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Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631200710
ISBN-10: 0631200711
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Editorial Reviews


"The foremost postcolonial theorist in Britain" Times Higher Education Supplement

"In pursuing the historical past of postcolonial discourse, Robert Young makes a truly insightful and inventive contribution to the development of the field. His intricate and exhaustive study finds its inspiration in the exhilarating events and ideals of anti-colonialist struggle. Inspired by the imaginative spirit of emancipation, Young argues that the great anti-colonial movements were also transformative and hybrid moments that reshaped both power and knowledge. The fine achievement of this provocative account lies in reviving and revising the remarkable dawning of the Third World as we emerge into the global conceits of the third millennium." Homi K. Bhabha, Harvard University

"Robert Young points postcolonial studies in new directions, paradoxically by offering a timely reminder of the field's historical beginnings in anticolonial struggles. This book combines scholarship and polemic admirably in its project of situating and redirecting postcolonial studies today. It is a major work, marking a turning-point in thinking and research in the field." Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Nehru Memorial Library, New Delhi

"Steadfastly avoiding the glib formulas and fashionable notions with which Eng Lit is now awash, Young gives us instead a meticulously researched, soberly detailed set of histories - of classical European colonialism, international socialism, and a range of nationalist movements from China and Egypt to Cuba and Algeria. The result is a timely portrait of the various unsavoury ways in which the West has sought cynically to derail emancipation of others while prating piously of its own liberties." Terry Eagleton, Times Literary Supplement

"Young (Oxford) offers a panoramic view of the political and intellectual origins of postcolonial thought. Young helpfully synthesizes a great deal of material. In addition to the canonical topics, he covers some that are neglected by most scholars. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates through faculty." Choice

"Young does a brilliant job in laying the foundations for the further understanding of this urgent dilemma." Times Higher Education Supplement

Book Description

This key introduction explains in clear & accessible language the historical & theoretical origins of postcolonial theory. The book analyzes the concepts & issues involved, explains the meaning of key terms, & interprets the work of some of the major writers concerned.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 510 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (July 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631200711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631200710
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.5 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Robert Young's Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction is indisputably the best reader on the subject. Young's book eschews the usual narrative history of anticolonial resistance and postcolonial theory in favour of a genealogical one, focusing on social, political and cultural origins of resistance and the academic discipline of postcolonialism.He is also careful not to discourage students from 'theory', and effectively combines the thematic survey mode (seen in Ania Loomba's Colonialism/Postcolonialism and Leela Gandhi's Postcolonial Theory: An Introduction, among others). Beginning with a brilliant exposition of the terms colonialism, imperialism and neo-imperialism, Young moves on to discuss Latin American, Asian and African colonisations by France, England and other European powers from the 18th century. Young historicises the rise of anticolonial thought by looking closely at the moments in which these emerged. Further, Young is careful to locate the economic, administrative and social variations in the 'native' cultural formations. Young thus skirts the danger of homogenising colonialism when he is able to distinguish between, say, French and British 'empires'. Young's genealogy also takes into account figures and moments persistently ignored by postcolonial thinkers and critics: Fanon, Nkrumah, Cesaire among others. He thus locates the 'holy trinity' of postcolonial studies (SPivak, Bhabha, Said) in terms of this 'tradition'. Written in lucid prose, with a keen sense of historical 'engagements' (by which i mean cross-fertilisation and 'borrowing' of ideas during the various nationalist movements across the world) in the anticolonial struggles, Young's work is easily a text book for students and researches.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
There are other books on postcolonialism, but this one stands head and shoulders above them. Unlike other postcolonial writers, Young does not treat postcolonialism as one long ideological debate. All the ones I've read tend to focus on the ideas of Fanon, Said, Spivak, Bhabha while ignoring the social movements and individuals whose struggles against colonialism make the discussion possible. Actually, Fanon is the exception here, but that only proves the rule. Young traces the rise of anticolonial movements and ideologies and their development into postcolonialism. As Young shows, the anticolonialists of the early 20th century didn't simply provide a starting point for later thinkers, but took positions which are still influential today.
Young is the only author I've seen who even broaches the role of the Comintern. He does and excellent job portraying the Comintern's attempt to develop a coherent policy towards anticolonial struggles without glossing over its contradictions. Young also expands his scope to include those not ususally discussed in studies of postcolonialism: Mariartegui, Cabral,Cesaire, even James Connolly. My only disagreement is with his assessment of Gandhi. Young puts forth a creative interpretation of Gandhi's tactics and their effects, particularly in destabilizing meanings. I, however, disagree with the idea that such tactics led to the liberation of India, but that's a whole other discussion.
Overall, this is an excellent introduction to the topic which covers far more ground than any other book in the field.
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By A Customer on January 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is completely different in scope from any other introduction to postcolonialism. There is no other book that compares with it. What is innovative about `Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction' is the way in which Young for the first time traces, in great detail, the historical origins of post-colonialism to the anti-colonial movements. He shows how the earliest of these began in Europe itself during the times of the great imperial expansions, but were then superseded by indigenous movements which were particularly inspired by the appearance of the first state dedicated to the overthrow of western imperialism, Bolshevik Russia.
Young demonstrates, however, that what was characteristic of these anticolonial movements was the way in which they integrated Marxist critiques of colonialism with their own specific local cultures and social conditions (particularly, in the case of many colonies, the impoverished lives of the landless peasantry). In three brilliant chapters, Young shows how the situation in India was markedly different from that of most other colonies, particularly as a result of the influence of India's foremost anticolonial activist, Gandhi. This different history, he suggests, partly accounts for why much of contemporary postcolonial theorising has emerged from India. In a fascinating chapter on the role of women in the anti-colonial movements, Young argues that in many ways postcolonial theory has elaborated revolutionary ideas first developed by subaltern women activists during the colonial period.
Overall, this made me rethink my whole attitude to postcolonialism, showing me how it is fundamentally the product of over a century of `third world' political activism that has been engaged in rethinking as well as contesting the ideologies of western dominance.
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