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The postcolonial condition, the decolonial option and the post-socialist intervention
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, The Department of Gender Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2019 (English)In: Postcolonialism Cross-Examined: Multidirectional Perspectives on Imperial and Colonial Pasts and the Newcolonial Present / [ed] Monka Albrecht, Routledge, 2019, 1, p. 165-178Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The starting point of my reflections on postcolonialism and its old and new discontents is the idea that postcoloniality should be regarded as a condition, a certain human existential situation which we have often no power of choosing. While decoloniality is an option, consciously chosen as a political, ethical, and epistemic positionality and an entry point into agency. The postcolonial condition is more of an objective given, a geopolitical and geohistorical situation of many people coming from former colonies. The decolonial stance is one step further, as it involves a conscious choice of how to interpret reality and how to act upon it. It starts from a specific postcolonial situation, which can fall into the traditional sphere of interests limited to the British and French colonies, focus on a more typically decolonial Central and South American configuration, or even go beyond both locales and venture into the unconventional imperial-colonial histories of Central and Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Sultanate, or Russia. A mere description of a postcolonial predicament or an analysis of its present outcomes in a concrete locale, then, must lead to the next step of developing an active and conscious ethical, political, and epistemic position whose goal is to decolonize thinking, being, perception, gender, and memory. So it is not enough to call a scholar postcolonial. It is crucial to take into account from the start not only our given objective positions but also who and what we chose to be in our profession and in our life. This understanding of the postcolonial and decolonial realms is rather unorthodox as, instead of stating for the umpteenth time the rather obvious differences in their origination and their links to various types of colonialism in India and Africa and in the Americas, I try to divorce them from their respective genealogies of knowledge and see how relevant these theories are when tested in quite different geopolitical regions such as Eurasia or Central and South-Eastern Europe.

The distinction between the condition and the option sheds some light on the main postcolonial flaw in the eyes of decolonial thinkers. It cannot be fixed with a mere addition of the new voices and geopolitical experiences (such as the post-Soviet, the post-Ottoman, or the post-Austrian-Hungarian) to the postcolonial choir. The postcolonial and the decolonial discourses refer not only to different locales but also to different modes of thinking and being in the world, although they frequently overlap with each other: The decolonial thinkers are quite often postcolonial people and the postcolonial scholars in their majority share the decolonial agenda. Still, there are spaces and conceptual tools within each of these discourses that remain opaque for the other, and areas which demonstrate their limitations when applied to a different local history such as the post-socialist postcolonial regions and experiences.

What is needed is a radical rethinking and clarification of theoretical and methodological grounds on which the imperial and colonial classifications are made, to problematize the predominantly descriptive and formal approach of the postcolonial studies, in the sense of assessing phenomena of completely different orders based on their formal affinity, such as being empires or colonies, yet often remaining blind to correlational structural and power asymmetries. Along with the Western liberal principle of inclusion (of the old and new others), which has repeatedly demonstrated its paternalistic inadequacy, or maybe instead of it, a different principle should be formulated. It should be based on a revision of the very architecture of power, knowledge, being, gender, and perception. It is necessary not to build into the existing system by merely expanding it with new elements, as postcolonial studies has mostly been doing, but rather to problematize this system as such and offer other options as the decolonial thought has attempted to do in the last two decades.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2019, 1. p. 165-178
National Category
Other Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-158636ISBN: 9781138344174 (print)ISBN: 9780367222543 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-158636DiVA, id: diva2:1335477
Available from: 2019-07-05 Created: 2019-07-05 Last updated: 2019-07-05Bibliographically approved

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