Questions related to Postcolonial Studies
In my current research on the lived experience of ageing in extreme poverty, I am trying to illustrate something connecting the discursive social process of 'Othering'. But I am struggling to find a term that can best define the reverse process of 'Othering'. What it could be in one/two words? Your contribution is much appreciated.
Dear Global Research Community,
The issue of ,Race' and Blackness has been invisible in Eurocentric Disability Studies as Postcolonial, Migration and Black Studies more broadly have been accused of neglecting the issue of Disability in their critical analysis of power and racial discrimination.
Do you think black feminist and intersectional disability frameworks could fill this gap in critical examination of the colonial dynamics of power and knowledge?
Thank you so much in advance for your critical thoughts!
Recently, the Aymara intellectual Silvia Rivera Cusicanquí (Bolivia), has pointed out that "the decolonial is a fashion, the postcolonial a desire and the anti-colonial a struggle." Through this, she posits that in the face of the exhausted epistemological horizon of Eurocentric modernity there is a renewed interest in the knowledge that emerges in the context of the struggles for decolonization, however, there is no real political commitment on the part of scientists. The author points out: "the decolonial is a very recent fashion that, in some way, usufructs and reinterprets those processes of struggle, but I think it depoliticizes them, since the decolonial is a state or a situation but it is not an activity, it does not imply an agency, nor a conscious participation. I put the anti-colonial struggle into practice in fact, in some way, delegitimizing all forms of objectification and ornamental use of what is indigenous by the State. All of these are processes of symbolic colonization. "
I am interested in hearing and reading critical opinions about the decolonial turn in academic fashion. My question arises from some observations:
a) Epistemological violence in the social sciences that is claimed to be decolonial continues to be exercised from the Eurocentric "epistemological ratio". Where Latin America becomes a simple field of study. And where those of us who reflect from within the struggles for decolonization are erased from the map of knowledge production, since our texts are not referenced or academic extractivism is simply generated stealing local knowledge, exercising new forms of "indigenous folklorization".
b) The main references of decolonial thought are located in universities in hegemonic countries. The intellectual activists of Latin America who have a conscious ethic and struggle with social movements are excluded from the circuits of intellectual debate.
c) An important fracture of decolonial studies occurs in the defense of the Nation State and the progressive left governments of Latin America, such as Evo Morales and Maduro, and a rejection of radical left or indigenous proposals that are raised from anti-state perspectives , libertarian and autonomous.
d) The depoliticization and lack of ethics of many researchers who claim to be decolonial, who through practices of academic extractivism seek to scrutinize indigenous knowledge, have been financed with multi-million dollar research projects, financed by companies and state research corporations (Por example mitzubichi corporation), and whose impacts have contributed nothing to the struggles of those who dispute the territory.
Waves of power in the form of colonization crashed into the South Pacific Islands in the 18th to 19th century, leaving behind monuments and pillars that have much impacted the society. Consider, inasmuch as it has impacted South Pacific islanders, did it have a negative or positive impact?
Since the publication of Linda Tuhiwai Smith's book (Decolonizing Methodologies - Research and Indigenous Peoples), researchers are increasingly aware of the importance of adopting decolonized research methodologies. However, although one might understand the concept, it can prove somewhat difficult to implement in a research project. I would be interested to know about concrete examples where researchers and indigenous/aboriginal/native people have developed effective ways to decolonize research.
A must-see film addressing a sensitive topic: " Je ne suis pas votre nègre " (I Am Not Your Negro).
First, let’s give a big round of applause to the Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, for his Oscar-nominated film I Am Not Your Negro. The film is coming soon to theaters near you, probably in February 2017.
This post is rather an attempt to create an analysis of the film – in order to help audiences decipher the anagrams and thus discover the central message behind the film.
In this film analysis, the term “America” is used to collectively refer to the Americas — encompassing the totality of the continents of North America and South America (including the Caribbean).
James Baldwin was an American novelist and an outspoken advocate on the topic of “The Negro And The American Promise.” In 1948, he left the USA and moved to France, due to American prejudice and harassment.
On the other hand, Raoul Peck was only 8 years old when he fled post-colonial dictatorship in Haiti. He then landed in the colony of Congo during its decolonization. Peck studied various subjects and resided in different countries, including Haiti, Congo, Belgium, and France. In the end, he settled in Germany where he studied industrial engineering, economics and filmmaking. His company Velvet Film is also based in Germany.
I Am Not Your Negro was an unfinished piece written by James Baldwin. In 1987, Baldwin died of stomach Cancer. Raoul Peck finished the screenplay and made the film in 2016.
I Am Not Your Negro is, without doubt, a mesmerizing collation of artwork created by the revered director Raoul Peck:
Following is a transcript of Baldwin's voice in the film I Am Not Your Negro:
“The future of the Negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country — it is entirely up to the American people whether or not they are going to try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger, I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it. Then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that.”
It appeared that Raoul Peck rewrote and/or finished Baldwin’s manuscript with a brush of another story that has not been told.
In terms of previous achievements, cultural and historical background, the Haitian director was a perfect match for the direction of the film.
Due to the controversial sensibility of the topic, Peck presented the film — as if he was neither for, nor against “skin-color privilege” in the world.
Naïve audiences might have a difficult time to understand this movie, due to untold or hidden histories. The de-colonialists were afraid of so-called “fear of blaming.” Therefore, a huge part of history has been deleted in the textbooks and not taught in school... The new generation is therefore in a state of blackout and repeats the past in different forms. Not giving the new generation a chance to learn from its past caused the world to preserve and perpetuate the systems of abuse and victimization of the victims. It is probably the most powerful contributor to racial profiling, stigma/prejudice, and the police-brutality that we see today, especially against people of African descent. The act had already caused an incredible amount of deaths in the USA alone, in the 21st century.
To perceived the central message hidden in the film, it could be helpful to know a bit about American history:
- The 15th century was a century of change. Christopher Columbus arrived in America. The amount of “PACTOLE” (gold, sugar and other precious resources) found or produced on the island of Hispaniola made it become known as the “BIG APPLE” of America. The lucrative discoveries on Hispaniola attracted pirates from all over the world.
- The American inhabitants of Hispaniola were nearly exterminated. New slaves were needed to put food on the table of the colonists.
- In 1516, Bartolomé de las Casas, a priest of the Catholic Church, advocated the use of African slaves instead of the natives in America. He succeeded in selling his ideas to the European Great Powers (monarchies) of the era.
- Bartolomé de las Casas is infamously credited for the ideology behind the Atlantic Slave Trade, the largest deportation of mankind, to this date.
- Then the French colonists wanted the best and strongest African slaves to generate an extraordinary production of wealth to outcompete the Kingdom of England. The French empire purchased and/or captured gladiators from Dahomey, and enslaved them on Hispaniola.
- 1685: The Code Noir (The Black Code) was introduced in America by king Louis XIV. It taught the African slaves arrogance and violence.
- On Hispaniola started pseudo-scientific research for “fabrication” or “manufacture” of human beings in America: selective breeding of human beings and the development of ideas of race. Joseph Arthur (Comte de Gobineau) wrote An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, in which he claimed that aristocrats were superior to commoners and that they possessed more Aryan genetic traits because of less inbreeding with inferior races (Alpines and Mediterraneans).
- As a result: Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the favorite American of Queen Marie Antoinette, was born as the son of an aristocrat and an African slave woman. Saint-Georges was privileged and considered superior to even some White noblemen in Europe. Saint-Georges was the first African descent to ascend to the rank of colonel in a European army. On behalf of King Louis XVI, Saint-Georges negotiated with Haitian rebellion leader Toussaint Louverture. Saint-Georges then urged the conscience of France to give the slaves hope for a better life, after centuries of extremely-hard labor to put food on the table of Europe. The absolute monarch somewhat listened... Saint-Georges actual dream was to be in the performance arts, not in the royal army. Further promotion of Saint-Georges quickly became a scandal and an embarrassment for the French kingdom.
- In 1779, Louis XVI abolished serfdom on all land under royal territories.
- In 1784, Louis XVI signed an ordinance allowing slaves to trial their owners for abuses.
- In 1791, Louis XVI abolished slavery on all French territories.
- In 1792, Louis XVI was overthrown.
- During the revolution, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were both decapitated by guillotine.
Napoleon’s dream was to conquer the entire world. He wasted the precious wealth of France...and needed more wealth to capture Russia and defeat the British naval blockade.
In 1802, Napoleon reestablished slavery in all the French territories, including Hispaniola, in order to generate more wealth to boost his army.
Indeed, France succeeded in conquering world commerce with a single piece of land in America (i.e. Hispaniola). At one point, France owned almost the entire North American continent (including the Caribbean). England and its allied nations raged wars after wars against France to sabotage Hispaniola. England’s Royal Family nearly became bankrupt. France flourished and became the world’s superpower. The French strategy was long regarded as a smart idea — until Haiti led the greatest slave uprising in the history of mankind, since the Spartacus slave uprising against the Roman Empire.
When a smart idea — that was already known to be a mistake — is repeated, it is no longer a mistake but a decision.
The Haitian revolution seemed to be an evidence for further dehumanization of the people of African descent in America.
In 1865, the US Congress sign the 13th amendment to formally abolished slavery in the USA.
Even though the film is set in the USA, the original intent seemed to actually explore the people of African descent within America and beyond — from pre-colonialism... colonialism... decolonization… to... post-colonialism… neocolonialism.
The central message seems to be: Was it really the last stage of colonialism? To this date, is it?
Please share your thoughts.
I have been asked this question several times. My answer was (more or less) that there is no real difference concerning the theoretical background - it is more about the geographical place, where the different ways of thinking were developed. The decolonial branch is Latin-american, closely tied to the "Grupo Modernidad/Decolonialidad" (even if it does not exist, as its members claim) around people such as Mignolo or Quijano. The postcolonial branch is older and has been developed in India and/or by Indians, tied to groups such as the "Subaltern Studies Group". What do you say? Is post-colonial and decolonial thinking basically the same? Is the decolonial branch a copy, an adaptation of the Indian theories?
Which postcolonial theory would be the most suitable to apply to Chinese minority in Vietnam after 1975?
Particularly published or posted standards for language interpretation of (non-European) indigenous languages derived from policies of administrative, criminal, or immigration law?
Can anyone give me some good (preferably must-reads in Political Science) works of democratization theory in postcolonial settings? Much of the major democratization theories are extracted from the Western experiences; I am looking for work that explains democratization elsewhere.
In his 'A Grain of Wheat' (Heinemann, 1967), Ngugi says "People try to rub out things, but they cannot. Things are not so easy. What has passed between us is too much to be passed over in a sentence. We need to talk, to open our hearts to one another, examine them, and then together plan the future that we want". Do they merit contemplation in the context of Africa today? Was he talking of an Africa that needs to look into itself and discover its strengths? What do you think?
I am currently doing research on Sikhs in WW1, and Sikh soldiers who fought for or against the British more generally. I have been spending a lot of time examining photographs from this time period. One image that has been recurring is the adoption of Sikh attire, in particular the turban/pagri by non-Indians. For example, there was a famous warrior who fought against the Sikhs in the Sepoy mutiny, Sir Dighton Probyn, who famously sported Indian dress in battle and when posing for a painting of himself. There was also Alexander Gardner, a soldier in Maharajah Ranjit Singh's army. Why do you think they might have taken this on? I think it certainly has to do with orientalism and the fearsome reputation of the Sikhs as representatives of a martial race. Has anyone come across any research in this area?
I'm attempting to frame Deleuze's notion of the traitor as a figure of hope (utopian impulse) in a number of postcolonial novels. However, it appears that I'll first have to grasp the notion of the people to come and its relations to utopia. Is that correct? Is there anyone out there I can dialogue with?