In the rest of the world, the “postcolonial turn” in the social sciences and humanities took place nearly a quarter century ago. Since then, the method or style of critique associated with that movement has influenced myriad political, epistemological, institutional, and disciplinary debates in the United States, the United Kingdom, and regions across the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Australia, New Zealand, the Indian subcontinent, and South Africa). From its inception, postcolonial studies has been interpreted in extremely diverse ways; over time, it has spawned robust waves of polemic and controversy, not to mention the many objections, each contradicting the previous, that continue today. It has also given rise to an abundance of profoundly rich and tremendously divergent intellectual, political, and aesthetic practices — so much so that one might earnestly ask where the unity of “postcolonial studies” lies. But despite this logic of segmentation, one can assert that, at its core, the object of postcolonial critique is best described in terms of the interlacing of histories and the concatenation of distinct worlds. Given that slavery and especially colonization (but also migrations, the ordering of sex and sexuality, and the circulation of forms, imaginaries, goods, ideas, and people) played such decisive roles in this process of human collision and entanglement, it is logical that postcolonial studies has made them the privileged objects of its inquiry.
Achille Mbembe; Provincializing France?. Public Culture 1 January 2011; 23 (1): 85–119. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2010-017
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