chapter  1
Introduction: The decolonization question
Pages 47

This introductory chapter is a small theoretical exercise to trace selective episodes of responses to colonialism in the era immediately following the end of World War Two, essentially concerned with the problems within the (ex-) colonies, in order to situate the essays in the book. From the point of view of the history of a global decolonization movement (within which cultural studies has featured), the contemporary moment of the (ex-)colonies is still one of a process of decolonization, and in at least three connected but convolute forms: nationalism, nativism, and civilizationalism. All three of these forms have been endorsed but at the same time critically cautioned against by earlier analysts. Fanon’s critique of nationalism in the 1940s and 1950s, during the peak points of the Third World independence movement, Memmi’s questioning of nativism during the 1950s and 1960s, and Nandy’s revitalization of a critical traditionalism (which I shall later describe as civilizationalism) some twenty years after the formation of India, are all connected to and emerged in response to what Young (1990) calls the West, what Sakai designates as ‘the putative unity called the West’ (1988:477), or what Hall (1992) succinctly articulates as ‘The West and the Rest’. But why, thirty or forty years later, are we (who live in the (ex-)colonized globe) still deeply shaped by the questions posed by our fore-runners in the critical tradition? Well, because of the neocolonial structure. We have been ‘made’ to identify with intellectual formulations coming from the (ex-)imperial centers, and hence have completely forgotten the powerful interventions made by Fanon, Memmi, or Nandy. A sad story. If we had ‘listened’ carefully to them, we might have been better placed not to continue making the same mistakes. It is never too late to listen though. The problem is whether we have the desire to reconnect to the discursive formulations so as to empower ourselves and others.