The Terrible Logic of Capitalism: A Survey of Postcolonial Theory
Ashcroft et al, Postcolonial Studies Reader
Fanon, Wretched of the Earth
Hardt and Negri, Empire
Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time
Rushdie, East, West: Stories
Additional readings in on-line reserves.
In his powerful speech, "The Ballot or the Bullet," Malcolm X talks about the necessity of presenting civil rights for Blacks as human rights. He suggests that the condition of American Blacks is similar to the condition of the oppressed Chinese, the Indians and the Africans; moreover, all of them have a common enemy, that is, the ideology of "white" U.S. imperialism. Taking its cue from Malcolm X's conviction, this course centers around a definition of the postcolonial moment as characterized by the unequal relationship between the centre and the periphery, between the First and the Third Worlds. A corollary of this assertion is that the term postcolonial applies to relationships within the U.S. as well. The First World is not an undifferentiated mass of abundance; rather, there are pockets of the Third World, the slums and the ghettoes, in every major city and town in America. Consequently, although we will be dealing most! ly with what can loosely be called "third-world texts," an understanding of the relationship between the First and Third Worlds also gives us the theoretical tools for dealing with relationships of inequality within the U.S.
Description of Readings:
The overarching concern of these readings is to look at the ideology of U.S. imperialism, and how this ideology works itself out in contemporary postcolonial fiction and theory. We will spend the first few weeks looking at some representative texts of contemporary postcolonial theory, focusing on the ways in which these texts grapple with the role of the postcolonial critic. While highlighting the immense achievements of these texts, we will also focus on the ways in which the authors privilege subjectivity, and in so doing, fail to deal adequately with more material problems such as hunger and poverty. In a sense, then, these texts reveal the central problem of contemporary postcolonial theory, namely, that such scholarship ultimately becomes theoreticist: devoid of consequences for "real," material regeneration.
These few weeks will serve as an introduction to postcolonial theory and criticism. After we have set up the parameters for what contemporary postcolonial theory attempts to do, we will move on, in the following few weeks, to consider some of the criticisms leveled against postcolonial theory. This foray into the pitfalls of contemporary postcolonial theory will set the stage for the next set of readings which will bring us to thinking about what a more materialist postcolonial theory would look like, with Marx, Fanon, Gandhi and Amin. These texts will help to think not only about colonialism as an economic venture, but also about the relationship between the condition of poscoloniality and imperialism. With the help of close readings of Marx and Fanon, we will look at the ways in which the moment of decolonization embodied and sustained the transition to the present set of relationships between the First and the Third Worlds (the centre and the periphery) -- in short, ! the set of relationships which we call global capitalism. We will examine how Gandhi and Amin provide the possibility of an alternative relationship, where independence entails not simply self-government, but also renouncing Western civilization (for Gandhi), and its commodities -- thereby cutting off all economic contact with the West.
While dealing with theoretical questions about the condition of postcoloniality through the above-mentioned readings, we will also interrogate how these issues confront us in fiction. Jameson's "Third World Literature in the Age of Multinational Capital" will serve as a transition to our consideration of fiction; it will also provide an example of how the theoretical questions play themselves out in the texts. Keeping in mind the theoretical questions that we will raise in the first few weeks, some of the questions that we will be asking through our readings of fiction are: how can these texts be read as allegorical of the economic situation of the nation from the authors hail? What do these texts accomplish by their use of allegory? What kinds of practical solutions, if any, do the texts offer for the problems of their nation? How do the texts deal with the issue of alienation of labour, which characterizes capitalism?
Week I: Intro.
Week II: Edward Said, Orientalism
Week III: Orientalism, continued;
Week IV: POCO studies reader, essays (pp. 7-55)
Arif Dirlik, "The Postcolonial Aura" (on-line reserves)
Week V: Karl Marx, "Primitive Accumulation" (Capital)
Fanon, "On Violence," Wretched of the Earth ; 2 Concept papers due today
Week VI: Fanon continued
Malcolm X, "The Ballot or the Bullet"
M. K. Gandhi, selection from Indian Home Rule
Week VII: Fredric Jameson, "Third World Literature in the Age of Multinational Capital" (on-line)
Madhava Prasad, "On the question of a theory of Third World Literature." (on-line)
POCO studies reader, essays (pp. 77-151)
Week VIII: Salman Rushdie, East West: Stories
recommended reading: POCO studies reader (pp. 283-320).
Week IX: Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time;
POCO Studeis Reader (pp. 463-490)
Week X: Samir Amin, Delinking; 2 concept papers due today
Week XI: Delinking, continued;
Week XII: Hardt and Negri, Empire
Week XIII: Empire, continued.
Week XIV: Empire, continued.
Week XV: Last 2 concept papers due today
1) Concept Papers: 50 %
6 papers (3 pages each), due two at a time.
These papers will be an exposition of a concept in a text--something through which we can read the texts, and that makes the text easier to read.
2) Presentations and Class Participation 50 %
Each student will present at least twice during the course. At the end of the first week, I will pass a sign-up sheet on which, students can specify which day they would present--and on which text. Presentations may be collaborative.
In addition, I expect each of you speak up during class discussions.