Orientalism and post colonialism

Published:  12:00 AM, 22 January 2017

An unconscious change of culture

Prachototto O Uttor-Uponibeshic Samaj by Fakrul Chowdhury, publisher - Katha Prokash in February 2014

Many years back Edward Said remarked, "The more one is able to leave one's cultural home, the more easily is one able to judge it, and the whole world as well, with the spiritual detachment and generosity necessary for true vision. The more easily, too, does one assess oneself and alien cultures with the same combination of intimacy and distance."

That's what everyone needs to do in this post-colonial world with full of orientalism. Basically, 'Orientalism' is a way of seeing that imagines, emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts differences of Arab peoples and cultures as compared to that of Europe and the U.S.  Albeit, Edward W. Said, in his groundbreaking book, Orientalism, defined it as the acceptance in the West of "the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, 'mind,' destiny and so on."

On other words, orientalism is 'a manner of regularized (or Orientalized) writing, vision, and study, dominated by imperatives, perspectives, and ideological biases ostensibly suited to the Orient. Fakrul Chowdhury, in his splendid book, "Pracchototto o Uttor-Oiponibeshik Shomaj" delineated the idea of orientalism and its relation with post-colonial society perfectly.

The reason I loved the book to the moon and back is because of the nice interconnection Fakrul maid with a reliable reference from different books and articles, especially, Edward Said's "Orientalism". In the annexure, Fakrul admired and analyzed Said's work with much ado.

Then again he conjugated the idea of orientalism with post-colonial society which certainly bring about a whole bunch of truth in front of reader's eye. He outmatched every other writer by drawing examples from numerous sources in academic, imaginative, and political writings, Fakrul doodles the Europeans' sense of superiority, their vantage point of the Orient as unchanging, and their own prerogative to exercise power over Orientals.

He insists the permanence of Western views and divides his critique into different fields which more or less describes the orientalism and post-colonial society. Additionally, Fakrul also emphasizes on the fact that how orientalism gives birth to an epidemic disease-racism. He invokes that orientalism introduces the idea of the other, where it excludes all but the British, French, and Arabs. This certainly is a concerning issue world-wide. 

Moreover, Fakrul also drew an outline of post-colonial society and its effect on our life. The issue of colonization interferes with the struggle of native people to adapt to a new culture. They have to face a serious obstacle of suppression, and sometimes overt annihilation, of the native people's former lives and culture that comes with the new presence of an Other. The term 'Other' who believes -- deep in his heart -- his culture is superior. This other, neither a typical enemy nor a traditional invader, also, does not possess similar traditions.

He stands on a land that is not his own, but on a land belonging to dead ancestors. Rather, this colonizer -- a foreign force -- holds that idea that the land he has come to conquer truly can be owned and furthermore, that it can be owned by him.

He holds an unfaltering belief that his culture is superior to the one he has come to suppress. Obviously, problems of crossed identity and imposed inferiority and even a raging hatred for the colonizer surface in the consciousness of the colonized people. Here is where the term 'post-colonialism' comes into play.

 The word is a tool -- a methodology, if you will -- of examining, most often through literature, what happens when two cultures clash, based upon one of the culture's assumptions of his superiority. Stephen Slemon.

 in "The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, cites 'post-colonial' as 'the name for a condition of nativist longing in post-independent national groupings' (45) and as "the need, in nations or groups which have been victims of imperialism, to achieve an identity uncontaminated by universalistic or Eurocentric concepts and images" (125).

These are harsh words involved in the definitions we have before us; 'victims of imperialism' calls forth sordid images of tortured natives at the hands of white oppressors.

Colonialism undeniably calls up a degree of suppression. But more often than not, and in the case of all of the novels to be discussed, this oppression takes the form of a mostly unconscious cultural assimilation -- an unknowing indoctrination of the colonialists' beliefs upon their colonized persons.

Essentially, post-colonialism introduces two sides to the issue of expansion and creates the two distinct parties of colonizer and colonized-oppressor and oppressed. Post-colonial, as a term, refers to more than just a people adjusting to changes; it includes the relationship between the changed and the changer, the One and the Other, with these roles being continuously traded between the two sides, worn by one and then by the other. Within this very relationship, the unconscious assimilation that's at the heart of post-colonialism comes into being.

Fakrul's innovative way of explaining and broader perspective of viewing things has made the book worthy of reading. His crackerjack style of writing makes this topic very much soothing and easy for the readers. He can be considered as the prophet of this subject, as he delivers a simple solution 'Gandhi's ideology' to diminish the violation raised by Orientalism and Post colonialism.

The reviewer is schooling with BRAC University. She can be reached at ishrataftab121@gmail.com

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