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How should postcolonialism be approached in terms of Historiography?

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mc89 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 18, 2010 at 6:33 PM via web

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How should postcolonialism be approached in terms of Historiography?

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ecofan74 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted July 14, 2010 at 1:05 AM (Answer #1)

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Postcolonialism, while it comprises approaches in philosophy, literature, and sociology, takes on an even greater importance in history and the writing of history.  As a theoretical outlook defined by certain historical realities, specifically the marginalization of colonial populations by colonization by European nations in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, the place of postcolonialism in historiography is to enrich the historical narrative.

In the last three centuries, the historical narrative has taken the perspective dominated by Western ideology, and in particular the Western practice of colonization.  In the process of colonization, the indigenous people are not only often displaced from their land but also from their heritage.  Quite literally, history has been written by the "winners."  Rather than dismiss this outlook as a relic of the historical past, it must be counterbalanced with other, newer narratives that adopt the perspectives of those who have been colonized.  This being said, it raises the question of bias.  The dominant historical narrative is certainly subject to bias, but the same can be said for a purely postcolonialist outlook.

Postcolonialism, therefore, represents an alternative to the dominant narrative, but rather than see it merely as an alternative, postcolonialism and postcolonialist historiography should be approached as the other half of the coin.  In doing so, the history of the colonized world will approach a greater sense of balance.

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