Race and Ethnicity

Topics: Postcolonialism, Edward Said, Colonialism Pages: 4 (1436 words) Published: April 14, 2013
Race and Ethnicity

According to Allen and Chang, “Race and ethnicity are socially constructed identities that vary across time, space, situation, and perception” Hence, whilst race refers to a person’s physical appearance such as skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, bone/jaw structure and other defining characteristics, ethnicity relates to cultural factors such as nationality, culture, ancestry, language and beliefs. It is important to note that ethnic differences are wholly learned although they are sometimes depicted as “natural.” Race and ethnicity may be viewed mainly through the lens of post colonialism. However, it was observed that it can also be perceived from a Marxist point of view.

The term ‘post-colonial covers all the culture affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonization to the present day. In essence, the post-colonial theory addresses the matters of post-colonial identity (cultural, national, ethnic), gender, race, and racism, and their interactions in the development of a post-colonial society, and of a post-colonial national identity; of how a colonised people’s cultural knowledge was used against them, in service of the coloniser’s interests and of how knowledge about the world is generated under specific socio-economic relations, between the powerful and the powerless. Postcolonial theory, often said to begin with the work of Edward W. Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Homi K. Bhabha, looks at literature and society from two broad angles: how the writer, artist, cultural worker, and his or her context reflects a colonial past. These theorists also look at how they survive and carve out a new way of creating and understanding the world. Edward Said was instrumental in the transfer of colonial discourse into the first world academy and into literary and cultural theory. He coined the term Orientalism to describe the binary between the Orient and the Occident. When Said published his path-breaking book...
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