Postcolonial Criticism Critical Theories Today- a User-friendly Guide By – Lois Tyson

In Critical Theories Today- a User-friendly Guide (2006), Chapter 12, Postcolonial criticism, Lois Tyson delineates the creation of a double-identity and cultural-alienation through the severe deliberate intrusion of the colonizers to subjugate a people and culture. Tyson brings forth the seriousness of the consequences the colonies in the postcolonial phase face – even in the contemporary times. She discusses about the loss of identity – partially or dominantly after these territories were decolonized. And the loss of identity introduces the formation of a new identity – the Postcolonial identity, which is a new cultural identity is very different from the original cultural identity that existed before colonization. And the formation of this new identity may imply the coexistence of multiple cultural entities.    

Tyson writes, “What has been left behind is a deeply embedded cultural colonization: the inculcation of a British system of government and education, British culture, and British values that denigrate the culture, morals, and even physical appearance of formerly subjugated peoples” (419). The subjugated people, during their period of subjugation, are made to feel demeaning about their own cultures. They accepted the colonizers’ culture as superior to theirs. Therefore, even after the colonizers left, the now free people developed a new identity of their own. This is, according to Tyson, is ‘a postcolonial identity’ which is based on either devaluing or negating the primary culture altogether. The native, indigenous, precolonial culture no more holds an individual and independent identity and hence “the postcolonial cultures include both a merger of and antagonism between the culture of the colonized and that of the colonizer” which is “difficult to identify and separate between discreet entities” (419).

The effect is the creation of a dual identity, according to Tyson. However, it can be said that it is not that just the two different identities are created, rather it is still a subjugation of the primary culture and the dominance of the colonizer culture, as well as, it is also a route to the creation of multiple identities. The appreciation of the new domination quotient of the identity paves the path for appreciation of other cultures regarded superior by the postcolonized people. For instance, Eurocentric language implies the existence of the first world and the second world which are considered to be superior to the third and the fourth worlds (420). Hence, it can be said that there are not two cultures merger, rather there are multiple cultures merger that is taking place even now.

However, the postcolonial identity may be understood more clearly as one that can be placed in context of some or more degrees of the loss of the original precolonized culture of a people. It is a developed attitude of a people towards the self-subjugation of their own primary cultural identity. And it may be understood that the new cultural identity is ambiguous in nature and a promotion of the accepted and supposedly bigger cultures.

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