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What do you mean; Postcolonial Theory?

What do you mean; Postcolonial Theory?

Why should artists know something about Postcolonial Theory? “The Postcolonial can be understood as a virtual space, that is, a space of possibility and emergence. It is thus also potential becoming: it opens towards a future that will not repeat existing forms of sociality and oppressive power relations” (Couze Venn in the 'postcolonial challenge'). With this energetic definition of Postcoloniality in mind it is easy to understand why so many contemporary artists, writers filmmakers, scholars and curators want to draw inspiration from notions that are rooted in this intellectual domain. The concept of Postcolonialism enters critical discourse in its current meanings in the late 1970s , but both the practice and the theory of Postcolonial resistance go back to the origins of colonialism itself. Very generally speaking Postcolonial Theory refers to a set of theories that grapple with the legacy of colonial rule. Post-colonialism deals with the ways knowledge of colonized people is used to justify colonialism through the perpetuation of images of the colonized as inferior. Colonized peoples responded to the colonial legacy by “writing back to the center”. Famous founding works on post-colonialism are Edward Said’s 'Orientalism', Frantz Fanon’s 'Black skin, White masks', Homi Bhabha’s 'The location of culture', Aimé Césaire’s 'Discourse on colonialism' and Gayatri Spivak’s 'Can the subaltern speak?'. The tremendous influence of Postcolonial Theory on recent artistic production is hardly recognised by the rather conservative Dutch art establishment. But even its harshest critics can’t deny that it has developed into an intricate multitude of theoretical ‘tools for change’ with a worldwide spreading. During this crash course dedicated researchers will elaborate on the meaning of fashionable but nevertheless highly debated terms like hybridity, orientalism, interculturality, culture, representation and gender (in the light of postcolonialism).

This series and seminars will be moderated by Emiel Martens, Assistant Professor at the Department of Media Studies at the UvA, where he is conducting a PhD research on postcolonial Jamaican cinema. 

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