What do you understand by a "decolonization of mind?"

"Decolonization of mind" refers to the process of refusing to internalize the values and beliefs of the colonizer.

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Colonization is a physical act of people from one region invading and settling another region. The original inhabitants of the newly colonized land are the victims of colonization. This can take the form of oppressive laws and social structures in which the colonizing culture is privileged.

In addition, colonizers also...

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Colonization is a physical act of people from one region invading and settling another region. The original inhabitants of the newly colonized land are the victims of colonization. This can take the form of oppressive laws and social structures in which the colonizing culture is privileged.

In addition, colonizers also seek to influence and control the indigenous people of a land through ideas, beliefs, values, and customs. In other words, they seek to replace the original culture with the culture of the invaders. When the indigenous people absorb the colonial culture and internalize its beliefs and values, this can be called mental colonization or "colonization of mind."

Therefore, "decolonization of mind" is a process by which an indigenous resident of a place resists the culture of the oppressive colonizers. This is a mental process in which one's identity, beliefs, and values are questioned. An example of this might look like an indigenous person engaging in this kind of self-reflection: "Money is so important to me. I work more than I see my family. Where does this value come from? Did my ancestors value money this much, or did I get this priority from the colonizing culture in my country?"

Reclaiming one's traditional culture and refusing to allow the colonizer to define one's identity can be a major part of decolonizing the mind. Embracing the beauty of one's ethnic features rather than following the European standard of beauty is one way to do this. However, the process of decolonizing the mind will likely look different for each person.

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The phrase "decolonizing the mind" was popularized (if not coined) by Ngugi wa Thiongo, a Kenyan novelist, in a book by that title published in 1986. He summed up what it meant to him in the introduction of the book, which he assured his readers would be the last he published in English: from here on out, it would be "Kenyan all the way." Thiongo lamented the fact that many writers in former colonial countries wrote exclusively in English or French, which he viewed as the languages of the oppressors. He argued that even if political imperialism was over, cultural and economic imperialism was very much alive, and to accept European culture and language as normative was to accept their hegemony over African and other formerly colonized peoples. For Thiongo, writing in English was (and is) an acceptance of the alleged inferiority of African and other indigenous cultures that served as a justification for imperialism in the first place. In order to become fully free, formerly subaltern peoples had to assert the full equality of their own cultures. This idea remains current among peoples around the world, from indigenous peoples in Africa to those in the United States and Canada. In short, imperialism did not just subjugate bodies and political institutions, it weighed on the minds of colonized peoples. To be free, minds and psyches have to be "decolonized" by purging any lingering notions of inferiority.

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When a mind becomes decolonized, a person stops identifying with the aggressor. During the period of colonization, a more powerful nation, usually European, would take over a weaker country and use its resources for its own benefit. In order to justify doing this, the colonizing power would assert the superiority of its own culture, and pull around it an elite of native peoples who would help it enforce colonial rule. These people became convinced of the superiority of the ruling country, benefitted by adopting its ways, and internalized its values. Eventually, their sense of the native culture as primitive and inferior would drift down to much of the population, leading to native self-hatred and a mix of both resentment of and a desire to be like the colonizer.

In decolonization, persons or groups realize that the colonizer is flawed, that the colonizing culture has limitations, and that colonization has exploited the colonized. A decolonized mind stops identifying with the needs of the oppressor and starts identifying what is best in its own culture and for its own culture. It no longer feels it needs to adopt the religion, language, and customs of the colonizer. It no longer needs to imitate the government and social structure of the colonizing power.

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In my mind, this concept is related to a Postcolonial frame of reference.  The idea of "decolonizing the mind" is one where an individual seeks to construct a reality outside of the Colonial element that has been constructed for them.  For example, how would someone who lived in India under British rule be able to envision a post- British world?  The idea of "decolonizing" the mind relates to the individual experience of a social or political reality.  In this concept, there are certain elements of cultural capital that go along with Colonization that directly impacts the individual.  What is considered right, just, fair, beautiful, acceptable, and normative are all challenged when one seeks to "decolonize" the mind and envision a Postcolonial world.  This becomes one of the fundamental issues behind postcolonial literature, namely how does an individual define their own existence beyond a colonial one that has sought to define them for so long.  Essentially, in the "decolonization of mind" one has to define themselves, a process that is challenged when one has been defined.  This shifting from object to subject becomes one of the primary focal points of "decolonization of the mind."

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