[ilds] conspiracy

Pamela Francis albigensian at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 7 21:06:04 PDT 2007


Bill said:
>Okay, after the coronation of Bush 2, I do believe in conspiracies.
>Perhaps theory is a way of keeping us from close analysis of what is
>actually happening. Is theory a way of intellectualizing the fact that
>Iraq is a killing ground, a slaughter house? Theory is a way of keeping a
>segment of the society off the streets and away from revolution.

I would say exactly the opposite--that "theory" (which both you and Michael 
are using much too rigidly) is a way to analyze what is happening--and I, at 
least, have never found that thinking about a situation automatically 
justifies it.  I'll admit, I am not likely to join any revolutionary 
organizations, though I do regularly send money to the Maryknoll sisters.  
At least i know why i do, and I want my students to know why they do or 
don't do things like this as well.

Bill is concerned that "theory" is yet another level of the power hierarchy, 
and Michael is convinced 'postcolonial theory' is a club of some sort 
regulated by the postcolonial police.

Michael says:
My suggestion is that the so-called theory is in fact a highly tendentious, 
ideological and in
fact extremely narrow-minded, short-sighted and basically unlearned way
of looking at history and culture, not to mention literature.

Both Bill and Michael continue to refer to theory as if it is a consolidated 
set of rules and concepts that must be followed religiously--some sort of a 
twelve-step program for reading a text.  But I must especially take 
exception to the "basically unlearned way" of looking at culture, etc.  
Postcolonial--or as i prefer to say, Empire studies, requires both broad 
knowledge (long-ranging histories of a region) and deep investigations 
(human migrations, minority religions, etc) in a vast array of fields.  
indeed, this is its appeal to me, and, I assure you, many other postcolonial 
scholars (I have no scare quotes on postcolonial this time--until there is a 
more accurate way to describe my-and many others' interests, I have to go 
with the admittedly problematic postclonial).

I can't --and wouldn't--try to "convert" either of you, even if there were 
some thing, some program to sign you up to.  I will defend my own position, 
however,my own approach to literature, as my way of making sense of the 
world, which I think is why many of us read at all. I will also defend the 
intellectual abilities of fellow "postcolonial" (quotes aqain!) scholars. 
---Pamela







>From: william godshalk <godshawl at email.uc.edu>
>Reply-To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: [ilds] conspiracy
>Date: Sat, 07 Jul 2007 20:46:40 -0400
>
>
>
>Okay, after the coronation of Bush 2, I do believe in conspiracies.
>Perhaps theory is a way of keeping us from close analysis of what is
>actually happening. Is theory a way of intellectualizing the fact that
>Iraq is a killing ground, a slaughter house? Theory is a way of keeping a
>segment of the society off the streets and away from revolution.
>
>
>Bill
>
>
>At 08:29 PM 7/7/2007, you wrote:
>
>Yes, but where did this term
>'postcolonial' theory come from?  There is
>
>an angle to it, I suspect, and a boundary -- things it includes and
>
>excludes, and does so in certain ways to a certain purpose, and
>
>arranged by certain people with an agenda.  My suggestion is that
>the
>
>so-called theory is in fact a highly tendentious, ideological and in
>
>
>fact extremely narrow-minded, short-sighted and basically unlearned way
>
>
>of looking at history and culture, not to mention literature.
>
>:Michael
>
>
>
>
>
>
>On Sunday, July 8, 2007, at 12:26  am, Pamela Francis
>wrote:
>
>
> >
>
> > Michael said:
>
> >> No, Bill, you do not understand.  Postcolonial theory is
>about
>
> >> colonialism and what follows.  So they tell me.  How
>can you read a
>
> >> book without knowing whether the writer is oppressed?  But
>it is such
>
> >> a
>
> >> big field.
>
> >
>
> > I would like to venture that both Bill and Michael are more rigid in
>
>
> > their
>
> > use of "theory" than the issue warrants.  i think now
>that my use of
>
> > Bill's
>
> > "categories" unintentionally enforced that rigidity. The
>only non-leaky
>
> > commonality of postcolonial theories, readings, etc., is that they
>
>
> > deal with
>
> > areas once ruling or once ruled by empires--I actually prefer to
>think
>
> > of
>
> > the general field as Empire Studies, rather than postcolonial. 
>In any
>
> > case,
>
> > Empire (in Egypt, for instance, Ptolemaic, Ottoman, French, British,
>
>
> > etc.)
>
> > absolutely affected the political and cultural permutations of the
>
>
> > region, a
>
> > point made by Michael:
>
> >
>
> > If reading Durrell, for example, one would want to know
>
> >> about post-Ottoman colonial theory, and also post-Byzantine
>colonial
>
> >> theory, and that is just for reading Bitter Lemons. 
>Post-Arab
>
> >> colonial
>
> >> theory would not go amiss for catching the wider frame of
>reference.
>
> >> These are after all the great imperiums that have shaped and
>continue
>
> >> to shape the Middle East and the Mediterranean to this day --
>culture,
>
> >> language, thought, religion, even landscape.
>
> >
>
> > Michael's summary is fairly straight on, though I will take
>exception
>
> > to his
>
> > earlier comment that one can't read a book without knowing if the
>
>
> > author is
>
> > oppressed.  That is exactly what youdon't assume; close reading
>will
>
> > elicit
>
> > power structures or their subversion--think of LD's description
>of
>
> > Mountolive's dealings with Memlik Pasha or Nessim's gift of the
>Qu'ran.
>
> > Postcolonial reading just keeps an eye open to the relationships of
>a
>
> > work--race, gender, power relationships.  No, it doesn't save
>the
>
> > world.
>
> > But this discourse is especially productive, I think, for critical
>
>
> > thinking,
>
> > as the parallels of past empires and present international politics
>are
>
> > evident, even for the untrained undergraduate.
>
> >
>
> > So I would like to know
>
> >> from Pamela which of these relevant postcolonialisms she deals
>with
>
> >> when turning out her product.
>
> >
>
> > I hope that I answered the question.  peace, all--Pamela
>
> >
>
> >>
>
> >> :Michael
>
> >>
>
>
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>W. L.
>Godshalk  
>        *
>Department of
>English         *
>University of
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>Stellar disorder  *
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