Professor Steven Alvarez
English 391 W
21 May 2011
Issues of Identity in a Postcolonial Nation: The Weakening and Confusion of Cultural Identity in Derek Walcott’s Omeros and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony
After a nation endures the process of colonization, the native people inevitably experience extreme changes in the life that they had once known. On the surface, the land and economics have visibly changed, but the changes beneath the surface within the native people are just as important and devastating. Colonization alters their entire way of life, therefore affecting their culture and how they have come to identify themselves. In a postcolonial setting the colonizers impose certain religions, languages, and so-called “acceptable” ways of life upon the native people, effectively smothering their cultural identity.
Omeros by Derek Walcott and Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko both depict how living in a postcolonial world weakens the identity of the local residents. Both novels explore how the victims of colonization are dominated by their conquerors. This domination is initially found in the pursuit for profitable endeavors. However, the invaders end up with so much control over the local citizens that their domination reaches all aspects of the natives’ lives. Richard Young’s explanation of colonization in his article, “Colonialism and the Desiring Machine,” reveals the similarities between colonization and capitalism, demonstrating how native people lose their identity and become reduced to nothing but a mode of income for those in control. Young uses the terms “deterritorialization” and “reterritorialization” in order to describe what happens to people in a postcolonial nation. He uses “deterritorialization” to describe how the locals are taken out of their previous contexts, meaning that the way they used to live is broken apart and taken away from them. This term is applied to their economic situations as well as their cultural situations. Everything in their lives is then “reterritorialized,” or put back together, in a way that suits the colonizers. Young’s explanation truly helps reveal how the natives lose their identity.
While the two novels present the destruction of identity, they also demonstrate how important identity is and how it can be maintained. Omeros and Ceremony portray the importance of history and ancestry as a way to preserve identity. They also show how writing and storytelling can capture identity and give the marginalized people in postcolonial nations a voice. The novels simultaneously work to show what colonization does to the native identity while also giving the native identity a way to survive.
The following video is from a lecture at Yale University. The professor is introducing his class to post-colonialism. He mentions a few of the “big names” in terms of postcolonial critics, research, and theorists. While the video is lengthy, the ideas he brings up serve as an excellent introduction to post-colonialism and different views on the topic. He poses great questions about post-colonialism that get you to think about the meaning of the term and applying it to today’s world.
Accounts of Colonialism
In his article titled “Colonialism and the Desiring Machine,” Young reveals the consequences of capitalism for oppressed nations and people. Using Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concept of deterritorialization, Young depicts the power relations within a capitalist order. He describes how capitalism reduces formerly established institutions and cultures only to rebuild them in a way that serves the capitalist system. He applies this same interpretation of capitalism to colonialism, exposing the loss of culture for the oppressed people in a postcolonial world. Colonialism deconstructs all ways of life stemming from marginalized civilizations and reconstructs them in ways that work within the preferences of those in power. Without a connection to their own culture, subjugated groups lose once integral parts of their lives, resulting in loss of identity. In his article, Young illustrates his analysis of capitalism, stating:
it has to operate through a double movement because it must first of all do away with the institutions and cultures that have already been developed. The basic need of capitalism is to engineer an encounter between the deterritorialized wealth of capital and the labour capacity of the deterritorialized worker. The reduction of everything, including production and labour to the abstract value of money enables it to decode flows, and ‘deterritorialize’ the socius. Having achieved a universal form of exchange, it then reterritorializes –institutes or restores all sorts of residual and artificial imaginary or symbolic territorialities such as nation, states or families [ . . . ]. (82)
Young describes the base notions behind capitalism, depicting it as a “double movement” since it must first take apart anything formerly built before it can construct its own enterprise. On one side of the capitalist movement, previously developed and currently active “institutions and cultures” must be broken apart and “do[ne] away with” before new institutions and cultures can take their place and integrate into society. Young utilizes Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of deterritorialization to explain how capitalism aims to “engineer” the relationship between “wealth of capital” and the worker. After capital and the worker end up “deterritorialized” and taken out of their previous conceptualizations, capitalism reduces them to “the value of money.” Capitalism then “reterritorializes” everything in terms of money, establishing its own “institutions and cultures.” The capitalist point of view recreates the very ideas of “nations, states or families.” When Western society infiltrates other nations with a capitalist desire and interest at its core, these populations lose their own “institutions and culture.” Young recognizes that capitalism shares the same “violent physical and ideological procedures of colonization” (82). He explains how just as capitalism takes apart old “institutions and cultures” to create new ones, colonialism implements a process of “deculturation and acculturation” (Young 82) to achieve the same goal. Colonized communities must abandon their cultural beliefs and adapt to the new culture that their oppressors impose upon them. Young states that the “indigenous society must be disrupted, dissolved, and then restriped according to the needs of the apparatus of the occupying power” (82). Similarly to how capitalism must “deterritorialize” old “institutions and cultures”, colonialism must “disrupt and dissolve” indigenous culture. As “the occupying power,” the colonizers reconstruct society to fit their needs just as a capitalist enterprise restructures society around money. Colonialism completely destroys native culture, taking away a huge part of peoples lives. Without this culture, dominated nations lose access to parts of their identity that come from deeply rooted traditions, stories, and ways of life.
Like Young, Walter D. Mignolo and Peggy Ochoa reveal the consequences of colonialism for native people. Mignolo discusses how Western imperialists construct the standards that they believe all people should fit in with. These standards include specific ideas about race, religion, and culture. The native people of postcolonial countries do not fit the standards and are consequently forced to give up their own identity. Ochoa recognizes how easily the voice of the native people can be overlooked. Colonizers constantly look to silence the colonized. However, Ochoa also acknowledges that if native people can find a way to preserve their culture, they can find their voice.
The upcoming video illustrates ideas about post-colonialism in the United States. The video focuses on Mexican-Americans and the cry for cheap labor in the U.S. After having just discussed Young’s link between post-colonialism and capitalism, this video highlights similar ideas. It also introduces identity issues, which is a main focus of this paper.
The Effects of Colonialism on Subjugated People in Derek Walcott’s Omeros
Walcott’s Omeros captures the struggle of the St. Lucian people forced to live in a world now alien to them. They feel estranged from their own homeland due to the influences and changes forced upon them by invading countries. These outside countries not only bring with them tourism and financial agendas, but also violate the indigenous people by destroying their way of life. The experience of a woman named Helen, whose predicament easily represents or reflects all of the resident people of St. Lucia, reveals how St. Lucian people lose their culture and identity. In his article, “Colonialism and the Desiring Machine,” Young uses a capitalist analysis to describe and connect to the postcolonial dilemma that exploited nations, such as St. Lucia, face. Walcott depicts the affects of colonialism that Young discusses with his images about Helen and St. Lucia when he writes:
She was selling herself like the island, without
any pain, and the village did not seem to care
that it was dying in its change, the way it whored
away a simple life that would soon disappear […]. (Walcott 111)
Helen and the island of St. Lucia itself both sell themselves to the dominant Western civilization that infiltrates their community. As Young explains in his article, the colonizers have reduced Helen and St. Lucia to “the abstract value of money” (82). They emerge from this degrading reduction “deterritorialized” (Young 82) by the colonizers, or taken out of all of their previous conceptualizations. Whatever Helen did before, or whoever she identified herself as, has been taken apart and “reterritorialze[d]” (Young 82) in monetary means for her oppressors. The island itself went through a similar experience, resulting in a “reterritorialize[d]” nation under the influence of the invaders who “do away with the institutions and cultures that have already been developed” (Young 82). Helen’s culture and identity, and inevitably the culture and identity of all of the people of St. Lucia, ends up fading away. The native people of the island and everything their identity hinges upon ends up “dying in its change.” The fact that the local people “did not seem to care” does not come from a heartless place, but a hopeless one. Playing the role that their oppressors allow them to develops into their only way to survive in this new environment. Their most stable and secure option remaining demands that they cater to the dominant group who holds power over them. Furthermore, the people of St. Lucia have gone through a process of “deculturation and acculturation.” They have not just simply turned their backs on their culture, but their culture faced obliteration and died out, resulting in a new way of life that they must adapt to and follow. As the epics main character, Philoctete, so vigorously states, the people of St. Lucia know how it feels to live “without roots in this world” (Walcott 21).
The island of St. Lucia means nothing more to the colonizers than a way to bring in financial success. St. Lucia’s oppressors use the sea, a once meaningful and integral part of St. Lucian life and culture, as a way to exploit the island. In this way, the sea has been “deterritorialized” (Young 82) from its previous importance to the St. Lucian people and their identity. In his writing, Walcott provides yet another vivid description that displays just how St. Lucia has been “reterritorialize[d]” (Young 82) in terms of money:
the gold sea
flat as a credit-card, extending its line
to a beach that now looked just like everywhere else,
Greece or Hawaii. (229)
The sea, once so much a part of St. Lucia and its people, is seen as being as “flat as a credit card,” a credit card being the main thing tourists really need to travel to St. Lucia. With this credit card they can purchase themselves time to lie on the beach and enjoy the sea, not even having to connect to it as the people of St. Lucia do. Their credit limits are the only connection they need. St. Lucia now looks the same as “everywhere else”; it is no longer distinguishable. Whatever made St. Lucia its own place with its own importance is not in the forefront any longer. St. Lucia has been “reterritorialize[d]” in terms of money and is now primarily seen as a vacation destination just like “Greece or Hawaii.” It does not matter that St. Lucia was once its own entity; it is now just a vacation spot for Americans.
This video visually illustrates the St. Lucia that is presented for tourists.
The Effects of Colonialism on Subjugated People in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony
Silko’s Ceremony conveys the tribulations of Native American people after colonization. The European people who have taken over the land have simultaneously made the Native Americans feel alienated from their culture. By coming to America to pursue financial undertakings, the colonizers have also destroyed the Native Americans’ way of life, thus resulting in a loss of identity for the oppressed indigenous people. In his article, Young discusses how colonized civilizations, such as the Native Americans in Ceremony, go through a process that reflects the circumstances of capitalism. Silko illustrates what Young puts forth when she writes:
But the fifth world has become entangled with European names: the names of the rivers, the hills, the names of the animals and plants – all of creation suddenly had two names: and Indian name and a white name; it tried to crush the single clan name, encouraging each person to stand alone, because Jesus Christ would save only the individual soul; Jesus Christ was not like the Mother who loved and cared for them as her children, as her family. (62-63)
The “fifth world,” or the Native American world, has completely changed from the infiltration of Europe into their society. The use of the word “world” shows that Europe’s colonization of the Americas has altered the entire lives of the Native people in order to accommodate the needs of Europe (which truly depict early signs of capitalist driven needs). In his article, Young describes how colonization must “do away with the institutions and cultures that have already been developed” (82). By the Native American world becoming “entangled with European names,” the colonizers have successfully begun to “do away with” the Native American language. Language and culture are deeply integrated; therefore altering or disregarding language ultimately alters or disregards culture. By “all of creation” having new names, the Native way of life changes drastically. The Native American culture presented in Ceremony shows a connection with nature as an integral part of their beliefs. Using a “white name” for the rivers, hills, animals, and plants negates the importance of what these things mean in the context of Native American culture and language. Everything entwined in the Native American culture ends up “deterritorialized” (Young 82) by the white men, or in other words, inevitably taken out of its previous contextualization. The world of the Native Americans develops into a “reterritorialize[d] (Young 82) postcolonial nation, or a world where everything restored fulfills the terms set by the white men, or the colonizers. The colonizers attempt to destroy the idea of clans in an effort to “reterritorialize” (Young 82) the institution of religion. The white men venture to force the belief in Jesus upon the conquered Native Americans, encouraging them to “stand alone” because Jesus only saves the “individual soul.” The bigger reason the colonizers prefer the Native Americans to “stand alone” stems from the risk of the dominated group actually fighting back. Now that the Natives have been “deterritorialized,” the colonizers want their culture to have no chance of revival, and keeping them separate will help ensure this. The white men take away the “Mother” that the Native American people love so much. After the Europeans breach America, the Native American people go through a process of “deculturation and acculturation” where they leave their old ways behind and forcibly assimilate to the now dominant group.
By colonizing America and using the land for profit, the European people converted the entire lives of the Native Americans who were once so in tune with nature. Silko writes, “When the railroads came and the white people began to build their town, the Navajos had to move” 108). The whites took over the beloved land and reduced it to “the abstract value of money” (Young 82). The colonizers used the land to expand their railroad enterprise, not caring about destroying this important aspect of Native American culture. The European people reduced the indigenous people to the “abstract value of money” as well. Silko describes this when she writes:
The Gallup Ceremonial had been an annual event for a long time. It was good for the tourist business coming through in the summertime on Highway 66. They liked to see Indians and Indian dances; they wanted a chance to buy Indian jewelry and Navajo rugs. Every year it was organized by the white men [ . . . ]. (107)
The “Gallup Ceremonial” uses the Native American people for monetary endeavors. The event “organized by the white men” serves as a way to bring in “tourist business.” The “Indian dances” that occur during this ceremony carry no significance for the white men. They do not truly care about these dances or about the Natives performing them. The fact that people pay money to see the “Indians” and that they gain wealth from this remains most important in the eyes of the oppressors. Tourists want to buy “Indian jewelry and Navajo rugs,” but they do not even know the value behind these items. These once cultural objects now have a price placed on them by the white men, revealing yet another aspect of Native American life that has been “reterritorialized” to fit the colonizers needs. The white men look at the world and “see only objects” (Silko 125). Everything they see on the land has no meaning to them as it did to the Native Americans. For the colonizers, every thought is materialistic.
The Importance of Ancestry and History
Walcott’s Omeros poetically depicts the plight of the people of St. Lucia in the post-colonial setting they must endure. The locals of this beautiful island must put on a daily performance for tourists who provide a source of income for the islands economy. Using a post-colonial lens, Walcott delves beyond the surface issues of tourism and exposes how the natives of St. Lucia lack a personal identity. Walcott reveals how the affects of slavery and colonization leave the African descendents now living in St. Lucia feeling detached from their ancestors and history, therefore feeling like they do not know themselves. Achille, an African descendent who lives as a fisherman in St. Lucia, illustrates just how separation from ones history can result in an identity crisis. Achille’s questions about his own identity lead him back to Africa in a dream where he encounters his father, Afolabe. Afolabe tells his son:
since every name is a blessing,
since I am remembering the hope I had for you as a child.
Unless the sound means nothing. Then you would be nothing.
Did they think you were nothing in that other kingdom? (Walcott 137)
Directly after Achille “asked himself who he was” (Walcott 130) for the first time, he ends up in Africa reflecting on the parts of his past that he no longer remembers. Afolabe asks Achille what his name means and Achille realizes that he does not know the answer. Afolabe reminds Achille that a “name is a blessing” and that if a name means nothing then “you would be nothing.” Achille cannot recall the meaning of his name, showing that he has forgotten his ancestral beliefs about the importance of a name relating to your own identity. Afolabe recognizes that Achille resides in another “kingdom.” The use of the term “kingdom” puts Achille in an entirely different realm, perfectly depicting how disconnected Achille has become from his history, ancestry, and Africa itself.
The first time Achille truly realizes that he does not have a clear idea of his identity, his subconscious brings him directly to an encounter with his African heritage. This comes as no coincidence since without knowledge of his past and background, he cannot clearly define his place in the world. Living in St. Lucia constantly surrounded by tourists and Western culture has separated Achille from his African culture just as slavery has tore him away from Africa and his people. Achille states that he has forgotten “his parents, his tribe, and his own spirit for an albino god […]” (Walcott 139). Not only does Achille acknowledge the fact that forgetting his parents and his tribe results in forgetting “his own spirit”, his own identity, but he also recognizes the fact that an “albino god” has played a role in his forgetting. Achille has fallen victim to the new Western influences and religious views in post-colonial St. Lucia.
Achille’s revelation reflects the ideas that Mignolo discusses in his article titled “Citizenship, Knowledge, and the Limits of Humanity.” Achille realizes that he has succumbed to the Western views about culture, life, and religion. Mignolo describes how Western views, such as the ones that Achille had begun to follow, are “naturalized assumptions” that have “shaped the world” (313). The colonizers bring in their ideas about their “albino god” (Walcott 139) and make it appear as if this belief is natural and should be universal. Such “naturalized assumptions” have made it appear that “Christian theology [is] the epistemic standard to classify the world” (Mignolo 318). Achille fell into the trap that made the “albino god” the “epistemic standard” for everyone to follow. After giving up various integral parts of his own identity, Achille sees that he has given up his spirit for the beliefs that the colonizers thrust upon him.
The Importance of Ancestral History and Knowledge
Silko’s Ceremony continuously depicts how the white colonizers force certain views and ways of life upon the Native Americans. The colonizers attempt to obliterate the ancestral history and knowledge that the Native Americans believe in. This history and way of understanding the world is deeply embedded in Native American culture. Thus, eradicating this information would concurrently break down essential elements of Native American identity. Silko’s descriptions about school and the white teachers show just how the colonizers views can destroy native beliefs and identity. Silko writes about Tayo’s, a Native American male’s, school experiences, stating:
He knew what white people thought about the stories. In school the science teacher had explained what superstition was, and then held a science textbook up for the class to see the true source of explanations. He had studied those books, and he had no reasons to believe the stories any more. The science books explained the causes and effects. (87)
The stories that Tayo introduces are vital parts of Native American culture and beliefs. The entire novel focuses on the importance of stories, going as far as weaving a Native American story in with the narrative itself. When the “white people” degrade these “stories” it is more than just mocking a fairy tale. Native American life and identity is built upon these stories. To write off these stories as “superstition” demeans everything that Tayo was taught to cherish. For the whites, a “science textbook” is used as the “source of explanations.” The whites want the native people to abandon their old “superstitions” and adapt to the ways of science, which is the only right way in the eyes of the white people.
The whites have “naturalized assumptions” (Mignolo 313) about where knowledge comes from, which they attempt to impart to the Native Americans. Tayo strives to hold on to his ancestral knowledge and identity, thinking about the “stories” and still “[feeling] it was true” (Silko 87). Tayo and the other Native Americans must endure this identity crisis. They have fallen victim to the white man’s “naturalized assumptions” about what holds true in the world. Mignolo captures Tayo’s predicament when he states, “colonial and imperial differences are ingrained in dominant imperial descriptions and justifications of their control over the population in the colonies” (322). Tayo’s white schoolteachers present the “ingrained” differences in their lessons. The “dominant imperial” groups describe their science books as the correct way to explain the world. Science becomes their “justification” in controlling the Native Americans.
The Power of Literary Work: Writing as a Means of Capturing Identity and Culture
Walcott’s Omeros reveals how the power of writing preserves identity and cultural history, allowing for it to be passed down to future generations. Walcott’s story acknowledges that the people in St. Lucia do not have a complete sense of personal identity due to their lack of history. Without any remnants of a past familial society or connection to their ancestors, the people of St. Lucia would have no way of ever discovering this long lost historical element of themselves. Through writing, history can flourish in modern civilization. In his work, Walcott purposely has his father, one of his own deceased ancestors, present the importance and value of writing in order to figuratively illustrate how writing can give past nations and people a voice. Walcott gives his father a voice using his novel just as he gives all departed or enslaved African people a voice. Walcott writes:
They walk, you write;
keep to that narrow causeway without looking down,
climbing in their footsteps, that slow, ancestral beat
of those used to climbing roads; your own work owes them
because the couplet of those multiplying feet
made your first rhymes. Look, they climb, and no one knows them;
they take their copper pittances, and your duty
from the time you watched them from your grandmother’s house
as a child wounded by their power and beauty
is the chance you now have, to give those feet a voice. (75-76)
Walcott writes this passage in the form of a speech from the ghost of his father, essentially summarizing the motivation and purpose behind this epic novel. The novel as a whole works to create a distinct narrative as well as an otherwise absent ancestral connection for the marginalized people of postcolonial St. Lucia. By writing a story that includes the present circumstances of the people of St. Lucia intertwined with encounters with the past, Walcott successfully constructs a story and history for his people. His father’s ghost describes the African women that Walcott used to watch as a boy who were working under colonial rule. The women “keep to that narrow causeway without looking down.” They climb the roads and trade in the contents of their basket for “copper pittances,” an unsubstantial compensation for their labor. These women do not need to look down because they know their work all too well, but also because they refuse to bow their heads to their oppressors. In this way, these African women display their “power and beauty,” presenting the proud ancestry they have to offer their family line. The fact that “no one knows them” explains the true problem. However, Walcott’s role as writer can change this. “They walk” and he can “write.” These women and their history provide the “ancestral beat” that has become a lost part of the identity of the St. Lucian people. The women’s “couplet” of “multiplying feet” provided Walcott with his first rhymes. He owes the basis of his writing to the history and poetry that comes out of a passion for the “beat” and story of his ancestral past. Through the power of writing, Walcott has taken the opportunity to “give those feet a voice” and provide the St. Lucian people with a history that contributes to their identity.
Walcott’s story fights to give a “voice” to the oppressed people of St. Lucia. Postcolonial nations often find themselves trapped in the narrative of the dominant colonizer. The oppressor controls what happens to their history, their identity, and their lives. As Ochoa describes in her article, “The Historical Moments of Postcolonial Writing: Beyond Colonialism’s Binary,” the colonizer’s power is perpetuated by “a totalizing discourse, a system that did not preclude the possibility of postcolonial thought, but that made such thinking ephemeral and easily dismissed” (222). The colonizer holds the power to control “discourse,” therefore making the thoughts of the subjugated group “easily dismissed.” Nonetheless, Ochoa acknowledges that postcolonial thought from the oppressed people is a “possibility,” but the colonizers have the power to repress this. Walcott’s novel is an example of the “possibility” of postcolonial thought. By making an effort to capture the identity of the people of St. Lucia, Walcott fights against the idea of being “easily dismissed.”
The Power of Stories: Story Telling as a Means of Capturing Identity and Culture
Just as Walcott’s novel displays how writing is a way to preserve identity and culture, Ceremony uses stories to portray the same message. Stories are an essential part of the lives of the Native American people and without stories the people lack a complete identity. With the white people trying to wipe out native culture, passing on stories serves as a way for the dominated Native Americans to capture their identity. Silko explains the importance of stories when she writes:
I will tell you something about stories,
They aren’t just entertainment.
Don’t be fooled.
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off
illness and death.
You don’t have anything
if you don’t have stories.
Their evil is mighty
but it can’t stand up to our stories.
So they try to destroy the stories […]. (Silko 2)
Oral stories are just as important to the Native Americans in Ceremony as writing is shown to be in Omeros. The Native American stories are not “just entertainment.” How they sound or what they may seem to be about on the surface is not all they represent. They are all the Native Americans have to “fight off illness and death.” The stories are clearly not just stories; they are devices of defense for the native people. The “death” in this quote is used both literally and figuratively. Native American people use their stories to fight off actually dying, but also use them to have their culture live on and avoid death. Just as writing in Omeros gives marginalized people a voice and a way to preserve culture, stories act in the same way for Native American people. Without stories, the people “don’t have anything” because stories keep their culture alive and preserve everything that they are about. The “evil” being described is the evil of the whites who have colonized them. Any “evil” that the whites can dish out is nothing compared to the power behind Native American stories. The stories truly help Native Americans fight back against colonization by keeping their culture circulating. The whites try to destroy these stories in order to dominate the Native Americans. Destroying their stories makes it easier to wipe out their culture, which in turn makes it easier to control them or to have them assimilate.
The white colonizers in Ceremony want to stifle the stories and culture of the Native American people. The natives experience what Ochoa describes as, “a dominant culture that impinges upon them and seeks to define and silence them” (222). The whites endeavor to “define” how the Native Americans should live their lives and what they should believe in (such as a science textbook). The whites want to “silence” the natives by using their own discourse and culture as the standard in society. Ceremony and its use of stories attempts to form a “new consciousness” that “actively resists colonial discourse […]” (Ochoa 228). The stories fight back against the dominant “colonial discourse” and act as a way to bring Native American culture and identity into “consciousness.”
Conclusion Concerning Identity Confusion
The effects of colonization on the St. Lucian people in Omeros and the Native American people in Ceremony demonstrate how damaging living in a postcolonial nation can be for the identity of a native inhabitant. Young’s analysis reveals the relationship between capitalism and colonialism, further exposing the consequences of native citizens being reduced to monetary value. While the colonizers work to destroy the culture and lifestyle of the subjugated people, the importance of ancestry and history for maintaining identity becomes clear. Mignolo’s article explains how the colonizing group in power uses their assumptions about the world in order to justify their control over the subjugated people and dispose of any ancestral ways of life. Writing and story telling become ways to give dominated groups a voice and a way to access their culture. As Ochoa discusses, these ways of preserving identity can resist colonial discourse and control.
Seeing the demoralizing and dehumanizing results of colonization poses questions about how to deal with issues of assimilation and identity confusion. The world is still a place full of capitalist driven conquests and racism. Yet, while we know so much about the terrible outcome of such endeavors and views, the same issues still arise today. Digging deeper into Mignolo’s ideas about “naturalized assumptions” can be a good start to a discussion about presupposed (so-called) “superior” standards of living. Also, looking into the history of other countries and researching other theorists, such as Edward Said, can be a good start for a deeper analysis of this topic. Picking up from the end of this study can lead into a discussion of the ways that literary works have fought against identity loss. Just as the writing and stories in Omeros and Ceremony can help to conserve identity, other tools or pieces of literature surely do the same thing.
The following video introduces Edward Said’s ideas about Orientalism.
“Fond Doux Holiday Plantation, A St. Lucia Vacation.” YouTube.com. oneishab1000. 2 Apr. 2010. Web. 27 May 2011.
Mignolo, Walter D. “Citizenship, Knowledge, and the Limits of Humanity.” American Literary History 18.2 (2006): 312-331. JSTOR. Web. 7 May 2011.
Ochoa, Peggy. “The Historical Moments of Postcolonial Writing: Beyond Colonialism’s Binary.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 15.2 (1996): 221-229. JSTOR. Web. 5 May 2011.
“On Orientalism- Edward Said (2/4).” YouTube.com. assaltivebear, 12 June 2007. Web. 27 May 2011.
“Post-colonialsm.” YouTube.com. mmrcer. 1 Dec. 2009. Web. 27 May 2011.
“22. Post-Colonial Criticism.” YouTube.com. YaleCourses. 1 Sept. 2009. Web. 27 May 2011.
Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. 1977. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. Print.
Walcott, Derek. Omeros. 1972. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990. Print.
Young, Robert J. C. “Colonialism and the Desiring Machine.” Postcolonial Discourses: An Anthology. Ed. Gregory Castle. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2001. 73-98. Print.