Monday, 16 August 2010

Monday Reading For Squares...comme moi ; )

The notion 'postcolony' identifies specifically a given historical trajectory -that of societies recently emerging from the experience of colonisation and the violence which the colonial relationship, par excellence, involves. To be sure, the postcolony is chaotically pluralistic, yet it has nonetheless an internal coherence. It is a specific system of signs, a particular way of fabricating simulacra or re-forming stereotypes. It is not, however, just an economy of signs in which power is mirrored and imagined self-reflectively. The postcolony is characterised by a distinctive style of political improvis- ation, by a tendency to excess and a lack of proportion as well as by distinctive ways in which identities are multiplied, transformed and put into circulation. But the postcolony is also made up of a series of corporate institutions and a political machinery which, once they are in place, constitute a distinctive regime of violence In this sense, the postcolony is a particularly revealing (and rather dramatic) stage on which are played out the wider problems of subjection and its corollary, discipline.

...In the postcolony the commandement seeks to institutionalise itself, in order to achieve legitimation and hegemony (recherche he'gmonique), in the form of a fetish. The signs, vocabulary and narratives that it produces are not meant merely to be symbols; they are officially invested with a surplus of meanings which are not negotiable and which one is officially forbidden to depart from or challenge. So as to ensure that no such challenge takes place, the champions of state power invent entire constellations of ideas; they adopt a distinct set of cultural repertoires and powerfully evocative concepts; but they also have resort, if necessary, to the systematic application of pain.The basic goal is not just to bring a specific political consciousness into being but to make it effective. We therefore need to examine the way the world of meanings thus produced is ordered, the types of institutions, the knowledges, norms and practices that structure this new 'common sense' as well as the light that the use of visual imagery and discourse throws on the nature of domination and subordination.

From Provisional Notes on the Postcolony, Achille Mbembe (1992)

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