Overview of postcolonial literature and its relevance to geography


Postcolonial literature emerged as a major field of study in the late 20th century, following the end of colonial rule in many countries around the world. It encompasses a diverse range of literature, including novels, poetry, and non-fiction works, that explore the experiences of colonized peoples and their struggles for cultural, political, and economic independence. This literature has significant relevance to the field of geography, as it sheds light on the complex and enduring effects of colonialism on land, space, and place.

One of the key themes of postcolonial literature is the disruption and displacement of Indigenous peoples from their traditional lands. The legacy of colonialism has resulted in the forced removal of Indigenous populations and the reconfiguration of landscapes through the establishment of new borders, boundaries, and territories. This has had profound impacts on the cultural and environmental identities of Indigenous communities, as well as their traditional modes of subsistence and relationship with the land. These issues are intricately connected with geography, making postcolonial literature an important resource for understanding how colonialism has shaped the physical and cultural landscapes of Indigenous peoples.

A prime example of this can be found in the works of Australian Indigenous author, Alexis Wright, who has written extensively about the effects of colonialism on her own people, the Waanyi nation. In her novel, “Carpentaria”, she explores the struggle of the Waanyi people to maintain their cultural and spiritual connection to their land, despite threats from mining and development projects. Through vivid descriptions of the rugged landscape and the profound spiritual significance of certain sites, Wright highlights the enduring ties between the Waanyi people and their traditional lands. This novel, and others like it, provide valuable insight into the intersection of geography and postcolonialism, and the ongoing struggle for Indigenous land rights.

Postcolonial literature also offers valuable perspectives on the ways in which colonialism has shaped human relationships with the environment. In many colonized countries, natural resources were exploited for the benefit of the colonial powers, resulting in significant environmental degradation and the depletion of resources. Postcolonial writers like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o from Kenya and Bessie Head from Botswana have depicted the struggles of their respective nations to recover and restore their lands after years of exploitation. These works demonstrate the importance of considering the environmental consequences of colonialism in understanding the social and economic realities of formerly colonized countries.

Moreover, postcolonial literature can also provide insights into the ongoing subjugation and marginalization of Indigenous peoples in the postcolonial era. In many countries, colonial powers have been replaced by national governments that continue to perpetuate discriminatory policies and practices against Indigenous populations. This is often reflected in literature, such as the works of Maori author, Patricia Grace, who portrays the struggles of her people in New Zealand to reclaim their cultural and land rights in the face of ongoing oppression and colonization. Through such narratives, postcolonial literature brings attention to the continued relevance of colonialism in shaping the geographies of contemporary societies.

In conclusion, postcolonial literature offers a rich and nuanced understanding of the intricate relationships between colonialism, geography, and Indigenous peoples. Through its depiction of displacement, environmental degradation, and ongoing struggles for land and cultural rights, this literature provides valuable insights for geographers and other scholars interested in understanding the lasting impacts of colonialism on the physical and cultural landscapes of the world. As such, it is a highly relevant and essential field for further exploration and study.