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Postcolonial theory (postoriental) is a literary theory or critical approach that deals with literature produced in countries that were once, or are now, colonies of other countries. It may also deal with literature written in or by citizens of colonising countries that takes colonies or their peoples as its subject matter. The theory is based around concepts of otherness and resistance.
Postcolonial theory became part of the critical toolbox in the 1970s, and many practitioners credit Edward Said's book Orientalism as being the founding work.
Typically, the proponents of the theory examine the ways in which writers from colonised countries attempt to articulate and even celebrate their cultural identities and reclaim them from the colonisers. They also examine ways in which the literature of the colonial powers is used to justify colonialism through the perpetuation of images of the colonised as inferior. However, attempts at coming up with a single definition of postcolonial theory have proved controversial, and some writers have strongly critiqued the whole concept.
- Bill Ashcroft (ed.) et al. The Post-Colonial Studies Reader
- Alamgir Hashmi The Commonwealth, Comparative Literature and the World