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General Introduction to Postcolonialism

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1 General Introduction to Postcolonialism

2 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.

3 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”.

4 Types of former colonies
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.

5 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.”

6 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?

7 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?

8 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?

9 Major figures, theory Edward W. Said Franz Fanon Homi K. Bhabha
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

10 Literature Chinua Achebe Jamaica Kincaid V. S. Naipaul Ben Okri
Michael Ondaatje Arundhaty Roy Salman Rushdie Jean Rhys, etc.

11 Sources Deepika Bahri, Postcolonial Studies 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.

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