by Dr. Cameron McCarthy / Nov 29, 2016
Within the past decade and a half or so, there has been a steady expansion of scholarship calling attention to the rethinking of center-periphery relations between the third world and the first world. This body of scholarship—most often identified with literature studies, but which has expanded well beyond to other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences—has come to be known as postcolonial theory. Proponents of postcolonial theory have sought to address a wide range of topics related to the historical and contemporary relationship between metropolitan and periphery countries as well as the spatio-temporal impact of colonial and neo-colonial relations on dominant and subordinated groups in the metropolitan countries themselves. These topics include the historical and geographical evolution of colonial relations and post-independence developments in countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean; patterns of identity formation, cultural representation, translation and cross-cultural connection between the metropole and the periphery in disciplinary areas such as literature, popular culture, music and art; and, concerns bearing upon the redefinition of the nation state in the light of globalization or the intensification and rapid movement of cultural and economic capital across national borders. Postcolonial scholars have also foraged into the area of research methods insisting on a critique of methodological nationalism, the foregrounding of interdisciplinarity and the critical integration of scholarly methods across social science and humanities paradigms.
This course is intended as an overview of the major currents of thought in this emergent body of scholarly work. After considering some preliminary issues of the history, definition and terms of reference of postcolonial theory, we will explore the major themes and substantive theoretical and methodological claims and interventions of postcolonial theorists. This course should have broad appeal to students pursuing critical studies in the humanities, social sciences, education, the communications fields and in the emerging field of globalization theory. Every effort will be made in the course to explore interdisciplinary connections between postcolonial theory and other related bodies of thought such as cultural studies, postmodernism, globalization studies, feminist theory, and research in the areas of development and dependency theory and modernization studies.