Who cares for Postcolonial Theory. The demise of a literary movement.

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The emergence of postcolonial theory in the last few decades has allowed for the colonies to articulate a particular perspective on the processes of colonization that took place in the last few hundred years. Oftentimes, this has resulted in absolute binaries, where the colonized are seen as being in a morally superior position, being the oppressed, and the colonizer as cruel and brutal. Also, postcolonial theory argues that the process in which colonial institutions were transferred often were hybridized in the colonies when compared to their originals in the metropole. It is best described by Homi Bhabha when he talks about the ambivalence evident in the colonizer as displayed in the conflicts in colonial discourse; he writes that the colonized subject can be both “savage (cannibal) and yet the most obedient and dignified of servants (the bearer of food),” sexually deviant and also innocent, mystical and also a manipulator. (The Location of Culture, p. 69) This slippage in colonial discourse is a result of the process of translation of certain ideas and theories from the metropolis and their hybridization in the colonies. Moreover, postcolonial theory would describe the colonized subject’s desires to learn and replicate the realm of imperial print as mimicry. Bhabha describes this process of learning as an act of reformation, a strategy of mimicry of the colonizer’s culture, a result of the civilizing mission of colonial Britain. He writes that there is a destabilizing “ironic compromise … the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject that is almost the same, but not quite.” (The Location of Culture, p. 86) But are all socio-cultural exchanges a mere result of mimicry? Infact, the socio-technological and civilizational exchanges that took place between the Britishers and the Indians defined the colonial subject as an agent.

All cultures are in a state of constant stasis. At the present, when the erstwhile colonies are becoming global powers and their cultures defining the norm, Homi Bhabha’s postcolonial theory borders on being ridiculous, if not downright nonsensical. How do we arrive at theoretical models which are more nuanced in how the colonized past is understood?

How do we explain the fact that the native Hindus of India, were starry eyed at the civilizational changes that were being introduced by the Britishers?

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