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Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction
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Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #98)

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  334 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Postcolonialism explores the political, social, and cultural effects of decolonization, continuing the anti-colonial challenge to western dominance. This lively and innovative account of both the history and key debates of postcolonialism discusses its importance as an historical condition, and as a means of changing the way we think about the world. Key concepts and issue ...more
Paperback, 178 pages
Published September 25th 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2001)
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Arianna
Jun 02, 2015 Arianna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone. literally everyone needs to read this
Shelves: favourites
I think the reading of this book should be mandatory in order to understand the world we live in.
Reading this book helped me reaffirm and understand ideas that were already present in my head, expanding them with new concepts and facts or defining them in better terms.
Adam
Atrocious. Young is a terrible writer, absolutely uninterested in providing real arguments, instead using the rhetoric of an angry teenager in a Che t-shirt.

I don't think I have a problem with postcolonialism, broadly. Edward Said is one of my intellectual heroes. But I do have a problem with the sort of unconsidered, moronic, stupid, and, get this, fundamentally imperialistic and colonial PC white guilt 'you poor third world- sorry- tricontinental people' crap this book is full of. As just one
...more
Aaron
Jan 12, 2011 Aaron added it
Not enough praise could be expressed for Oxford University Press’ ‘Very Short Introductions’. They provide excellent surveys of a field of study with just enough depth to sensitise the reader to the potential of a set of disciplinary tools. Unfortunately, praise for the series as a whole cannot be applied to every book. Robert J. C. Young’s addition to the series is one those texts that does what it promised but in a fashion which seems alien to its topic.

Young admits that Postcolonial theory ha
...more
Justin Evans
Not really well-named, but then, this isn't a short introduction to anything in particular. It's more like a selection of only the most outrageous stories from thirty years worth of the Guardian Weekly. So if you're young and want to get all hep up about bombing and racism, and are more or less unaware that, e.g., the 'problems' of Iraq are more or less the result of imperial/colonial/Western stupidity, this book will blow your mind. If you thought that 'postcolonial theory' was anything in part ...more
Jon
A solid intro to postcolonialism that approaches its subject from a less theoretical perspective and from a more activist, humanitarian viewpoint. Robert Young is insistent that the best approach to tackling postcolonial issues is not from the top down, but from the ground up. Using examples and ideas from Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Vandana Shiva, Ghandi, and others, Young rather nicely shows just how important and valid some of the actions and philosophies of these radical activists and revolut ...more
missy jean
I was sometimes confused by Young’s organization, but I appreciated his fundamental premise of emphasizing that postcolonialism can only be understood with a “bottom-up” perspective; as he writes in the introduction, "Postcolonialism is about turning the world upside down and looking at it from a different perspective, that is, from the perspective of the disenfranchised people, a majority of whom come from the developing world." To this end, I appreciated the fact that his narrative emphasized ...more
Pete
Jan 15, 2012 Pete rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
The books in Harvard's "A Very Short Introduction" series never feel as short as they look, and maybe that's partly why they're so effective. Postcolonialism has been a looming theme in my studies for the almost 8 years I've been studying in university (I want a refund). Young's "introduction" to the subject is easily the best summary for anyone that needs to have more than a passable awareness of the basic tenets of Postcolonialism but doesn't want to marry it.
Joseph Sverker
There are one or maybe two good sections in this book. One is about women in postcolonialism, in particular eco-feminism, but that, to my mind is the only redeeming feature of this book. It reads so much like a manifesto for postcolonialism that I think it is embarrassing that OUP ever could let something like this through their publication process. I think it is a good thing that the authors of these books writes from 'within' the field so to speak, but surely some level of critical distance sh ...more
jzthompson
Post-Colonialism seems to be an important subject to get to grips with but I am afraid I would not start with this simplistic VSI for a introduction.

Rather than a broad introduction into what Postcolonialist theory involves the book reads as a long and disjointed list of stuff that happens in countries that used to be colonies. Things that the author approves of are "post-colonial" and things the author doesn't approve of are neo-colonial. So Algerian Rai music* is post-colonial, except when We
...more
Sue Lyle
A very readable narrative approach to colonialism and its aftermath through the stories of some of the main protagonists in the struggle to fight against colonial domination. It attempts to include all the countries that have been colonised and provides an overview of the vast sweep of domination and control of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East by the powers of Europe and neo-colonial domination by multinational companies today. But in such a short and limited book it provides little ...more
Matthew Reed
According to the author, "the strategy of this book has been to introduce postcolonialism without resorting to the abstractions of postcolonial theory." Which is all well and good for the author, but while there is a lot of interesting stuff in this book, when I was done I knew very little more about the subject than when I started it. At times the book sounded more like a religious tract or a political advertisement, as if he was trying to justify the subject to the reader. I couldn't help wond ...more
Aaron
The postcolonialism entry into the Very Short Introduction series was a bit of a letdown after I enjoyed the literary theory one so much. Like that entry, Postcolonialism avoids looking at the specific academic theories; instead, Young mainly examines the historical moments that led to postcolonial theories. This maneuver is a good approach in so far as the field is too vast in both its academic positioning (philosophy, history, literature...) and its loci of interest (India, the Caribbean, Lati ...more
Steven
Holy crap, I'm so glad I read this. First off, if you've been put off by the highly abstracted language of intellectual poco literature, fear not. It shows up in this book in the examples (segregated as chapters), but only needs to be understood in it's own right in the final chapter (humorously titled "Translation"). I don't really want to ruin the book for you except to say that I finally have a good basic understanding of the foundation Frantz Fanon builds on.

Some bad points: in the section o
...more
Nina Leshan
I appreciate the attempt to write an introduction to postcolonial studies that is accessible to people outside of the academy but I am not so certain that Young succeeds. I am trying this out on my undergraduate students and I will let you know how they interact with the book
Jeremy
Due to it's narrative style, it's certainly easier to read than many of the other offerings by OUP's Very Short Introductions series; but it's readability shouldn't be mistaken for a lack of substance. Aside from the weird and oblique suggestion that Americans are taller because of the human growth hormones that are injected into cattle, Young's writing is concise and pointed. The downside of this brevity is that many of the critical terms that Said, Bhabha, Spivak and others routinely use aren' ...more
Haythem Bastawy
A very useful short introduction to postcolonialism, for me it was a sobering refresher! The unique aspect of the book is that it introduces the reader to postcolonialism through snapshots from history and literature rather than from postcolonial theory.
Jeff
If you are looking for an introduction to Postcolonial thought, I'm not sure that this is your book. In spite of the author's attempt to bring the theory down to a manageable level, there are several instances where the jargon still slips through.

Additionally, there are several instances where the author contradicts himself. Unforunately, he seems to have no problem with this as he admits that he is simply trying to let the individuals he highlights speak for themselves, irregardless of whether
...more
Genevieve
At times illuminating, at times very frustrating. The author takes a very circuitous route to approaching postcolonialism, piecing together a collection of journalistic-style stories that are apparently supposed to add up to a sense of what postcolonialism is. One might get a sense of a general postcolonial worldview or perspective from the book, but it does not really discuss the theoretical underpinnings or historical development of postcolonialism.

This book is not the same as the author's Pos
...more
Erin
Hmm, this was poorly written, I felt. In the final chapter, Young says that he has tried to write about post-colonialism without "resorting" to abstract theory. I could have used some abstract theory.
Donghyup Ryu
At first, I thought this book is about explaining some concepts about post-colonialism. Instead, it seeks to show real life case of colonial and post-colonial relation. Those methods help me understand what postcolonialism influences on creating new culture and knowledge.
Amber Tucker
I can't pretend I'm terribly impressed with Young's attempt to give a micro-introduction to PoCo. Very little information is given clearly; too many examples and not nearly enough theory is presented. My overall impression is that the author is both so knowledgable and so emotionally drawn into the metanarratives of postcolonial thought that he can't take a step back and write from a clear, less-biased vantage point. Rather ironic, this, given the entire point of postcolonialism, but sometimes t ...more
Abrar
Very interesting approach that determinately avoids theoretical jargons to a more example-picture demonstration. 5 stars.
Naomi90
One of the best books I have read in a while. You might not agree with everything but so far the structure of the book is just perfect and have helped me alot in my studies.
Rebecca
So far, a fantastic and accessible entry into postcolonial theory. I look forward to hearing what my students think. Very creative approach, involving second person narratives, photographs, and snippets of news stories. Inventive and thought-provoking.

The only chapter I'm not thrilled with so far is the one on postcolonial feminism. Ironically, this is many people on Goodread's favorite chapter. I just don't understand why the author spent half the chapter on Gandhi. It's the one chapter in the
...more
Shirin
Easy-read. Finished it in an afternoon and liked it.
KW Wong
Consistently engaging but glaringly digressive.
Geert
different format. some parts were very interesting, mostly a narrow view.
Tim C
Interesting to read the very mixed reviews here of this little book. My main bugbear was the writing style - which in places is so achingly hip and "in yer face" it's the lexical equivalent of repeatedly being poked in the eye. The last chapter helpfully says the book isn't about postcolonial theory - but a bit on that very thing might've helped make the book more useful. Not sure what I gained from reading this which I didn't already know even as a non-specialist.
DoctorM
Not a bad read, and not uninformative. But it relies on a series of cut-and-paste journalistic accounts to give a fairly shallow and partisan look at global events and issues of dependence and political control. The book lacks real depth as regards the literary and cultural underpinnings of postcolonial theory. Worthwhile as a quick introduction to the idea of postcoloniality, but not useful for a look at literary or sociological theory.
Sylvia
This book sucks. I was hoping to read something that was a nice introduction into the theory of postcolonialism and main concepts, etc, but it's really just a descriptive collection of stories. It wasn't bad to read itself, but I wanted to get more out of it. I don't think that was the best way to write a "Very Short Introduction To" book.
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