Postcolonial theory is based on the notion that the historical impact of colonial rule and expansion in a decisive manner affects current scholarship, culture, philosophy, literature as well as the economy, politics, law and society in both the global North and the global South. Postcolonial Studies aim to explore the legacies and consequences of European colonialism in its various aspects – literal, artistic, spatial, historical, political and economic, while usually avoiding a specific focus on particular countries, regions or disciplines. “Classical” postcolonial theory (as represented by Edward Said, Homi K. Bhaba, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak) has developed mainly in the U.S. academy and focused predominantly on the former British colonies, the English language and processes of colonization and decolonization of the 19th and 20th century in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (and partly the Caribbean).
In addition to this well-established line of research, and in order to establish an inter-American perspective on post-colonial theory, the seminar includes perspectives from Spanish language Latin American and Caribbean contexts according to which colonialism in the Americas originates in the 15th century with the Spanish/Portuguese conquest and who see Eurocentric modernity as closely intertwined with colonial rule (see Moraña/Dussel/Jáuregi 2008). Such so-called decolonial approaches (see Quijano, Coronil, Mignolo) shift the perspective towards colonial processes and legacies in the Americas and also towards an inclusion of the political and economic entanglements cultural expressions and texts are embedded in. In the seminar, we will discuss central representatives of both concepts with respect to their genealogies, their merits, and their shortcomings.
Furthermore, this interdisciplinary seminar will provide an overview over historical, literary- and cultural studies methodology and its application in the context of Inter-American Studies.