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E 341 (23)

Colonization, post-colonialism, orientalism, Edward Said, Occident

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Colorado State University
E 341
Aparna Gollapudi

29 November Social and Cultural Impact of Colonization The erosion of the colonized culture and language. Even where local culture managed to survive, colonization spread a fundamental sense of alienation and unease in the native population. On the one hand, colonizer’s contempt for colonized language and culture is obvious, on the other, access to socio-economic power required embracing the colonizer’s behavior and language, becoming “acceptable”. Often, just pure survival required this switch. This shaped the subjectivity of the colonized. Colonization is a traumatic experience that erodes the individual’s identity and restructures in complex, fractured ways. The legacy of colonization is a fundamental hybridity in consciousness and sense of self. Resistance to colonizer often took the form of orthodox adherence to original culture and religion. These contradictions led to societies with a lot of contradictions, splits, loyalties, linguistic stratification Why was European colonization more devastating than earlier colonial conquests? Loomba’s definition: ‘Colonialism can be defined as the conquest and control of other people’s land and goods.’ But, as she notes, colonization in this way is a constant feature of history from Inca Empire, Roman Empire, and Ottoman Empire. What was it about post-1600 colonization by European nations that made their colonial endeavors especially disruptive and powerful? Loomba suggests that while earlier colonization was pre-Capitalist, modern Colonialism was established alongside of Capitalist economies in Europe. This meant that Colonizers not only extracted tribute or wielded political control but restructured the economies of the conquered peoples. They established a flow of goods and people from the parent state to the colonies. Colony – Raw materials → metropole – manufactured into consumer goods in factories → sold back into captive markets of colonies Same with labor – Indentured laborers, slaves, domestic servants Result – Crippling economic imbalances that linger to the present day Capitalist Colonialism – the kind of political domination in which finance capitalism, infiltration of markets, establishment of economic relations of dependency and control is a key factor – is often termed Imperialism. Though, as Loomba says, ‘Imperial’ has a history that predates modern capitalism, but ‘imperialism’ as a mode of control that has a specific economic nuance is a common usage It is in this sense that colonization as a historical phenomenon meaning political conquest and occupation can be differentiated from imperialism as a global system of economic and cultural control. The notion of ‘neo-colonialism’ or ‘neo-imperialism’ can thus be seen in spatial rather than temporal terms as the: “Phenomenon that originates in the metropolis, the process which leads to domination and control. Its result, or what happens in the colonies as a consequence of imperial domination is colonialism or neo-colonialism. Thus the imperial country is the ‘metropole’ from which power flows, and the colony or neo-colony is the place which it penetrates and controls. Imperialism can function without formal colonies…but colonialism cannot.” So what is Post-Colonialism? Formal political independence from colonial masters Aftermath of colonial domination – the cultural, intellectual, linguistic, social, and political burdens, challenges, hopes and ambitions of a nation once colonized ‘Post’ as meaning an ideological transformation – now the colonial era is over and the new ideologies of nation, cultural value, heritage etc. are postcolonial. Colonized peoples finding a voice and identity, reclaiming their past Problem of terminology If the inequities caused by Colonialism are not yet over and the world must be divided to ‘first’ and ‘third’ world then is it right to speak of the demise of colonialism implied in term ‘post colonialism’? Neo-colonial forces continue economic and cultural dependence and control – so what is ‘post’ about colonialism? The specifics of colonization and how different nations achieved political independence from metropole are very different from each other. Canada was considered a British th Dominion but gradually and quietly drifted away from British control in the late 18 and 19 centuries. The nature of Canadian ‘postcoloniality’ is very different from the other movements for political independence such as those in India or South Africa. So is it meaningful to speak of ‘postcolonial’ as one single term defining all these different experiences? Even in one specific nation, the experience of coloniality or postcoloniality is directly dependent on one’s position in the hierarchies of the colonized or the free nation. You might feel more enfranchised under colonial rule (eg. if you are well-employed in the colonizing government’s bureaucracy) or disenfranchised by postcolonial nationalist discourses (such as the discourses of progress and industrialization that marginalize the tribals in Mahasweta Devi’s story quoted by Loomba). Dismantling of Colonial rule did not automatically bring betterment in the lot of poor, working class, or women. Post Colonialism – “shorthand for conveying a structure of inequity, which is, in practice, highly variable because it always works alongside other social structures.” It “refers to a process of disengagement from the whole colonial syndrome, whi
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