The fifteenth episode of Professor Ato Quayson’s vlog Critic.Reading.Writing is up!
In this episode, Quayson interrogates what we think we know about postcolonialism. A quick peek into the comments section reveals that readers and professors alike have been itching for a fresh take on widely used concept, some replying that Quayson’s vlog would now become part of their graduate curriculum.
Quayson begins his inquiry with an incredibly simple but often overlooked detail: the presence or absence of a hyphen in the term. He defines post-colonialism as referring to the literal historical period after colonialism and postcolonialism as signifying the theoretical conceptualization of this period in different fields of study and different parts of the world.
To clarify the meaning of the “post” in postcolonialism, Quayson introduces the idea of “colonial space-making.” The professor explains:
If postcolonialism without the hyphen is necessarily tied to the colonial past due to the simultaneous temporal and discursive framings of the field, then it is the entire domain of what we might describe as colonial space-making and its after effects in the contemporary world that gives the term postcolonialism its continuing urgency and significance today…Colonial space-making is ultimately about the distribution of social and political goods along axes of power and hierarchical relations, and it’s the result of a series of interconnected and highly complex procedures and instruments. It is undergirded by by assumptions, metaphors, and bureaucratic practices, all of which interact within a given social environment to produce hegemonic relations of power.
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