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(post/de)Colonial thinking: where can we begin?

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(post/de)Colonial thinking: where can we begin?

Oct 12, 2021

By Christina M. Sayson

Colonialism is a complicated subject. Unlearning the damage that colonialism (in its many forms) has wrought can be a challenging, deeply personal process, and the question of where to even begin can be an overwhelming one.

This link offers a brief, crowdsourced list of readings for people interested in learning about the effects of global colonialism and postcolonialism in Southeast Asia and beyond. Different people have added their own suggestions based on their own disciplines and areas of interest. The link is not editable, but if you wish to add your own suggested readings to this document, please comment below.

To start, here are a few recommended readings from the linked list above:

Orientalism (1973), by Edward Said (1935-2003), a Palestinian-American literature professor and public intellectual, is an excellent book to begin one’s unlearning journey. It describes the ways the West constructs an other it refers to as “the Orient” –an umbrella term used to encompass the peoples and cultures of Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Anthropology and the Savage Slot: The Poetics and Politics of Otherness (2003), by Michel-Rolph Trouillot (1949-2012), a Haitian-American anthropologist, is an excellent illustration of how the history of one discipline can be deeply intertwined with White Supremacy and the colonial enterprise.

On Ethnographic Refusal: Indigeneity, ‘Voice’ and Colonial Citizenship (2007), by Audra Simpson (b. 1969), a Kahnawake Mohawk feminist and anthropologist, discusses the concepts of “indigeneity” and “citizenship” from an indigenous perspective.

Soldiering through Empire: Race and the Making of the Decolonizing Pacific (2018), by Simeon Man, an Asian-American historian, discusses the history of U.S. imperialism in the context of 20th Century Southeast Asia.

These readings are a very small sample of what is available in the list linked above, and only serve as an example of what this blog post writer feels might make a good introduction to post/decolonial discussions in Southeast Asia. Please feel free to look through the suggestions in the link for titles that may pique your interest.