IRL2015/2008 � Lecture 10 Orientalism and Postcolonial Studies by QB5FpT16


									         IR2501 – week 8 lectures

II – Postcolonial Studies
Postcolonial Studies
 Inter-disciplinary field of study involving all
  humanities, arts and social sciences
   Especially prominent in literary and cultural studies, but
    recent impact on IR
 Aim: to analyse ‘the postcolonial condition’
 Questions that transition to independence is
  smooth, or unproblematic
 Initial questions:
   What is the long term legacy of the Imperial era (political,
    cultural, economic…)?
   How meaningful is independence?
   Who writes the history of colonialism? – have the ‘victors’
    created a fantasy of a positive impact rather than
    oppression and exploitation?
 Founding Parents
 Edward Said
  Power-knowledge nexus of Imperialism
  deconstructive critique of techniques of Othering
 Gayatri Spivak
  Subjectivity of subaltern subjects
  Debates on the representation of marginalised voices in social
 Homi Bhabha
  conceptions of the nation
  Hybrid identities
 Ranajit Guha and the ‘Subaltern Studies Group’
  Rewriting history from the perspective of the colonised
  ‘Decentering’ the production of academic knowledge
 Intellectual agendas in Postcolonial
 How can we re-write history to account for the
  perspective of native populations?
  What would be the impact on contemporary analyses and
 How can we have a non-oppressive academic
  ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’
  Does Western scholarship have the tools of speak of ‘other’
  Debates on universalism in values
 Why are the concerns and views of Western scholars
  and policy-makers taken more seriously than those of
  thinkers from the ‘margins’?
  Agenda-setting by the powerful that excludes voices and
   indigenous concerns of most of the world
Challenges and Debates
 Main debate in postcolonial theory: Neo-Marxist vs.
  post-structuralist emphases
  Over-stating the discursive aspects hides the material
   components of neo-imperialism? i.e. too stuck with talking
   about texts?
  Importance of discussing increasingly subtle mechanisms for
   surveillance, control and exploitation should not be
   dismissed: discursive masks of colonialism change over
 Resilience of Orientalism as a mechanism for
  E.g. civilising mission of the War on Terror?
 Risk of over-emphasising colonialism as a marker:
  p/c states vary, and elites should take share of the
  blame for ease of their own corruption
 Implications for International Relations
 Seemingly very focused micro-theory, but the implications are
  fundamental to IR: Theorisation of power, in terms of Empire,
  relating to the material and discursive aspects of power
 Fundamentally challenges:
 Realist Foreign policy and the international system as a
  ‘rational’, predictable setting…IR is full of cultural
  assumptions and lacks objectivity
        E.g. racist US assumptions about Japan shaping WWII
 policy and academic discourses on the ‘developing’ world
    Categories chosen and linear, Western-centric, scale of development
     set out ill-suited goals which postcolonial societies cannot but fail to
    Assuming a level playing field of globalisation that hides growing
     inequalities steeped in a long history, and structurally reinforced
    Hides ideological underpinnings of ‘good governance’ discourse
 Can there be an IR without ‘Othering’?
 Connection to wider post-structuralist agendas: is
  exclusion a feature of identity?
  David Campbell: the state defines its identity through
   perceived enemies…
  Greater regional cooperation maintains boundaries – e.g.
   EU: even common identities need an ‘outside’
 Connection to wider neo-Gramscian thought and
  World Systems Theory/Dependencia School
  Is the developed world ‘developed’ precisely because the
   developing world isn’t?
 Discourse of the liberal growth (through free trade)
  and the liberal peace (through intervention) imply
  that everyone is can be a ‘winner’ in IR…
  Is this structurally possible?
 Does Orientalism apply to analyses of the
  contemporary Middle East?
 Does it apply to other parts of the ‘Global South’?
 What lies behind dominant discourses in IR, and IR
  Is IR theory fundamentally Western-centric?
  Does it put a veneer of legitimacy and rationality on
   exclusion and exploitation?
 What opportunities are there for marginalised
  sections of populations, cultures or parts of the
  world to speak for themselves... and to be heard?

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