Postcolonial Theory

Post-colonial theory explores the impact of European colonization upon the societies which it subjugated, recognizing that the cultural and political struggles which colonization set in motion continue to influence the present. Central concerns relate to the impact of European languages, institutions and epistemologies on colonized societies. The foundational gesture of postcolonialism consisted in uncovering the link between Western knowledge systems, exemplified in discourses such as Said’s “Orientalism,” and the maintenance of colonial power. As a historiographical method, postcolonialism orients itself to the struggles of all sectors of colonial society, both elite and popular, in elucidating colonial resistance. It is concerned with forms of resistance on the part of the colonized, and explores the struggles over racialized identity and gender, as well as representations of place and history in a colonial setting. This course seeks to elucidate these intersecting themes through an exploration of cinematic representations of the colonial experience read in relation to formative theoretical texts of the postcolonial paradigm.

Course/Module aims: 
The course aims to present central concepts of postcolonial theory and to discuss the historical contexts which gave rise to them. Such concepts include Franz Fanon’s phenomenological exploration of “blackness” and his spatialized reading of colonial history; Edward Said’s “Orientalism”; Homi Bhabha’s notions of “ambivalence,” “mimicry” and “hybridity”; the concept of “subalternity” that the Subaltern Studies collective developed on the basis of the work of Antonio Gramsci; the gendering of subalternity in the work of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; as well as the correlation between colonialism and nationalism in the work of Dipesh Chrakrabarty.

This course if taught by Prof. Louise Bethlehem  from the Cultural Studies-Individual Graduate Prog