POST-COLONIAL STUDIES‘Not quite a dictionary but an invaluable reference tool nonetheless, its identification of key terms remains as useful as its definitions of those terms.’Professor Antoinette Burton, University of IllinoisThis best-selling key guide, now in its second edition, provides anessential key to understanding the issues which characterize postcolonialism, explaining what it is, where it is encountered and why itis crucial in forging new cultural identities. As a subject, post-colonialstudies stands at the intersection of debates about race, colonialism,gender, politics and language. Key topics covered include: borderlandstransnational m.Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts is fully updated and crossreferenced throughout. With additional further reading this book haseverything necessary for students and anyone keen to learn moreabout this fascinating subject.Bill Ashcroft teaches at the University of Hong Kong and theUniversity of NSW, Gareth Griffiths at the University of WesternAustralia and Helen Tiffin at Queen’s University, Canada. They arethe editors of The Post-Colonial Studies Reader and the authors ofThe Empire Writes Back, both published by Routledge.

POST-COLONIALSTUDIESThe Key ConceptsSecond editionBill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffithsand Helen Tiffin

First published 2000by Routledge2 Park Square, Milton Park,Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RNSecond edition published 2007Simultaneously published in the USA and Canadaby Routledge270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2007.“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’scollection of thousands of eBooks please go to”Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business 2000, 2007 Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen TiffinAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted orreproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical,or other means, now known or hereafter invented, includingphotocopying and recording, or in any information storageor retrieval system, without permission in writingfrom the publishers.British Library Cataloguing in Publication DataA catalogue record for this book is available from the British LibraryLibrary of Congress Cataloging in Publication DataAshcroft, Bill, 1946Post colonial studies : the key concepts / Bill Ashcroft,Gareth Griffiths & Helen Tiffin. – 2nd ed.p. cm.Previous ed. published under title: Key concepts in post-colonial studies.“Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge.”Includes bibliographical references and index.1. Colonies–Dictionaries. 2. Decolonization–Dictionaries.3. Postcolonialism–Dictionaries. 4. Ethnic attitudes–Dictionaries.5. Race relations–Dictionaries. I. Griffiths, Gareth, 1943– II. Tiffin, Helen.III. Ashcroft, Bill, 1946– . Key concepts in post-colonial studies. IV. Title.JV22.A84 2008325’.303—dc222007018708ISBN 0-203-93347-8 Master e-book ISBNISBN10: 0–415–42856–4 (hbk)ISBN10: 0–415–42855–6 (pbk)ISBN10: 0–203–44997–5 (ebk)ISBN13: 978–0–415–42856–9 (hbk)ISBN13: 978–0–415–42855–2 (pbk)ISBN13: 978–0–203–44997–4 (ebk)

CONTENTSIntroduction to the second editionList of Key ConceptsviixiKEY CONCEPTS1BibliographyName IndexSubject Index227281287v

INTRODUCTION TO THESECOND EDITIONSince the publication of Post-Colonial Studies nearly ten years ago thesubject has expanded and diversified both in its impact and significance,in fields as varied as globalization, environmentalism, transnationalism, the sacred, and even economics, through the significance of thespread of neo-liberalism. The controversies in the field, particularly,circulating around the term ‘post-colonial/postcolonial’ itself continueunabated, but the relevance of neo-imperialism and the issues emerging from the engagements of post-colonized societies in a ‘glocal’ agehave demonstrated the usefulness of post-colonial analysis. From theperspective of this decade it is possible to look back at the 1990s andsee how important the humanities in general and post-colonialdiscourse in particular were to developing a new language to addressthe problems of global culture and the relationships between localcultures and global forces. This occurred because the classical narrativesof Modernity in which social theory was mired – dependency theoryand centre–periphery models – were unable to explain the multidirectional flow of global exchanges, a flow that was most noticeablein cultural exchange. One significant example of this multi-directionalflow is the phenomenon of the Black Atlantic, which reveals theamazing complexity and productivity of African cultures in theAtlantic. The history of such flows reveals that the multi-directionaland transcultural nature of global culture is not a new phenomenon.Many of the issues and problems surrounding the topic of globalization (the place of the ‘glocal’; the function of local agency under thepressure of global forces; the role of imperialism in globalization; theconnection between imperialism and neoliberal economics) areaddressed, and continue to be addressed by the post-colonial analysis ofimperial power. Thus, although we need to be careful about falselyprescribing post-colonial theory as a panacea, and should keep in mindthe firm grounding of post-colonial discourse in the historicalvii

INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITIONphenomenon of colonialism, the field of post-colonial studies hasprovided useful strategies for a wider field of global analysis. Postcolonial literary and cultural production in particular has demonstrated the insistent reality of local agency, an agency that can addresssimple dualistic approaches to the local and global.One of the most persistent and controversial topics of contemporary politics is the issue of the environment. Global warminghas demonstrated the devastating effects of the industrial revolutionand the unfettered pursuit of capital expansion. The environment,and attendant topics such as ecofeminism, ecological imperialism,environmentalism, speciesism have all taken an increasingly prominentplace in post-colonial thought because it has become clear that thereis a direct connection between colonialist treatment of indigenousflora and fauna and treatment of colonized and otherwise dominatedsubjects and societies. The devastation of colonized place (and potentially of the planet) paved the way for the devastation of societies. Untilnow the destruction of the physical and human environments havebecome the same thing.Increasingly, post-colonial theory has been found useful in examining a variety of colonial relationship beyond the classic colonizingactivities of the British Empire. The concept of boundaries and bordershas been crucial in the imperial occupation and domination of indigenous space. And the question of borders and borderlands has nowbecome a pressing issue in an age of increasingly hysterical border protection. Cultural borders are becoming recognized as a critical regionof colonial and neo-colonial domination, of cultural erosion, and ofclass and economic marginalization. The field of post-colonial studiesnow includes the vexed subjects of contemporary neo-colonialism: theidentities and relationships of Chicano, Latino and hybrid subjectivitiesof various kinds. These subjects, who slip between the boundaries ofthe grand narratives of history and nation, are becoming an increasingly important constituency for post-colonial studies.Another issue that has become more prominent, because morecomplex than previously regarded, is the issue of the sacred. Religion,the impact of missions and the nature and function of a ‘post-colonialsacred’ are becoming increasingly prevalent in what some refer toas a ‘post-secular age’. There can be no doubt that the aggressivearticulation of religious dogma, the failure of dialogue and the increasingly polarized globe have offered unprecedented global dangers. Butthese realities also offer opportunities for an analysis of the kinds ofcomplex hybridized developments of the sacred that have beenrevealed by post-colonial analysis.viii

INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITIONOne of the terms emerging from post-colonial studies seems tocircumvent some of the perceived problems inherent in descriptionssuch as ‘post-colonial’ and diaspora. ‘Transnational’ as an adjectiveis growing in use since it extends to migrant, diasporic and refugeecommunities not directly emerging from the colonial experience.The increasing flow of populations, the mobility of individuals, theincreased crossing of borders and the blurring of the concept of‘home’ have produced a range of transnational literatures and otherforms of cultural production that extend the field of the post-colonialin productive ways.Some more familiar terms in post-colonial studies have beenincluded in this second edition, such as ‘double colonization’, ‘firstnations’ and ‘translation’. Others, such as ‘whiteness’ have alreadyblossomed into a virtual field of their own. Many of these terms arecentral to post-colonial studies, others are shared with other fieldsof study; some, like ‘race’ are broader than post-colonial studies itself.But all the words in this Key Concepts will be used at some stage inthe field and will be useful for students and writers as they engage thisincreasingly vibrant field.ix

LIST OF KEY CONCEPTSAboriginal/indigenous peoplesAbrogationAfrican American andpost-colonial BinarismBlack AtlanticBlack bean/West IndianCartographyCatachresisCatalysisCentre/margin (periphery)ChromatismClass and post-colonialismColonial desireColonial discourseColonial patronageColonialismCommonwealthCommonwealth LiteratureCompradorContact zoneContrapuntal diversity/culturaldifferenceCultural tourismDecolonizationDependency theoryDeracinateDiasporaDiscourseDislocationDouble colonizationEcofeminismEcological ismxi

LIST OF KEY CONCEPTSExploration and travelFanonismFeminism and post-colonialismFiliation/affiliationFirst nationsFrontierGlobalizationGlocalization‘Going native’HegemonyHybridityImperialismIndentured labourIndependenceInterpellationLiminalityMagic tisseMetonymic gapMetropolis/metropolitanMiddle PassageMimicryMiscegenationMissions and colonialismModernism and post-colonialismModernityMulattoMultitudeNation languageNation/nationalismNational allegoryNational liberation eo-imperialismNeo-liberalismNew stPidgins/creolesPlacePost-colonial bodyPost-colonialism/PostcolonialismPost-colonial readingPost-colonial on and the post-colonialRhizomeSavage/civilizedSettlerSettler rd World (First, Second,Fourth)TransculturationTransnational hington ConsensusWhitenessWorld system theoryWorldingxii


ABROGATIONABORIGINAL/INDIGENOUS PEOPLESIndigenous peoples are those ‘born in a place or region’ (OED). Theterm ‘aboriginal’ was coined as early as 1667 to describe the indigenousinhabitants of places encountered by European explorers, adventurersor seamen. While the terms ‘aboriginal’ and ‘aborigine’ have beenused from time to time to describe the indigenous inhabitants of manysettler colonies, they are now most frequently used as a shortenedform of ‘Australian Aborigine’ to describe the indigenous inhabitantsof Australia. The adjective ‘aboriginal’ has been more frequently usedas the generic noun in recent times, the term ‘aborigine’ beingconsidered by many to be too burdened with derogatory associations.Furthermore, the feeling that the term fails to distinguish and discriminate among the great variety of peoples who were lumped togethergenerically as ‘aborigines’by the colonial white settlers has been resistedwith the assertion of special, local terms for different peoples and/orlanguage groups such as the use of South-Eastern Australian terms likeKoori, Queensland terms such as Murri and Western Australian termssuch as Nyoongah. So far, though, no single term has been accepted asa general term by all the various peoples concerned, and the genericterm most frequently used for the descendants of all pre-colonialindigenes is ‘Australian Aboriginal peoples’.In the Americas the term ‘aborigines’ gained currency as a genericterm for indigenous peoples as it did in Australia.Terms such as ‘Indian’and later ‘Amerindian’, which, like Aboriginal in Australia, accruedderogatory connotations, were employed by settler-invaders (and theirdescendants). In the twentieth century, terms generated by indigenous peoples themselves, such as ‘First Nations’, ‘Native Americans’have replaced the older settler-invader nomenclatures. The term hasalso been, and is still used to describe the descendants of the earliestinhabitants of other regions, such as the ‘orang asli’ of Malaysia andIndonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) or the original inhabitants of theIndian sub-continent now referred to as the ‘scheduled tribes’ andAndaman Islanders.(See settler colony, Third World.)ABROGATIONAbrogation refers to the rejection by post-colonial writers of anormative concept of ‘correct’ or ‘standard’ English used by certain3

AFRICAN AMERICAN AND POST-COLONIAL STUDIESclasses or groups,and of the corresponding concepts of inferior ‘dialects’or ‘marginal variants’. The concept is usually employed in conjunctionwith the term