Postmodern Approaches to the Short Story

By Farhat Iftekharrudin; Joseph Boyden et al. | Go to book overview

9
Homi K. Bhabha and the Postcolonial Short Story

Catherine Ramsdell

The term [postcolonial] may be somewhat of an oversimplification. It seems to imply merely that which happened after colonialism, which in turn would imply that all literature written by once colonized people is postcolonial literature. While this definition may sound acceptable, numerous critics including Albert Wendt, Frantz Fanon, and Homi K. Bhabha would be quick to disagree because in the beginning of the twenty-first century, postcolonial literature is supposed to be something more than simply the literature written after colonization. Postcolonial literature must be more than literature written during a certain time period; it must also be something very different from colonial literature. And this dilemma presents postcolonial writers with a difficult task because postcolonial literature uses the same genres and often the same language as the literature that formerly helped to oppress postcolonial authors. Albert Wendt summarizes some of the problems with postcolonial fiction in his introduction to Nuanua: Pacific Writing in English Since 1980, stating that not all postcolonial literature succeeds in its desire to be [different from and opposed to colonial literature] (Wendt 3). He contends that [[c]olonial literature created a whole mythology about us. This is still being perpetuated in some of the supposedly post-colonial anthologies] (Wendt 2). Neither can postcolonial literature merely portray the once colonized as [[h]apless victims and losers in the process of cultural contact and interaction; [whose] cultures have been 'diluted' and 'corrupted'] (Wendt 3). Changing definitions of what is truly postcolonial versus poststructural or postmodern further complicate the issue. In actuality, postmodernist themes appear regularly in postcolonial works. Perhaps because [[l]ike the postcolonial, postmodern literature is still defining itself, clearing a space for itself, declaring itself against some of the tenets of modernism,] an

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