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Gist of the theory

Postcolonial literature is a body of literary writing that responds to the
intellectual discourse of European colonization in Asia, Africa, Middle East, the
Pacific and elsewhere. Postcolonial literature addresses the problems and
consequences of the decolonization of a country and of a nation, especially the
political and cultural independence of formerly subjugated colonial peoples; it also
covers literary critiques of and about postcolonial literature, the undertones of
which carry, communicate, and justify racialism and colonialism. The postcolonial
theory is as area of cultural and critical theory that has been used in the study of
literary texts. It deals with the reading and writing of literature written in
previously colonised countries. Postcolonial theory may also be literature that was
written in colonising countries (the metropolis/centre) dealing with colonisation or
the colonised people. But most contemporary forms of postcolonial literature
present literary and intellectual critiques of the postcolonial discourse by
endeavouring to assimilate postcolonialism and its literary expressions. It may
also deal with literature written in or by citizens of colonizing countries that takes
colonies or their peoples as its subject matter. The theory is based around
concepts of otherness and resistance.
Major Post-colonial Theorists:
Homi K. Bhabba - Homi K. Bhabha has shown how certain cultures
(mis)represent other cultures, thereby extending their political and social
domination in the modern world order.
Edward W. Said - published a book entitledOrientalism (1978). Typically, the
proponents of the theory examine the ways in which writers from colonized
countries attempt to articulate and even celebrate their cultural identities and
reclaim them from the colonizers. They also examine ways in which the literature
of the colonial powers is used to justify colonialism through the perpetuation of
images of the colonized as inferior.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak - Can the Subaltern Speak?
Joseph Conrads - Heart of Darkness with its apparent anti-colonialist take is
actually, as pointed out by Chinua Achebe, a colonialist text as Conrad depicts the
natives in miserable condition and uses the image as the standard of savagery
where Europeans have taken themselves down into.
Franz Fanon - in his book, Black Skin, White Masks, , Fanon suggests that
colonialism, because of its explicit promotion of white racial superiority over nonwhite colonial peoples, has created a sense of division and alienation in the selfidentity of the colonised. He argues that under colonialism, the history, language,
culture, customs as well as belief systems of the white coloniser are to be
considered as universal and normative as well as superior to the knowledge
systems of the colonised that are treated as the inferior other.


1. Abrogation: natives decided that they do not want to speak in a foreign
language, English in this case, they abrogate English in favour of their own
language. It happened mostly in the invaded colonies and later in the
settled ones. Writers decided to write in their own language, natives got a
notion of themselves, they also noticed that not speaking English was a
disadvantage, they realised they won't communicate with a large
organisation, they used a minor language. Some authors after abrogating
English decided to translate their own works into English. Abrogation was a
very important movement and would bring a lot of identity but it was left
behind because it was not practical at all. The next step was appropriation.
2. Appropriation: it is a conscious use of the language and the culture. As
there are always cultural traces, the natives took again English as their
language in order to communicate with more people but they did it in a
conscious way, it was part of a new identity, natives did it because they
wanted to, not because it was imposed on them. In this process of
abrogation and appropriation there is a movement from self to
other(ness); english is describing the self, using english they express
themselves. When they use English they had the feeling they are speaking
some way with the words of another person.
3. Palimpsest: it is something that comes from that process; at first
colonisers killed, enslaved or forgot natives, so they became invisible. They
were the other in their own land. This changed in the last 20 years,
natives got their identity. Australia, in the 1960's, mean while, aboriginal
were excluded, but in the 70's they emerged through their own Australian
culture, they had something to say. But contemporary native cultures called
Palimpsest Cultures, because they have part of their own culture together
with the traces of the colonisers' culture left in them.
4. Discourse: we talk about a language that is clearly defined, it speech and
context. It's one of the clearest manifestations of what we think. Every time
we say something we are trying to communicate, it is a will to dialogue.
When the discourse becomes literal it is inscribed in words and to make it
literary the writer uses tropes.

In the post-structuralist approach to textual analysis, the reader
replaces the author as the primary subject of inquiry. This displacement is often
referred to as the "destabilizing" or "decentering" of the author, though it has its
greatest effect on the text itself. Without a central fixation on the author, poststructuralists examine other sources for meaning (e.g., readers, cultural norms,
other literature, etc.). These alternative sources are never authoritative, and
promise no consistency.

Michel Foucault (19261984) and Jacques Derrida (19302004) eschewed any association with postmodernism. Postmodernism is as much a
sensibility or cultural mood as a specific doctrine. It implies a break with modern
modes of experiencing time and space, the dissolution of coherent meanings and
narratives, and changes in media of communication. Politically, postmodernism is
often seen as reflecting new forms of political organization such as global
capitalism or new social movements that reflect cultural difference rather than
Ferdinand de Saussure (18571913) - is generally recognized as the creator
of the modern theory of structuralism and the father of modern linguistics. He
aim was to place the study of language on a more scientific basis by breaking
with traditional, historically-oriented or diachronic (across time) approaches.
Instead, he suggest to treat language synchronically (at a time) as a system of
contrastive or differential features, a system without positive terms since the
relationship between signifier and signified (or word and concept) cannot be
understood on the model of a straightforward, one-to-one correspondence.
Claude Lvi-Strauss- He was considered as the father of structuralism. The
work of Lvi-Strauss was also key in the development of the theory of
structuralism and structural anthropology. He argued that the "savage" mind had
the same structures as the "civilized" mind and that human characteristics are the
same everywhere. These observations culminated in his famous book
1. The verbal stage is similar to that of more conventional forms of New
Critical close reading that we studied earlier in the course. It involves
looking in the text for paradoxes and contradictions at what might be called
the purely verbal level. In addition to looking at the etymology of specific
words, you can look at the interrelationship between words, how they
create contradictions or inconsistencies that cannot be resolved. To do this
kind of analysis, all you really need to start is a copy of the work, a good
dictionary, and the dedication to be a close, observant reader.
2. The textual stage focuses on the relationship between common binary

oppositions in the work like male/female, day/night, light/dark, good/evil,

nature/society, etc, in which one term seems to be "privileged" or more
highly valued over the other. A post-structuralist reading might try to look
closely at this hierarchy in order to show how it is not sustained throughout
the work, or how the two terms are not oppositional at all but interrelated
and interdependent.

3. The linguistic stage involves looking for moments when the adequacy of

language itself as a medium of communication is called into question. Such

moments occur when there is implicit or explicit reference to the

unreliability or untrustworthiness of language, juxtapositions of speech and

silence, or an awareness of the limitations of language. In other words,
moments in the narrative where we are made consciously aware of the
problems involved in using language to create meaning.