The postcolonial condition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


The notion of the postcolonial gained currency as a category of experience in the Western academy during the 1980s, roughly two decades after decolonization in Africa, in the wake of Edward Said’s seminal work Orientalism (1978). Said’s impressive survey of Western representations of the Orient inspired critics and theorists across many fields because of the way he linked up the politics of institutions and discursive formations with the cultural use of power and knowledge. This English literature professor of Palestinian origin helped initiate a paradigmatic shift away from criticism narrowly focused on texts and their formal aspects to the study of literature in its multiple contexts. This broadening of the critic’s scope to allow for a consideration of the dynamics of empire was consolidated over the next decade with a number of collaborative efforts of which The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures (1989) by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin stands out as a noteworthy example. Rhetorical features of postcolonial discourse such as mimicry and hybridity proposed in The Empire Writes Back were subsequently expanded and refined by critics such as Homi Bhabha in The Location of Culture (1994). Bhabha and the authors of The Empire Writes Back were also professors of English, which signals how important English departments were in shaping the emergence of postcolonial studies, but it is also useful to remember that French post-structuralism provided much of the theoretical basis from which they developed their common project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to
Subtitle of host publicationThe African Novel
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781139002608
ISBN (Print)9780521855600
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'The postcolonial condition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this