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Post Colonial Literature


Mutehara Sher Jang


• Occurring or existing after the end of colonial rule.

"the postcolonial government“
• Colonial rule: The policy or practice of a wealthy or
powerful nation's maintaining or extending its control
over other countries, especially in establishing
settlements or exploiting resources. A rule by the wealthy
or powerful nation over a weaker country is the colonial

• The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial

political control over another country, occupying it
with settlers, and exploiting it economically (Oxford
• Postcolonial literature and critics examine what
happens when two cultures collide, and more
specifically, when one of those cultures dominates
over and deems itself superior to the other culture
• Postcolonial literature and critics concentrate on
the relationship between the colonizer (the Western
colonial power) and the colonized (The subjugated
• The colonizers assume that the colonized are
“savages” and they are in need of Western
civilization and education.
• They cannot manage their own resources properly
thus need to be controlled by the colonizer.
• They follow a set of religious beliefs that are in
direct opposition to Christianity.
• They pose a threat to the world and to themselves
if left alone.

• “Many Westerners were subscribed to the

colonialist ideology that all races other than the
white were inferior or subhuman. These sub
humans or ‘savages’ quickly became the inferior
and equally ‘evil’ Others” (Bressler 200).
• Post colonial primarily concerned with examining
the struggle that occurs when one culture
exercises power over another.

• Since the 1980s, numerous novelists, dramatists, and poets

have been marketed as postcolonial writers. But what is
postcolonial literature? In the broadest terms, this category
includes works that have a relationship to the subjugating
forces of imperialism and colonial expansion.
• In short, postcolonial literature is that which has arisen
primarily since the end of World War II from regions of the
world undergoing decolonization. Works from such regions in
the 20th and 21st centuries, such as the Indian subcontinent,
Nigeria, South Africa, and numerous parts of the Caribbean,
might be described as postcolonial.

• Postcolonial literature often addresses the problems

and consequences of the decolonization of a country.
• Decolonization often has been confined largely to the removal
of British military forces and government officials. What
remained behind is the deeply embedded cultural colonization.
This left the ex-colonies with a psychological ‘inheritance’ of a
negative self-image.
• Decolonization questions related to the political and cultural
independence of formerly subjugated people, and themes such
as racialism and colonialism.

• In a broad sense, postcolonial literature is a

writing which has been “affected by the
imperial process from the moment of
colonization to the present day” (Ashcroft et
al, 2).
• Usually it draws example from the literary
works of African Americans, aboriginal
Australians and India.

• One of the main objectives of imperialism and

colonialism was to exploit the colonies and their
inhabitants to generate economic wealth for the mother
country and her corporations. As a result, large numbers
of people were forced into slavery or the system of
indentured laborers, and vast areas of natural habitats
were cleared and converted to mono cultural
• Another impact of imperialism was the export of Western
values - resource exploitation, and materialism to the
colonies. As a result, in the former colonies, the
environment, especially natural habitats and
their species was being destroyed.
• Colonialism is the practice of creating settlements in
lands, geographically distant from the parent land.
Historically, this has often involved killing or subjugating
the indigenous population. With the spread of Hellenic
and Roman culture and technology by the Roman
Empire, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and the Industrial
Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,
most of the world has at some point been colonized by a
European country. The most notable colonial powers
were Rome, Greece, Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the
Netherlands, and Denmark.
• Some of the negative effects are that the Africans were taken as slaves to the
new world and forced to work on the plantations without pay. On the African
continent the Europeans seized land from the Africans to establish plantations
for the growing of cash crops and forced the people to work on these
plantations for low wages.
• The African culture was diluted, traditions were taken away and their ways of
life were destroyed. The African tradition religion was also destroyed due to
the introduction of Christianity, they forced the people to learn their language,
taught them how to eat European food and dress like Europeans abandoning
their own traditional way of eating habits and dressing and the spread of
virulent diseases.
• Families were torn apart due to partition of Africa which created new
boundaries leading to present conflicts and the slave trade which millions of
people away from their families and homelands. The Europeans took away
most of their resources especially gold, diamonds, and agricultural primary
products. This never gave the Africans the opportunity to learn how to use
their own resources for development. Lastly the Africans occupied only the
inferior positions of the colonial administration. Those employed by the
colonial administration felt proud and more superior to the others and it
eventually led to social inequality in the colonies.
• Some of the positive social, economic and political impacts
included the introduction of Christianity which brought about
more religious mission opportunities.
• Most of the missionaries introduced education in Africa by
establishing mission schools to educate the local people and
helped them to learn more about their land and culture.
• Colonialism also made the world aware of Africa’s rich culture
although they adopted some the European culture, its
abundance in natural and mineral resources and introducing
the countries to trade on the international markets. New goods
including household goods were introduced to Africa.
• More African jobs were created and some of the people learnt
new trade making especially the tribal groups that sided with
Europeans richer. More stronger and better institutions were
established to govern the people which they exist in most of the
countries till today.
• Britain ruined India's previous economy and industries as a result
of Britain forcing them to import their goods from Britain and not
buy their own goods from India. Industries such as the handmade
cloth industry, clock-making, metal, and carpentry industries, fell
because cloth was made of better quality for cheaper in Britain
because of mass production.
• India soon became dependent on Britain due to the colonization,
and dependency on Britain's imported goods. India was made to
only import goods from Britain and what couldn't be found in
India was imported from Britain. India was left unable to support
themselves on their own because of British interference with trade
and businesses
• Britain encouraged farmers to grow cash crops, and the growing
population wasn't able to afford the amount of food causing many
to starve.
• Britain controlled the government and didn't allow the native
people to have a say or be a part of politics or run for positions of
• Transportation methods and communication were introduced to
India by industrialized countries such as Great Britain.
Telephones improved and paved roads, cars, trains, and postal
networks. This was a positive effect because it boosted the
economy, standard of living and the flow of information and
• Modern technology and education were also benefits for India.
More advanced machines for manufacturing goods, vaccines,
cars, electricity, guns, steel, and steam engines were all brought
to India to help industrialize the new colony. Education was
much more popular after colonization because social groups
were less dominant.
• Many subjects such as science, health, agricultural resourcing,
hygiene, and medicine were taught Sanitation improved. They
were taught healthier habits, and taught basic hygiene an
• Britain connected India to the modern world through science,
technology, medicine, and modern ideas.

• Imperialism is an ideological concept which

upholds the legitimacy of the economic and
military control of one nation by another
• Colonialism is one form of imperialism – specifically,
colonialism concerns the settlement of one group
of people in a new location.
• While colonialism is virtually over today, imperialism
continues apace as Western Nations, and in
particular the U.S., still engage in imperial acts,
securing wealth and power through the exploitation
of other nations.
• The British wrote the histories of the empires they conquered.
Postcolonial writers don't like this version of history. It's a version that casts
colonizers as heroes, as rescuers who "saved" everyone from ignorance and
darkness. So postcolonial writers set about writing history from their own
perspective, showing how colonialism was actually a pretty violent, terrible
thing. More importantly, these writers also show how history is a matter of
perspective, and there are always many perspectives: there is no one "true"
• Postcolonial writers are really interested in nationhood and nationalism. A lot
of these writers are very patriotic. They write books on behalf of their nations.
Their work is often nationalist, because postcolonial writers like to highlight
and valorize their nation's cultural, political and social identity.
• Postcolonial writers were one of the main reasons for decolonizing the
political structures. They wrote to gain mental and cultural liberation from the
structures and philosophies of colonialism.
• Universalism plays a fundamental role among many of the features of
Enlightenment that have come under contemporary critical scrutiny. The
impulse in the period to universalize the claims of reason, to articulate the
category of a shared human nature, or to fashion history in a grand
narrative of social progress has been subject to widespread critique from an
array of sources. Toleration of religious diversity also plays an important if
little recognized part in the work of some figures in the period better known
for defending a unified human nature and insisting on moral agreement.
This chapter also emphasizes that universalism and diversity find
themselves coexisting in political context, not as hostile forces but as
necessary to one another.
• Ashcroft begins by stating the general definition of post colonialism to give
readers the exact idea of what the rest of his discussion will be about.
Ashcroft simply states that post colonialism "deals with the effects of
colonization on cultures and societies." (Ashcroft, 186). Colonization is an
important word here describing the act of settling or taking possession of
universally acknowledged traditions and cultures.
• Do you think there is a good reason for one country to take
control of another country?

• Do you think this control of one country on another country

can be justified?

• What would you comment on this?