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← 22. Post-Colonial Criticism

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Ukazujem Revíziu 1 vytvorenú 09/30/2012 od Amara Bot.

  1. Prof: Well,
    post-colonial studies is really
  2. by far the most varied and
    eclectic of the identity fields
  3. that we're passing in review in
    this portion of the course:
  4. eclectic really of necessity,
    of course, because of the
  5. immense variety of the materials
    covered,
  6. but also because of swirling
    issues and controversies within
  7. post-colonial studies or
    "po-co,"
  8. as it's affectionately known,
    which kind of pose a number of
  9. questions from the side that
    keep things lively,
  10. to say the least.
  11. We are taking up only one
    strand, one developmental
  12. strand,
    in post-colonial studies today,
  13. a kind of progression from the
    work of Said to the work of
  14. Bhabha which is relatively
    easily mapped,
  15. simply in terms of the
    intellectual agendas of each of
  16. them,
    but there's a great deal else
  17. going on.
  18. I suppose I should just mention
    in passing certain topics that
  19. we won't be discussing,
    at least except possibly in
  20. passing and that,
    however, you might really be
  21. interested in considering if you
    do have an interest in this
  22. field.
  23. The first issue,
    of course, is who says
  24. "post-colonial,"
    and who says that we're
  25. necessarily out of colonialism?
  26. Just because the local viceroy
    packs up and goes home doesn't
  27. necessarily mean that things
    change all that significantly in
  28. the so-called postcolonial
    setting,
  29. and it needs to be taken into
    account,
  30. seriously considered,
    whether or not one isn't still
  31. in colonial or colonial studies
    and that the moniker
  32. "post-colonial"
    might therefore be
  33. inappropriately applied.
  34. There's also the question that
    arises in the study of the
  35. so-called third world,
    which is obviously in itself a
  36. controversial term.
  37. It arises as that which is not
    comprised as either of the great
  38. sort of trajectories of the
    superpowers during the Cold War.
  39. There is no Cold War,
    at least allegedly no Cold War
  40. any longer,
    and so the question of the
  41. status, nature,
    and structure of the third
  42. world is obviously wide open.
  43. But the issue I mean to touch
    on in terms of post-colonial
  44. studies is whether,
    in fact, crises and concerns
  45. with respect to the third world
    are necessarily always to be
  46. understood in terms of
    coloniality.
  47. Is it just that certain parts
    of the globe have been colonized
  48. that constitutes them as they
    are and shapes their identity?
  49. Said in a very interesting way
    takes this up in trying to
  50. figure out how it is that German
    Orientalism so very closely
  51. resembles French Orientalism,
    even though the Germans had no
  52. colonial interests in the Middle
    East.
  53. During the whole period--the
    early nineteenth century in
  54. particular,
    when German Orientalism is
  55. practically indistinguishable
    from the French,
  56. takes up the same concerns,
    and has the same interests--
  57. how is it that the French are
    undoubtedly in some sense,
  58. in Said's view,
    determined by their colonial
  59. interests,
    and the Germans,
  60. who seem so much to reflect
    French attitudes,
  61. have no colonial interests,
    at least in the Middle East?
  62. Said sort of quite honestly
    tries to come to terms with
  63. this.
  64. His answer is,
    "Well, German Orientalism
  65. is simply derived in scholarly
    terms from French Orientalism.
  66. It has the stamp of that
    thinking and reflects that
  67. thinking,"
    and so there you are.
  68. He could have said on the other
    hand,
  69. however, that a certain mindset
    toward the third world--
  70. and this is the point I have
    been making about this
  71. particular issue--
    dictates a certain way of
  72. structuring one's thought about
    that world,
  73. irrespective of whether or not
    there are colonial interests
  74. involved.
  75. That's what I mean by raising
    the question,
  76. "Is coloniality always at
    issue in cases of this
  77. kind?"
  78. There's a kind of confusion in
    thinking about these things,
  79. a confusion which is distilled
    in the history of the British
  80. East India Company--
    which is both nationalist and,
  81. as it were,
    globalizing--but a confusion
  82. which comes out in more recent
    history of coloniality,
  83. and that is:
    well, what drives coloniality?
  84. Is it always nationalism or,
    as seems increasingly the case
  85. in the modern world,
    is it transnational interests
  86. in globalization?
  87. In other words,
    is the relationship between the
  88. colonist and the colonized a
    relation of some sort of
  89. metropolitan nation with respect
    to a provincial empire,
  90. or is it a relation which is
    dictated and generated by the
  91. economic interests of
    globalization?
  92. This is a complex subject which
    generates a great deal of debate
  93. in the field that we take up
    today,
  94. but in a way,
    we can't just say,
  95. "Well,
    nationalism isn't important
  96. anymore,
    now it's globalization"
  97. because actually nationalism
    seems to have reappeared in the
  98. Bush foreign policy,
    even possibly to be continued
  99. in the Obama foreign policy,
    and so there's a complex
  100. relationship still between
    nationalism and globalization
  101. that needs to be considered and
    thought about if these social
  102. relations are to be clearly
    understood.
  103. Finally, there is within
    post-colonial studies--
  104. especially among those who
    represent the various colonized
  105. interests of the world--
    there is the question,
  106. to borrow an expression from
    Gayatri Spivak,
  107. "How should the subaltern
    speak?"
  108. It has to do most vividly with
    the very question,
  109. "Which language should the
    subaltern speak in?"
  110. Spivak's own question is,
    "Can the subaltern speak
  111. at all?"
  112. and Said raises that question,
    as you notice,
  113. during the course of his
    analysis;
  114. but the related issue is,
    okay, suppose that the
  115. subaltern can speak--suppose
    Ngugi wa Thiong'o,
  116. for example,
    can write a novel.
  117. What language should it be
    written in?
  118. Ngugi campaigned in his more
    recent career not to write in
  119. English and also to urge other
    African writers to write in
  120. native languages and not in the
    language of the colonizer.
  121. This is a frequently heard
    opinion from within
  122. post-colonial studies,
    but debate swirls around it
  123. because,
    of course, the means of
  124. circulation of literary
    influence is languages that draw
  125. upon international publishing
    possibilities and not languages
  126. that can only be grasped and
    published and disseminated
  127. locally.
  128. So there, too,
    you have a complicated issue or
  129. controversy on both sides,
    of which there is much to say;
  130. but as I say,
    for us today it's simply a
  131. question--
    or more simply a question,
  132. because when you've got Homi
    Bhabha on the syllabus there's
  133. no such thing as simplicity--
    so I should say it's a question
  134. of following the trajectory or
    development specifically between
  135. Said and Bhabha.
  136. In beginning to think about
    Said, I thought we wouldn't
  137. think about him.
  138. We'd think instead,
    for a moment at least,
  139. once again about Virginia
    Woolf.
  140. In the second chapter of A
    Room of One's Own,
  141. this young woman,
    Mary Beton, Mary Seton,
  142. Mary Carmichael--whoever she
    is, is sitting in the British
  143. Library.
  144. She's thought that she'd spend
    the morning trying to figure out
  145. what scholars think about women.
  146. After all, the subject is women
    and fiction.
  147. I'm supposed to be addressing
    these undergraduates on this
  148. subject: "what do I know
    about women?
  149. I'd better go to the library
    and find out."
  150. So she expects just to find a
    couple of books and she'll be
  151. all set.
  152. Instead she is simply
    overwhelmed, and there's this
  153. avalanche of material.
  154. She submits maybe a dozen or
    two call slips and then sits
  155. back waiting for the material to
    appear.
  156. Of course, the point of it is
    that everything in the British
  157. Library on what turns out to be
    the voluminous subject of women
  158. is written by men,
    right?
  159. Everything.
  160. She begins to take note of the
    way these things are described
  161. in the sort of pre-computer
    database.
  162. That is to say,
    how do you classify the various
  163. things that men have to say
    about women?
  164. This is the way it goes:
    "condition of Middle Ages
  165. of;
    habits in the Fiji Islands of;
  166. worshipped as goddesses by;
    weaker in moral sense than;
  167. idealism of;
    greater conscientious of;
  168. South Sea islanders age of
    puberty among;
  169. attractiveness of;
    offered as sacrifice to;
  170. small size of brain of;
    profounder sub-consciousness of;
  171. less hair on the body of;
    mental, moral and physical
  172. inferiority of;
    love of children of;
  173. greater length of life of;
    weaker muscles of;
  174. strength of affections of;
    vanity of;
  175. higher education of;
    Shakespeare's opinion of;
  176. Lord Birkenhead's opinion of;
    Dean Inge's opinion of;
  177. La Bruyere's opinion of;
    Dr. Johnson's opinion of;
  178. Mr. Oscar Browning's opinion of;
    and dot, dot,
  179. dot--the list can continue.
  180. In other words, she sits there.
  181. She's simply overwhelmed,
    and what she of course is
  182. telling us is that there's lots
    and lots and lots and lots of
  183. opinions on record about women,
    all of them expressed by men.
  184. So now thinking about Edward
    Said,
  185. if Edward Said had taken up
    Virginia Woolf's project,
  186. if Edward Said had undertaken
    to write A Room of One's Own,
  187. the title of it would have
    been Female-ism,
  188. right?
  189. That's precisely what he means
    by "Orientalism,"
  190. the vast body of information--
    some of it scholarly,
  191. some of it just sort of sheerly
    doxological--
  192. the vast body of information
    about peoples called
  193. "Oriental"
    by and large,
  194. especially in the
    nineteenth-century tradition.
  195. Said's main concern is the
    peoples of the Middle East,
  196. and he shows how it is that
    there's a certain reason why
  197. this is an appropriate term to
    use for that tradition of
  198. scholarship and philology in the
    nineteenth century.
  199. In any case,
    the vast body of material
  200. published about these people--
    and it's perfectly true that
  201. there are the infinitely long
    shelves of the library devoted
  202. to multivolume treatises on this
    topic,
  203. all of them written by us in
    the West--
  204. us--about this other who is
    perpetually in our imagination
  205. and constructed by us in the
    variety of ways that Said
  206. discusses on page 1811,
    the right-hand column.
  207. He says toward the bottom of
    the column:
  208. Orientalism is premised upon
    exteriority,
  209. that is, on the fact that the
    Orientalist,
  210. poet or scholar,
    makes the Orient speak,
  211. describes the Orient,
    renders its mysteries plain for
  212. and to the West.
  213. Just as in Woolf,
    men's opinions about women
  214. getting themselves expressed in
    books make the subject of woman
  215. clear to an audience of men.
  216. All right.
  217. So before moving in with some
    more depth and precision into
  218. Said's text,
    let me quickly explain what I
  219. mean by saying that Said and
    Bhabha constitute a kind of
  220. sequence.
  221. I'm thinking in particular of
    Elaine Showalter's distinction
  222. between feminist and
    gynocritical criticism.
  223. You remember the distinction
    which is echoed,
  224. by the way, in Gates's essay.
  225. The distinction is:
    first you get criticism in
  226. which the treatment of women in
    literature by men is the focus
  227. of attention,
    and then subsequently you get
  228. criticism in which the women's
    tradition,
  229. the voice of women themselves,
    is the focus and,
  230. as Showalter believes,
    the more fruitful terrain for
  231. criticism.
  232. You can see that in that
    context, by way of making that
  233. distinction,
    you can see that Said is
  234. decidedly phase one because,
    of course, Orientalism is about
  235. the treatment of the Middle
    Eastern other by the West.
  236. It can be slotted into that
    same moment.
  237. Then Homi Bhabha obviously in a
    variety of ways takes up the
  238. subject position of the
    colonized, of the subaltern.
  239. He doesn't leave out the
    subject position of the
  240. colonizer because he sees them
    as being radically interrelated,
  241. but he plainly is as interested
    in a variety of ways of talking
  242. about the traditions of the
    colonized as he is of talking
  243. about the way in which
    colonization takes place and
  244. expresses itself.
  245. So in that sense,
    we can see Said and Bhabha as
  246. belonging to these two phases as
    mapped by Showalter.
  247. As I say also in passing by
    Gates--and I'm sorry for the
  248. confusion of this heading
    [gestures to board]--
  249. actually there's another way in
    which Said and Bhabha can be
  250. understood as phase one and
    phase two.
  251. That has much more to do with
    the tradition of literary
  252. theory,
    which in their ways both
  253. Showalter and Gates have
    rejected,
  254. insisting that one needs to
    commandeer white male literary
  255. theory for one's own purposes.
  256. I suppose it's a question of
    how this issue doesn't come up
  257. in Said and Bhabha.
  258. It could perhaps be answered by
    saying that precisely in the
  259. situation of colonialism,
    the intellectuals--third world,
  260. colonized intellectuals--
    nevertheless are educated in
  261. high-octane male metropolitan
    institutions,
  262. by which of course one means
    primarily Oxford and Cambridge.
  263. In a certain sense,
    they come to identify--
  264. and this is not actually a
    thing apart from Bhabha's
  265. argument about hybridity--
    they come to identify in some
  266. measure with the educational
    agenda of the colonizer and
  267. participate in it.
  268. Now that's speculative.
  269. It may simply be that we have
    missed out on those moments when
  270. Said and Bhabha,
    too, may be talking about the
  271. way in which the white male
    tradition of literary theory
  272. needs to be appropriated;
    but for the moment what I want
  273. to point out is this:
    Said's Orientalism works very
  274. much in the historical moment of
    what we call structuralism.
  275. That is to say,
    it's primary concern is with
  276. the binary opposition,
    a mutual and interdependent
  277. binary opposition of central
    self and decentralized other
  278. including,
    as we'll see in a minute,
  279. the way in which the
    construction of the otherness of
  280. the other is actually covertly
    also at the same time a means of
  281. constructing,
    defining, and delimiting the
  282. nature of selfhood,
    or in this case of being
  283. Western.
  284. There is a fundamental binarism
    in Said's point of view,
  285. which by the way has often been
    criticized,
  286. and it's been criticized most
    often from the standpoint of
  287. Bhabha--
    if only because he's constantly
  288. referring to Derrida's famous
    essay,
  289. "The Double Session,"
    which is about Mallarmé,
  290. and also because he
    appropriates a great deal of the
  291. language and style of Derrida.
  292. You can see that Bhabha takes,
    with respect to the binarism of
  293. structuralism,
    a deconstructive attitude.
  294. In other words,
    his sense of these relations
  295. breaks down into,
    at the very least,
  296. a redoubling sense of what he
    calls "double
  297. consciousness"
    so that one can't clearly
  298. identify colonizer and colonized
    as a binary opposition.
  299. It's more complicated than
    that, and it's a series of
  300. issues that turns on a highly
    Derridian sense of what one
  301. might mean by difference.
  302. All I want to say is that the
    relation, Said-Bhabha,
  303. is phase one-phase two in that
    regard as well.
  304. By the way, this is a tendency
    that one can find in other forms
  305. of theory having to do with
    identity.
  306. The relationship between the
    classical feminism that we have
  307. been discussing so far and the
    gender theory that we will be
  308. discussing on Tuesday,
    especially in the case of
  309. Judith Butler,
    is once again a relation that
  310. could be understood as between
    structuralism and
  311. deconstruction.
  312. There, too, you have a not
    completely overlapping but,
  313. from the standpoint of our
    concerns in literary theory,
  314. nevertheless rather interesting
    way in which this succession,
  315. Said-Bhabha,
    is phase one-phase two in two
  316. different ways that can be
    identified,
  317. I think, usefully.
  318. All right.
  319. So that then about their
    relationship.
  320. So what about Said?
  321. How do we get at the issues
    that Said wants to talk about
  322. and understand the way in which
    he thinks they have integrity?
  323. I think I'd like actually to
    begin with a word or two about
  324. truth,
    because Said makes it clear
  325. that in a way,
    the demonization of Orientalism
  326. that his project undertakes
    isn't really undertaken because
  327. Orientalism is necessarily a
    pack of lies.
  328. Maybe he waffles a little bit
    about this, but it's not really
  329. ultimately the point for him
    whether Orientalism lies or
  330. tells the truth.
  331. This is the way he puts it on
    page 1802 in the right-hand
  332. column:
    … [A]
  333. third qualification.
  334. One ought never to assume that
    the structure of Orientalism is
  335. nothing more than a structure of
    lies or myths which,
  336. were the truth about them to be
    told,
  337. would simply blow away.
  338. I myself believe that
    Orientalism is more particularly
  339. valuable as a sign of
    European-Atlantic power over the
  340. Orient than it is as a veridic
    discourse about the Orient...
  341. Nevertheless,
    what we must respect and try to
  342. grasp is the sheer
    knitted-together strength of
  343. Orientalist discourse…
    In other words,
  344. one of Napoleon's adjutants
    during Napoleon's campaign
  345. through Egypt wrote a ten-volume
    Eastward de l'Egypt.
  346. Many of the texts which
    Said mentions in passing in his
  347. introduction to Orientalism are
    just as long.
  348. You've got fifty-volume,
    sort of gigantic scholarly
  349. undertakings,
    and you've got to admit,
  350. well, if they are saying that
    much,
  351. there's got to be something in
    it that's true.
  352. There is, after all,
    a great deal of knowledge of a
  353. certain kind,
    at least, that has gone into
  354. thinking of this kind,
    and so one can't just say,
  355. "My point is that none of
    it's true."
  356. Said is at pains to make a
    distinction, therefore,
  357. between truth and value.
  358. It's not that Orientalist
    discourse is necessarily true or
  359. false.
  360. It is the case though that it
    is insidiously devaluate of its
  361. object of attention--
    that there is an implicit
  362. euro-centrism which Said does go
    so far as to consider a form of
  363. racism in Orientalism,
    quite irrespective of any
  364. measure or degree of truth that
    what are,
  365. after all, the meticulous
    researches of a lot of these
  366. characters turn up.
  367. For example,
    on page 1812,
  368. the left-hand column,
    he says:
  369. My analysis of the Orientalist
    text therefore places emphasis
  370. [this is about a third of the
    way down]
  371. on the evidence,
    which is by no means invisible,
  372. for such representations as
    representations,
  373. not as "natural"
    descriptions of the Orient.
  374. Now we might pause for a minute
    over that as a possible object
  375. of critique because at the end
    of his essay,
  376. or at the end of the
    introduction as you have it,
  377. you notice Said saying,
    "Look,
  378. I don't take up here the
    question of how one might
  379. actually write correctly
    >
  380. about these people."
  381. He doesn't take up,
    for example,
  382. the question of what it might
    be like to be sort of a
  383. representative of these
    minorities or colonized figures
  384. and to write about oneself.
  385. He doesn't really take up the
    question of whether the bias of
  386. somebody else writing about me,
    a man writing about a woman,
  387. is worse than the bias of my
    own preconceptions and
  388. prejudices about myself.
  389. He admits that he doesn't
    really have an advanced theory
  390. that secures one kind of
    representation as true or
  391. authentic and secures another
    kind of representation as bias
  392. and inauthentic.
  393. He says, "Another scholar
    will perhaps take this up.
  394. I leave it alone in my
    book," and it is left
  395. alone,
    the problem being that the
  396. claim remains that he does--
    anticipating many other people
  397. who have written on this
    subject--
  398. he does impugn Orientalism as
    mere representation:
  399. that is to say,
    as the opposite because it is a
  400. representation,
    the opposite of a natural
  401. evocation of an ethos or world.
  402. So we just do want to put a
    little question mark in the
  403. margin and then say,
    "Well, fine.
  404. Granted this is all
    representation,
  405. where is the text?
  406. Where could the text be that
    would be natural?"
  407. Is there, for example,
    any such thing,
  408. as we've asked ourselves over
    the course of the semester,
  409. as a natural sign?
  410. The sign being arbitrary,
    it does place us already pretty
  411. securely in the realm of
    representation.
  412. So all of these questions are
    then posed by Said's sense of
  413. the relationship between truth
    and value in the history of
  414. Orientalist scholarship.
  415. Now where is he coming from?
  416. He's quite open about it,
    and it's perhaps worth pausing
  417. over an idea common to the two
    scholar-theorists who matter
  418. most to him,
    Michel Foucault and the Italian
  419. Marxist Antonio Gramsci.
  420. First of all,
    just to pass in review the way
  421. in which he's indebted to
    Gramsci on page 1803,
  422. the left-hand column,
    Said says:
  423. Culture, of course,
    is to be found operating within
  424. civil society,
    where the influence of ideas,
  425. of institutions and of other
    persons works not through
  426. domination but by what Gramsci
    calls consent.
  427. In other words,
    it's not just a question of
  428. having forced down your throat
    certain ideas of concepts or
  429. laws,
    for that matter,
  430. but a circulation of knowledge,
    so called, of feeling about
  431. things,
    of ideology,
  432. which through consent
    establishes certain attitudes of
  433. bias.
  434. This is the distinction that
    Gramsci makes between the way in
  435. which one is imposed on by
    actual power and authority and
  436. the way in which one is imposed
    on by the circulations of what
  437. we've been exposed to in the
    past as being called
  438. "ideologemes."
  439. So to continue:
    In any society not totalitarian
  440. [says Said],
    then, certain cultural forms
  441. predominate over others,
    just as certain ideas are more
  442. influential than others;
    the form of this cultural
  443. leadership is what Gramsci has
    identified as hegemony.
  444. This is a term that you will
    frequently encounter,
  445. particularly in Marxist
    criticism, but it is also a term
  446. very closely related to what for
    most Western readers is more
  447. famous in the work of Michel
    Foucault,
  448. the term "power"
    or sometimes
  449. "power/knowledge."
  450. As you will learn in the
    excerpt from Foucault that
  451. you'll be reading on Tuesday,
    Foucault like Gramsci makes a
  452. distinction between power merely
    as that which is exercised by
  453. the police,
    by the legal arm of society,
  454. by the dictator,
    by the government,
  455. and by power as the ways,
    the frequently insidious ways,
  456. in which knowledge is
    circulated and made hegemonic--
  457. that is to say,
    made authoritative.
  458. Foucault is fascinated by the
    structure of this circulation of
  459. knowledge.
  460. That is, in fact the essential
    subject matter of all of his
  461. late work,
    the way in which we are
  462. thinking that we are sort of
    free contemplative agents in the
  463. world,
    in fact browbeaten by
  464. structures of opinion
    circulating around us that lull
  465. us into feeling that we are in
    the presence of the truth,
  466. whereas of course,
    we're only in the presence of
  467. one form or another of motivated
    bias.
  468. Both Gramsci and Foucault make
    the distinction between absolute
  469. power and, as Gramsci calls it,
    hegemony and,
  470. as Foucault calls it,
    power/knowledge.
  471. Said is talking here about
    power/knowledge.
  472. He's not talking about the
    imposition of law through force
  473. or any other means on a
    colonized world.
  474. He's talking about the way in
    which opinions construct that
  475. world and simultaneously
    reinforce the authority of those
  476. who generate the opinions.
  477. I think it's important to point
    this relatively subtle
  478. distinction out:
    he does, however,
  479. disagree from Foucault in one
    respect.
  480. On page 1813 he goes back to
    what we already know about
  481. Foucault, which is Foucault's
    interest in the author function
  482. as opposed to the author.
  483. Authors, generally speaking,
    Foucault wants to say,
  484. are not authorities but simply
    vessels of forms of opinion.
  485. Certain authors who come very
    close to being authority we call
  486. founders of discursivity,
    but even in their cases it's
  487. the nature of the discourse and
    not their existence as authors
  488. which is important.
  489. Said wants to say,
    "I take authors a little
  490. bit more seriously than
    that," and he does on page
  491. 1813 in the right-hand column
    where he says:
  492. Foucault believes that in
    general the individual text or
  493. author counts for very little;
    empirically [that is to say,
  494. "through my
    experience"],
  495. in the case of Orientalism,
    and perhaps nowhere else I find
  496. this not to be so.
  497. In other words,
    the author is the central
  498. philologist,
    and social historians,
  499. explorers, and demographers who
    have written so extensively on
  500. this part of the world are
    authorities.
  501. They are the oracles from which
    generalized and ultimately
  502. commonplace opinions disseminate
    as power/knowledge.
  503. It's not a question,
    therefore, of a kind of silent
  504. drumbeat of opinion expressing
    itself over and over again,
  505. which is more what interests
    Foucault.
  506. So Said, as I say,
    distinguishes himself subtly
  507. from Foucault in that regard
    while nevertheless confessing
  508. openly the influence both of
    Foucault and of Gramsci on his
  509. way of approaching his material.
  510. So as a circulation of power,
    the effect of Orientalism is
  511. something that ultimately
    concerns Said.Well,
  512. he says this somewhat
    rhetorically because it
  513. obviously does concern him that
    it has an effect on the peoples
  514. in question,
    but what ultimately concerns
  515. Said is the effect of
    Orientalism on the Euro-centric
  516. mind,
    indeed the degree to which it
  517. even can be said to construct
    the Euro-centric mind,
  518. page 1806, the right-hand
    column:
  519. … [M]y real argument is
    that Orientalism is--
  520. and does not simply
    represent--a considerable
  521. dimension of modern
    political-intellectual culture,
  522. and as such has less to do with
    the Orient than it does with
  523. "our"
    world.
  524. Now here you can see the degree
    to which Said is saying
  525. something very similar to what
    Toni Morrison said in her essay.
  526. The existence of black as
    absence needs to be understood--
  527. for example,
    if we are studying the history
  528. of American literature--
    as the means of constructing
  529. whiteness,
    of that which liberates
  530. whiteness from the forms of
    constraint under which it's been
  531. chafing at the bit.
  532. Morrison, of course,
    develops this argument
  533. beautifully,
    and she quite clearly takes it
  534. from the fourth chapter of
    Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind
  535. as a way of understanding
    the master-slave dialectic.
  536. In other words,
    in Hegel it's clear as Hegel
  537. develops the idea that master
    and slave are absolutely
  538. necessary to each other in a
    structure of mutuality.
  539. The master isn't the master,
    can't define himself as free or
  540. superior without the existence
    of the slave.
  541. The trickiness that the slave
    learns being in the position of
  542. subordination involving the
    development of all sorts of
  543. complicated skills means
    ultimately that the slave
  544. becomes,
    as it were, that which drives
  545. the master technologically and
    ultimately controls the master
  546. in a kind of fable of class
    reversal,
  547. which continues to reverse
    itself again and again and again
  548. on various grounds.
  549. This is the fable,
    which at the same time is a
  550. philosophy of class relations
    that structures Morrison's
  551. argument and which,
    I think, also structures Said's.
  552. I want to make the transition
    to Bhabha because obviously this
  553. is a form of binarism.
  554. The two signifiers in relation
    to each other need each other in
  555. the way that we described when
    we were discussing Saussure and
  556. structuralism.
  557. I can't simply say that a red
    light has positive value.
  558. You remember the whole
    argument: I have to see the red
  559. light in the context of the
    semiotic system to which it
  560. belongs.
  561. I have to see it as being
    different from,
  562. or opposed to,
    something else in order to
  563. grasp it.
  564. I cannot know it positively,
    in other words;
  565. I can only know it negatively.
  566. This basic concept of
    structuralism in the Saussurian
  567. tradition is what creates,
    is what shapes binary arguments
  568. of the kind that one finds in
    Said.
  569. That we know ourselves
    negatively as the not-other is
  570. the basic principle,
    the theoretical principle which
  571. underlies obviously aspects of
    the argument which are also,
  572. as Said says, empirical.
  573. Yes, I can say it's a
    structuralist idea,
  574. but I really believe it because
    I've seen it in operation.
  575. It's not just structuralism in
    other words.
  576. It shares, however,
    with structuralism a
  577. theoretical predisposition.
  578. Bhabha, if you look at page
    1879, openly criticizes the
  579. premise of binarism of this
    kind--
  580. not just any binarism,
    but he actually does go
  581. directly back to Hegel.
  582. In other words,
    he identifies the source of
  583. thinking of this kind,
    bottom of 1879,
  584. right-hand column,
    when he says:
  585. It is this ambivalence that
    makes the boundaries of colonial
  586. "positionality"--
    the division of self/other--and
  587. the question of colonial power--
    the differentiation of
  588. colonizer/colonized--
    different from both the
  589. Hegelian master/slave dialectic
    or the phenomenological
  590. projection of Otherness.
  591. He goes on to mention other
    things,
  592. but I just want to focus on
    this as a moment in which Bhabha
  593. is distinguishing himself as
    clearly as he can from the
  594. project of Said.
  595. Now the passage I just read
    begins with the word
  596. "ambivalence."
  597. What does Bhabha mean by
    ambivalence?
  598. Let's try to start there and
    see if we can work our way into
  599. Bhabha's complex thinking on
    these matters,
  600. first by way of the notion of
    ambivalence.
  601. I'm going to put this in terms
    of an historical example because
  602. I hope that will make it a
    little clearer.
  603. There is the ambivalence of the
    colonizer toward the colonized.
  604. In other words,
    it's not just one mindset that
  605. drives colonization.
  606. In the historical experience of
    England in the East India
  607. Company,
    there are two distinct phases,
  608. phases which actually repeat
    themselves recurrently even
  609. throughout the twentieth
    century.
  610. The first in the eighteenth
    century is the period of the
  611. government of the East India
    Company by Warren Hastings who
  612. in a certain sense was
    interested in what we call
  613. "going native"
    and also encouraged all of his
  614. provincial administrators to do
    likewise.
  615. Hastings, in other words,
    in Saidian terms knew a great
  616. deal about the Orientalized
    other.
  617. He knew all the local languages
    and dialects.
  618. He knew all the customs.
  619. He really knew everything there
    was to know and in a certain
  620. sense was a person who did go
    native while at the same time
  621. wielding with an iron grip of
    authority power over the
  622. colonized other.
  623. He himself then embodies a
    certain ambivalence in not
  624. giving an inch as to the actual
    control of authority,
  625. while at the same time seeming
    to become one with the other.
  626. Then there is the historical
    ambivalence which expresses
  627. itself in a completely different
    attitude,
  628. an attitude which surfaced in
    the East India Company early in
  629. the nineteenth century under the
    supervisorship of Charles Grant.
  630. There had been a tremendous
    revival of fundamentalist
  631. religion,
    mainly Methodism,
  632. in England, and this
    evangelical enthusiasm spread
  633. itself into the interests of the
    empire.
  634. Charles Grant and others like
    him no longer had any interest
  635. at all in going native but,
    on the contrary,
  636. insisted that a standard of
    Englishness and,
  637. in particular,
    the standard of the English
  638. Bible--
    the coming of the English book
  639. that Bhabha talks about at the
    beginning of his essay--
  640. be firmly implanted,
    and that the imposition of
  641. Englishness on the colonized
    other be the agenda of
  642. colonization.
  643. The famous historian Thomas
    Babington Macaulay codified this
  644. attitude in a famous,
    and soon to be infamous,
  645. document he wrote called
    "The Minute on
  646. Education,"
    which insisted that the
  647. education of the Indian people
    under the regime of the East
  648. India Company be conducted
    strictly according to English
  649. models: that missionaries no
    longer try to adapt their ideas
  650. to local customs and folk ways
    but that everything be strictly
  651. anglicized.
  652. This is a completely different
    attitude toward colonization,
  653. and it can be understood as a
    sort of historical ambivalence.
  654. I'd actually like to pause over
    an example of what you might
  655. call the Warren Hastings moment,
    a vicious example although an
  656. absolutely fascinating one in
    the disturbing masterpiece by
  657. John Ford called The
    Searchers.
  658. I hope some of you at least
    know that film.
  659. The John Wayne character is
    sort of a lone stranger--
  660. which is of course not
    infrequent in the western--
  661. who shows up at the house of
    some relatives and hears that a
  662. daughter has been abducted by
    native Americans,
  663. by Indians.
  664. Now the thing about John Wayne
    is that in this film is that
  665. he's a vicious racist,
    that he absolutely hates the
  666. Indians,
    but he is not a vicious racist
  667. from the standpoint of
    ignorance.
  668. He is in fact a person who has
    himself, in a certain sense,
  669. gone native.
  670. He knows all the Indian
    languages and dialects.
  671. He knows all their customs.
  672. He has throughout a lifetime
    made a careful study of the
  673. people he hates,
    and this is a volatile mixture
  674. to be exposed to in a film
    because we are much more
  675. comfortable with the idea that
    hatred arises out of ignorance,
  676. right?
  677. What is so deeply disturbing
    about John Ford's The
  678. Searchers is that it is a
    portrait of absolutely vicious
  679. racism: again Said says,
    "Hey, it's not necessarily
  680. truth,
    but we do have to acknowledge a
  681. certain local,
    thick description.
  682. We have to acknowledge that
    there's quite a bit of
  683. information
    >
  684. at this person's disposal,
    and all of that is borne out in
  685. the characterization of John
    Wayne in this film.
  686. Warren Hastings was a lot like
    that.
  687. Warren Hastings knew everything
    about people whom he ultimately
  688. didn't really respect and whom
    he insisted on ruling with the
  689. iron fist of authority.
  690. That's the kind of thing that
    Bhabha is thinking about when he
  691. thinks about the ambivalence of
    the colonizer,
  692. the relationship between
    knowledge and value as it's
  693. already been enunciated in Said
    but also the fact that there is
  694. more than one mindset for the
    colonizer.
  695. There is the local knowledge
    mindset,
  696. and there is the sort of
    raising the absolute unequivocal
  697. standard of the colonizer that
    these are two different
  698. attitudes,
    each of which dictate different
  699. strategies,
    particularly strategies of
  700. education.
  701. So that's the ambivalence of
    the colonizer.
  702. Then there is the ambivalence
    of the colonized,
  703. and that, too,
    has to be understood as a
  704. complex relation to co-optation.
  705. The anecdote with which Bhabha
    begins, I think,
  706. is fascinating and well worth
    attending to.
  707. You have not a colonizer but
    someone thoroughly co-opted,
  708. an evangelical converted
    Christian of Indian descent who
  709. represents,
    in a way, that the people he
  710. finds sitting under the trees
    reading the Bible consider to be
  711. completely authentic because he
    believes and is perfectly happy
  712. to believe that the Bible,
    and for that matter
  713. Christianity itself,
    is an English gift.
  714. But he's met with the response
    of people who resist that,
  715. who say, "This is very
    interesting stuff.
  716. We wish we could have some
    local authority for it.
  717. Our understanding is we got
    this book directly from God,
  718. right?
  719. That's our understanding and we
    have our own attitude toward it.
  720. Sure, maybe we'll get baptized
    one of these days,
  721. but in the meantime we got to
    go home and take care of the
  722. harvest, so we'll get around to
    that.
  723. Don't worry about it.
  724. By the way, if we get baptized
    we certainly can't take the
  725. Eucharist because that's eating
    meat.
  726. We don't eat meat.
  727. We are who we are."
  728. You can see that these
    cunningly insinuated provisos to
  729. the attitude that the missionary
    wants to inculcate in them in a
  730. very real way completely
    undermines his purpose.
  731. They don't think of it as the
    English Bible.
  732. They won't accept it as the
    English Bible.
  733. They will only accept it as an
    authority that's mediated by
  734. their own values,
    which transforms the document.
  735. You can see it again--this
    is1813, as Bhabha points out.
  736. This is precisely at the moment
    when we're moving,
  737. when the regime of authority is
    moving from the Warren Hastings
  738. paradigm to the Charles Grant
    paradigm.
  739. It's no longer possible to
    think in terms of adapting the
  740. Bible to local beliefs and
    circumstances.
  741. This is a moment in which the
    complexity of the attitude of
  742. the colonized is brought up.
  743. There's the attitude of the
    suborned missionary,
  744. and there's the more
    complicated and interesting
  745. attitude of the people he
    encounters sitting under these
  746. trees.
  747. Turn to page 1881,
    the left-hand column.
  748. This is a very difficult
    passage.
  749. Everything in Bhabha is
    difficult.
  750. I think I want to gloss it by
    suggesting to you that what he's
  751. talking about is that the
    ambivalence which--
  752. and we might as well say right
    out that he has a term for this
  753. ambivalence,
    and it's "hybridity"--
  754. is the double consciousness of
    the colonized hovering between
  755. submission--
    that is to say,
  756. submission to authority but
    with a difference,
  757. submission to authority on
    one's own terms,
  758. and on the other hand,
    acquiescence in authority as
  759. given,
    which of course is basically
  760. the position of the missionary.
  761. With that said,
    I'll read the passage in which
  762. Bhabha describes this hybridity
    in the double consciousness of
  763. the colonized:
    The place of difference and
  764. otherness,
    or the space of the
  765. adversarial, within such a
    system of "disposal"
  766. as I have proposed,
    is never entirely on the
  767. outside or implacably
    oppositional.
  768. [Not just, in other words,
    again as a question of us
  769. versus them.]
    It is a pressure,
  770. and a presence,
    that acts constantly,
  771. if unevenly,
    along the entire boundary of
  772. authorization [which is also
    authority],
  773. that is, on the surface between
    what I've called
  774. disposal-as-bestowal [I take
    that meaning submission--
  775. simply "okay,
    fine, I give in"]
  776. and disposition-as-inclination
    [which is "hey,
  777. I kind of like that,
    I go along with it,
  778. I give in spontaneously"].
  779. Now to give in simply as a form
    of recognizing that one's
  780. beaten,
    as a form of submission,
  781. puts one in the position of
    what Bhabha calls "sly
  782. civility."
  783. This is the position that I'd
    like to go back to for a moment
  784. as being very closely related to
    what Gates calls signifyin'.
  785. Bhabha gives a number of
    examples of this sly civility in
  786. his text,
    but of course it's all present
  787. in the clever and wonderfully
    rich ironies of these figures
  788. sitting under the trees in his
    opening anecdote.
  789. Let me just give you an example
    of how sly civility works as a
  790. form of signifyin' and as a
    stance of colonized resistance,
  791. a recuperation of the will,
    perhaps in a post-modern sense,
  792. which is nevertheless not
    rebellious,
  793. not in any way envisioning an
    overthrow of authority,
  794. but is a means of living in the
    framework of authority.
  795. Just a quick example and then
    I'll let you go.
  796. Two African-American people are
    having a conversation in the
  797. presence of a white person,
    and they cheerfully and with
  798. broad smiles on their face refer
    to this person in his presence
  799. as Bill.
  800. Now "Bill"
    is a derisive and derogatory
  801. term for white people,
    and the white person standing
  802. there has two choices in
    response to hearing himself
  803. referred to as "Bill":
    he can either take umbrage and
  804. say,
    "Why are you saying that
  805. about me?
  806. I'm a nice guy.
  807. You don't want to say
    that," in which case the
  808. needling effect of the term has
    taken hold;
  809. or he can play the fool and
    pretend that he doesn't know
  810. that he's being signified on and
    pretend that,
  811. well, it's perfectly okay to be
    called "Bill."
  812. Either way you see it's a
    win/win situation.
  813. This guy, Bill,
    is the slave owner,
  814. right?
  815. He likes to get along with
    people,
  816. so he's sitting around having
    this conversation and he hears
  817. them calling him
    "Bill,"
  818. right?
  819. Because there is an element of
    good nature in his slave-owning
  820. personality, he's stuck.
  821. He can either complain that
    people are treating him
  822. unfairly--
    which of course is neither here
  823. nor there in terms of the
    structure of power involved--
  824. or he can play the fool and
    pretend that he doesn't even
  825. notice that he's being made fun
    of.
  826. Either way, this is an example
    of that sly civility which
  827. signifies on the man and which
    makes it clear that while the
  828. structure of power can't be
    overthrown anytime soon,
  829. there nevertheless is a way of
    living--
  830. at least of keeping one's sense
    of humor within the existing
  831. structure of power--
    while giving the man a hard
  832. time.
  833. That is the set of attitudes
    that Bhabha is articulating in
  834. his notion of the hybridity of
    the colonized,
  835. which takes the form in
    performance--
  836. we're going to have a lot more
    to say about performance on
  837. Tuesday--
    in performance of this sly
  838. civility.
  839. I think it's on page 1889 that
    he gives us that expression,
  840. which I think you should keep
    hold of--
  841. which I would compare very
    closely with what Henry Louis
  842. Gates calls
    "signifyin'."
  843. Okay.
  844. See you on Tuesday.