Thursday, January 27, 2011


Bill Ashcroft gives his readers the definition of poscolonialism as his main perspective in is piece Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, and associates several other terms with postcolonialism to describe the significance the have on a culture and group of people. This piece was very helpful in giving me a better understanding of what postcolonialism is and how it relates to the characters in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Ashcroft begins by stating the general definition of postcolonialism to give readers the exact idea of what the rest of his discussion will be about. Ashcroft simply states that postcolonialism "deals with the effects of colonization on cutures and societies." (Ashcroft, 186). Colonization is an important word here describing the act of settling or taking possession of. This is exactly what we see occurring in Things Fall Apart as the Europeans come and inhabit the villages. He takes this definition and expands it thoroughly to apply to several other concepts in his article. One concept, universalism, was something I found particularly interesting because it applies directly to the novel. I immediately thought of how the Europeans invade Okonkwo's village and introduce several new concepts, such as Christianity to the people. Ashcroft defines universalism as a "hegemonic view of existence by which the experiences, values, and expectations of a dominant culture are held to be true for all humanity." (235) The word "hegemonic" struck me because it is a word used to descrie influence from a dominant group over a culture. As the missionaries establish Christianity in Umuofia, they employ universalism because they make it seem as though it is the religion that all men should follow. "The church had come and led many astray. Not only the low-born and the outcast but sometimes a worthy man had joined it." (Achebe, 149). This page goes on to say how the white man was proud of Ogbueffi becacuse he received the sacrament of Holy Communion, making him an official part of Christianity. This automatic acceptance into the now dominant culture makes it seem easy and appealing to join, which is how th Europeans are able to slowly take over the entire village and culture. Achebe does an excellent job of showing how postcolonialism and universalism have an effect on a group of people, especially through the introduction of Christianity. He also shows the emotional effects on the people, such as Oknkwo who hope to bring the village back to its original ways. Postcolonialism is shown in more than just pure domination over a culture, but through the emotion shown through the "weaker" culture as they submit to authority.

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