Local Colonialisms

The reading selection was a great choice. I have some questions, though,
about its implications for a project that has absorbed me for a while now.

I wonder how a "local" critique might defuse such obviously valuable global
categories as "imperialism" or "colonialism". How, in dealing with
discourses produced from colonial frontiers, do we know when we have passed
from an "autonomous, non-centralised kind of theoretical production" (a
contradiction in terms?) to a politically naive empiricism? To what
extent is it important that we attempt to construct stable definitions for
terms like "colonialism," and would this project be derailed by Foucault's
insistence on localizing knowledge?

I am particularly curious to know how the other members of this list have
responded to Homi Bhabha's work, especially _The Location of Culture_. For
all its bewildering brilliance, what is the political value of so blurring
the lines between colonized and colonizer (or denying that they exist at
all)? Do terms like "colonialism" continue to have progressive political
value if we expose them as partial, incomplete, conflicted?

>In each case, the attempt to think in terms of a totality has in
>fact proved a hindrance to research....
> I believe that what this essentially local character of
>criticism indicates in reality is an autonomous, non-centralised kind of
>theoretical production, one that is to say whose validity is not
>dependent on the approval of the established regimes of thought.

Edwin McAllister
University of Oregon,
Dept. of English
Eugene, OR 97403-1286
home 503-686-9704 office 503-346-0528


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