2 August 2021 8:35

War of narratives: Norms of literary and artistic values in post-colonial world

It is in a way rejecting the narratives of the West and looking to replace them with counter-narratives to get their own space by challenging the Eurocentric norms of literary and artistic values.

Are you still living in colonised World?
Has your nation decolonised?
Is it a post-colonial world?
Why do the neo-colonial ideas are challenging to eradicate?

These questions may not be simple to explain, but it needs elaboration to decipher our own identity and our existing World, especially people of Asian, South American and African continents and Pacific.

Let us begin to explain ‘Post-colonialism that simply meaning ‘after the colonial’ while another similar ambiguous term ‘postcolonialism’ is referred to as re-reading of colonisation writings and literature that has questioned the production of knowledge and discourse in terms of combined social, economic, cultural and political changes brought by the impact of colonialism.

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Some scholars understand the end of colonialism that gave way the essential authority, cultural and political freedom, and independence to the indigenous people by removing the political and cultural imperialism.

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West versus the Rest/East: Post-colonialism; Representative picture from @CANVA

Postcolonialism is a critical theoretical movement that has interpreted and critically analysed the culture of colonialism and imperialism and the cultural impact of colonialism. It tried to eradicate colonial culture influence and created/realise a sense of self-identity of colonised.

These postcolonial scholars emphasised interpreting the contestation of colonial domination and legacies of colonialism. This critical thought movement emerged in various disciplines like history, philosophy, literature, cultural studies and sociology etc.

let’s summarises the evolution of postcolonialism, relating terminologies and their discourse.

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West versus the Rest/East: Post-colonialism; Representative picture from @CANVA

Post-Colonialism or Postcolonialism

There is a debate over defining the terms ‘post-colonialism and ‘postcolonialism’.

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Post-colonialism refer to ‘the period after any formerly colonised country took its independence’ or the period that follows after political independence.

In contrast, postcolonialism means the ‘effects and results of any sort of intervention or domination over a country across the time period’ or induce all the complex history and irreversible change suffered by the colonised nation and culture.

Removing of hyphen ‘creates a comparative framework by which to understand the varieties of local resistance to colonial impact’.

Concepts of Postcolonialism

To understand the concept of postcolonialism, one needs to comprehend the terms ‘colonialism’ and ‘imperialism’, although both terms are related to political, power-orientation and suppression of the other.

Colonialism is related to the mission of European political domination over the last 400 years where coloniser involves settlement of colonies and rules over the other regions; whereas Imperialism is related to a system of military domination and sovereignty over other nations without actually any settlement.

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West versus the Rest/East: Post-colonialism; Representative picture from @CANVA

It can be understood as a practice where the colonisers establish colonies and settlements for the political and economic benefit of the colonizing country, whereas under imperialism the one country establish influence over the other by military force and power either formally or informally, primarily related to creating an empire and expanding its dominance over other regions.  

Edward Said stated ‘“imperialism” means the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan centre ruling a distant territory; “colonialism”, which is almost always a consequence of imperialism, is the implanting of settlements on distant territory’ (Said, 1993). Besides military domination of physical conquest under colonialism, it involves the conquest and occupation of mind, selves and culture.

Similarly, the term is ‘neo-colonialism, which is a new kind of colonialism that supports colonial domination by indirect domination or controlling once colonised nations by implying new kinds of economic, social, political and military systems.

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West versus the Rest/East: Post-colonialism; Representative picture from @CANVA

It is believed that neo-colonialism is more difficult to deduct and resist in comparison to traditional colonialism. This indicates all forms of control of former colonies after political independence. 

The next term is ‘Decolonization’ simply means a process of getting political-legal freedom from the colonisers, but it also signifies the denial of all imperial impact related to economic, social, political or cultural.

Decolonisation is achieved by different means like revolution, violence and sometimes nonviolence ways.

Another similar term needs explanation is ‘anti-colonialism refers to a ‘political struggle of colonised peoples against the ideology and practice of colonialism’, that was reflected in the diverse way of resistance or opposition to the political, cultural and economic institutions of colonialism in order to restore local control.

Historical discourse: Postcolonialism

This study analyses the manner in which the colonial European powers established control over indigenously developed cultures, and the postcolonialist have equally reacted to and opposed such intrusion. 

In other words, it is in a way rejecting the narratives of the West and looking to replace them with counter-narratives to get their own space. This is challenging the Eurocentric norms of literary and artistic values.

This shift in the academia of post-colonial thoughts ranged over four decades from the 1950s till the 1990s that enables the reading of ‘own text on our own terms.’

Historical demarcation of an exact time frame of the postcolonial period is a tedious task. But during the colonial phase, the West distinguishes itself as biologically superior to any other race, which reflected the manner in which colonisers treated the colonised, i.e. forced labour, indentured labour and even slavery.

This established a hegemony where ‘White’ was considered superior to others as subhuman or inferior. The inferiority enforced by the colonisers on colonised in terms of cultural inferiority, identity, social values and psychology.

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West versus the Rest/East: Post-colonialism; Representative picture from @CANVA

Gradually, colonised began to get aware of this binary. This led to demand for political, cultural, ethnic freedom and autonomy. This process aggravated when colonisers dominations in all prospective began to disappear in the early phase of the 20th century and gradually, many nations got independence that gave momentum to writings from the third-world countries.   

These thoughts majorly came from the formerly colonised nations, especially continents like Asia, Africa and South America; from where mainly the literature produced in the postcolonial world as a literary theory or movement.

These continents went through an anti-colonial struggle and achieved independence. The literature emerging from these former colonies nations is termed postcolonial. Postcolonialism has revived the discourse of nation and nationalism that led to two categorisations the colonisers referred to as ‘West’ whereas the colonised termed as ‘Rest’/’East’.

The postcolonialist coming from former colonies that intent to study the literature of their own nation into the discourse of western academic study. This was a kind of critical reaction to the hierarchy of westerns academia and questions the universal claims of western knowledge and experiences as representatives of mankind.

They highlighted the use of language by the West to establish hegemony and power relations, which helped create a binary ‘we’ vs ‘others’ or ‘us’ vs. ‘them’.

Similarly, various questions are raised by postcolonialist in terms of identity, race, class, ethnicity, gender, discourse, politics, exploitation and resistance against the Western World.

They attempt to represent themselves as an individual in itself rather than ‘white man’s burden’ by identifying the value of their own community or national culture against the foreign hegemony.

Conclusion Postcolonialism provided a counter-narrative to the European imperial narrative, emerging primarily from the formerly colonised countries scholars.

These scholars re-examine the colonial and post-colonial literature, with a prime focus on the social discourse between the coloniser and the colonised that led to the emergence of these writings.

This is our attempt to removed many conceptual errors about these ambiguous terminologies and enlighten the people of the postcolonial World to realise their own identity.

Author: Dr Sakul Kundra, A.HOD Department of Social Science, College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University.

Dr Sakul Kundra; Picture Source: Supplied
Dr Sakul Kundra; Picture Source: Supplied

Disclaimer: The views expressed are his own and not of The Australia Today or his employer. For comments or suggestions, email. [email protected]

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