PHIL 330: Postcolonial Theory.

Earlham College, Fall Semester 2004-2005
Monday, Thursday 2:30-3:50. Carpenter 322
Instructor: Ferit Güven
Office: Carpenter 328
Office Hours: Monday, Thursday 1:00-2:00, and by appointment
Office Phone: 983-1399 (voice mail)
web page:

Course Description: This course will concentrate on selected topics in Postcolonial Theory. Postcolonial Theory is both a growing and a contentious field. Some critics interpret postcolonial theory as incoherent and theoretically insignificant at best, and politically harmful at worst. The field of postcolonial theory is perceived as an uncritical condemnation of Western nations, values and culture. Some of these misinterpretations emerge from a lack of intellectual engagement with the topics within the field. However, some of these critics are motivated by a political desire to sustain and legitimize the power (and the domination) of Western nations, values, and culture. In this course we will respond to both of these types of distortions. We will see how philosophical reflections can help us to understand the nature of interactions among different cultures. After a general introduction to the issues and problems within the field of postcolonial theory, we will concentrate on early theorists of anti-colonialism. Postcolonial theory has to be conceptualized as a continuation of these anti-colonial struggles. We will interrogate how the struggle against Western colonization leads to a critique of Western culture and --most significantly for our purposes-- Western thinking and philosophy. In this context we will try to understand the relationship between Western philosophy and colonialism. What conceptual backgrounds inform particular ways of understanding and colonizing a culture? Is European philosophy a "colonizing" discourse? Finally, how can one understand the current political situation of the world in terms of colonial history? Even though some scholars do not consider colonialism and imperialism as useful descriptive terms anymore, they still seem to shape the relationship between the West and the East. In this course we will learn the historical, political, social, and ethical background of colonialism, imperialism, and orientalism, in order to assess how much they are still at work today. At a time when the West seems to control and shape other cultures and their ways of thinking, a study of how different cultures interacted in the past seems extremely important. Not only has the West defined the East as its Other, and constituted its identity in opposition to the East, but also the knowledge the West produced about the East has become a tool for the East to understand its own identity in the form of "self-colonization." There is, therefore, a very difficult question of representation to be addressed. How is the East represented in the West? How do so-called "scientific and scholarly" works contribute to the formation of concrete policies? How do complex social, political, and philosophical ideas contribute to the ways in which we perceive those who are other than us?

Required Texts: (available in the Earlham College bookstore)

Leela Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction, (New York: Columbia University, 1998)
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972)
Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized (Boston: Beacon Press, 1965)
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, (New York: Grove Press, 1967)
Edward Said. Orientalism, (New York: Vintage Books, 1978)
Meyda Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

In addition to these texts, there will be additional reading material on reserve at the Lilly Library:
G.W.F. Hegel, "Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness: Lordship and Bondage" from Phenomenology of Sprit, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 111-119.
Homi Bhabha, "Interrogating Identity: Frantz Fanon and the postcolonial prerogative" from The Location of Culture, (London: Routledge, 1994), 40-65.
Homi Bhabha, "Remembering Fanon: Self, Psyche and the Colonial Condition" from Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 112-123.
Jacques Derrida, "The Crisis in the Teaching of Philosophy" from Who's Afraid of Philosophy?, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), 99-116.

Course Requirement and Evaluation:
You are expected to write one short paper (5-6 page) and two long papers (8-10 page). I will provide paper topics for each assignment. You are also allowed to decide on your own topic provided that you discuss your topic with me at least a week before the deadline. Along with the paper topics I will also provide specific guidelines for each topic. Besides this, for every paper (including papers on topics of your own choice) you are responsible for following the general guidelines provided. (See "Comments and Suggestions for Papers").

For each week, one student will prepare a two paged (single-spaced) protocol of the material discussed during the previous week. A protocol is a carefully edited summary of the previous class sessions written in full sentences.  Protocols will be photocopied by the student who wrote it and handed out to all students at the beginning of each Monday to be read aloud, and will serve as a cumulative record of the course. The student who prepares the protocol will be required to come to class a couple of minutes early, so that the protocols will have been distributed at the beginning of the class (i.e., at 2:30). In addition to reviewing the material covered in the previous class, the protocol should include announcements made in class, questions raised, and, if possible, future questions for the material to come. The best protocols will be those that do not simply reproduce word for word everything that was said during class, but those that rearrange the material thematically, editing out what was unimportant, and emphasizing what was significant. The point of this is to allow you to think during class, and not just take notes; because someone will be taking notes for you, you can concentrate on the ideas being presented, and participate without having to write constantly. Also you will have a summary of every class which will help you with writing papers.

Your grade will be calculated according to the following distribution:
Paper I: 20%,
Paper II: 30%,
Paper III: 30%,
Protocol: 10%,
Class Participation and Attendance: 10%.

Class participation and attendance:

This course will be conducted in a seminar format.  Therefore, attandance and participation are important dimensions of the course and your grade.  I expect you to come to class prepared and ready to participate, i.e., having read the text carefully, and ready to raise and answer questions.

Office hours are for students to discuss ideas, assignments and questions. You are encouraged and welcome to come by my office or make appointments for times other than scheduled office hours. You should take advantage of office hours and appointments not simply to discuss your papers (you are obviously welcome to do that too) but also to understand ideas, and texts discussed in class.

Any student with a documented disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact the instructor and Disability Services Office (Academic Support Services) at the beginning of the semester. Accommodation arrangements must be made during the first-two weeks of the semester.

There may be some modifications to this calender. It is your responsibility to be aware of these changes. These changes may be announced in class. If you miss a class you should make sure that you are informed about the assignments for the next session.

Week 1:
August 26: Introduction; Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory

Week 2:
August 30: Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory
September 2: Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory

Week 3:
September 6: Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism
September 9: Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism

Week 4:
September 13: Hegel, "Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness: Lordship and Bondage"
September 16: Hegel, "Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness: Lordship and Bondage"

Week 5:
September 20: Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, Introduction and 1-76
September 23: Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, 77-153

See the revised calender

Week 6:
September 27: Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized
September 30: Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, 1-40

Week 7:
October 4: Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, 83-108
October 7: Midsemester Break

Week 8:
October 11: Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, 109-140
October 14: Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, 140-232

Week 9:
October 18: Bhabha, "Remembering Fanon"
October 21: Bhabha, "Interrogating Identity: Frantz Fanon and the postcolonial prerogative"

Week 10:
October 25: Said. Orientalism, 1-110
October 28: Said. Orientalism, 111-166

Week 11:
November 1: Said. Orientalism, 166-197
November 4: Said. Orientalism, 199-328

Week 12:
November 8: Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies, 1-67
November 9: Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies, 1-67

Week 13:
November 15: Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies, 68-144
November 18: Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies, 68-144

November 22 -November 26: Thanksgiving Break

Week 14:
November 29: Derrida, "The Crisis in the Teaching of Philosophy"
December 2: Derrida, "The Crisis in the Teaching of Philosophy"

Week 15:
December 6: Review
December 9: Review and Evaluations

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