What is Postcolonial Literature?
In a broad sense, postcolonial literature is writing which has been “affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonization to the present day” (Ashcroft et al, 2). In India’s case, this includes novels, poetry, and drama which were written both during and after the British Raj or “Reign,” which came to a formal conclusion with Indian Independence in August 1947. Although writing from India and other formerly colonized countries such as Nigeria, Jamaica, Pakistan, and Singapore has distinctive features, postcolonial literature shares some significant concerns and characteristics.
1) Reclaiming spaces and places
Colonialism was, above all, a means of claiming and exploiting foreign lands, resources, and people. Enslavement, indentured labor, and migration forced many indigenous populations to move from the places that they considered “home”. Postcolonial literature attempts to counteract their resulting alienation from their surroundings by restoring a connection between indigenous people and places through description, narration, and dramatization. 2) Asserting cultural integrity
During colonization, the indigenous cultures of those countries subjected to foreign rule were often sidelined, suppressed, and openly denigrated in favor of elevating the social and cultural preferences and conventions of the colonizers. In response, much postcolonial literature seeks to assert the richness and validity of indigenous cultures in an effort to restore pride in practices and traditions that were systematically degraded under colonialism. 3) Revising history
Colonizers often depicted their colonial subjects as existing “outside of history” in unchanging, timeless societies, unable to progress or develop without their intervention and assistance. In this way, they justified their actions, including violence against those who resisted colonial rule. Revising history to tell things from the perspective of those...
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