V4 - Literature lesson 7: Postcolonialism

Literature lesson 7: 
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This lesson contains 18 slides, with interactive quiz, text slides and 1 video.

time-iconLesson duration is: 30 min

Items in this lesson

Literature lesson 7: 

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The sun never sets on the British Empire

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The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom.

At its height it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913 the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1925 it covered 35,000,000 km2 (13,500,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. 
As a result, its constitutional, legal, linguistic, and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, it was described as "the empire on which the sun never sets" as the Sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Slide 3 - Slide

What do you think postcolonial
literature is about?

Slide 4 - Mind map

What is postcolonial

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Postcolonial literature
Postcolonial literature is the literature of countries that were colonized, mainly by European countries. Postcolonial literature often addresses the problems and consequences of the decolonization of a country, especially questions relating to the political and cultural independence of formerly subjugated people. In postcolonial theory, voice is given to marginal identities or characters who are on the periphery in the early narration or in history, but through the retelling of history from post colonial perspective, these identities come in the centre.

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Key terms of postcolonialism
  • De-colonialism 
  • Commonwealth Literature 
  • Racism 
  • Orientalism 
  • Migrant Literature
You are expected to know/understand these!

Slide 7 - Slide

  • Decolonization is the process of revealing and dismantling colonist power in all its forms, this includes dismantling the hidden aspects of those institution and cultural forces that had maintained the colonialist power and that remained even after political independence.
  • It is not only “removal of the domination of non- indigenous forces” but also it refers to “decolonizes of mind" from colonizer's ideas. 

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The Commonwealth members

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The Commonwealth
" a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries. It is home to 2.4 billion people, and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. Our members work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace, amplify the voice of small states, and protect the environment."

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Postcolonial feminism
  •  “If you have acquired real knowledge, than give too no place in your heart to ‘memsahib’ like behaviour. That is not becoming in a Bengali house-wife, how an educated woman can do house-work thoughtfully and systematically in a way unknown to an ignorant, uneducated woman . And if God had not appointed us to this place in the home, how a place this world would be."  (Chatterji, 1989) 
  • Colonialism operates differently for men and women. 
  • It is also known as Double Colonialism. 

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  • Racism is prejudice, discrimination, antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.
  • Examples- ‘The Bluest eyes’ by Toni Morrison and ‘Things Fall Apart’ (African Trilogy) by Chinua Achebe

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  • “Orientalism” is a way of seeing that imagines, emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts differences of Arab people and cultures as compared to that of Europe and U.S. It often involves seeing Arab culture as exotic, backward, uncivilized, and at times, dangerous.
  • The Palestinian American scholar Edward W. Said introduced the term in his book 'Orientalism' (1978), in which the author establishes "Orientalism" as a critical concept to describe the West's common, contemptuous depiction and portrayal of "The East".

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Migrant Literature
  • Migrant literature is either written by migrants or tells the stories of migrants and their migration. People who have left their homes and cultural settings and started a new life in another setting that is, in most cases, initially strange to them.

  • Focus: on the social contexts in the migrants' country of origin which prompt them to leave, on the experience of migration itself, on the mixed reception which they may receive in the country of arrival, on experiences of racism and hostility, and on the sense of rootlessness and the search for identity which can result from displacement and cultural diversity.

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Assignment in class
Read The Sacrificial Egg and mark all the elements/words/phrases that indicate (post)colonialism.

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Assignment: The Sacrificial Egg
In your reader you can find the short story The Sacrificial Egg (1962). On the next slide you'll find the Tedtalk of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 'the danger of the a single story'. For this week's assignment, read the story, watch the Tedtalk and answer the following questions:

  1. What is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's main message in her Tedtalk?
  2. According to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Chinua Achebe inspired her to tell a different story. How could 'The Sacrificial Egg' have inspired her?
  3.  What are typical Western aspects in  Chinua Achebe's short story 'The Sacrificial Egg' and what are typical African aspects? Do they sit peacefully side to side? Sustain your aswer with scenes from the story. 

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Slide 17 - Video

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter.
I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the
secret that after climbing a hill, one only finds that there are many
more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a
view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the
distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with
freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long
walk is not yet ended.

– Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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