Saturday, August 25, 2007

Postcolonial History - A Brief Discussion

A Postcolonial Historical Approach

With overt European colonialism now long behind us, many historians from the former colonies, and beyond, have arguably engaged their work with a view of achieving increasing substantiveness in their process of historical redefinition; a revision of many of the central tenets of the historiographies of the colonized. Often, the aggregate of these historical methodologies have been simply described as Postcolonial.

The Subaltern school within Indian historiography, Edward Said's Orientalism and its subsequent applications by a variety of historians as well as other formulations, all share comparable Postcolonial attributes. Notwithstanding the plethora of claims and counterclaims by its practitioners (and others) that invariably come to the surface whenever a new "school" of history appears to have reached the critical stage of being somewhat accepted worthy of such categorization, one can identify a few major preoccupations of postcolonial historians.

First, the relations of knowledge, power and discourse, drawing partially on the analysis of Foucault and Marxian language. Second, the desire to revisit the historiographies and histories of the colonially-subjected peoples and their colonizers in order to shed new light on events. And third, the need to empower or at least recast the roles of the many colonized peoples that have hereto, they would persuasively argue, been largely neglected or marginalized - here they are referring to the non-elites within these colonial societies or the subjected classes.

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