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Notes on the "Post-Colonial" Author(s): Ella Shohat Source: Social Text, No.

31/32, Third World and Post-Colonial Issues (1992), pp. 99-113 Published by: Duke University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/466220 . Accessed: 24/12/2013 13:16
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onthe "Post-Colonial" Notes


ELLA SHOHAT

The academicopposition to theGulfWarmobilized of familiar a number verbalcounter-strike againsttheNew WorldOrder.But conspicuously absent fromthe discussionwas the term"post-colonial," even from made its otherwise the advocates. Given extraorspeeches by prominent circulation of the term in recent academic conferences, dinary publications and curricularreformulations, this sudden invisibilitywas somewhat Or is there puzzling.Was this absence sheercoincidence? about the term that does lend not itselfto a something "post-colonial" or to a of the dominant media's GulfWar geopolitical critique, critique in thesandstillhaunt macro-narratives? Whenlinesdrawn Third World it is to ask how we can chart of the the geographies, urgent meaning It from is an as academic Arab"post-colonial." myparticular position Jew whosecultural are in Israel/Palestine, (dis)located topographies Iraq, and theU.S.A. thatI wouldlike to exploresomeof thetheoretical and of the"post-colonial." political ambiguities of positionalities, theDespiteits dizzying multiplicity post-colonial has not the addressed of of location the term ory curiously politics very In whatfollows, I proposeto beginan interrogation of "post-colonial." theterm its about ahistorical and uni"post-colonial," raising questions and its potentially versalizing deployments, depoliticizing implications. The risinginstitutional endorsement of theterm and of "post-colonial" studiesas an emergent post-colonial discipline(evidentin MLA job announcements in "post-colonial is callingforspecialization literature") withambiguities. as a member of the fraught My recentexperience multicultural international studies committee at one of the CUNY branches illustrates some of theseambiguities. In response to our proconservative of the college curriculum members posal, the generally committee resisted issuessuchas "impestrongly anylanguage invoking rialism and third worldist and resisting "neo-colonialism culcritique," turalpractices," and "thegeopolitics of cultural Theywere exchange." at thesight of theword"post-colonial." relieved, however, visibly Only thediplomatic of theterrorizing terms gesture relinquishing "imperialin favor ism"and"neo-colonialism" ofthepastoral "post-colonial" guaranteed approval.
99 terms- "imperialism," "neo-colonialism," "neo-imperialism"- in a

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hereis notmerely theterm to anatomize My intention "post-colonial" to situate it and institutionbut semantically, geographically, historically its doubts about The while at stake political agency. question raising ally, inthe"post-colonial?" arebeing advanced is this. Which For perspectives And withwhatslippages?In thisbriefdiscussion, whatpurposes? my of provocative to examine thevariety writings produced pointis neither norsimply to essentialize theterm therubric under post-colonial theory, its slippery butrather to unfold politicalsignifications, "post-colonial," ofitstheointentions which occasionally oppositional escape theclearly a more and HereI willarguefor retical limited, historically practitioners. one which situ"post-colonial," usageof theterm theoretically specific, vis-a-vis other context atesitin a relational (equallyproblematic) categories. did not emergeto fill an emptyspace in the The "post-colonial" its wideadaptaOn thecontrary, of analysis. language political-cultural withand dependent on the was coincident tionduring thelate eighties "Third World." of The the an older that of terminologeclipse paradigm, and theoretical aura the ical shiftindicatesthe professional prestige once in more activist aura to the issues haveacquired, contrast enjoyed academiccircles.Coined in the progressive by "ThirdWorld"within all those estate(thecommoners, in Francebyanalogyto thethird fifties "Third the term northeclergy), thenobility who wereneither World" in bothacademicand politicalcontexts, currency gained international of the nationalist movements in reference to anti-colonial particularly as wellas to thepolitical-economic theseventies fifties analysis through and worldsystem of dependency Frank, theory theory (Andr6Gunder SamirAmin). Immanuel Wallerstein, crisisaround thecona terminological The lastdecade has witnessed as worlds is The three "Third World." the of theory indeed, many cept For one thing, thehistorical critics have suggested, problematic.' highly and number of a decadesoffered ofthelastthree very complex processes The period of so-called "Third politicallyambiguousdevelopments. - a brief FirstWorld in whichit seemedthat moment Worldeuphoria" wouldwalkarmin armtoward World and Third leftists global guerrillas - has given way to the collapse of the Soviet Communist revolution of thehoped-for thefrustration socialisms, model,thecrisisof existing revolution tricontinental (with Ho Chi Minh,FrantzFanon,and Che of the thatthewretched therealization Guevaraas talismanic figures), allies to one earthare not unanimously (nor necessarily revolutionary
thatinternational geo-politicsand theglobal another),and therecognition economic systemhave obliged even socialist regimesto make some kind of of peace withtransnational capitalism. And despite the broad patterns also are World Third in the relations geo-political hegemony,power World struggle,furThe First World/Third dispersed and contradictory.

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takesplace notonlybetween nations thermore, (India/Pakistan, Iraq/Kuwithin with the but also relations nations, wait), constantly changing and subaltern dominant settler and indigenous between groups, populain a marked waves as as situation of post-independence well tions, by toFirst World countries and the France, (Britain, Germany, immigrations Third World countries The U.S.) andtomore (theGulfstates.) prosperous in short, notion of thethree flattens masksconworlds, heterogeneities, andelidesdifferences. tradictions, Thiscrisisin "Third World" enthuthinking helpsexplainthecurrent a new designation siasm forthe term, forcriticaldis"post-colonial," from thematize colonialrelations courses which issuesemerging andtheir a longhistorical thepresent.) aftermath, covering span(including Dropfrom theadjective"post-colo"post-colonialism," pingthe suffix"ism" attached to thenouns, nial" is frequently "theory," "space,""condition," while often substitutes for it the "intellectual," adjective"ThirdWorld" in relation to the noun"intellectual." The qualifier "ThirdWorld," by more the contrast, "countries" "nations," accompanies nouns, frequently the"post-colonial" and "peoples."More recently has been transformed intoa noun,used bothin thesingular and theplural("postcolonials"), thesubjects of the"postcolonial The finalconcondition."2 designating of the term secration came withtheerasureof the hyphen. Oftenbuttressed connoted substantive the by thetheoretically "post-coloniality," is largely visiblein Anglo-American academic(cultural) "post-colonial" studiesin publications of discursive-cultural analysesinflected by poststructuralism.3 marksa contemporary Echoing "post-modernity," "postcoloniality" condition orepoch.4 Theprefix state, situation, "post,"then, aligns"posta with series of other colonialism" "posts" "post-structuralism," "postmodernism," "post-marxism," "post-feminism," "post-deconstructionism" - all sharing thenotion of a movement Yet whilethese"posts" beyond. refer tothesupercession ofoutmoded aesthetic and largely philosophical, the"post-colonial" bothgoingbeyond anti-copoliticaltheories, implies lonialnationalist as wellas a movement in a specific theory beyond point that of colonialism andThird World In that nationalist history, struggles. sense theprefix "post"alignsthe"post-colonial" withanother genreof "posts"- "post-war," war,""post-independence," "post-cold "post-reva passage into a new periodand a olution" - all of whichunderline closureofa certain historical orage, officially event with dates. stamped
Althoughperiodizationsand the relationshipbetween theoriesof an era and thepracticeswhichconstitute thatera always form contestedterrains, it seems to me thatthe two genresof the "post" are nonethelessdistinct in theirreferential on disciplinaryadvances characteremphasis,the first istic of intellectualhistory, and the latteron the strictchronologies of tensionbetween the philosophical historytout court. This unarticulated

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Empire WritesBack: Theoryand Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures, of African ...theliteratures Australia, countries, Canada, Bangladesh, Caribbean countries, India,Malasia,Malta,New Zealand,Pakistan, andSriLankaareall postSouth PacificIslandcountries, Singapore, also be placedin Theliterature oftheUSA should colonialliteratures. becauseofitscurrent ofpower, andthe this position category. Perhaps nature has not it has its been role neo-colonizing played, postcolonial with the its centre But relationship metropolitan recognized. generally has beenparadigmatic for as it evolvedoverthelast twocenturies What eachofthese literatures has literature everywhere. post-colonial characteristheir in common regional specialanddistinctive beyond out of the form in their of ticsis that experience emerged present they thetension themselves and asserted colonization by foregrounding their differences from and by emphasizing withtheimperial power, It is thiswhich makesthem centre. of theimperial theassumptions distinctively post-colonial.

in the"post-colonial," I wouldargue, and thehistorical teleologies parof some the of underlies conceptual ambiguities theterm. tially "after" thedemiseof Since the"post"in the"post-colonial" suggests its users' from it is imbued, withan colonialism, intentions, quiteapart from India into spatio-temporality. Spreading Anglo-Ameriambiguous tendsto be associatedwith the"post-colonial" can academiccontexts, whichgainedindependence WorldWarII. ThirdWorldcountries after to World italso refers theThird circumstances of the However, diasporic last fourdecades- fromforcedexile to "voluntary" immigration In somepost-colonial FirstWorld suchas The within texts, metropolises.

toinclude all English theterm theauthors "post-colonial" expand literary bycolonialism: bysocietiesaffected productions

national-racial formulation This problematic collapsesverydifferent - theUnited and Canada,on theone hand, formations Australia, States, - as equally"post-coloand India,on theother and Nigeria,Jamaica, to an Australia and India, forexample,in relation nial." Positioning both were because colonies, equates the they simply imperialcenter, at the to the white-settlers "center" of thecolonized relations Europeans Italso the to with that ofthecolonized Europeans. indigenous populations nations Third World countries and emerging assumesthatwhitesettler white Austrain thesame way.Similarly, the"center" brokeaway from as are placed in thesame"periphery," Australians lians and Aboriginal differThecritical the"center." vis-a-vis wereco-habitatants though they in Ausof Aboriginals theEurope'sgenocidal ences between oppression
tralia, indigenous peoples of the Americas and Afro-diasporic and Europe's dominationof European elites in thecolonies communities, are leveled withan easy strokeof the"post." The term "post-colonial,"in this sense, masks the white settlers' colonialist-racistpolicies toward indigenouspeoples not only beforeindependencebut also afterthe offi-

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cial breakfrom theimperial whilealso de-emphasizing center, neocolonial globalpositionings ofFirst World settler-states. I am notsuggesting thatthisexpandeduse of the"post-colonial" is or The typical paradigmatic.6 phrase "post-colonial society" might after However, independence. equallyevoke ThirdWorldnation-states of the thedisorienting odd couplings of space "post-colonial" generates the"post"andparticular the of geographies, blurring assignment perspectives.Does the"post"indicate theperspective and location oftheex-colonized(Algerian), theex-colonizer theex-colonial-settler (French), (Pied in FirstWorld in Noir), or thedisplacedhybrid (Algerian metropolitans of colonialism and imperialism is shared, France)?Since theexperience albeitasymmetrically, and (ex)colonized, itbecomesan by (ex)colonizer easy moveto applythe"post"also to FirstWorldEuropeancountries. Since mostoftheworld is nowliving after theperiod ofcolonialism, the can easilybecomea universalizing whichneu"post-colonial" category tralizes differences between Franceand Algeria, significant geopolitical Britainand Iraq, or the U.S. and Brazilsince theyare all livingin a effacement of perspectives, I "post-colonial epoch." This inadvertent should add, resultsin a curiousambiguity in scholarlywork.While colonialdiscourse refers to thediscourse in both produced bycolonizers thecolonyand themotherland at to its discurand, times, contemporary sive manifestations in literature and mass-mediated culture, "post-colonial discourse"does notrefer to colonialist discourse the end of after colonialism.Rather, it evokes the contemporary theoretical writings, andThird Worlds on theleft, andwhich placedinboththeFirst generally to transcend the(presumed) binarisms of ThirdWorldist miliattempt tancy. its dubiousspatiality, the"post-colonial" renders a probApartfrom lematic thelack of historical in the"post" First, temporality. specificity leads toa collapsing ofdiverse Colonial-settler such states, chronologies. as those intheAmericas, found NewZealand, andSouth Australia, Africa, forthemost in theeighteenth and ninegainedtheir independence, part, teenth centuries. in Africa Most countries and Asia, in contrast, gained in the twentieth some in the nineteen thirties independence century, in thenineteen forties in (India,Lebanon),and stillothers (Iraq), others the nineteen sixties(Algeria,Senegal) and thenineteen seventies (Anwhileothers have yetto achieveit. Whenexactly, gola, Mozambique), does the"post-colonial" then, is privileged in such begin?Which region a beginning? Whatare the relationships betweenthesediversebeginnings? The vague startingpoint of the "post-colonial" makes certain differentiations difficult. It equates earlyindependencewon by settler-colonial states, in which Europeans formed theirnew nation-states in nonat the expense of indigenouspopulations,with that European territories of nation-stateswhose indigenous populations struggled for indepen-

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onthe"Post-Colonial" Notes

dence againstEurope,butwon it,forthemostpart,withthetwentieth collapseofEuropean Empires. century the"post"in the"post-colonial" in relation If one formulates toThird the fifties and nationalist of then what time Worldist sixties, struggles would applyforcontemporary frame anti-colonial/anti-racist struggles ofnational thebanner andracialoppression, for carried under Palestinian forexample,like Sahar Khalifeh and Mahmoud writers Darwish,who with writers? write Shouldone sugcontemporaneously "post-colonial" of gest that theyare pre-"postcolonial?"The unifiedtemporality risks thecolonialdiscourse ofan allochroreproducing "postcoloniality" nic other, time,still laggingbehindus, the genuine livingin another or ofthe"postcolonial The globalizing condition," gesture postcolonials. of location and temporality, downplays multiplicities "post-coloniality," andpoliticallinkages betweeen as well as thepossiblediscursive "postor anti-neo-colonial and contemporary colonial" theories anti-colonial, In other anti-colonial and and discourses. words, contemporary struggles from central America andtheMiddle resistant discourses anti-neocolonial be theoretically cannot Africa and thePhillipines disEast to Southern of the all too familiar as a mere discourses missedas epigons, repetition shared discourses with Third andsixties. ofthefifties partly Despitetheir also must be historithesecontemporary Worldnationalism, struggles whenthe"non-aligned" discontext, cized, analyzedin a present-day in Such an the air. is no longer would courseof revolutions approach of a temporal theimplicit transcend "gap" between "post-cosuggestion in themeas exemplified lonial" and thepre-"postcolonial" discourses, intheIntifada.7 hastobe What andstruggles discourses langeofresistant and sameness, of difference is therelationship then, rupture negotiated, and continuity. itpotentially inhibits "after," Since,on one level,the"post"signifies Formal call "neo-coloniality." of whatone might forceful articulations the meant end First has of countries for colonized rarely independence in 1923 did not formal Worldhegemony. prevent independence Egypt's which the1952revodomination British, provoked especially European, and theCamp David lution.AnwarSadat's openingto the Americans as a reverwereperceived accordsin theseventies by Arabintellectuals withthe collaboration as was Egyptian sion to pre-Nasser imperialism, was to Doctrine The purposeof theCarter theGulfwar.8 U.S. during U.S. oil interests which, (our oil) in theGulf, protect partially perennial ofany thecontrol havesought withthehelpofpetro-Islamicist regimes, "creformal In LatinAmerica, forcethat similarly, might pose a threat.9
interole" independencedid not preventMonroe Doctrine-style military This process sets the ventions,or Anglo-Americanfree-trade hegemony. historyof Central and South America and the Caribbean apart fromthe restof thecolonial settler-states; fordespitesharedhistoricaloriginswith

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of theindigenous thegenocide the North America, including population, of Africans, enslavement and a multi-racial/ethnic these composition topolitical havebeensubjected structural dominaandeconomic regions thanthatof recently tion,on some levels moresevere,paradoxically, such as Libya and even India. Not ThirdWorldcountries independent Mexican intellectuals and independent labor unionshave accidentally, of therecent TradeLiberalization excoriated theGringostroika 0o Treaty. did notobviatetheneedforCubanor NicaraguanFormalindependence in Puerto or fortheIndependista movement Rico. The stylerevolutions, in theThird World once popular term context, "revolution," specifically initiated but assumeda post-colonial moment, by official independence, neo-colonial whosecontent hadbeena suffocating hegemony. withit theimplication carries that The term colonial"post-colonial" of thepast,undermining ism is now a matter colonialism's economic, in thepresent. deformative-traces The "post-coloand cultural political, over the that nial"inadvertently fact eveninthe glosses globalhegemony, in war forms other than overt colonial rule.As a era,persists post-cold of new historical a the term comwhen signifier epoch, "post-colonial," with comes with little evocation ofconneo-colonialism, pared equipped it lacksa political content which can account temporary powerrelations; fortheeighties and nineties-style U.S. militaristic in Grainvolvements andKuwait-Iraq, andfor thesymbiotic links between U.S. nada,Panama, and those of local elites. In certain politicaland economicinterests racialand national reflect clearcolocontexts, furthermore, oppressions nialpatterns, for theoppression ofblacksbyAnglo-Dutch Euroexample andintheAmericas, theoppression ofPalestinians peansin SouthAfrica and MiddleEastern Jewsby Euro-Israel. The "post-colonial" leaves no for ofaboriginals thestruggles in Australia andindigenous space,finally, inother theAmericas, ofFourth World words, peoplesthroughout peoples First dominated both World multi-national and byThird by corporations World nation-states. The hegemonic structures and conceptual frameworks over generated thelastfivehundred be vanquished themagical yearscannot by waving wandofthe"post-colonial." The 1992unification ofEurope, for example, countries suchas Britain, strengthens amongex-colonizing cooperation andItalyagainst stricter France, Germany illegalimmigration, practicing border infiltration diverse Third World patrol against by peoples:Algerians, Tunisians,Egyptians,Pakistanis,Sri Lankans, Indians, Turks, Thecolonialmaster meanMalians,andNigerians. narrative, Senegalese,
while, is being triumphantly re-staged.Millions of dollars are poured into internationalevents planned for the quincentenaryof Columbus's socalled voyages of discovery, climaxingin theGrandRegatta,a fleetof tall from 40 countries leaving fromSpain and arrivingin New York ships Harbor forU.S. IndependenceDay, theFourthof July.At the same time,

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is beingperformed via theview-from-the-shore an anti-colonial narrative American commemorations of annihilated Native the communiprojects, andplansfor theU.S. andtheAmerican tiesthroughout continent, setting ofthereplicas ofColumbus's at thearrival caravels, sailing up blockades of "postcoloniality" when intoU.S. ports.What,then,is themeaning conflicts historical certain structural contexts, Despitedifferent persist? claimto their theNativeAmerican landas a sacred theconflict between view of land as alienable trust and theEuro-American and communal the same. How thendoes one negotiate remainsstructurally property ofa "post-colonial" within theframework anddifference whose sameness and deemphasizes sameness? rupture "post"emphasizes cultures are marked between theofficial bythetension Contemporary end of directcolonial rule and its presenceand regeneration through within the FirstWorldand towardthe neo-colonialism hegemonizing thenationalist elites. channelled ThirdWorld, often through patriarchal tobe relegated tothepastand The "colonial"in the"post-colonial" tends - an implied border thatundermines a witha closure marked temporal For whatever the thrust. connotations philosophical potential oppositional " locusofcontinuities anddiscontinuities, ofthe"post"as an ambiguous of a lure the "after" the evokes of itsdenotation teleological "post" that on one level conflicts ofa conceptual with space clearing celebratory of "neo." thenotion likethe"post-colonial" also suggests continuities The "neo-colonial," andforms ofthe is on thenewmodes butitsemphasis anddiscontinuities, not on a "beyond."Although one can easily old colonialistpractices, intoThird World countries the"post-colonial" (more travelling imagine thanvia India),the"post-coloacademy likelyvia theAnglo-American and LatinAmerican in African, MiddleEastern nial" has little currency in therestricted historical sense intellectual circles,exceptoccasionally itis colonial rule. of the end oftheperiodimmediately following Perhaps the of theless intense accompanied by strong experience neo-colonialism, of cultures, multitudes unthreatened sense of relatively languagesand in India, thatallowed forthe recurrent ethnicities usage of theprefix debt-ridden of the"neo." Now that India,where "post"post"overthat under thetutehas had to place itself has flourished, colonialdiscourse" Fund,and now thatits non-aligned Monetary lage of theInternational with and economic cooperation wayto political foreign policyis giving willbecomemore whether theterm theU.S., one wonders "neo-colonial" than pervasive "post-colonial."'2
The "post-colonial" also formsa critical locus for moving beyond anti-colonial nationalistmodernizingnarrativesthat inscribeEurope as an object of critique, toward a discursive analysis and historiography addressing decentered multiplicitiesof power relations (for example, between colonized women and men,or betweencolonized peasantryand

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of power in theworld. geopolitical critiqueof thecentralizeddistribution Post-colonial theory has dealt most significantly withculturalcontraand ambivalences. dictions, ambiguities, 13 Through a major shift in emphasis,it accounts fortheexperiencesof displacementof ThirdWorld centers,and the culturalsyncretisms peoples in the metropolitan gener-

The significance thebourgeoisie). of suchintellectual stands in projects to the term"post-colonial" ironiccontrast itself,whichlinguistically ofthecolonialnarrative. onceagain,thecentrality The"postreproduces, a narrative ofprogression in which colonialism colonial"implies remains of in march a of time thecentral from the reference, arranged neatly point which but leaves its the relation to new forms to of "post," ambiguous pre i.e. neo-colonialism. colonialism, theterm in relation to other terms suchas "post-colonial" Considering for and allows mutual illumination "neo-colonial" "post-independence" of theconcepts. like"post-colonial," a "neo-colonial," Although implies of a repetition with difference, passage,ithastheadvantage emphasizing of colonialism a regeneration means.The term other "neo-colothrough of geo-economic broadrelations nialism" designates usefully hegemony. inrelation to"neo-colonialism," When theterm examined "post-colonial" of contemporary undermines a critique colonialist of dominastructures therepetition moreavailablethrough and revival of the"neo." The tion, term invokesan achievedhistory of meanwhile, "post-independence," the focus to the nation-state. In resistance, shifting analytical emergent thissense,theterm because it "post-independence," precisely impliesa nation-state for telos, provides expandedanalytical space confronting suchexplosive issuesas religion, andsexual gender ethnicity, patriarchy, noneof which are reducible toepiphenomena ofcolonialism orientation, and neo-colonialism. Whereas a distance from "post-colonial" suggests celebrates the but nation-state; by atcolonialism, "post-independence" to the it nation-state also makesThirdWorldregimes tributing power accountable. The operation of simultaneously and distancing thecoloprivileging nial narrative, the"in-between" framework it,structures moving beyond of the "post-colonial." This in-betweeness becomesevidentthrough a kindof commutation test.Whileone can posittheduality between coloand evenneo-colonizer/neo-colonized, it does notmake nizer/colonized muchsense to speak of post-colonizers and post-colonized. "Colonialism"and "neo-colonialism" both and the of imply oppression possibility resistance. such the term Transcending dichotomies, "post-colonial" posits no clear domination, and calls forno clear opposition. It is this structured ambivalence of the "post-colonial," of positinga simultarelationto the "colonial," thatis neouslyclose and distant temporal in a post-structuralist academiccontext. It is also thisfleeting appealing thatmakesthe"post-colonial" an uneasyterm fora however, quality,

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worldsintersections, ated by theFirst/Third issues less adequately addressedby ThirdWorldnationalist and worldsystems more discourses, in thecategories ofpolitical-economy. The"beyond" rooted ofpost-coloin thissense,seemsmost nial theory, when meaningful placedinrelation The term nationalist discourse. to ThirdWorld wouldbe "post-colonial" if as articulated more Worlds therefore, "post-First/Third theory," precise, or "post-anti-colonial critique,"as a movement beyonda relatively of powerrelations fixedand stablemapping between "colobinaristic, and "center/periphery." Such rearticulations a nizer/colonized" suggest which allowsfor morenuanced andfluiddiscourse, movement, mobility thanas ity.Here, the prefix "post" would make sense less as "after" following, upon a certainintellectual going beyondand commenting - colonialism;for here "neo-colonialism" a certainpoint in history ofaddressing thesituation ofneo-colonized wouldbe a less passiveform more activemodeofengagement. anda politically countries, notonlya vibrant has formed Post-colonial space forcritical, theory even resistant but also a contested since space,particularly scholarship, Ethnic somepractitioners of various Studiesfeelsomewhat displaced by in North American theriseofpost-colonial studies English departments. of theterm If therising is on institutional endorsement "post-colonial" for it also thePCs (politically is not theone handa successstory correct), Before a partialcontainment of the POCs (people of color)? PO-CO to addresssuch becomes the new academic buzz-word,it is urgent intheNorth American one has the schisms, context,14, where specifically is privileged because it thatthe "post-colonial" precisely impression theUnited States.The seemssafely distant from "thebellyofthebeast," is crucialif ethnic studies and of thesecracksand fissures recognition are more effective institutional to studies scholars forge post-colonial alliances. it reabouttheterm Havingraisedthesequestions "post-colonial," and to their mainsto addresssomerelated spatio-temexplore concepts, in and"syncretism" of"hybridity" The foregrounding poralimplications. imbrication of mutual calls attention to the studies "central" post-colonial and "syncretism" allow negotiacultures. and "peripheral" "Hybridity" which result andsubject of identities tionof themultiplicity positionings theborders andexileswithout from policing immigrations displacements, lines. It is largely and originary of identity diasporic along essentialist not in the FirstWorld, ThirdWorldintellectuals themselves, hybrids
whichsituatestheThirdWorld who elaboratea framework coincidentally, of culturalpositionalitiesand perspecintellectualwithina multiplicity tives. Nor is it a coincidence, by the same token,thatin Latin America had already been invoked decades ago by "syncretism"and "hybridity" whichspoke of neologisticculture, diverse Latin Americanmodernisms, - thirdworldistanti-colonialcritique- ratherthan beyond movement

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andofanthropophagy.'5 ofmestizaje, The culturally ofcreolite, syncretic of the Brazilianmodernists of the nineteen the twenties, protagonists coinedbyMariode Andrade, character" be seenas without "heroes might avant la lettre. The cannibalist theories of the hybrids" "postcolonial and their elaborations in theTropicalist movement Brazilianmodernists, sixties and earlynineteen of thelatenineteen assumed seventies, simply were culturally a contentious thatNew Worlders mixed, amalgamof Asian,andArabidentities. African, European, indigenous, in the At thesame time,theproblematic spatio-temporality implicit has repercussions fortheconceptualization term of the "post-colonial" The rupture in the"post"has theory. implicit past in post(anti)colonial in therelationship between in post-colobeen reflected pastand present with reference to notions of hybridity. nial disourse, At times, particular the anti-essentialist identities comes dangerously emphasison hybrid for close to dismissing all searches communitarian as an archaeoorigins logical excavationof an idealized,irretrievable past. Yet, on another fora prelapsarian or for level,whileavoiding anynostalgia community, and the we must also ask fall, anyunitary transparent identity predating whether itis possibleto forge a collective resistance without a inscribing communal music narratives and video which past. Rap representations resistant invocations of Africa construct and slavery are a case in point. For communities which have undergone brutal nowin theproruptures, a collective cess of forging no matter how hybrid thatidentity identity, hasbeenbefore, andafter theretrieval andreinscripcolonialism, during, tionofa fragmented a crucial sitefor pastbecomes contemporary forging A notion a resistant collective of thepastmight thusbe negotiidentity. notas a static ateddifferently; fetishized phasetobe literally reproduced, butas fragmented setsofnarrated memories andexperiences on thebasis ofwhich tomobilize A celebration communities. ofsyncrecontemporary tism inconjunction andhybridity with perse, ifnotarticulated questions ofhegemony andneo-colonial theriskofappearing runs relations, power to sanctify the ofcolonialviolence. faitaccompli Thecurrent discursive ofpalimpsestic metropolitan privileging syncretismsmustalso be negotiated vis-a-visFourth Worldpeoples. It must of the indigenous account,forexample,forthe paradoxicalsituation who,on theone hand,use video-cameras Kayapo in theAmazonforest and thus demonstrate their cultural and their formimhybridity capacity butwho,on theother, use mimicry in order to icry, precisely stagethe ofpreserving theessential andcontours oftheir urgency culture, practices
and thecommunalpossession of includingtheirrelationto therainforest land. The defacto acceptance of hybridity as a productof colonial condislocationsas well as therecognition of the quest and post-independence of back to an authentic not that do mean the impossibility going past movements of various racial-ethnic communitiesshould politico-cultural

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Notes onthe"Post-Colonial"

and recycling theirpre-colonial stop researching languagesand culcelebration Post-colonial of an anti-essenrisks tures.'6 theory's hybridity toward those tialist condescension circumstances communities obliged by for a lostandevenirretrievable their toassert, survival, very past.In such of culture cases, theassertion priorto conquestforms partof thefight If thelogicofthepost-structurforms ofannihilation. continuing against weretakenliterally, thentheZuni in Mexargument alist/post-colonial fortheir searchforthetraces of an original ico/U.S.wouldbe censured in Australia and theJindyworobak criticized fortheirturn to culture, as partof their own regeneration. The Aboriginal languageand culture thereis such a thingas an question,in otherwords,is not whether is whether it wouldbe possible homogeneous past,and ifthere originary thepastis unjustifiably to it,or evenwhether idealized.Rather, to return whatin thearticulation of thepast, thequestionis: who is mobilizing what identifications and and in the identities, representations, deploying vision and nameof what goals? political in relation and positionalities to the locations, identities, Negotiating if not to become a crucial is is violenceof neo-colonialism hybridity As a descriptive ofhegemony. catch-all fortheconsecration term, figure thediverse of between modalities "hybridity" perse failsto discriminate internalized forexample,forced assimilation, self-rejection, hybridity, and creative cultural social conformism, mimicry, politicalcooptation, and religiously racisttropes of biologically The reversal transcendence. - thehybrid, - on theone hand, and thereversal of antithesyncretic should notobscure the on theother, ofidentity, notions colonialist purist In as Latin contexts such of hybridity." agency "post-colonial problematic in hybrid articulated was officially nationhood terms, America, through discursive and over institutional which an integrationist glossed ideology ofresistant hasalso beenusedas part Atthesametime, racism. hybridity inLatin movements and modernist the for tropicalist by critique, example of location and thequestion America.As in the term "post-colonial," between i.e. thedifferences has to be addressed, hybridities, perspective around off-shoots andtheir ofEuropeans or more hybridities specifically, thedifferof (ex)colonized andthat theworld, peoples.Andfurthermore, between forexample, World Third ences amongand between diasporas, those World and in the First American African English hybrids speaking in and of Afro-Cubans andAfro-Brazilians Portuguese Spanish speaking World. theThird of to a blurring is susceptible like the"post-colonial," "Hybridity," difin a be examined must non-universalizing, "Hybridity" perpectives.
contextualizedwithin ferential manner, presentneo-colonial hegemonies. discourse The cultural inquiry generated by the hybridity/syncretism to geopolitical macro-levelanalysis. It requiresarticulaneeds re-linking media (CNN, tion with the ubiquity of Anglo-Americaninformational

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of themagnitude events of theGulfWar, with BBC, AP), as wellas with ofpopulations. transfers ThecollapseofSecond andtraumatic itsmassive Worldsocialism,it shouldbe pointed out,has notalteredneo-colonial has such on some increased and levels, generated anxiety among policies, as thePalestinians and SouthAfrican Blacks ThirdWorldcommunities forindependence without a Second World theirstruggle concerning counter-balance. of "post-colonial" as a theoretical frame tends to sugThe circulation neo-colonialism and the World and of Third Fourth a gest supercession evenirrelevant with all its as unfashionable, World Yet, categories. prob"Third World" does stillretain valueas a conveheuristic lems,theterm thosewithin the nientlabel forthe imperialized formations, including is mostmeaningful in broadpolitiThe term "Third World" First World. blurred whenone addresses thediffercal-economic andbecomes terms, ently modulatedpolitics in the realm of culture,the overlapping The concept of "Third identities. contradictory spaces of inter-mingling if it World"is schematically is under as it erasure, productive placed andultimately were,seenas provisional inadequate. in time, theterm "Third Atthispoint World" with the"postreplacing differences and and colonial"is a liability. contradictions Despite among within the term a World contains common Third "Third World" countries, to neo/colonialisms. Withinthe North projectof (linked) resistances American more it has a of empowerbecome term context, specifically, for ofvarious coalitions of ment inter-communal peoples color."Perhaps, it is thissense of a common projectaroundwhichto mobilizethatis from If theterms discussions. missing post(anti)colonial "post-colonial" indifferent and"post-independence" inrelation to stress, ways,a rupture "Third colonialism,and the "neo-colonial"emphasizescontinuities, World" evokesstructural commonalities of struggles. The invousefully cationof the"ThirdWorld"impliesa beliefthatthesharedhistory of internal racism and form sufficient common for neo/colonialism ground alliancesamong suchdiverse peoples.If one does notbelieveorenvision suchcommonalities, thenindeedtheterm "Third World"shouldbe disof alliance and mobilization carded.It is this difference betweenthe "Third World" andthe"post-colonial" a relational that concepts suggests of thepoliticalrelevance of suchcateusage of theterms. My assertion andeventhat of themore Third goriesas "neo-colonialism," problematic and Fourth World to suggest to intela submission peoples,is notmeant lectual inertia, but to pointto a need to deploy all the conceptsin differential and contingent manners.
In sum, the concept of the "post-colonial" must be interrogated and contextualizedhistorically, and is geopolitically, culturally. My argument not necessarily thatone conceptual frame is "wrong" and the other is "right,"but thateach frameilluminatesonly partial aspects of systemic

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ofoverlapping modesofdomination, collective andofcontemidentities, relations. Each addresses and even porary global specific contradictory and within between different worldzones.Thereis a needfor dynamics - a moreflexiblerelations frameworks amongthe variousconceptual a diverse set of disciplinary mobileset of grids, as well as cultural-geoFlexibleyetcritical politicallenses- adequateto thesecomplexities. can address thepolitics oflocationis important notonlyfor usagewhich out historical and geographical contradictions and differences pointing historical andgeographical butalso for structural anallinks, reaffirming foragency andresistance. ogies,and openings Notes
"Jameson's of Otherness Rhetoric 1. See, forexample, andthe'National Aijaz Ahmad, Social Text 17 (Fall 1987);Arjun andDifference inthe Appadurai, "Disjuncture Allegory,"' Public Culture2.2 (1990); RobertStam,"Eurocentrism, Global CulturalEconomy," Theoriesof ThirdCinema,"Quarterly Reviewof Filmand Afrocentrism, Polycentrism: Video vol. 13, nos. 1-3 (Spring,1991); Chandra of Talpade Mohanty, "Cartographies " in Third Women World World and thePolitics ofFeminism Women Third and Struggle: ed. by Chandra AnnRusso,LourdesTorres thePoliticsof Feminism TalpadeMohanty, Press,1991). (IndianaUniversity or is ittheechoofpost-modechothelanguage ofexistentialism, condition 2. Does that ernism? and "post-colonialism" between 3. The relationships "post-colonial," "post-coloniality" more haveyetto be addressed rigorously. andpost-colonialism, see of therelationships between 4. For a reading post-modernism Post-inPostcolonial?,"Critithe "Is thePost-inPostmodernism KwameAnthony Appiah, cal Inquiry 17 (Winter 1991). The EmpireWrites Back: Theory and Helen Tiffin, Gareth 5. Bill Ashcroft, Griffiths, Literatures PracticeinPost-Colonial 1989),p. 2. (London:Routledge, of resistant 6. For a radical formulation post-colonialsee GayatriChakravorty and Value,"in Literary Postcoloniality Theory Marginality, Spivak,"Poststructuralism, eds. (London: Peter CollierandHelga Geyer-Ryan Press,1990). Polity Today, ThePalestinian LockmanandJoelBenineds.,Intifada: 7. Read forexample, Zachary EndPress,1989),specifically Edward IsraeliOccupation (Boston:South Against Uprising LastSky W.Said,After the andIndependence," W. Said,"Intifada (Boston: pp.5-22;Edward Pantheon Books,1985). to the of movements in opposition 8. This perspective explainsthe harshrepression linked to is intimately thewar.In fact, theCampDavid treaty allianceduring U.S.-Egypt sector. Referred ofthe with itsdismantling theOpenDoor economic Egyptian public policy forthepositions USAID is partly of Egypt, to as the shadowgovernment responsible theGulf War. tookduring andmostArabgovernments Egyptian to efforts to maskthe of Islamiclaw in Saudi Arabiais linked 9. The rigidimposition with collaboration interests. imperial anti-regional regime's artist Guillermo ofMexican multi-media is the 10. "Gringostroika" Gom6z-Pen~. coinage the "Poststructuralism: Robert see for ofthe"post," 11. Fordiscussions Young, example, "The Review vol. 5, nos. 1-2 (1982); R. Radhakrishnan, End of Theory," Literary Oxford Eventand theEnd of Logocentrism," Postmodern 2, Vol. 12 #1(Fall 1983); Boundary inHomiK. Bhabha ofthe andtheInstitution "Postal Politics Nation," Bennington, Geoffrey ed. NationandNarration 1990) (London& New York: Routledge, article a relevant are on their 12. As thesenoteson the"post-colonial" way to print, "India'sPassagetoWashington, Praful inTheNation, 20, 1992. Bidwai, "January, appeared to Theory," in Questions "The Commitment Homi K. Bhabha, 13. See forexample, of FilmInstitute, PinesandPaul Willemen Third ed. byJim 1989); Cinema, (London:British Indiana Other Press,1989). Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman, Native, University (Bloomington: when World" is ambiguous, ofthe"Third 14. The "post-colonial" especially replacement with little areconfidently theories understanding deployed post-structuralist/post-colonial

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and anti-colonial ofthehistorical-material neo-colonialism, racism, legacyofcolonialism, havecontributed to faciledismissals ofFrantz These slippages Fanon'sformuresistance. lations as vulgar. and theconcept of anthropophagy, 15. On theBrazilianmodernists see RobertStam, CulturalCriticism and Film (Baltimore: Johns Subversive Pleasures:Bakhtin, Hopkins Press,1989.) University 16.Foranother critical consideration ofhybridity andmemory see also Manthia Diawara, inDreaming Third Text13 (Winter ofMother "The Nature Rivers," 1990/1991). Literature' andtheNationalist inhis"'ThirdWorld 17. Aijaz Ahmad (Journal Ideology" an important of theusagesof Third June1989) offers critique ofArtsand Ideas #17-18, he ignores thecrucialissue of empowerment Worldin theU.S. academy. Unfortunately, the rubric Third World diverse ofcolorinNorth American among taking peoples placeunder andacademic communities. intellectual

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