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Post-colonialism

Post-colonialism has two distinct but often intersecting meanings. First, states and societies which underwent the historical experience of decolonization in the mid-to-late twentieth century are often described as 'post-colonial'. Second, post-colonialism (often without the hyphen!) is also taken to refer to a body of scholarly work which is often seen to have been inaugurated with Edward Said's Orientalism (1978), and has proved highly influential across a large number of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Post-colonial theory, especially in the field of history, often takes the form of critical reflections on colonial modernity in different societies. In this session, we shall use 'post-colonialism' in a looser sense, to denote both the historical experience of decolonization and the specific forms of thinking and discourse this experience has given rise to. In order to understand this, we shall focus on a deceptively simple text, The Colonizer and the Colonized by Albert Memmi, a French writer of Jewish-Tunisian origin. This text was published in 1957, in the middle of an upsurge in anti-colonial movements across the world. We shall use Memmi's text as an entry point into the lived experience of colonial domination, and also discuss the relationship between the ideas put forward in this text and the later field of postcolonial theory 'proper'.

Seminar Questions:

1. How useful do you think psychology and psychoanalysis are to the understanding of colonialism?

2. Why do you think Memmi spends so much time dissecting the colonizer, and rather less on the colonized?

3. Did Memmi anticipate some of the themes of subsequent post-colonial theory?

Core Reading:

Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized (NY, 1974)

Further Reading:

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (London, 1965)

Frantz Fanon, Black Skins, White Masks (London, 1967)

Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism (NY, 1972)

Edward Said, Orientalism (London, 1978)

Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism (Delhi, 1989)