Chapter

Postcolonial Appropriations

Simone Bignall

in Postcolonial Agency

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780748639434
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671878 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748639434.003.0003
Postcolonial Appropriations

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Chapter 2 argues that postcolonial theory remains seduced by a dialectical view of history. In so doing, postcolonial theory remains tied to an imperial philosophy of difference. The association of difference and negativity reinforces a problematic slippage in representations of Indigenous peoples as ‘disadvantaged’ in neo-liberal, settler-colonial discourses about reconciliation. Indigenous difference is presented as the driving mechanism of postcolonial reconciliation or unification, but simultaneously constitutes the problematic negativity that must itself eventually be negated. In practice, this has meant that Indigenous peoples have usually borne responsibility for prompting postcolonial transformation, often by identifying as disadvantaged and by pitching their claims for amelioration of their systemic disadvantage to recalcitrant States and dismissive non-Indigenous communities, which invariably respond only by instituting policy underscored by new forms of assimilation. It has also meant that the transformative capacity and responsibility of non-Indigenous peoples has been devalued and dismissed in much postcolonial political thought. While oppositional action has been instrumental in decolonisation struggles, it finally remains complicit with the structures of agency it opposes, and so has limited application in reconstructive processes aimed at creating genuinely alternative types of postcolonial society.

Keywords: Hegelianism; Fanon; postcolonial theory; postcolonial resistance; disadvantage; causal negativity; Indigenous Australians; reconciliation; postcolonial transformation

Chapter.  15510 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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