Postcolonial Modernities

Bill Ashcroft


A major feature of post-colonial theory has been its ability to analyse historical developments of culture: expressions of anti-colonial nationalism; the paradoxical dissolution of the idea of nation along with the continuous persistence of national concerns; the question of language and appropriation; of the transformation of literary genres; the question of ethnicity and its relation to the state. But the broader question for this century concerns the way in which postcolonial theory is positioned to approach the continuing issues of global power, global interaction and cultural difference in the coming century. One answer to this has been a growing, and now well-established, interest in cultural and ethnic mobility, of diaspora, of transnational and cosmopolitan interactions. This article goes beyond this to analyse modernity using the tools of postcolonial theory to argue for the multiplicity of modernities. Modernities proceed in various ways, but the process of transformation demonstrated by the literary model can be adapted to examine the proliferation of alternative and multiple modernities. Special attention shall be given to India and China as alternative modernities to help to re-think the nature of modernity itself.


Postcolonial; modernities; Western modernity; transformation; India; China; Afro modernity

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