What are the contributions of Edward Said, Frantz Fanon and Homi K. Bhabha in Postcolonialism? Can you substantiate it for me please?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Fanon was inspiring to anti-colonialists and he marked the role of intellectuals and academics in promoting post-colonial countries, especially noting the difficulty countries would face after becoming independent. Fanon was born on the island of Martinique, then a French colony. So, he grew up aware of the effects of colonialism and racism. Fanon, as an adult, articulates the effects of these institutions of oppression on the black consciousness. He is influenced by and influences the "negritude" movement which called for a black identity (as opposed to assimilating with the colonizing white culture). Fanon eventually moved to Algeria and played a role in their fight for independence from French rule. But it was Fanon's publication of The Wretched of the Earth (with an introduction by Jean Paul Sartre) that established him as one of the most influential post-colonial thinkers of the 20th century. Fanon is also known to have included Marxist strategies in his thinking about a post-colonial nation. Such a nation would have to address economics and class distinctions in addition to issues of race.

Edward Said's work Orientalism is one of the major works of post-colonial theory. In this work, Said shows a binary opposition between the West (Occident) and the East (Orient). He takes post-colonialism to a linguistic dimension, showing how depictions of Eastern people in Western literature have helped create and sustain biases and racist thinking. Said was born in Jerusalem which, at the time, was controlled by Great Britain. In 1948, the British rule was over and the state of Israel was established. Thus, from the perspectives of Palestinians, one Western occupier was replaced by another. Said, therefore, would remain a proponent of Palestinian rights. In Orientalism, Said closely reads Western literature (including historical and anthropological) and work on the Orient, exposing the biases of the West. In other words, Said shows how the West's thinking about the East reveals more about the West. Thus, the West has established a biased "discourse" on the East. Some of Said's techniques of analysis are influenced by the French thinker Michel Foucault. Said stressed the importance of theoretical work having a real political connection to real life. Said established the importance of analyzing language in addition to general culture when making a post-colonial critique. Said's work added to the critique of "othering." This is generally a criticism of how the colonizer or oppressor treats the colonized people as "other," somehow less human than the colonizer.

Bhabha uses literary theory, namely Jacques Derrida's method of deconstruction, to critique the very notions of West/East and White/Other. Bhabha suggests that a simplistic Us/Them dichotomy is just that: too simplistic. He adds that nationality and personal identity are products of hybridity, always shifting and changing. Also influenced by Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, Bhabha shows how notions of colonizer and colonized are produced by a dialogue between and amidst the two groups. Bhabha is therefore known for showing the usefulness of literary theory in post-colonial studies and applications. Bhabha has his critics; these are post-colonialists more politically engaged with material conditions of post-colonialism. But just as there is a need for thinkers like Fanon who are fully immersed in political struggle against oppression, there is need for someone like Bhabha who deconstructs the very systems of thought which establish systems of oppression.

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