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Last Updated on July 22, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 265

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Postcolonial criticism is a subfield of literary criticism that examines the poetry, prose, drama, and other literature written by authors from countries that were once colonized. There is an emphasis on examining the postcolonial literature of countries once governed or fully colonized by the United Kingdom and France.

The United States, too, has colonized territories—such as Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and formerly the Philippines. However, these are not usually termed as "colonies" but instead simply "territories" and are administered through the US Department of the Interior, Office of the Deputy Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. Literature from these territories can also be considered within postcolonial criticism.

Postcolonial criticism can cover various aspects of both the former colony and the colonizer itself, usually exploring in-depth the dynamics between the two. In the past decade, postcolonial literature and criticism have become popular genres and fields. Authors from countries such as India, Haiti, and other former colonies of European powers have emerged to contribute to postcolonial literature. Two well-known postcolonial authors in this group include Mahaswetah Devi and Édouard Glissant.

Another theme of postcolonial criticism is the present-day consequences of colonialism. One of the most well-known examples of this is the Palestinian-Israeli political conflict, in which land distribution to differing ethnic groups by the British—the former administrator of the region—led to intense territorial disputes.

Authors from sub-Saharan Africa, such as Alain Mabanckou from the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly the Belgian Congo), have also illuminated the effects of colonialism from a local's perspective.