Saturday, July 24, 2021

Notable Postcolonialist Thinkers - Brief Introduction

Postcolonialism is a movement within the humanities , literature and political science that deals with the cultural and humanitarian consequences of colonialism and imperialism . Postcolonialism criticizes colonial pairs of concepts such as western / eastern and argues for their replacement by a system of difference and plurality. In this respect, postcolonialism is closely related to poststructuralism and postmodern philosophy .

The term often does not refer to all the colonial powers of the 19th and 20th centuries. For example, it generally does not apply to Russia, Turkey, Japan, China and Haiti. It mainly focuses on the colonial past of Western European countries.

In literature, postcolonialism is expressed by ' writing back' to the colonial rulers (using a term from Salman Rushdie ): writing one's own literature and history , often in the language of the colonizer.

Notable Postcolonialism Thinkers


Frantz Fanon 

In The Wretched of the Earth  (1961), the psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon medically analyzed and described the nature of colonialism as essentially destructive. Its social effects — the imposition of an overwhelming colonial identity — are detrimental to the mental health of the natives who were subjected to the colonies. Fanon wrote that the ideological essence of colonialism is the systematic denial of "all the attributes of humanity" of the colonized people. Such dehumanizationit is achieved with physical and mental violence, through which the colonist wants to instill a servile mentality in the natives. For Fanon, the natives must violently resist colonial subjugation. Thus, Fanon describes violent resistance to colonialism as a cathartic mental practice , purging colonial servility from the native psyche , and restoring self-respect to the subjugated. This is how I supported the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) in the Algerian war (1954-62) for independence from France. see also: Black Skin, White Masks.


Albert Memmi 

Albert Memmi was an author and theorist of Franco-Tunisian origin. In "Portrait of the colonized, preceded by the portrait of the colonizer" (1957), Memmi writes the psychological effects of colonialism on the colonized and the colonizer. The argument is in the intellectual tradition of post-Saussurian structuralism of meaning, claiming that the meaning of "colonized" and respectively "colonizer" depends on the relationship to its opposite.  Memmi argues that the characteristics ascribed to the colonized by the colonizer are contradictory; and on unusual occasions when positive characteristics are ascribed (Memmi's example is Arab hospitality), they are explained as derived from other negative characteristics, such as stupidity.


Edward Said 

To describe the "binary social relationship" of us-them with which Western Europe intellectually divided the world - into the " West " and the " East " - the cultural critic Edward Said developed the denotations and connotations of the term Orientalism (a term of the history of art for representations and the study of the Orient). This is the concept that the cultural representations generated with the binary relationship of us-they are social constructions, which are mutually constitutive and cannot exist independently of each other, because each exists because of and for the other. 

Notably, "the West" created the cultural concept of the "East", which Said said prevented the peoples of the Middle East , the Indian subcontinent, and Asia from expressing and representing themselves as discrete peoples and cultures. Orientalism in this way fused and reduced the non-Western world into a homogeneous cultural entity known as "the East." Thus, in the service of colonial imperialism, the orientalist us-they paradigm allowed European scholars to depict the eastern world as inferior and retrograde, irrational and savage, as opposed to a western Europe that was superior and progressive, rational and civil. , the opposite of the Oriental Other. Said's thesis in Orientalism(1978), represents Orientalism as a style of thought "based on the antinomy of East and West in its worldviews, and also as a 'corporate institution' for dealing with the East." 

Gayatri Spivak 

In establishing the postcolonial definition of the term subaltern , the philosopher and theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak cautioned against assigning too broad a connotation.

Spivak also introduced the terms essentialism and strategic essentialism to describe the social functions of postcolonialism. The term essentialism denotes the dangers inherent in reviving subaltern voices in ways that oversimplify the cultural identity of heterogeneous social groups and thus create stereotypical representations of identities.of the people that make up a certain social group. The term strategic essentialism denotes a temporary and essential subaltern identity used in the praxis of discourse between peoples. Occasionally essentialism can be applied - by the people described themselves - to make it easier for their subordinate communication to be heard and understood. A strategic essentialism is more easily grasped and accepted by the popular majority, in the course of intergroup discourse. The important distinction, between the terms, is that strategic essentialism does not ignore the diversity of identities (cultural and ethnic) in a social group, but rather, in its practical function, strategic essentialism temporarily minimizes intergroup diversity to pragmatically support group identity. See Spivak's most famous essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?"

Homi K. Bhabha 

In The Location of Culture (1994), theorist Homi K. Bhabha argues to view the world as a composite of discrete and unequal cultures, rather than seeing the human aspect of the world, perpetuates the belief in the existence of imaginary people and places as "Christianity" opposed to the "Islamic world", or the "first world" the "second world" and the "third world". In opposing such linguistic and sociological reductionism, the practice of postcolonialism establishes the philosophical value of hybrid intellectual places, where equivocation abrogates notions of truth and authenticity; therefore, hybridism is the philosophical condition that opposes, more seriously, the ideological validity of colonialism.