Post-Colonialism: Definition, Development and Examples from India 1. Post-colonialism in general
Post-colonialism is an intellectual direction (sometimes also called an “era” or the “post-colonial theory”) that exists since around the middle of the 20th century. It developed from and mainly refers to the time after colonialism. The post-colonial direction was created as colonial countries became independent. Nowadays, aspects of post-colonialism can be found not only in sciences concerning history, literature and politics, but also in approach to culture and identity of both the countries that were colonised and the former colonial powers. However, post-colonialism can take the colonial time as well as the time after colonialism into consideration. 1.2 Development
The term “decolonisation” seems to be of particular importance while talking about post-colonialism. In this case it means an intellectual process that persistently transfers the independence of former-colonial countries into people’s minds. The basic idea of this process is the deconstruction of old-fashioned perceptions and attitudes of power and oppression that were adopted during the time of colonialism. First attempts to put this long-term policy of “decolonising the minds” into practice could be regarded in the Indian population after India became independent from the British Empire in 1947.However, post-colonialism has increasingly become an object of scientific examination since 1950 when Western intellectuals began to get interested in the “Third World countries”. In the seventies, this interest lead to an integration of discussions about post-colonialism in various study courses at American Universities. Nowadays it also plays a remarkable role at European Universities. A major aspect of post-colonialism is the rather violent-like, unbuffered contact or clash of cultures as an inevitable result of former colonial times; the relationship of the colonial power to the (formerly) colonised country, its population and culture and vice versa seems extremely ambiguous and contradictory. This contradiction of two clashing cultures and the wide scale of problems resulting from it must be regarded as a major theme in post-colonialism: For centuries the colonial suppressor often had been forcing his civilised values on the natives. But when the native population finally gained independence, the colonial relicts were still omnipresent, deeply integrated in the natives’ minds and were supposed to be removed. So decolonisation is a process of change, destruction and, in the first place, an attempt to regain and lose power. While natives had to learn how to put independence into practice, colonial powers had to accept the loss of power over foreign countries. However, both sides have to deal with their past as suppressor and suppressed. This complicated relationship mainly developed from the Eurocentric perspective from which the former colonial powers saw themselves: Their colonial policy was often criticised as arrogant, ignorant, brutal and simply naïve. Their final colonial failure and the total independence of the once suppressed made the process of decolonisation rather tense and emotional. Post-colonialism also deals with conflicts of identity and cultural belonging. Colonial powers came to foreign states and destroyed main parts of native tradition and culture; furthermore, they continuously replaced them with their own ones. This often lead to conflicts when countries became independent and suddenly faced the challenge of developing a new nationwide identity and self-confidence. As generations had lived under the power of colonial rulers, they had more or less adopted their Western tradition and culture. The challenge for these countries was to find an individual way of proceeding to call their own. They could not get rid of the Western way of life from one day to the other; they could not manage to create a completely new one either. On the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document