Thursday, November 17, 2011

Abdul JanMuhamed / "The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The function of Racial Difference in Colonial Literature" – summary part 1 - 2

Abdul JanMuhamed / "The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The function of Racial Difference in Colonial Literature" – summary  part 1 - 2


 At the beginning of "The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The function of Racial Difference in Colonial Literature" Abdul JanMuhamed is deliberating with different thinkers, mostly from the postcolonial tradition. He argues that they have failed to see that the question of representation is not confined to cultural products, but is rather entangled with political, historical and mainly economical structures that have to be taken into account.
JanMuhamed stresses that the center's symbolic superiority is constructed on overt as well as covert aspects. The covert aspect of colonialism aims at exploiting the other while the overt one aims at "civilizing" him. They relations between colonizer and colonized are characterized according to JanMuhamed by the "Manichean metaphor" – a system of dichotomies and oppositions between white and black, good and bad and so forth. This Manichean allegory is esstential in order to constitute the other as other and draw a line between subject and object. The writer is under pressure to cooperate with this system of distinctions as the center wishes, for the center always seeks to be justified and affirmed.

 European literature regarding the colonies, says JanMuhamed, faces an ethical problem when it seeks to represent the other, by falling into the traps and stereotypes that are meant to affirm its superiority. JanMuhamed distinguished two types of western writing about the colonies, borrowing apparently from the Lacanean vocabulary: imaginary and symbolic. Imaginary writing projects the westerner on to the other in order to fix the boundaries between them while symbolic writing is more open for negotiations of identity with the colonial other. For JanMuhamed, all imaginary writing and some symbolic writing is made to "articulate and justify the moral authority of the coloniozer and – by positing the inferiority of the native as a metaphysical fact – to mask the pleasure the colonizer derives from that authority".

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Abdul JanMuhamed / "The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The function of Racial Difference in Colonial Literature" – summary  part 1 - 2


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