ranajit Guha
    Ranajit Guha
    Ranajit Guha is a historian of South Asia who was greatly influential in the Subaltern Studies group, and was the editor of several of the group's early anthologies. He migrated from India to the UK in the 1960s, and currently lives in Vienna, Austria.His Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency...

     Subaltern Studies
  • Robert J.C. Young
    Robert J.C. Young
    - Life :He was educated at Repton School and Exeter College, Oxford where he read for a B.A. and D.Phil., taught at the University of Southampton, and then returned to Oxford University where he was Professor of English and Critical Theory and a fellow of Wadham College. In 2005, he moved to New...

  • Alamgir Hashmi
    Alamgir Hashmi
    Alamgir Hashmi is a major English poet of Pakistani origin in the latter half of the 20th century. Considered avant-garde, both his early and later works were published to universal critical acclaim and widespread influence...

     Commonwealth Literature: An Essay Towards the Re-definition of a Popular/Counter Culture
  • Chinua Achebe
    Chinua Achebe
    Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe popularly known as Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic...

    's An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"
  • Ranjit Hoskote
    Ranjit Hoskote
    Ranjit Hoskote is a contemporary Indian poet, art critic, cultural theorist and independent curator.-Early life and education:...

  • Postcolonial feminism
    Postcolonial feminism
    Postcolonial feminism, often referred to as Third World feminism, is a form of feminist philosophy which centers around the idea that racism, colonialism, and the long lasting effects of colonialism in the postcolonial setting, are inextricably bound up with the unique gendered realities of...

  • Post-colonial anarchism
    Post-colonial anarchism
    Post-colonial anarchism is a new tendency within the larger anarchist movement. The name is taken from an essay by Roger White, one of the founders of Jailbreak Press and a well known activist in North American APOC circles...


External links