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Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process?

About the Author

Ato Quayson

Ato Quayson is a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, and in 2019 was elected Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He is Professor of English at Stanford. 
 
He studied for his undergraduate degree at the University of Ghana and took his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge after which he held a Junior Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford before returning to Cambridge to become Reader in Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literature in the Faculty of English from 1995-2005. He...
Cambridge: Polity
2000

This important book is a critical introduction to the rapidly expanding field of postcolonial studies. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the author draws on literary criticism, philosophy, anthropology, history and politics to develop a distinctive account of postcolonialism. 

Quayson discusses key debates in the field, including the implications of various forms of interdisciplinarity for postcolonial studies, the relationship between indigenous knowledge and contemporary historiography, the links between postmodernism and postcolonialism and the insights of feminism for postcolonial theory. He explores the relevance of these debates for cultural, literary and political criticism. Throughout the text, he stresses the importance of seeing postcolonialism as a process of analysis which does not simply refer to another stage after colonialism, but to a continuing struggle against colonialism and its effects. He encourages the reader to think through the issues that are raised by postcolonial theory and to relate these to political practice today. This practical application of postcolonial theory allows the author to develop dynamic new perspectives on aspects of contemporary culture, history and literature. He discusses the work of Rushdie, Morrison, Achebe, Soyinka and Okri, amongst others; many of his examples are drawn from African cultures, an area which has been hitherto neglected by postcolonial theory. Quayson also develops postcolonial approaches to the literary canon, showing how this perspective can shed new light on some of the classical works of English literature, such as those of Shakespeare.

This book will be essential reading for students of literature, history, anthropology and cultural studies, as well as all those concerned with debates about postcolonial theory and its political functions.