Friday, August 22, 2008

Ouma, Steve Odero, and Aakash Singh. "Review of Mary-Jo Delvecchio, et al., eds. POSTCOLONIAL DISORDERS." MOR August 5, 2008.

Delvecchio, Mary-Jo, Sandra Teresa Hyde, Sarah Pinto, and Byron Good, eds. Postcolonial Disorders. Berkeley: U of California P, 2007. The overarching thesis, as articulated in the Editors' Introduction, is that colonialism had a distortive effect on the psyche of the colonized and that this distortion continues to manifest itself in the lives of individuals in the postcolonial world. The Editors begin by defining three key terms: subjectivity, disorders, and postcolonial. The definition of subjectivity provided is curious, however, especially given that it is the focus of the book as a whole. Although the scope of the meaning of subjectivity is at first limited to the quality of being an individual subject of a postcolony, as soon as the reader reaches the first chapter, she finds that the state is also a subject. The focus thus shifts from individual subjectivity to the subjectivity of polities, but the transition is made without the help of the copious traditional scholarly material on the topic. Quite the contrary, reference is made to the deficiencies of the literature on subjectivity, from Foucault's archaeology of the modern subject, through Lacanian analyses of political subjectivity and gender, to Judith Butler's linking of subjectivity and subjection. The irony of such an exercise is that the works referred to are theoretico-philosophical in nature and thus ought not to be measured against the essays in this book, which purport to be ethnographic instead. The term disorders puns on the clinical or psychiatric sense of a malady, as well as referring to the contradiction between the 'order' imposed throughout the colonial experience and that which has prevailed in the postcolonial era. All the authors included in the volume seem to agree on a fundamental axiom, that the contemporary postcolonial situation has been profoundly and determinatively impacted by the colonial regime, which may be characterized by violence, subjugation, appropriation, exploitation, marginalization, and so on. Thus, disorders are to be expected, and postcolonial, then, naturally gets defined in terms of traumatic memory and imposed institutional structures. . . . Read the whole review here:

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