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Postcolonialism as Literary Theory

Updated on July 9, 2012

Edward Said

In Literary Criticism, Bressler explains that Postcolonialism is a branch of literary study than encompasses cultural, gender, and African-American studies. It attempts to draw attention to the discussion of oppression and suppression of the colonized by the colonizers who form the dominant culture. Postcolonialists consider the dominant culture’s ideology and the affects that it has on the colonized through hybridization and “psychic warping.” Postcolonialists who have been the colonized seem to have a greater comprehension of the social constructs which have defined them.

Said argues for a “historical view that emphasizes the variety of human experiences in all cultures.” He believes that this can only be done through the form of narrative which shall somehow remove the subjectivity of human experience. He also proclaims that scholars require first-hand experience in specific regions if they are going to write about them, and they should assist the writers and critics in those regions. This seems to be a call to go beyond scholarship and for scholars to become activists. Also, Said claims that colonization is a “social process.” When different cultures come in contact with each other they are both altered.

Postcolonialists desire “decolonized culture and literature.” I do not see how this is possible since history plays such an important role in postcolonialism. There is no way to remove the past and its effects on culture and literature even if colonization and oppression are defeated. Removing the colonizers won’t solve everything. A new culture would have to be established, but how can the taint of the dominant culture be eradicated. Can it be?


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      Amar 3 years ago

      Hi Iris,I saw your twitter feed and am woierdnng if you are Iris-the one and the same- who won our book giveaway a few years ago. The Thirteenth Tale, I think. You did a video opening the box. Happy to reconnect, if it's you Toni, USA

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      Gert 3 years ago

      Stands back from the keyboard in amanemezt! Thanks!