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John Zaixin Zhang




Colonial Critique and Postcolonial Criticism  

2010-05-19 22:49:20|  分类: 后殖民理论 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks (1952), trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove, 1967. (Peau Noire, Masques Blancs)

Lentricchia, Frank and Thomas McLaughlin, eds. Critical Terms for Literary Study. 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. 1978. New York: Vintage-Random, 1979.

l  A historical phase undergone by many of the world’s countries after the decline of the European empires by the mid-twentieth century

l  colonial critique - considers the set of problems provided by imperialist views of the colonies

l  post-colonial criticism - examines the products of the post-colonial societies, in direct opposition to colonialism - has gone beyond colonial critique from criticism of the imperial self’s view of the other to exploration of the other as self

Said, Orientalism

l  a discourse about the East constructed by the West which has functioned as an instrument of power

l  the “unchanging” or historyless quality of the orient - stereotypes - the inevitable corruption or despotism of Eastern political regimes

l  power emanating from West (center) to East (periphery)


       “Without examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage--and even produce--the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period.”

p. 1

      “The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other.”

p. 5

       “The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of a complex hegemony.”

p. 43

       “For Orientalism was ultimately a political vision of reality whose structure promoted the difference between the familiar (Europe, the West, “us”) and the strange (the Orient, the East, “them”).

p. 44

       “A certain freedom of intercourse was always the Westerner’s privilege; because his was the stronger culture, he could penetrate, he could wrestle with, he could give shape and meaning to the great Asiatic mystery.”

p. 205

       “One of the important developments in nineteenth-century Orientalism was the distillation of essential ideas about the Orient--its sensuality, its tendency to despotism, its aberrant mentality, its habits of inaccuracy, its backwardness--into a separate and unchallenged coherence... This information seemed to be morally neutral and objectively valid; it seemed to have an epistemological status equal to that of historical chronology or geographical location.”

p. 207

       “The Oriental was linked thus to elements in Western society (delinquents, the insane, women, the poor) having in common an identity best described as lamentably alien. Orientals were rarely seen or looked at; they were seen through, analyzed not as citizens, or even people, but as problems to be solved or confined or--as the colonial powers openly coveted their territory--taken over... Since the Oriental was a member of a subject race, he had to be subjected; it was that simple.”

p. 208

       “The Orient was always in the position both of outsider and of incorporated weak partner for the West.”

p. 227

       “The culturally sanctioned habit of deploying large generalizations by which reality is divided into various collectives: language, races, types, colors, mentalities, each category being not so much a neutral designation as an evaluative interpretation. Underlying these categories is the rigidly binomial opposition of ‘ours’ and ‘theirs,’ with the former always encroaching upon the latter (even to the point of making ‘theirs’ exclusively a function of ‘ours’). This opposition was reinforced not only by anthropology, linguistics, and history but also, of course, by the Darwinian theses on survival and natural selection, and--no less decisive--by the rhetoric of high cultural humanism.”

p. 238

       “The Orient must be made to perform, its power must be enlisted on the side of ‘our’ values, civilization, interests, goals.”

p. 251

       “Europe’s effort therefore was to maintain itself as what [Paul] Valery called ‘une machine puissante,’ [“a powerful machine”] absorbing what it could from outside Europe, converting everything to its use, intellectually and materially, keeping the Orient selectively organized (or disorganized).”

p. 286

       “In the films and television the Arab is associated either with lechery or bloodthirsty dishonesty. He appears as an oversexed degenerate, capable, it is true, of cleverly devious intrigues, but essentially sadistic, treacherous, low. Slave trader, camel driver, moneychanger, colorful scoundrel: these are some traditional Arab roles in the cinema. The Arab leader (of marauders, pirates, ‘native’ insurgents) can often be seen snarling at the captured Western hero and the blond girl (both of them steeped in wholesomeness).”

Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

l  White self vs. black other

l  Visual violence from white self to black other

p. 63

       “When my restless hands caress those white breasts, they grasp white civilization and dignity and make them mine.”


       “Without my knowledge I am attempting to revenge myself on a European woman for everything that her ancestors have inflicted on mine throughout the centuries.”

       “To be drawn on by desire for that white flesh that has been forbidden to us Negroes as long as white men have ruled the world.”

p. 72

       “We know historically that the Negro guilty of lying with a white woman is castrated.”

       Blacks go to bed with a white woman - “ritual of initiation into ‘authentic’ manhood.”

p. 109

       “Dirty nigger!” Or simply, “Look, a Negro!”

       “I came into the world imbued with the will to find a meaning in things, my spirit filled with the desire to attain to the source of the world, and then I found that I was an object in the midst of other objects.”

p. 114

       “The little boy is trembling because he is afraid of the nigger, the nigger is shivering with cold, that cold that goes through your bones, the handsome, little boy is trembling because he thinks the nigger is quivering with rage, the little white boy throws himself into his mother’s arms: Mama, the nigger’s going to eat me up.”

p. 116

       “I progress by crawling. And already I am being dissected under white eyes, the only real eyes. I am fixed. Having adjusted their microtoms, they objectively cut away slices of my reality. I am laid bare.”

       “When people like me, they tell me it is in spite of my color. When they dislike me, they point out that it is not because of my color. Either way, I am locked into the infernal circle.”

       “I turn away from those inspectors of the Ark before the Flood and I attach myself to my brothers, Negroes like myself. To my horror, they too reject me. They are almost (117) white. And besides they are about to marry white women. They will have children faintly tinged with brown.”



Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 1994.

---. “The Other Question: The Stereotype and Colonial Discourse.” Ed. Mandy Merck. The Sexual Subject: A Screen Reader in Sexuality. London: Routledge, 1992.

Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks (1952). Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove, 1967.

---. The Wretched on the Earth. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969.

Richter, David H. The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary

Trends. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford, 1998.

Richter (1217)

      “Bhabha sees the experience of colonial peoples as creating a ‘hybridity’ of perspective, a split consciousness in which the individual identifies simultaneously with his or her own people and with the colonial power. This hybridity or ‘liminality’ (existing on the borderline) is not necessarily an undesirable state: It is, as Bhabha sees it, part of the postmodern condition. It is the situation not only of the colonial subject but of minority groups like African Americans and, to one extent or another, of every inhabitant of the globe…. While W. E. B. Du Bois a century ago had understood ‘double consciousness’ to be an inevitable condition of the souls of black folk, Bhabha understands it as inevitable for us all.”

Bhabha, Introduction

       “It is the trope of our times to locate the question of culture in the realm of the beyond….”

“… we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion. For there is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction, in the ‘beyond’….”

       “The stairwell as liminal space, in-between the designations of identity, becomes the process of symbolic interaction, the connective tissue that constructs the difference between upper and lower, black and white. The hither and thither of the stairwell, the temporal movement and passage that it allows, prevents identities at either end of it from settling into primordial polarities. This interstitial passage between fixed identifications opens up the possibility of a cultural hybridity that entertains difference without an assumed or imposed hierarchy.”

l  Stereotype (colonial discourse)

l  Mimicry, double consciousness, hybridity

The black is both savage (cannibal) and yet the most obedient and dignified of servants (the bearer of food); he is the embodiment of rampant sexuality and yet innocent as a child; he is mystical, primitive, simple-minded and yet the most worldly and accomplished liar, and manipulator of social forces.”

Fanon, Black Skin


“I had to meet the white man’s eyes. An unfamiliar weight burdened me… I took myself far off from my own presence… What else could it be for me but an amputation, an excision, a hemorrhage that spattered my whole body with black blood?”


       “The little boy is trembling because he is afraid of the nigger, the nigger is shivering with cold, that cold that goes through your bones, the handsome, little boy is trembling because he thinks the nigger is quivering with rage, the little white boy throws himself into his mother’s arms: Mama, the nigger’s going to eat me up.”


       In white imagination:

       As for the Negroes, they have tremendous sexual power. What do you expect, with all the freedom they have in the jungles! They copulate at all times and in all places. They are really genital. They have so many children they can’t even count them. Be careful or they will flood us.


       When a white man hates black men, is he not yielding to a feeling of impotence or of sexual inferiority? Since his idea is an infinite virility, is there not a phenomenon of diminution in relation to the Negro, who is viewed as a penis symbol.

Fanon, Wretched


       “When their glances meet he [the settler] ascertains bitterly, always on the defensive, ‘they want to take our place.’ It is true for there is no native who does not dream at least once a day of setting himself up in the settler’s place.”



       “It is always in relation to the place of the Other that colonial desire is articulated: the phantasmic space of possession that no one subject can singly or fixedly occupy, and therefore permits the dream of the inversion of roles.”


       “… the colonial subject is returned to the narcissism of the Imaginary and its identification of an ideal ego that is white and whole.”


       “The Imaginary is the transformation that takes place in the subject at the formative mirror phase, when it assumes a discrete image which allows it to postulate a series of equivalences, samenesses, identities, between the objects of the surrounding world. However, this positioning is itself problematic, for the subject finds or recognizes itself through an image which is simultaneously alienating and hence potentially confrontational. This is the basis of the close relation between the two forms of identification complicit with the Imaginary – narcissism and aggressivity. It is precisely these two forms of identification that constitute the dominant strategy of colonial power exercised in relation to the stereotype which, as a form of multiple and contradictory belief, gives knowledge of difference and simultaneously disavows or masks it. Like the mirror phase ‘the fullness’ of the stereotype – its image as identity – is always threatened by ‘lack.’”

l  To mimic – to identify with white “fullness”, to fill the black “lack” –  partial presence of white “fullness”

l  To be a double – to be other – “lack”

l  Colonial discourse/stereotype – fixes and “splits” the colonial subject – “the fullness” of colonial discourse is threatened by “lack”, by the partial presence of black in that discourse (mimicry, double consciousness)

l  fetish (object to substitute for mother’s phallus – mother as love-object for fetishist) – underwear, shoe (both metonymic and metaphorical) – contiguous and signifying – signification

l  racial stereotype – skin color (both metonymic and metaphorical) – contiguous and signifying – signification – skin darkness – signifiers without signifieds (nothing inherently evil about blacks)

Mimicry is to make the colonized ‘similar’ to the Westerners so that they will be easily controlled, but at the same time, no matter how approximately they resemble the settlers, they will never be the same as the Westerners.


       “…then colonial mimicry is the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject of a difference that is almost the same, but not quite.”

       “The ambivalence of mimicry (almost the same, but not quite) does not merely ‘rupture’ the discourse, but becomes transformed into an uncertainty which fixes the colonial subject as a ‘partial presence.’”

       “Mimicry is thus the sign of a double articulation: a complex strategy of reform, regulation and discipline, which ‘appropriates’ the Other as it visualizes power. Mimicry is also the sign of the inappropriate, however, a difference or recalcitrance [being hard to manage] which coheres the dominant strategic function of colonial power, intensifies surveillance, and poses an immanent threat to both ‘normalized’ knowledge and disciplinary powers.”


       T. B. Macaulay, “Minute on Education” in Sources of Indian Tradition. Ed. W. Theodore de Bary. Vol II. New York: Columbia UP, 1958. 88.

       “The great tradition of European humanism seems capable only of ironizing itself. At the intersection of European learning and colonial power, Macaulay can conceive of nothing other than ‘a class of interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern – a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect’ – in other words a mimic man raised ‘through our English School’, as a missionary educationist wrote in 1819, ‘to form a corps of translators and be employed in different departments of Labour.’”


       “The look of surveillance returns as the displacing gaze of the disciplined, where the observer becomes the observed and ‘partial’ representation rearticulates the whole notion of identity and alienates it from essence.”

l  Foucault – power and resistance

l  Gaze returned

l  Double consciousness (“partial” presence) rearticulates the whole notion of colonial identity and alienates it from essence (“normalized” knowledge – colonial discourse/stereotype as essential and neutral knowledge)


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