Definition of the word Postcolonial from the Oxford English Dictionary: Occurring or existing after the end of colonial rule; of or relating to a former colony. In later use also: of or relating to the cultural condition of a former colony, esp. regarding its relationship with the former colonial power.
Definition of the word Colonial from the Oxford English Dictionary: Of, belonging to, or relating to a colony, or (spec.) the British colonies; in American history, of or belonging to the thirteen British colonies which became the United States, or to the time while they were still colonies. Now freq. derogatory.
Colonial: In Keywords for American Cultural Studies, David Kazanjian highlights some of the vicissitudes of the meanings of the word colonial throughout different periods. He also points to how the meaning of the word changes in respect to the person or peoples that define the word or ascribe meanings to it. The word colonial has Latin roots, originating from colonia, which for Romans was a tralstion of the Greek word apoikia which meant a settlement away from the mother-city or mother-country. The Roman empire used the word colonia in reference to settlements of Roman citizens in conquered lands (52). In the English language, the word colonial and colonist was not used until the eighteenth century and was readily used in that time period as "simple descriptors for early Americans, and unrelated to conquest" (52). Kazanjian explains how, in the U.S., these keywords, "colonial" and "American colonist" have conjured up images of democracy, colonists revolting agaist European rulers, and benevolent men who establish states and create a unified nation. How does this popular discourse, reiterated in U.S. history textbooks, media, holidays, etc. formuate our understandings of the nation? How does this nationalist mythology of freedom-seeking colonists erase historical realities of conquest? If this nationalist mythology explicates that the U.S. (and purportedly only the U.S.) was founded on principles of freedom, equality, and democracy, how does it continue to use this myth to justify war and imperialism presently? For these reasons and many more it is imperative to deconstruct colonization. Kazanjian describes some of the systems of disposession that were created through the violent act of colonization: "the conquest of Native American lands, the enslavement and genocide of native peoples and Africans, and the establishment of a vast transatlantic and transcontinental system of race-based chatel slavery" (53). Furthermore, it is important to examine texts like the Declaration of Independence and other literature during and after the U.S. colonial period and deconstruct how this literature also constructed nationalistic mythologies. Toni Morrison in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination states that "culutral identities are formed and informed by a nation's literature" (Morrison, 39). Morrison also points to the ways that the idea of freedom is a prominent motif throughout much of the young nation's literature. However, the idea of freedom is deeply intertwined with notions of not being free, of slavery: "The desire for freedom is preceeded by oppression; a yearning for God's law is born of the detestation of human license and coruption; the glamor of riches is in thrall to poverty, hunger, and debt" (Morrison, 35). The desire for freedom, in literature and founding texts is not created in spite of slavery and injustice or without regard to it, rather notions of freedom are formed directly from injustice, slavery, the African, the native, and blackness. Morrison states: "The contemplation of this black presence is central to any understanding of our national literature and should not be permitted to hover at the margins of the literary imagination" (Morrison, 5). According to Morrison, white freedom in the way that it is imagined through literature (as in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn) has a "parasitical nature" (57). The Africanist presence, through an examination of literature, is important if not a defining factor in the construction of Americanness and the nation. Through literature and founding texts whites imagined themselves as the antithesis of Africans (free, not enslaved; desirable, not repulsive; powerful not helpless) and this imaginary constructed some of the origins of nationlistic discourse. Kazanjian states: "The Declaration represents American colonials as innocent victims of British tyranny ("Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies")( 53).
Anne McClintock in The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term 'Post-Colonialism'
"Colonization involves direct territorial appropriation of another geo-political entity, combined with forthright exploitation of its resources and labor, and systematic interference in the capacity of the appropriated culture (itself not necessarily a homogenous entity) to orga- nize its dispensations of power"(88).
"Internal colonization occurs where the dominant part of a country treats a group or region as it might a foreign colony" (88).
"Imperial colonization, by extension, involves large-scale, territo- rial domination of the kind that gave late Victorian Britain and the European 'lords of humankind' control over 85% of the earth, and the USSR totalitarian rule over Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia in the twentieth century" (88).
Resistance to Colonialism: Kazanjian also notes that this nationalistic discourse was resisted by African Americans and Native Americans since the eithteenth and nineteenth centuries. A Pequot, William Apess published an essay titled "An Indian's Looking-GLass for the White Man" in which he "claims a European technology, the looking-glass, and turns it on white men so that they may see themselves not as innocent colonials but as violent colonizers" (55).
The term postcolonial is discussed, debated and constantly expanded in disciplines including literary theory, political science, cultural studies, history, etc. It also is a difficult endeavor to define the term postcolonial because, as some argue, colonialism is not entirely over. Many nations that were former colonies are still economically and culturally subordinated to wealthy states through neo-colonialism. How does the U.S. continue forms of domination throughout the world? How has it continued to impose its values and/or political interests?
Frantz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks:
"We shall see that the alienation of the black man is not an individual question. Alongside phylogeny and ontogeny, there is also sociogeny" (xv).
"We believe the juxtaposition of the black and white races has resulted in a massive psycho-existential complex. By analyzing it we aim to destroy it" (xvi).
"The black man possesses two dimensions: one with his fellow Blacks, the other with the Whites. A black man behaves differently with a white man than he does with another black man. There is no doubt whatsoever that this fissiparousness is a direct consequence of the colonial undertaking" (1).
"All colonized people--in other words, people in whom an inferiority complex has taken root, whose local cultural originality has been committed to the grave-position themselves in relation to the civilizing language:i.e., the metropolitan culture" (2).
"The problem perhaps lies in the fact that in the Antilles, as in Brittany, there is a dialect and there is the French language. But that can't be right, because the Bretons do not consider themselves inferior to the French. The Bretons were never civilized by the Whites" (12).
"By appealing, therefore, to our humanity--to our feelings of dignity, love, and charity--it would be easy to prove and have acknowledged that the black man is equal to the white man. But that is not our purpose. What we are striving for is to liberate the black man from the arsenal of complexes that germinated in a colonial situation" (14).
Anne McClintock in "The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term 'Post-Colonialism.'"
"Metaphorically, the term 'post-colonialism' marks history as a series of stages along an epochal road from 'the pre-colonial,' to 'the colonial,' to 'the post-colonial' - an unbidden, if disavowed, commitment to linear time and the idea of 'development'"(85).
"If a theoretical tendency to envisage 'Third World' literature as progressing from 'protest literature,' to 're- sistance literature,' to 'national literature' has been criticized as rehears- ing the Enlightenment trope of sequential, 'linear' progress, the term 'post-colonialism' is questionable for the same reason" (85).
"If the theory promises a decentering of history in hybridity, syncreticism, multi-dimensional time, and so forth, the sin- gularity of the term effects a re-centering of global history around the single rubric of European time. Colonialism returns at the moment of its disappearance" (86).
"In other words, the world's multitudinous cultures are marked, not positively by what distinguishes them, but by a subordinate, retrospective relation to linear, European time" (86).
"Most problematically, the historical rupture suggested by the preposi- tion 'post-' belies both the continuities and discontinuities of power that have shaped the legacies of the formal European and British colonial empires (not to mention the Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, and other impe- rial powers)" (87).
"Differences between cultures are thereby subordinated to their temporal distance from European colonialism. But 'post-colonialism' (like postmodernism) is unevenly developed globally. Argentina, formally independent of imperial Spain for over a century and a half, is not 'post-colonial' in the same way as Hong Kong (destined to be independent of Britain only in 1997). Nor is Brazil "post-colonial" in the same way as Zimbabwe" (87).
"Ireland may, at a pinch, be 'post-colonial,' but for the inhabitants of British-occupied Northern Ireland, not to mention the Palestinian inhabitants of the Israeli Occupied Territories and the West Bank, there may be nothing 'post' about colonialism at all" (87).
"Since the 1940's, the United State's imperialism-without-colonies has taken a number of distinct forms (military, political, economic and cultural), some concealed, some half-concealed. The power of US finance capital and huge multi-nationals to direct the flows of capital, commodities, armaments and media information around the world can have an impact as massive as any colonial regime" (89).
"And while Latin America hand-picked bananas for the United States, the United States hand-picked dictators for Latin America. In Chile, Allende's elected, socialist government was overthrown by a US- sponsored military coup. In Africa, more covert operations such as the CIA assassination of Patrice Lumumba in Zaire, had consequences as far-reaching" (89).
"The recent fits of thuggery by the US in Libya, Grenada and Panama, and most calamitously in Iraq, have every characteristic of a renewed military imperialism, and a renewed determination to revamp military hegemony in a world in which it is rapidly losing economic hegemony" (90).
"Not only is the term "post- colonial" inadequate to theorize these dynamics, it actively obscures the continuities and discontinuities of US power around the globe".
"While some countries may be 'post-colonial' with respect to their erstwhile European masters, they may not be "post-colonial" with respect to their new colonizing neighbours. Both Mozambique and East Timor, for example, became "post-colonial" at much the same time, when the Portuguese empire decamped in the mid-seventies, and both remain cau- tionary tales against the utopian promise and global sweep of the prepo- sition 'post'" (90).
"The role of 'Africa' in 'post-colonial theory' is different from the role of 'post-colonial theory' in Africa(91).
"The film industry in India remains the largest in the world, while Africa's share of TV receivers, radio transmittors and electronic hardware is miniscule" (91).
"In a world where women do 2/3 of the world's work, earn 10% of the world's income, and own less than 1% of the world's property, the promise of 'post-colonialism' has been a history of hopes postponed" (92).
"No 'post-colonial' state anywhere has granted women and men equal access to the rights and resources of the nation state. Not only have the needs of "post-colonial nations" been largely identified with male conflicts, male aspirations and male interests, but the very representation of 'national' power rests on prior constructions of gender power" (92).
McClintock quotes Fanon to point to his use of males in reference to the colonizer and colonized relationship: "'The look that the native turns on the settler is a look of lust... to sit at the settlers' table, to sleep in the settler's bed, with his wife, if possible. The colonized man is an envious man'" (92).
"Marital laws, in particular have served to ensure that for women citizenship in the nation-state is mediated by the marriage relation, so that a woman's political relation to the nation is submerged in, and subordinated to, her social relation to a man through marriage" (92).
"The global militarization of masculinity, and the feminization of pov- erty have thus ensured that women and men do not live 'post-coloniality' in the same way, or share the same singular 'post-colonial condition'" (92).
Vanessa April 11, 2010 CLST 310 Professor Daut
The Oxford English dictionary defines postcolonial as “occurring or existing after the end of colonial rule; of or relating to a former colony. In later use also: of or relating to the cultural condition of a former colony, esp. regarding its relationship with the former colonial power.” This definition, however, does not include the myriad of ways that cultural studies has expanded upon the idea of postcolonialism. This term is especially salient in cultural studies which seeks to deconstruct power relations and identify the cultural legacies of colonialism. The term postcolonial is discussed, debated and constantly expanded in disciplines including literary theory, political science, cultural studies, history, etc. It also is a difficult endeavor to define the term postcolonial because, as some argue, colonialism is not entirely over. Many nations that were former colonies are still economically and culturally subordinated to wealthy states through neo-colonialism. Franz Fanon in Black Skin/White Masks ends with a final prayer in which he states, “O my body, always make me a man who questions!” It is thus important to question how the U.S. continues forms of domination throughout the world? How has it continued to impose its cultural values and/or political interests? Moreover, what are the modes, struggles, and practices that subordinated and marginalized peoples based on race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, and nation engage with in order to assert agency, subvert margins, and transform reality in a “postcolonial” context? These questions allow for a conversation to take place in this paper that bring to the fore divergent ideas on cultural studies and postcolonialism.
Culture and Citizenship
In the United States, popular discourse on citizenship does not often expand beyond the concepts of legal and formal membership in the nation-state. This narrative, however, does not touch upon the myriad of ways that full membership and equal rights in society are negated to people—whether they are citizens or not—based on ethnicity, gender, class, language, sexual orientation, nation, age, etc. These exclusions are often residues of the colonial situation. Aime Cesaire has stated that “between colonization and civilization there is an infinite distance; that our of all the colonial statutes that have been drawn up, out of all the memoranda that have been dispatched by the ministries, there could not come a single human value” (34). If colonization has created an infinite distance to the civilizing of humanity, how can we reconcile humanity in the “postcolonial” sense? The humanity of many citizens and non-citizens in the U.S. is still questioned and negated, like immigrants who are viewed and constructed as “illegal aliens.” Citizenship, a universal concept where all citizens of a particular nation state are equal before the law, historically has excluded and marginalized large segments of populations, usually those that are racialized, gendered, or classed. Renato Rosaldo states that “even in its late-eighteenth-century Enlightenment origins, citizenship in the republic differentiated men of privilege from the rest: second-class citizens and noncitizens” (27). He also speaks of the intersections between the public sphere, democracy and citizenship. Rosaldo describes how contemporary thinkers stress the importance of public space, such as parks and public squares where “equal people” can come together in urban spaces and exercise their citizenship by forming “face-to-face civil societies in sites of public gathering” (28). To some thinkers, as Rosaldo points out, public spaces are more pertinent than ever in the increasing corporatization of public space where the “Foucauldian disciplining of populations have replaced what was once relatively unregulated social life in parks and public squres” (28). However, Rosaldo points to the romantic views that are placed onto historical pasts in respect to the public realm that negate the inequalities that pervaded public squares and life. There are, for example, cultural categories that are visibly inscribed on to the bodies of those who are racialized and gendered. As soon as a woman or person of color enters the public realm, s/he, is marked with difference through the gaze of the dominant culture and the practices that the dominant culture engages in that often marginalizes and even oppresses cultural “others.” Men—or more specifically, white men, in this context, are the universal unmarked citizens, who can speak and be heard in public debates without often being questioned or perceived as threats. So, then what happens to those that do not speak the dominant culture’s language? To what extent can they engage in the public realm? Through exclusionary practices in both the public and private realm, “minorities” have struggled to become full citizens and in doing so have often engaged in cultural citizenship. While struggles have ensued with the purpose of gaining citizenship based on its legal conceptions, other forms of rights have also been fought for that do not solely deal with the right to vote. Due to the cultural legacies of colonialism, racism, capitalism, and imperialism, those who are marked with difference and excluded and marginalized in society seek to create spaces and communities where they can create a sense of belonging, and affirm their own identities. William V. Fores and Rina Benmayor in “Constructing Cultural Citizenship,” state that “a key element of cultural citizenship is the process of ‘affirmation,’ as the community itself defines its interests, its binding solidarities, its boundaries, its own space, and its membership” (13). They differentiate assimilation and pluralism from cultural citizenship in that the former concepts do not aspire to shape-shift paradigms and hierarchies of power but rather continuously sustain the status quo while simultaneously incorporating difference into particular aspects of society. Conversely, “cultural citizenship allows for the potential of opposition, of restructuring and reordering society” (15). Like in Paul Gilroy’s analysis of blacks in There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack “where discussion of Englishness, even from the left, excluded nonwhites from consideration” Latinos, similarly, in the United States are often socially constructed as outside of “Americanness.” Peter Brimlow, for example, a financial journalist has made the claim that the United States is in danger of transforming into an “Alien Nation,” because of what he views as the browning of America. “Brimelow fears that Latinos have emerged as ‘a strange anti-nation in the United States’ and embody the ‘American anti-ideal’ by their refusal to ‘Americanize’ and be absorbed as ‘Americans’” (Flores et al. 4). These ideologies that often manifest into laws and policies like Proposition 187 which sought to limit the access of immigrants to medical and social services, are some of the reasons why Latinos engage in cultural citizenship in which they form alternate ways of belonging, new identities, and transform their realities. Renato Rosaldo, shows the way that citizenship is informed by culture, and how claims to citizenship are either reinforced by culture or subverted through his discussion of the unveiling of a statue of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec serpent god in San Jose, California. He describes the controversy that surrounded the event and how protests occurred by those who felt a cultural threat by the public art piece. Conversely, for the Latino community the statue was something to be celebrated and was a “classic act of cultural citizenship, using cultural expression to claim public rights and recognition, and highlighting the interaction between citizenship and culture” (36). The Evangelical Christian community that protested the event possibly interpreted the meaning of the statue of Quetzalcoatl as a cultural expression, a claim to rights in public space and possibly viewed it as subverting the margins, of shape-shifting paradigms of how and in what capacities Latinos can express themselves.
Postcolonialism, Writing, and Ethnography
Renato Rosaldo, also discusses and criticizes a type of “cultural imperialism” that intellectuals often reinscribe through their writings. He states “too often social thought anchors its research in the vantage point of the dominant social group and thus reproduces dominant ideology by studying subordinate groups as a ‘problem’ rather than as people with agency—with goals perceptions, and purposes of their own” (37). Although, it can be argued that colonialism has officially ended, many of the same systems are still embedded in our society and this can also manifest in our writings, especially those concerning members of marginalized groups. All though we live in what some academics of termed a “postcolonial” society, the United States, in the late 1980’s and 1990’s has continued its empire building through neo-imperialistic projects, and academics and intellectuals must also ask how this is also manifested, if at all, in the works and discourses that are created in the “West.” Homi Bhabha, in the Location of Culture makes this point: I am equally convinced that, in the language of international diplomacy, there is a sharp growth in a new Anglo-American nationalism which increasingly articulates its economic and military power in political acts that express a neo-imperialist disregard for the independence and autonomy of peoples and places in the Third World. Think of America’s ‘backyard’ policy towards the Caribbean and Latin America, the patriotic gore and patrician lore of Britain’s Falklands Campaign or, more recently, the triumphalism of the American and British forces during the Gulf War. I am further convinced that such economic and political domination has a profound hegemonic influence on the information order of the Western world, its popular media and its specialized institutions and academics. So much is not in doubt. (30)
He further notes that there must be further discussion on the “‘new’ languages of theoretical critique (semiotic, poststructuralist, deconstructionist and the rest)” and whether they are reflecting present dynamics of geopolitical power (30). Academics and intellectuals must ask whether the theories that they are producing are in fact, representative of the hegemonic power that the West exerts over much of the world. He asks, “Is the language of theory merely another power ploy of the culturally privileged Western elite to produce a discourse of the Other that reinforces its own power-knowledge equation?” (31). Trinh T. Minh-Ha in her essay “Cotton and Iron” she also points to the fact that are realities also affect the way in which we view our world, and naturally incorporate themselves in inevitable biases in the production of “knowledge.” She states, “a narration is never a passive reflection of reality” (13). In the Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas Into History, Emma Perez, attempts to re-imagine or reinterpret the past by focusing on the stories of Chicanas and Latinas that have been left out of the his-stories or master narratives. In doing so, however, she recognizes that the reality she lives in has inevitably imbued her with biases that are often hard to untangle oneself from: “As I attempt to take the his out of the Chicana story, I am also aware that I too am marked with the history I have inherited. There is no pure, authentic original history. There are only stories—many stories” (xv). The question or challenge that academics and cultural workers must ask is then “how can one re-create without re-circulating domination” (Minh-ha 15). James Clifford in “Traveling Cultures,” also discusses some of the pitfalls or perils of anthropology and ethnography. He points to the ways that discourse or narratives about research subjects often leave out the multiple positionalities of researches. For example, he states “generally speaking, what’s elided is the wider global world of intercultural import-export in which the ethnographic encounter is always already enmeshed” (100). The ethnographer arrives through an airplane, through the capital, in order to study a culture, and exports a construction about “others” back to the West. Also, it seems that even the writing process is enmeshed in preexisting power relations because “The native speaks, the anthropologist writes. ‘Writing’ or ‘inscribing’ functions controlled by indigenous collaborators are elided. My own attempt to multiply the hands and discourses involved in ‘writing culture’ is not to assert a naïve democracy of plural authorship, but to loosen at least somewhat the monological control of the executive writer/anthropologist and to open for discussion ethnography’s hierarchy and negotation of discourses in power-changed, unequal situations” (Clifford, 100). Furthermore, it is also important that academics and artists steer away from totalizing, closing-off, or essentializing a discourse or work as the truth, or as the only version or way of seeing. This is especially pertinent for anthropologists or ethnographers who study “subjects” and aim to create “knowledge” and meaning about a particular group of people or practice. Minh-ha states that “every work materialized can be said to be a work-in-progress. The notion of a finished work, versus that of an uncompleted work requiring finishing, loses its pertinence (16).
It is therefore important to not only deconstruct master narratives that construct cultural “others” or simply leave out the herstories or histories of difference but to create discourses that allow spaces for dialogues between academics and marginalized peoples that allow for their voices to be heard and their viewpoint to be expressed. One study that allowed for a marginalized group’s viewpoint to be shared was one that was conducted by Gregg Kettles on street vendors. Despite their dual liminality—often being undocumented and engaging in work that is illegal—street vendors have none-theless unabatedly pursued and claimed their right to space in the city and their right to work. When thinking about immigrants and liminality or what Homi Bhabha would describe as “ambiguity,” W.E.B. DuBois comes to mind when he says “it is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness--an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder” (168). Being an immigrant in the United States also invokes the reality of double-consciousness and ambiguity, being physically present, yet not counted or living within national borders and contributing to the culture of that society as well as to the economy yet being excluded as a citizen. Jose David Saldivar in Border Matters quotes in “On the Edge of La Frontera” Victor Turner who states that “ ‘liminality should be looked upon not only as a transiton between states but as a state in itself, for there exist individuals, groups, or social categories for which the ‘liminal’ moment turns into a permanent conditon’” (98). This is especially the case for street vendors who’s borders they have to cross do not end at the physical U.S. Mexico border but also pervade their everyday lives as they try to evade the police, the city laws, and defend their right to work on the streets.
Neocolonialism manifested in free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have reinscribed similar conditions of colonialism which create dependence among “developing” nations such as Mexico to “developed” nations such as the Untied States. Globalization and NAFTA, have greatly altered the socio-economic dynamic of Mexico, further exacerbating the need to migrate across the border. Furthermore, cultural imperialism also is a part of the “post-colonial” world we live in: Economic globalization also creates cultural links between developed and developing nations. Sometimes cultural links are long-standing, reflecting prior colonial relationships. Yet even in the absence of a colonial history, the cultural consequences of economic penetration can be profound. Although Mexico was colonized by Spain, Mexicans increasingly study at U.S. universities, speak English, and follow U.S. consumer styles, reflecting America’s global economic hegemony. These cultural links naturally dispose them to migrate to the Untied States rather than other places, including Spain. (Massey et al. 14) These events have increased the amount of undocumented migration and with increased employer sanctions and restrictive laws on employment the amount of street vendors and the informal economy has only increased in cities like Los Angeles. This increase in street vending has also accompanied heavy enforcement and regulation. Gregg Kettles, a lawyer at the Mississippi School of Law, stated that “New York City’s Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ‘declared war’ on street vendors, restricting them and removing them from certain locations” (8). He also pointed out that in the United States, Los Angeles has more street vendors than any other city. Presently, in Los Angeles, “street vending is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a one thousand dollar fine” (9). In the year 1990 alone there were “2,700 arrests, nearly double of the year before” (10). Due to the many arrests taking place in the city, street vendors, organized themselves into the Association of Street Vendors in the late 1980’s in an effort to gain the right to work and to make a living in one of the only ways they knew how or were capable of due to their liminal status. Due to their organizing efforts and the agency they exerted, street vendors were able to pressure the city to create a street vending ordinance to create up to eight vending districts in 1994. To date, however, in Los Angeles only one legal vending district has been created (which is currently non-working) in MacArthur park, and it is not a surprise that it was created in a park and far away from store-front merchants who have more political power than vendors do in the legislative process to create vending districts in Los Angeles. On the fact that store-front merchants have vetoing power in the process of creating vending districts, Gregg Kettles, states that, “the vending legislation is less about resolving traditional concerns of public policy than it is about placating interest groups whose sense of cultural worth is threatened” (43). Moreover, the fact that many street vendors are immigrants and many are undocumented create a situation where the vendors’ forced discontinuation of street vending will result in the need to find other work which will increase their chances of facing exploitation because more than likely they would work for someone else. Kettles states that, “labor regulations are supposed to prevent worker exploitation. But they are not always followed. Evasion of labor regulations in industries such as construction, apparel, restaurants, and hotels is widespread, making them just another part of the informal economy” (24). Kettles, who conducted an ethnography on street vendors by conducting interviews states that vendors are well aware of the exploitation they face in the “formal” economy where they are often exploited or face unsafe working conditions, partly due to their undocumented status, the fact that they live in what employers view as living in the shadows of the United States. Kettles pointed to one street vendor who stated that they prefer being their own boss and that they were not “friendly to being exploited” (24). He also found that “a number of vendors reported leaving jobs in hotels or garment factories to vend” (24). Many Latino immigrants in the United States who labor tirelessly in some of the most difficult jobs are what Anne McClintock refer to as an “internal colony” She states that “internal Colonization occurs where the dominant part of a country treats a group or region as it might a foreign colony" (88) While possibly trying to evade exploitation in the formal economy or simply as a means to make a living in ways that are familiar to them in their respective countries of emigration, many immigrants engage in street vending as forms of cultural citizenship, a way of belonging and of building community, a form in which they assert right in the public realm and challenge laws in order to defend their right to work. Street vendors are agents, and not the sole receptors of marginalizing laws, they create unique and vibrant urban cultural spaces and a street culture in the city proving that public space is not solely created by architects and the built environment but also by the people that inhabit and make a city.
Like street vendors in Los Angeles who assert cultural citizenship and agency in urban city landscapes in order to create spaces of belonging and assert rights, language also plays a vital role in asserting cultural citizenship. Renato Rosaldo highlights the way that language plays in internal colonization, some of the residues of colonialism. Chicanos have faced over 500 years of colonialism, first through the Spanish conquest of Mexico and then through the United States that took half of Mexico’s land in 1848. He describes Richard Rodriguez’s memoir, Hunger of Memory, where he claims that Spanish is a domestic language, one that should not be expressed in school, politics, or other public spheres. Rosaldo states that “in other words, he claims that racialized ethnic culture can thrive only within the domestic rather than the public sphere” (32). This memoir points to the ways that colonialism’s systems of power and domination, have legacies that still permeate much of our society and in ideologies of white supremacy that often speak through racialized and marginalized peoples. Richard Rodriguez views English as the only language of citizenship, and the only language that should govern our daily practices and activities, in the public sphere.
In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Gloria Anzaldua delves into the third space, or in-between space, the Borderlands, where different cultures, genders, and languages come together and create new spaces for survival, affirmation, and resistance. In respect to language she writes that “for a people who are neither Spanish nor live in a country in which Spanish the first language; for a people who live in a country in which English is the reigning tongue but who are not Anglo; for a people who cannot entirely identify with either standard (formal, Castillian) Spanish nor standard English, what recourse is left to them but to create their own language” (77)? Anzaldua is talking about the need to stand and claim her own space, where she does not have to translate, where all the differences can come together cohesively, where she can make her own culture, her own mestizaje. She also states that “ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity—I am my language” (81). She knows that if she is not free to write bilingualy, to speak Spanish and English or Chicano Spanish, she will be “illegitimate” (81). Trinh Minh-ha also states that “the responsibility involved in this motley in-between living is a highly creative one” (21). Anzaldua creates a new path for future scholars in her book, by forging all the languages that encompass her reality, even Nahuatl, an indigenous language that has been suppressed and almost lost. Franz Fonon in Black Skin, White Masks also undertakes the question of the relationship between language and power. He states, "All colonized people--in other words, people in whom an inferiority complex has taken root, whose local cultural originality has been committed to the grave-position themselves in relation to the civilizing language:i.e., the metropolitan culture" (2).This reasoning of situating oneself in relation to power or the colonial power (imperial power) is a possible explination for the above analysis of Richard Rodriguez and his memoir Hunger of Memory. One can see that although Richard Rodriguez is not colonized, although some would argue that Latinos and other ethnic groups encompass an internal colonly, Richard Rodriguez none-theless internalizes his oppression be believing that he should only speak English. This is why Anzaldua creates her own language and with her own tools. Minh-ha states that “displacement involves the invention of new forms of subjectivities, of pleasures, of intensities, of relationships, which also implies the continuous renewal of critical work that looks carefully and intensively at the very system of values to which one refers in fabricating the tools of resistance” (19). Through language, Anzaldua fabricates her own tools of resistance, ones where she does not have to “position herself in relation to the civilizing language” but can create her own way of speaking (Fanon 2). Anzaldua, like Fanon who states that “what we are striving for is to liberate the black man from the arsenal of complexes that germinated in the colonial situation” aims to construct, out of her own tools, a third space where she can deconstruct the conflicting tensions and complexes that have been created by over 500 years of colonization for Chicano peoples (14).
For Trinh Minh-ha and Gloria Anzaldua, language is also particularly salient for women. Anzaldua states that language is often masculinized and that language does not often provide space for women. She says, “The first time I heard two women, a Puerto Rican and a Cuban, say the word “nosotras,” I was shocked (76). Anzaldua was thrown off guard because she realized at that point that women are made invisible by the masculine plural, by the practice of writing language. Trinh Minh-ha in a similar vein states that “writing also means going beyond the internal sensor—the censorship writers impose on themselves in order not to unmask and which privileges the use of technical asexual language (130). Furthermore, she also states that “S/he must necessarily depart from the fusioned neutral ‘he’ and, without discarding anything, take on openly the existence of ‘she’” (130). In the act of a woman bringing oneself into the text, the narrative, the language, Anzaldua and Minh-ha believe that a woman will free herself from “speech enslaved to mastery” (131).
The intersections of Postcolonialism, language, culture, ethnicity, and the creation of third or alternate spaces are especially prevalent in music and other forms of artistic creation like film. In reference to Jamaica Jeff Chang alludes to Urban Development Park where a concert was about to take place, Chang in Can’t Stop, Wont Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation states that “if political parties controlled jobs and turf, wealth and despair, they rarely exerted much control here. This was the people’s space, an autonomous zone presided over by music men and women, a shelter of collective memory” (22). Bob Marley and reggae, hip-hop’s predecessor, first came to the national scene after the island nation gained independence from Great Britain in 1962. Jeff Chang notes that “post-colonial” reality in Jamaica encompassed a national crisis that involved global restructuring and imperialist posturing, an increase in street gangs and fires that were fueled by the conservative government of the Jamaican Labour Party. Frustrated, many Jamaicans who were tired of politics, “channeled their energies into culture, and let it flow around the world” (23). In 1972 Marley and the Wailers released their first album Catch a Fire, who’s lead track was “Concrete Jungle.” Chang states that Catch a Fire was a landmark moment in the globalization of Third World Culture” in which Marley was on his way to becoming “a worldwide icon of freedom struggle and Black liberation” (28). In the first single, “Concrete Jungle,” Marley described the bleakness of a postcolonial Jamaica: “ ‘No chains around my feet, but I’m not free’” (28). Michael Manley, came to power in 1972, through the People’s National Party, partly because he associated himself with reggae and started appearing in political rallies with a staff that he said had been given to him by Haile Selasssie who was god made flesh by followers of Rastafari. “The rod, he said, would lead him to redressing injustice. Befitting his new image, he spoke of reggae as ‘the people’s language” (31). When in power, Manley began to align himself with leftist governments throughout Latin America, and consequently faced increased CIA surveillance, and aid from the U.S. dropped from $23 million in 1971 to only $4 million in 1975. Furthermore, American banks refused to renew aid loans and Jamaica’s debt “doubled between 1975 and 1980 to $2 billion U.S., the equivalent of 90 percent of the country’s gross domestic product” (32). These conditions continued to ravage an already violent country, so one can see that the “postcolonial” reality in Jamaica was very difficult one with systems of power kept in tact yet one where music and culture also created spaces of resistance and a way to unify gangs that opposing governments armed to fight each other to win elections. Similarly, films like The Harder They Come, also provided portraits of a post-colonial Jamaica where a singer named Jimmy Cliff, played by Ivan O. Martin, summoned Jamaica’s Maroon pride and “updated his story for a nation defining its postcolonial identity in and through its homegrown popular music” (27). The soundtrack to this film, positioned reggae music as a “quintessential rebel music, steeped in a different kind of urban Black authenticity” (27). It is important to include these histories and herstories of cultural workers who created spaces, their own language, and transformed consciousness, culture, and had positive and transformative impacts on those inhabiting a “postcolonial” society. Conclusions
Franz Fanon is Black Skin, White Masks, asks the question, “Is there in fact any difference between one racism and another? Don’t we encounter the same downfall, the same failure of man” (67)? He also states that it is “utopian to try to differentiate one kind of inhuman behavior from another” (67) and that “colonial racism is no different from other racisms” (69). We must then ask, if colonial racism not any different that other forms of racism, then the and inequalities that peoples face today even in what some academics term a “postcolonial” reality then we must recognize that it is just as salient and dehumanizing as it was through colonial undertakings. Fanon says that “Anti-Semitism cuts me to the quick; I get upset; a frightful rage makes me anemic; they are denying me the right to be a man. I cannot dissociate myself from the fate reserved for my brother” (69). For Fanon, an injustice anywhere is also an injustice committed against his own humanity, and this is also true for Aime Cesarie, who says: When I switch on my radio and hear that black men are being lynched in America, I say that they have lied to us: Hitler isn’t dead. When I switch on my radio and hear that Jews are being insulted, persecuted, and massacred, I say that they have lied to us: Hitler isn’t dead. And finally when I switch on my radio and hear that in Africa forced labor has been introduced and legalized, I say that truly they have lied to us: Hitler isn’t dead. (70)
For Cesaire and Fanon, an injustice in the local or an injustice elsewhere is the same, it is barbarism, and it is injustice and anyone who sits idly by because it does not affect them directly is not “neutral” but aids in the perpetration of that injustice by not acting out and challenging that injustice. Fanon quotes Francis Jeanson, to show that all people residing within a nation are responsible for the actions that that nation carries out. Jeanson says, “and if, apparently, you manage not to soil your hands, it’s because others are doing the dirty work in your place. You have your henchmen, and all things considered, you are the real guilty party; for without you, without your blind indifference, such men could not undertake acts that condemn you as much as they dishonor them” (Fanon 72).
Anne McClintock warns, in her essay “Pitfalls of the Term Post-Colonialism,” that the world's multitudinous cultures are marked, not positively by what distinguishes them, but by a subordinate, retrospective relation to linear, European time" and that if the theory promises a decentering of history in hybridity, syncreticism, multi-dimensional time, and so forth, the sin- gularity of the term effects a re-centering of global history around the single rubric of European time. Colonialism returns at the moment of its disappearance" (86). While we must not solely identify people, nations, or ethnicities solely in their relationship to colonialism and European linear time, or purport that all postcolonial nations face the same conditions presently, we must also not deny the reality of colonialism and the cultural, economic, political, and social injustices that are the legacies of colonialism. Moreover, it is also important to recognize that new forms of racism and colonialism are taking form, and as Fanon and Cesaire warn, action must also be taken because the struggle against dehumanization continues unabated despite the term “postcolonial.” McClintock points out that, “while Latin America hand-picked bananas for the United States, the United States hand-picked dictators for Latin America. In Chile, Allende's elected, socialist government was overthrown by a US- sponsored military coup. In Africa, more covert operations such as the CIA assassination of Patrice Lumumba in Zaire, had consequences as far-reaching" (89). Furthermore she points out that, "the recent fits of thuggery by the US in Libya, Grenada and Panama, and most calamitously in Iraq, have every characteristic of a renewed military imperialism, and a renewed determination to revamp military hegemony in a world in which it is rapidly losing economic hegemony" (90). Recently, we had the passage of an explicitly racist law passed in Arizona: SB 1070 which legalized racial police racial profiling for those who appear to be “illegal.” Racism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, and war continue and it is often perpetrated by the United States. These are some of the reasons why the term post-colonial is limiting and often inadequate to theorize about the dynamics of power relations that continue to be exerted by the US and dominant culture nationally and internationally.
Robert Jensen in The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege, states that “the world does not need white people to civilize others. The real White People’s Burden is to civilize ourselves”( 96). While, it is true that white people “saving” others or “civilizing them” is reinscribes colonial paradigms, people can come together in solidarity to self-determine their own futures, their own hopes, and dismantle systems of oppression and inequality. As Fanon and Cesaire point out, a person should not sit idly by as their country commits injustice within their national borders or abroad because in the practices carried out by their nation against humanity, they too will be dehumanized. As Audre Lorde once eloquently stated, “unless one lives and loves in the trenches it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless” (Minh-ha 18).
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