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Review of Western Mathematics by Alan Bishop
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One of the most exciting features of English literatures today is the explo
sion of post-colonial literatures, those literatures written in English in formerly
colonised societies. This field has given rise to a great range of theoretical
ideas, concepts, problems and debates, and these have been addressed
in a great range of articles, essays, talks and books published or written
from every continent. This book brings together a selection of these
theoretical issues in a way that indicates and celebrates the immense diver
sity of post-colonial theory. As such it will be an indispensable volume for
students, teachers, researchers and theorists, and anybody interested in
the field.
The book has fourteen sections, each dealing with a major concept or issue
in post-colonial theory. Each section is introduced by the editors and includes
up to seven extracts from various theorists. As well as fundamental postcolonial issues, such as Language, Place, History and Ethnicity, it also
assesses the similarities and differences with postmodernism, explores
concepts such as Hybridity and The Body and Performance, and also exam
ines the very important material practice? of Education, Production and
Consumption, and the modes of Representation and Resistance.
The uniqueness of this volume is in its range and comprehensiveness. By
bringing together nearly ninety extracts from over fifty different writers, it
demonstrates the vast spread of post-colonial theory, the degree to which
such theory is emerging outside the metropolitan intellectual centres, and
the significance such theory has in the practical political issues of living in
this range of societies. This book makes accessible the full range of
postcolonial theory, which otherwise would be either difficult or impossible
for students, teachers or researchers to fully utilize.
Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin teach at the Universities of
New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland respectively. Together
they are the authors of The Empire Writes Back (Routledge 1989).
Related titles from Routledge
Edited by Simon During
Edited by Henry Abelove, Michele Aina Barale, and David Halperin
Edited by Harold Veeser
Edited by
Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths
and Helen Tiffin
London and New York
First published 1995
by Routledge
11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE
Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada
by Routledge
29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group
This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2003.
© 1995 Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin for editorial and
introductory material, individual extracts © 1995 the contributors
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced
or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means,
now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording,
or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the publishers.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data
The Post-colonial Studies Reader/edited by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths,
and Helen Tiffin.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Commonwealth literature (English)—History and criticism.
2. Decolonization in literature. 3. Imperialism in literature.
4. Colonies in literature. I. Ashcroft, Bill.
II. Griffiths, Gareth. III. Tiffin, Helen.
PR9080.P57 1994
820.9’358–dc20 94–17829
ISBN 0-203-42306-2 Master e-book ISBN
ISBN 0-203-73130-1 (Adobe eReader Format)
ISBN 0-415-09621-9 (hbk)
ISBN 0-415-09622-7 (pbk)
List of Illustrations xiii
Preface xv
Acknowledgements xvii
General Introduction 1
Part I Issues and Debates
1 The Occasion for Speaking
George Lamming
2 The Economy of Manichean Allegory
Abdul R.JanMohamed
3 Can the Subaltern Speak?
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
4 Signs Taken for Wonders
Homi K.Bhabha
5 Problems in Current Theories of
Colonial Discourse 36
Benita Parry
6 The Scramble for Post-colonialism
Stephen Slemon
Part II Universality and Difference
Introduction 55
7 Colonialist Criticism
Chinua Achebe
8 Heroic Ethnocentrism: The
Idea of Universality in Literature 62
Charles Larson
9 Entering Our Own Ignorance: SubjectObject Relations in
Commonwealth Literature 66
Flemming Brahms
10 Western Mathematics: The Secret Weapon
of Cultural Imperialism 71
Alan J.Bishop
11 Jameson’s Rhetoric of Otherness and the
‘National Allegory’ 77
Aijaz Ahmad
Part III Representation and Resistance
Introduction 85
12 Orientalism
Edward W.Said
13 A Small Place 92
Jamaica Kincaid
14 Post-colonial Literatures and
Counter-discourse 95
Helen Tiffin
15 Figures of Colonial Resistance
Jenny Sharpe
16 Unsettling the Empire: Resistance
Theory for the Second World 104
Stephen Slemon
17 The Rhetoric of English India 111
Sara Suleri
Part IV Postmodernism and Post-colonialism
Introduction 117
18 The Postcolonial and the
Postmodern 119
Kwame Anthony Appiah
19 Postmodernism or Post-colonialism
Today 125
Simon During
20 Circling the Downspout of Empire
Linda Hutcheon
21 The White Inuit Speaks: Contamination
as Literary Strategy 136
Diana Brydon
22 The Politics of the Possible
Kumkum Sangari
Part V Nationalism
Introduction 151
23 National Culture
Frantz Fanon
24 Fanon, Cabral and Ngugi on
National Liberation 158
Chidi Amuta
25 Nationalism as a Problem
Partha Chatterjee
26 The Discovery of Nationality in Australian
and Canadian Literatures 167
Alan Lawson
27 The National Longing for Form
Timothy Brennan
28 Dissemination: Time, Narrative, and the
Margins of the Modern Nation 176
Homi K.Bhabha
29 What Ish My Nation?
David Cairns and Shaun Richards
Part VI Hybridity
Introduction 183
30 Fossil and Psyche
Kirsten Holst Petersen and Anna Rutherford
31 Named for Victoria, Queen
of England 190
Chinua Achebe
32 Of the Marvellous Realism of
the Haitians 194
Jacques Stephen Aléxis
33 Marvellous Realism: The Way
out of Negritude 199
Michael Dash
34 Creolization in Jamaica 202
Edward Kamau Brathwaite
35 Cultural Diversity and Cultural
Differences 206
Homi K.Bhabha
Part VII Ethnicity and Indigeneity
Introduction 213
36 No Master Territories
Trinh T.Minh-ha
37 Who is Ethnic?
Werner Sollors
38 New Ethnicities
Stuart Hall
39 White Forms, Aboriginal Content
40 The Representation of the Indigene 232
Terry Goldie
41 The Myth of Authenticity 237
Gareth Griffiths
42 Who Can Write as Other?
Margery Fee
Part VIII Feminism and Post-colonialism
Introduction 249
43 First Things First: Problems of a Feminist
Approach to African Literature 251
Kirsten Holst Petersen
44 Decolonizing Culture: Toward a Theory for
Post-colonial Women’s Texts 255
Ketu H.Katrak
45 Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship
and Colonial Discourses 259
Chandra Talpade Mohanty
46 Writing Postcoloniality and
Feminism 264
Trinh T.Minh-ha
47 Three Women’s Texts and a Critique
of Imperialism 269
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
48 Woman Skin Deep: Feminism and
the Postcolonial Condition 273
Sara Suleri
Part IX Language
Introduction 283
49 The Language of African Literature
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
50 The Alchemy of English 291
Braj B.Kachru
51 Language and Spirit
Raja Rao
52 Constitutive Graphonomy
Bill Ashcroft
53 New Language, New World 303
54 Nation Language
Edward Kamau Brathwaite
55 Relexification
Chantal Zabus
Part X The Body and Performance
Introduction 321
56 The Fact of Blackness 323
Frantz Fanon
57 Jazz and the West Indian Novel 327
Edward Kamau Brathwaite
58 In Search of the Lost Body: Redefining the
Subject in Caribbean Literature 332
Michael Dash
59 The Body as Cultural Signifier
Russell McDougall
60 Dance, Movement and Resistance
Politics 341
Helen Gilbert
61 Feminism and the Colonial Body
Kadiatu Kanneh
62 Outlaws of the Text 349
Gillian Whitlock
Part XI History
Introduction 355
63 Allegories of Atlas
José Rabasa
64 Columbus and the Cannibals
Peter Hulme
65 The Muse of History
Derek Walcott
66 Spatial History
Paul Carter
67 The Limbo Gateway
Wilson Harris
68 Postcoloniality and the Artifice
of History 383
Dipesh Chakrabarty
Part XII Place
Introduction 391
69 Unhiding the Hidden 394
Robert Kroetsch
70 Writing in Colonial Space
Dennis Lee
71 Naming Place
Paul Carter
72 Decolonizing the Map
Graham Huggan
73 Aboriginal Place
Bob Hodge and Vijay Mishra
74 Ecological Imperialism
Alfred W.Crosby
Part XIII Education
Introduction 425
75 Minute on Indian Education
Thomas Macaulay
76 The Beginnings of English Literary Study
in British India 431
Gauri Viswanathan
77 On the Abolition of the English
Department 438
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
78 The Neocolonial Assumption in University
Teaching of English 443
John Docker
79 Ideology in the Classroom: A Case Study
in the Teaching of English Literature
in Canadian Universities 447
Arun P.Mukherjee
80 Education and Neocolonialism
Philip G.Altbach
81 The Race for Theory
Barbara Christian
Part XIV Production and Consumption
Introduction 463
82 The Historiography of African Literature
Written in English 465
André Lefevere
83 Singapore: Poet, Critic, Audience
Peter Hyland
84 Postcolonial Culture,
Postimperial Criticism 475
85 The Book Today in Africa
86 Literary Colonialism: Books in the
Third World 485
Philip G.Altbach
Bibliography 491
Index 514
1 Diagram representing the debate over the
nature of colonialism 46
2 Theme of expedition
3 Mercator’s world map
4 Jila Japingka by Peter Skipper 416
This is the latest in a number of Readers published by Routledge and joins
such earlier titles as The Cultural Studies Reader. The publishers insisted
that the title of The Post-colonial Studies Reader be congruent with the
other readers which they publish. The authors are equally at pains to insist
therefore that the title is not meant to claim some kind of completeness of
coverage or absolute authority. In a field as diverse and contentious as
postcolonial studies such a claim would be particularly extravagant and
foolish. However, the more than eighty extracts in this reader are designed
to introduce the major issues and debates in the field of post-colonial literary
studies. This field itself has become so heterogeneous that no collection of
readings could encompass every theoretical position now giving itself the
name ‘postcolonial/post-colonial’. These terms themselves encapsulate an
active and unresolved dispute between those who would see the
postcolonial as designating an amorphous set of discursive practices, akin
to postmodernism, and those who would see it as designating a more
specific, and ‘historically’ located set of cultural strategies. Even this latter
view is divided between those who believe that post-colonial refers only to
the period after the colonies become independent and those who argue,
as the editors of this book would, that it is best used to designate the totality
of practices, in all their rich diversity, which characterise the societies of
the post-colonial world from the moment of colonisation to the present day,
since colonialism does not cease with the mere fact of political independence
and continues in a neo-colonial mode to be active in many societies.
The structure of the reader, the choice of subject areas and the selection
and excisions of the readings are naturally determined by the editors’
preferences and thus amount to a theoretical statement. But we have tried
to introduce arguments with which we are not necessarily in agreement,
and we have tried to produce a reader which is above all a stimulus to
discussion, thought and further exploration. The parameters we have chosen
will no doubt seem unsatisfactory to some: in order to achieve as wide a
representation of areas and approaches as possible most extracts are
limited to about two thousand words and will thus often not encompass the
whole argument of the pieces from which they are taken; some theorists
may seem to be under-represented given their importance to the field; some
of the writers would not be considered ‘post-colonial’ theorists at all. But
each extract is selected to say something coherent about an issue of
immediate relevance to post-colonial practice, and represents what we have
taken to be the most interesting, provocative or stimulating aspect of the
original. Obviously, cultural and political critiques by general theorists such
as Foucault, Derrida, Terdiman, Gramsci, Althusser, etc. have been
influential in the construction of many post-colonial critical accounts but
we have not included these in the reader since they are already easily
accessible. This reader is not a collection of theorists, but of ideas; it is not
interested in establishing a canon of theories or theorists but in indicating
something of the great scope, the rich heterogeneity and vast energy of
the field of postcolonial studies. We have been economical with footnotes,
and if students or scholars wish to investigate the full argument and the
range of sources of some of these pieces we direct them to the originals.
For help, patience and support we should like to thank our partners, Judy,
Carolyn and Chris.
For help in finding material, tracing references, editing and proofreading
we want to thank many people, but particularly Tony da Silva and Chris
For generous permission to publish these extracts we thank the many
journals and publishers who have acceded to our requests, in many cases
promptly and sometimes with helpful advice.
General Introduction
When Arthur James Balfour stood up in the House of Commons, at the
height of British imperial power, on June 13 1910, to answer challenges
to Britain’s presence in Egypt, Edward Said tells us (1978:32), he spoke
under the mantle of two indivisible foundations of imperial authority—
knowledge and power. The most formidable ally of economic and political
control had long been the business of ‘knowing’ other peoples because
this ‘knowing’ underpinned imperial dominance and became the mode
by which they were increasingly persuaded to know themselves: that is,
as subordinate to Europe. A consequence of this process of knowing
became the export to the colonies of European language, literature and
learning as part of a civilising mission which involved the suppression of
a vast wealth of indigenous cultures beneath the weight of imperial control.
The date of Balfour’s speech is significant. In just a few years British
imperial power would begin to be dismantled by the effects of two world
wars and the rise of independence movements throughout the world. This
political dismantling did not immediately extend to imperial cultural
influences, but it was attended by an unprecedented assertion of creative
activity in postcolonial societies.
European imperialism took various forms in different times and places
and proceeded both through conscious planning and contingent
occurrences. As a result of this complex development something occurred
for which the plan of imperial expansion had not bargained: the immensely
prestigious and powerful imperial culture found itself appropriated in projects
of counter-colonial resistance which drew upon the many different
indigenous local and hybrid processes of self-determination to defy, erode
and sometimes supplant the prodigious power of imperial cultural
knowledge. Post-colonial literatures are a result of this interaction between
imperial culture and the complex of indigenous cultural practices. As a
consequence, ‘post-colonial theory’ has existed for a long time before that
particular name was used to describe it. Once colonised peoples had cause
to reflect on and express the tension which ensued from this problematic
and contested, but eventually vibrant and powerful mixture of imperial
language and local experience, post-colonial ‘theory’ came into being.
The term ‘post-colonial’ is resonant with all the ambiguity and complexity
of the many different cultural experiences it implicates, and, as the extracts
in this Reader demonstrate, it addresses all aspects of the colonial process
from the beginning of colonial contact. Post-colonial critics and theorists
should consider the full implications of restricting the meaning of the term
to ‘after-colonialism’ or after-Independence. All post-colonial societies are
still subject in one way or another to overt or subtle forms of neo-colonial
domination, and independence has not solved this problem. The
development of new élites within independent societies, often buttressed
by neo-colonial institutions; the development of internal divisions based on
racial, linguistic or religious discriminations; the continuing unequal treatment
of indigenous peoples in settler/invader societies—all these testify to the
fact that post-colonialism is a continuing process of resistance and
reconstruction. This does not imply that post-colonial practices are seamless
and homogeneous but indicates the impossibility of dealing with any part of
the colonial process without considering its antecedents and consequences.
Post-colonial theory involves discussion about experience of various
kinds: migration, slavery, suppression, resistance, representation, difference,
race, gender, place, and responses to the influential master discourses of
imperial Europe such as history, philosophy and linguistics, and the
fundamental experiences of speaking and writing by which all these come
into being. None of these is ‘essentially’ post-colonial, but together they
form the complex fabric of the field. Like the description of any other field
the term has come to mean many things, as the range of extracts in this
Reader indicates. However we would argue that post-colonial studies are
based in the ‘historical fact’ of European colonialism, and the diverse
material effects to which this phenomenon gave rise. We need to keep this
fact of colonisation firmly in mind because the increasingly unfocused use
of the term ‘post-colonial’ over the last ten years to describe an astonishing
variety of cultural, economic and political practices has meant that there is
a danger of its losing its effective meaning altogether. Indeed the diffusion
of the term is now so extreme that it is used to refer to not only vastly
different but even opposed activities. In particular the tendency to employ
the term ‘post-colonial’ to refer to any kind of marginality at all runs the risk
of denying its basis in the historical process of colonialism.
While drawing together a wide variety of theoretical and critical
perspectives, this Reader attempts to redress a process whereby ‘postcolonial theory’ may itself mask and even perpetuate unequal economic
and cultural relations. This happens when the bulk of the literary theory is
seen to come out of the metropolitan centres, ‘adding value’ to the literary
‘raw material’ imported from the post-colonial societies (Mitchell 1992). Such
a situation simply reproduces the inequalities of imperial power relations.
Post-colonial ‘theory’ has been produced in all societies into which the
imperial force of Europe has intruded, though not always in the formal guise
of theoretic …
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