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Post-colonialism (also known as post-colonial theory) refers to a set of theories in philosophy and literature that grapple with the legacy of colonial rule. As a literary theory or critical approach it deals with literature produced in countries that were once, or are now, colonies of other countries. It may also deal with literature written in or by citizens of colonizing countries that takes colonies or their peoples as its subject matter. Postcolonial theory became part of the critical toolbox in the 1970s, and many practitioners take Edward Said's book Orientalism to be the theory's founding work.

Post-colonialism deals with many issues for societies that have undergone colonialism: the dilemmas of developing a national identity in the wake of colonial rule; the ways in which writers from colonized countries attempt to articulate and even celebrate their cultural identities and reclaim them from the colonizers; the ways knowledge of colonized people have served the interests of colonizers, and how knowledge of subordinate people is produced and used; and the ways in which the literature of the colonial powers is used to justify colonialism through the perpetuation of images of the colonized as inferior. The creation of binary oppositions structure the way we view others. In the case of colonialism, distinctions were made between the oriental and the westerner (one being emotional, the other rational). This opposition was used to justify a destiny to rule on behalf of the colonizer, or 'white man's burden'.

Colonized peoples responded to the colonial legacy by writing back to the center. This came about as indigenous peoples became educated, and began to write their own histories, their own legacy. They used the colonizers language (English) for their own purposes. [1].

Attempts at coming up with a single definition of postcolonial theory have proved controversial, and some writers have strongly critiqued the concept, which is embedded in identity politics.

As suggested by its name, postcolonialism is about dealing with the legacy of colonialism. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly the most prominent form this has taken to date has been in the cultural realm, especially with respect to identity politics and literary studies. Thus, the most common way the term has been used is in reference to a genre of writing and cultural politics, usually by the authors from the countries which were previously colonised. All postcolonialist theorists admit that colonialism continues to affect the former colonies after political independence.

Founding works on post-colonialismEdit

Other important worksEdit

References Edit

  1. Read Bill Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literature (1990) for more information

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


es:Postcolonialismo fr:Post-colonialismehe:פוסטקולוניאליזם

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