Colonial discourse

Amazing quote!

“Colonial discourse is greatly implicated in ideas of the centrality of Europe, and thus in assumptions that have become characteristic of modernity: assumptions about history, language, literature and ‘technology’. Colonial discourse is thus a system of statements that can be made about colonies and colonial peoples, about colonizing powers and about the relationship between these two. It is the system of knowledge and beliefs about the world within which acts of colonization take place. Although it is generated within the society and cultures of the colonizers, it becomes that discourse within which the colonized may also come to see themselves. At the very least, it creates a deep conflict in the consciousness of the colonized because of its clash with other knowledges (and kinds of knowledge) about the world. Rules of inclusion and exclusion operate on the assumption of the superiority of the colonizer’s culture, history, language, art, political structures, social conventions, and the assertion of the need for the colonized to be ‘raised up’ through colonial contact. In particular, colonial discourse hinges on notions of race that begin to emerge at the very advent of European imperialism. Through such distinctions it comes to represent the colonized, whatever the nature of their social structures and cultural histories, as ‘primitive’ and the colonizers as ‘civilized’.

Colonial discourse tends to exclude, of course, statements about the exploitation of the resources of the colonized, the political status accruing to colonizing powers, the importance to domestic politics of the development of an empire, all of which may be compelling reasons for maintaining colonial ties. Rather it conceals these benefits in statements about the inferiority of the colonized, the primitive nature of other races, the barbaric depravity of colonized societies, and therefore the duty of the imperial power to reproduce itself in the colonial society, and to advance the civilization of the colony through trade,administration,cultural and moral improvement.

Via Lost in Space.


2 thoughts on “Colonial discourse

  1. This sounds like it could apply to Arab society before Islam and then when Islam came and labeled the pre-Islamic Arabs as ignorant. It’s amazing how what we do today or in recent history is so much like what people did centuries ago. Yet we think we’ve evolved somehow? I am skeptical!

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