Postcolonial Criticism and Postmodernism (and it's ties to African American Theories)

last revised 3/12/09


What does it mean to be colonized?  

List any place or people you think have been colonized:

Roman Colonialism Germany
North Africa
Spanish and Portuguese Colonialism Mayan cultures
Aztecs/Mexico (and then think of Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands, her subjectivity crossed by so many cultures/languages/colors--more than a double consciousness)
British Colonialism North America
Africa (colonized by many groups)
Australia (
French Colonialism Indochina (Vietnam)
Algeria (ongoing)
China Hong Kong (is less free now, though, after Brit's pulled out?)
Japan Korea (Kyung Cha)
WWII holdings
Russia and The Soviet Union Japan
Yugoslavia (and then the ethnic clensing after the Soviets pulled out)
US Colonialism

Lakota Sioux
Utah...Utes and Paiutes
Nevada (Western Shoshone even recently being moved out of the Yucca Mountain area; Trin Min Ha p.650)
Guam (and other post WWII pacific islands/Cultures)
The Philippines
Puerto Rico! What is this place that is neither post-colonial, nor colonized, not it's own nation, nor a US state?

And then what happens after the colonizers leave?  Utopia?  True Columbian or Indian or Mexican experiences and identities return?  A cleansing of all things from "the man" including his white, sterile, master narratives?  Freedom?

If people like bell hooks or Gloria Anzaldua or Henry Louis Gates are "denaturalizing" race (Queer Theory 77), or "engaging decolonization" or undercutting the idea of a coherent subject or a black or Latina experience, then what/who is the postcolonial subject?  What becomes their "master" narrative?  hooks says one must deal with the loss of grounding (even though...

And what about Trin Min Ha's ideas that "identity" is not a fixed thing, not an absolute, not a simple matter of difference or division (which is actually a much more freeing idea).

Postcolonial Literature is currently typically focused on:

Postcolonial Theory   African American Theory
"understand the operations and themes of colonialist and anti-colonialist ideologies/texts" (Tyson)

the way history can be rewritten where the narratives from previous margins are brought to the center--

  --looks at Black racist (unequal power relations) and racialist (belief in racial superiority) ideologies in all institutions and texts in/from the U.S. (Tyson)

--early themes from Victorian and earlier ideology where one had to prove one's humanity and normalcy, one's "civilation" through the creation of literature and art (Gates), vs. Natural Science's attempt to classify race, and eventually essentialize and hierarchalize (ha) race (racialism)

  --Analyze/Deconstruct the politics of subjugation and of resistance to oppression  
  Double Consciousness (torn between oppositions)

--borders are never neat, clean, or orderly (there is weaving, leaking, drift)

--colonizers who "go native"

  What identity does one go back to after the colonizers leave?  
  Colonials/Dominant Ideology is racists and racialist and privileges whiteness and westerness/Eurocentrism (creating  the damage of "natural" hierarchies)  
  White/Light vs. Black/Dark

Cultured vs. Primitive

Christian vs. Other

Catholic vs. Protestant (1500's)

publishable vs. unpublishable (hooks' concern)

  These hierarchies are often reversed to privilege the other side like what happened during the Black Aesthetic movements (but this still buys in to the hierarchy)   
Cultural Colonization:

--British "Invasion" of the 1960's

--American Capitalist pop culture "invading" or dominating almost everywhere?

  Passing--mimicry (Hong Kingston's Monkey see monkey do)
  • at what point does mimicry become the "actual"?

Signifyin(g) Monkey (Gates)

  • mimicry/parody/pastiche/insult/pun
  • re-fill homonyms with new meaning