Innovation Hall 338
Section Information for Spring 2017
This course will be divided into two parts, each with two segments. The first part will offer foundational readings in what might be called classical postcolonial studies, and the second part will investigate what postcolonial studies has more recently become.
Part One In Segment A we will begin the course by familiarizing ourselves with some of the most powerful anti-colonialist voices such as Aimée Césaire and Hamilcar Cabral, but focussing on the seminal work of Frantz Fanon and its immense influence. We will also compare these writers with contemporaneous European anti-colonialists, such as Jean-Paul Sartre. The second part of the course, Segment B, will engage as briefly as possible with some of the classic texts of academic postcolonial theory, notably work by Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha. Much of that work was highly theoreticized, based in the politics of representation and in questions of enunciation (emblematized by Spivak’s infamous question, “can the subaltern speak?”). The theoreticism that marked this moment was predictably criticized from many sides, but especially by Marxists and we will consider the virtues of such critiques.
Part Two The critiques of classical postcolonial studies often revolve around questions of history and political activism and we will try to map out how such lines of argument have been taken up in more recent postcolonial studies and how they have opened up new avenues and perspectives—new definitions, even—for postcolonial studies. The second half of the course will focus on these more contemporary trends. First, Segment C will focus on a specific site and a specific history by considering a number of topics within the history of North America: e.g. the underdevelopment of black America, the Cuban revolution, the situation of indigenous peoples, Islam in America, etc. Segment D will focus on topics that are more historically and theoretically connected: issues of postcolonial development and national liberation, the historical transitions from colonialism to decolonization and decolonization to globalization, repeating and residual structures of colonization in the global South, gender and race considered as issues of colonization, new geographies of the decolonized world, and many others.
Surveys racial, ethnic, caste, and national identities in colonial contexts; scientific racism in periphery and core sites; subsequent history of race, ethnic, national identities and conflicts; classical and contemporary texts by authors such as DuBois, Fanon, Gilroy, and Spivak; and particular place of issues of national, racial, and ethnic identities in contemporary cultural studies.
This course is designed for the PhD student. Those students not admitted to a PhD program are required to contact the instructor.