Saturday, January 26, 2008

Most excellent essay on postcolonialism, by a post-postcolonialist.

A nice analysis and critique of postcolonialism.

"Perhaps I'd better start by making clear that it has little to do with the caricature of 'third-worldism' projected by the chorus of penitents in France. In truth, it's a way of thinking that derives from a number of sources and that is far from constituting a system because it is in large part being constructed as it moves forward. That's why it would in my opinion be an exaggeration to call it a 'theory'."

" make a fetish of the fact of having been a victim in world history often makes the person who has been prey to such a misfortune wish to shed blood, any blood; unfortunately, all too frequently, never that of the torturers but almost always someone else's, no matter whose. Because, in order to be able to function, the fetish requires endless sacrifices and thus fresh victims killed to appease the sacrificer-god. Central to the victimary economy is the desire for expiation: it takes the form of the spirit of vengeance - an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – in line with the ancient monotheistic religions. Indeed, insofar as the transcendent is never grounded in one's own death, it has to be through the sacrificial killing of someone else that the sacred is established."

The author being interviewed, Achille Mbembe, is a post-postcolonialist thinker. His analysis reminds me of much of the analysis of the current state of feminism, i.e., that it's not monolithic and that it's colored by the circumstances of the critic. However, postcolonialism has more of a basis (for me, anyway) than does feminism; for some reason, feminism always seems to be awash in itself. I say that having done my undergraduate work in feminist literary theory, so back off, all you Lacan fans.

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