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Shvoong Home>Books>. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures Review

. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures

Book Review   by:marina     Original Authors: Bill Aschcroft; Gareth Griffiths; Helen Tiffin
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An essential book of postcolonial thought and literature, The Empire Writes Back illustrates the postcolonial discourse by writers and intellectuals of former colonized nations and their own concept of their culture and identity. Thus the voice of the subaltern describing their own community begins to be heard in the postcolonial world. Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin define the term ‘post-colonial’ to describe all cultures affected by the process of colonialism and imperial power from the beginning of colonization to the present. They argue that the countries formerly occupied by colonial powers continue to be affected by their former occupation, and thus the colonized continue to have consequences of their colonialization. By looking at postcolonial literature in English studies, the authors wish to demonstrate how literature has always been a deeply political and cultural phenomenon. Thus, fiction develops from its society and remarks upon that society. In fact, English literature was used by the British colonial power to help control and subjugate the colonized through using Western literature as an example of the model culture with which the ‘natives’ should try to emulate.
British colonial administrators used English literature to control the subjugated populace in the form of education. Thus ‘native’ culture was to model itself upon the image of the Imperial power. Post-colonial societies struggled to separate themselves from their former occupiers by developing cultural and literary traditions separate from the English culture. The used the English departments at universities as a place to resist and deny, by shutting down English departments in Kenya, the country attempted to create their own culture outside of the former British institutions of culture. The Empire Strikes Back is an important work of the development of literature in postcolonial cultures and a study of the power structures involved in cultural institutions and literature.
Published: August 30, 2005   
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