1. Research Congresses
        2. 1st FORMER WEST Congress
        3. Video

        Postcolonial Critique and the End of the West

        Paul Gilroy

        5 November 2009

      1. The discourse of multiculturalism in the politics of the former West remains complacently Euro-centric, in particular when it comes to the blind spots of the continuing impact of colonialism and imperialism on contemporary life. A certain kind of melancholy can be identified here; one that is linked to neoimperialist politics and actively prevents undertaking the difficult process of dealing with the legacy of colonialism from both a historical and present-day perspective. This keynote attempts to unsettle this complacentness by experimenting with a periodicization of postcolonial criticism in Europe, with a focus on postcolonial theory and the postcolonial critique of the construct of the “West,” which remain a productive and critical point of entry in any attempt to unsettle the West’s hegemonic political, social, and cultural narratives. This is often overlooked when the critical focus falls exclusively upon literary matters; indeed the insights of this body of thought go well beyond purely literary or aesthetic critique, touching rather on all aspects of our contemporaneity. In the current era of globalization, which has reemphasized certain aspects of modern life such as citizenship and our relationship to national identity, postcolonial criticism and postcolonial critique can provide important tools for mapping the history of the multiculturalism debate, and also reveal how black culture was part of Europe’s “cleaning up” after the Fascist period.