A Study of Cinema and Post-Colonial Identity in Australia

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“A Study of Cinema and Post-colonial Identity in Australia”

Before we look at Post-colonialism, one must have a closer look at the word Colonialism, the word by its dictionary definition the “Alleged policy of exploitation of backward or weak peoples.” For most however when we broach the delicate topic of Colonialism, we envisage a more romanticised view such as: Adventure, Pioneering, Exoticism, Romance, Glamour, High society and Glorification. In more present times and with the enlightenment of documented literature, Photography, and more recently cinematography, we have come to acknowledge the darker elements such as; Class segregation, Barbarisms, Racism, Domination, Slavery, Greed and Genocide.

There are so many different facets within that one word, and as we delve further into the characteristics of the definition of Colonialism, we realise that whether used derogatively, or not, the foundation upon which the whole of humanity have built their empires. We have to be aware of colonisation and its particular form of social structure and take into account that we have used it as means of survival a reassurance that our kind will continue to grow and flourish. This behavioural pattern is evident throughout the history of humankind from the nomadic natives pillaging and stealing women from the next village through to the great conquerors of more present times expanding their borders and territories.

To find an actual definition for Post-colonialism is difficult. Dr. Fidel Fajardo-Acosta’s world literature website describes it as follows: “A cultural, intellectual, political, and literary movement of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries characterized by the representation and analysis of the historical experiences and subjectivities of the victims, individuals and nations, of colonial power. Post-colonialism is marked by its resistance to colonialism and by the attempt to understand the historical and other conditions of its emergence as well as its lasting consequences”.

Despite the fundamental consensus of the general themes of Post-colonial literature there is an on-going debate regarding the meaning of Post-colonialism. The word Post-colonialism implies many issues on a small or larger scale for numerous different people in society; it is for a large majority a way of life and state being, which has conditioned their existence within their own particular ethnic groups. Be it the subjugated or the vanquishers the influence of this will have touched many of us directly or indirectly. As well as in many ways helped shape our lives into the identities we as humankind have today.

Edward W. Said, with the publication of his book “Orientalism” in 1978, set the stage with his theory for the critical and theoretic body that would consequently take shape under the a new classification for Post-colonial studies. Said, examined the means by which "the West," predominantly meaning, Britain, France, and North America, generated knowledge about and exerted power over "the East." Said, offers his theory on how Western people have come to think negatively about Eastern people and that this social discourse has come to establish itself into the Western attitude. Said calls this “Orientalism”. To continue down this critical debate, there have been a large number of scholars and critics with interests in Said’s theories. They elaborated on and expanded the peripheries of his project. This includes third World writers such as Homi Bhabha. He describes in his theory that, based on Said’s work, “hybridisation is the birth of new cultural forms from multiculturalism, and does not see colonialism as something locked in the past.”

There is such an array of diverse perceptions in regards to Post-colonial theories and studies that there is still a lot of generalisation made over this. Thus, what brings these fields of study together in the first place is in the object of its study, by taking into account, both the Colonial...
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