Postcoloniality and the Postcolony: Theories of the Global and the Local Previously published in the series Working Papers in Cultural Anthropology , No. 7, 1997. © Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University and the author. To order a copy of this paper, please use this link ! To browse through other publications from Anthropology in Uppsala, check the webpages
The Growth of Ignorance? The Post-Colonial Studies Reader , an impressive volume edited by Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin (1995a). As the volume illustrates, contemporary approaches of postcolonial scholars are manifold. To mention a few sources of inspiration besides the ones already mentioned, there are psychoanalytical theories inspired by Lacan, power approaches inspired by the writing of Foucault, and poststructural deconstruction in the vein of Derrida and Barthes. However, the above listed theoreticians are not my focus in the following discussion. But interestingly to note, the editors of The Post-Colonial Studies Reader are themselves highlighting some theoretical pitfalls when trying to capture the common feature of postcolonial theory. Thus, the editors promote "the binarisms of colonial discourse" as the conceptual tool for "post-colonial critics" in their re-writing of history (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin 1995b:8). Further, they are describing the intellectual background of the very same criticism as follows: "The colonial space is therefore an agonistic space. Despite the imitation and mimicry with which colonised peoples cope with the imperial presence, the relationship becomes one of constant, if implicit, contestation and opposition." (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin 1995b:9). My aim is not to further define postcolonial theorisation, or postcolonial theory as such, a far too problematic categorisation, but to discuss some problems with concepts like imitation, mimicry, binary polarities and constant opposition.