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Multiculturalism and Post-Colonial Criticism

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Loanna Atrassornton

on 5 September 2014

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Transcript of Multiculturalism and Post-Colonial Criticism

Multiculturalism: deals with minorities and has a connection to a majority.
Post-colonial Theory: the analyses of power, political, and aesthetic relations in countries administered by colonial powers.

Desire to benefit Europeans by improving technology, science, and medicine to millions of Europe's population
European civilization was found to be cruel, harsh, and self-centered.
can be applied when dealing with immigration
colonial America
modern-day immigration
seventeenth to nineteenth century
Application in Literature
Focus of Theory
three modes of interacting between the self and "the Other"
the self dominates
"the Other" dominates
a balance between the self and "the Other" produces hybridization
the most difficult of the three
monoculturalism versus multiculturalism
there will almost always be a dominant culture and a submissive culture
monoculturalism: groups of different cultural backgrounds need to assimilate themselves to "the way we do things here"
multiculturalism: one language, one central tradition, and one ideology is far too limiting
Roanne Atrero, Megan Liborio, and Andrea Charcas
Period 3
September 4, 2014

Multiculturalism and Postcolonial Criticism
Key Terms and Vocabulary
encountering "the Other": stick with own experience and be uninfluenced, abandon culture and adopt another, and/or develop a response with elements from yourself and others.
hybridization: balancing two clashing cultures
settler cultures: people who find themselves placed between indigenous peoples (culture) and the mother country (nation)
need to find own identity and voice
hegemony: the power of the ruling class to convince other classes that their interests are the interests of all, often not only through means of economic and political control but more subtly through the control of education and media.
essentialism: the essence or "whatness" of something.
tends to overlook differences within groups often to maintain the status quo or obtain power.
can be used by a colonizing power but also by the colonized as a way of resisting what is claimed about them
hybridity: new transcultural forms that arise from cross-cultural exchange
Benefits and Limitations
Example 1: Siddhartha's quest for enlightenment: the self versus "the Other"
Example 2:
The Color Purple
: power relations between blacks and whites are a result of a monocultural viewpoint
Example 3: Siddhartha's journey with the Samanas and Brahmins: groups (cultures) you belong with affect the way you view certain issues
Example 4: Beloved: Interaction between Sethe (self) and Beloved (the "Other"), sometimes self would dominate, "other" would dominate, or a balance would take place.
Focus of Theory Cont'd
Similarly, post-colonial theory revolves around the interactions of groups, but specifically the colonial powers and their colonized lands.
examines the issues of power, economics, politics, religion, and culture to analyze how these elements work in tandem towards colonial hegemony.
Categorized under three stages:
1. an initial awareness of the social, psychological, and cultural inferiority enforced by being in a colonized state
2. the struggle for ethnic, cultural, and political autonomy
3. a growing awareness of cultural overlap and hybridity
a given person belongs to several different cultures
timeless and universal
can only avoid its application in complete solitude and isolation
encountering the "Other" deals with seeing parallels with our own familiar experiences
these cultures help one find themselves as "selves" not just anyone
Postcolonial criticism issues:
The colonizer's culture affects that of the indigenous population.
Exploitation occurred and they are trying to figure out as to why this happened.
The colonizers experienced the natives and could have been open or not to meeting them.
recover the native culture that has been interrupted by the colonizer.
Essential questions in literature include:
How does the literary text, explicitly or allegorically, represent various aspects of colonial oppression?
What does the text reveal about the problematics of post-colonial identity, including the relationship between personal and cultural identity and such issues as hybridity?
What person(s) or groups does the work identify as "other" or stranger? How are such persons/groups described and treated?
What does the text reveal about the politics and/or psychology of anti-colonialist resistance?
How does the text respond to or comment upon the characters, themes, or assumptions of a canonized (colonialist) work?
How does a literary text in the Western canon reinforce or undermine colonialist ideology through its representation of colonization and/or its inappropriate silence about colonized peoples?
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