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Introduction

Postcolonial Intersections. Asia on the Move

Mayurakshi Chaudhuri and Viola Thimm

The past decade has witnessed an exponential growth in literature on the diverse forms, practices, and politics of mobility. Research on migration has been at the forefront of this field. Themes in this respect include heterogeneous practices that have developed out of traditions of resistance to a global historical trajectory of imperialism and colonialism. In response to such historical transformations of recent decades, the nature of postcolonial inquiry has evolved. Such changing postcolonial trajectories and power negotiations are more pronounced in specific parts of the world than in others. To that end, “Postcolonial Intersections: Asia on the Move” is a special section that engages, examines, and analyzes everyday power negotiations, focusing particularly on Asia. Such everyday negotiations explicitly point to pressure points and movements across multiple geosocial scales where gender, religion, age, social class, and caste, to name a few, are constantly negotiated and redefined via changing subjectivities.

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Introduction

Postcolonial studies and postsocialism in Eastern Europe

Jill Owczarzak

The introduction to this special section explores the ways in which postcolonial studies contribute a deeper understanding of postsocialist change in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the collapse of socialism, anthropological and other social science studies of Eastern Europe have highlighted deep divides between “East” and “West” and drawn attention to the ways in which socialist practices persist into the postsocialist period. We seek to move beyond discourses of the East/West divide by examining the postsocialist context through the lens of postcolonial studies. We look at four aspects of postcolonial studies and explore their relevance for understanding postsocialist Eastern Europe: orientalism, nation and identity, hybridity, and voice. These themes are particular salient from the perspective of gender and sexuality, key concepts through which both postcolonialism and postsocialism can be understood. We thus pay particular attention to the exchange of ideas between East/West, local/global, and national/international arenas.

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Ravinder Sidhu

This article uses postcolonial scholarship to understand the knowledge and cultural politics that underpin Australian-provided transnational higher education (TNHE) programmes in Singapore and Malaysia. A case is made for TNHE practices to develop an 'engaged pedagogy' and 'ethics of care' as it relates to transnational students in postcolonial spaces. Through this, the article seeks to respond to broader criticisms directed at international education's limited engagement with equity and social justice.

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After the Exodus

Catholics and the Formation of Postcolonial Identity in Algeria

Darcie Fontaine

As French officials negotiated the terms of Algerian independence with the Provisional Government of the Republic of Algeria (GPRA) in 1961–62, among the issues discussed was the future of the Christian population. After colonial occupation and armed struggle, in which the defense of “Christian civilization” in Algeria had been a major ideological justification for French violence against the Algerian population, the future of Christianity in postcolonial Algeria was not self-evident. This article examines how European Catholics negotiated their position in post-independence Algeria. I demonstrate that Catholic attempts to “become Algerian” and decolonize the Church were intertwined with global religious politics, economic necessities, and colonial history. Yet their continued presence in Algeria demonstrates that the standard narratives of postcolonial rupture between the European and Algerian populations do not hold up, for, in the early years of post-independence Algeria, European Catholics played an active role in the construction of the postcolonial nation.

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Living History, Performing Coloniality

Towards a Postcolonial Ethnography

Sitara Thobani

The self-reflexivity of anthropologists entails engaging with the forceful critiques emanating from within the discipline with regard to its relationship to the colonial project. However, the question remains as to what a postcolonial ethnographic project might look like. That is, while anthropologists engage with critiques from postcolonial studies in theory, how might they do so in practice? I address this question in my article by examining contemporary performances of Indian classical and Contemporary South Asian dance in Britain. An historical analysis of the trajectory of Indian classical dance reveals an intimate relationship between colonial, Orientalist and Indian nationalist discourses. Investigating contemporary performances in the U.K. can thus provide a fascinating glimpse into how discourses of coloniality are reiterated in the present. Focusing on performative narrativisations of the dance's history and its constructions of an idealised femininity, I show how ethnographic research can usefully excavate contemporary practices to better understand the capacity of coloniality both to endure and transform in its contemporary articulations.

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AIDS and Postcolonial Politics

Acting Up on Science and Immigration in France

Michael J. Bosia

From a postcolonial left that challenges the French state over immigration policy and neoliberal globalization, Act Up has advocated for the social and political rights and needs of women, inmates, drug users, and immigrants with HIV/AIDS. This essay examines as well Act Up's engagement with science and globalization in response to new experimental medical trials in the Global South. Act Up's emphasis on local empowerment against global economic and social actors has earned criticism from American and South African AIDS activists, but at the same time these campaigns stress the universalist impulse imbedded in the Act Up brand of French Republican politics.

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Poverty in Freedom versus Opulence in Chains

Satirical Exposé of the Postcolonial Dictatorships in Kourouma's Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote

Isaac Ndlovu

In my examination of Ahmadou Kourouma's satirical 'historiographic metafiction' (Hutcheon 1988: 93) Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote [1998] (2004), I argue that this narrative shows that in postcolonial Africa freedom from colonial rule has resulted neither in privilege nor power for the majority of African citizens. In the novel, Kourouma employs but also subverts the style of donsomana or praise poetry in his satirisation of postcolonial African ways of wielding political power. Largely narrated by Bingo, a satirical griot, the novel adopts a mock-epic mode as a way of acknowledging but also subverting both traditional African and European modernistic conceptualisations of the historical and literary. Among other things, the title of the novel satirises the inadequacy of electoral processes imposed by the Western nations to bring about smooth power transitions and genuine freedoms to the African populace. The novel's title also mocks African rulers for undermining democracy and those who are ruled for their inability to seize the voting opportunities, which in the novel are sometimes presented as moments of genuine civil power, to rid themselves of the emasculating dictators.

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Paula Montero

When compared to the extensive historiography on missionary activity, the anthropology of missions is a relative newcomer, emerging as such in the context of the recent critique of the colonial system. In view of the importance of historiographical literature in outlining the subject, on the one hand, and of the impact of the decolonization of the African continent on anthropology, on the other hand, my purposes in this essay are, firstly, to examine how the historiography of colonial America and of African colonialism has handled the subject of missions; secondly, to describe the role of missionary activity in the historiographical debate in the context of the crisis of colonialism; and, lastly, to analyze how post-colonial critique has given rise to a new anthropology of missions.

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M.I.A. in the Global Youthscape

Rethinking Girls' Resistance and Agency in Postcolonial Contexts

Lisa Weems

In this article I explore the performance art of international hip-hop artist M.I.A. to interrogate the problematic of girls' resistance and agency within a global youthscape. Using a feminist transnational framework, I analyze how her music and celebrity persona may be considered gendered post-colonial cultural productions that highlight issues of inequality, violence and domination. I argue that M.I.A.'s cultural productions serve as pedagogical symbolic resources for theorizing girlhood in post-colonial contexts specifically around issues of sexuality. As a symbolic resource, M.I.A.'s work is pedagogical in the larger global youthscape as well as in scholarship on girls in post-colonial contexts. Specifically, M.I.A. (in her music and interviews) openly wrestles with the embodied tensions between complicity and possibility in post-colonial girlhood. Consistent with a feminist transnational framework, I argue that the identities of “Third World” girls are discursively produced as innocent yet hypersexualized exotic Others in the service and/or mercy of “First World” colonial men and women. However, M.I.A. makes explicit that within the context of globalization, the cultural politics of gender and sexuality take place on/through/with brown female bodies—whether it is in the battlefield, the street or in the bedroom. A close analysis M.I.A.'s song 10 Dollar illustrates how Third World girls exercise resistance and agency in negotiating imperialist and nationalist heteropatriarchy.

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Missionaries and Colonialism in a Postcolonial Museum

Or, How a Finnish Peasant Can Become an African Folk Hero

Ian Fairweather

This article sets out to locate a particular postcolonial museum in its historical context, concentrating on local responses to change. It focuses on the specific historical interaction between villagers in northern Namibia and Finnish missionaries, and demonstrates that the dynamics of this interaction have led the villagers to remember the past in terms of a cleavage between pagans and Christians that is played out in the regular performances that take place for foreign visitors at the Nakambale museum. I argue that the performance of ‘tradition’ allows local people to transform the narrative presented in the physical layout of the museum into one that both emphasizes their own historical agency and demonstrates their contemporary Christian identities. The traditional/modern dichotomy implied by the museum’s narrative of the civilizing influence, brought by Christianity, provides them with an opportunity to do just that.