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Friday, April 17, 2009

Postcolonial Melancholia review link

Paul Gilroy's book Postcolonial Melancholia sounds interesting - check out this review at the site Boston Review. From the review:

"Paul Gilroy’s Postcolonial Melancholia is a deeply engaging exploration of this question. The book, Gilroy’s most recent assault on both racism and the concept of race, examines Britain’s urban centers to extend the cosmopolitan anti-race project he began in his influential books, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack and Against Race. Here, Gilroy applies the Freudian concept of melancholia, as it was adapted by German social psychologists to explain Germany’s postwar reactions to its “loss of a fantasy of omnipotence.” He argues that, while Britain attempts to deny the contemporary effects of its imperialist past, it has effectively reaffirmed the colonial order, with its racial divisions, through the post-9/11 “politics of security.” At the same time, this reaffirmation neglects the spontaneous and vibrant multiculturalism that has emerged in British cities and that might, Gilroy argues, provide a “bulwark against the machinations of racial politics.”"

And, several paragraphs later:

"Convivial multiculturalism would be promising if Gilroy’s aim were to supplement strategies grounded in black collective struggle rather than supplant them. But despite his defense of claims for reparations, Gilroy discounts black solidarity as a morally viable path to antiracist democracy. In particular, Postcolonial Melancholia caricatures black nationalism as totally derivative of European nationalist thinking and inextricably connected to colonialism. To Gilroy, nationalist ideology is the corner into which Africans were hemmed by the “distinctive geometry of colonial power,” in which Europeans divided the earth along racial lines and gave each racial or ethnic group “its own space where it is at home and can identify itself.” Beginning with the anticolonial theorists, Gilroy argues, black nationalists have been complicit with their rulers by “translat[ing] the terms of their national liberation back into the very same moral economy . . . [of] Europe’s colonial order.” Relying on Frantz Fanon, he suggests that an “inverted but essentially similar adaptation of the settlers’ racialized mentality” among “the resentful and angry natives” continues to do damage even after colonialism’s demise. Having precisely the same roots in the colonial racist order, Gilroy concludes, black nationalism and white supremacy must be ranked equally, along with a “variety of depressing options in the unwholesome cornucopia of absolutist thinking about ‘race’ and ethnicity,” by the superior ethics of planetary humanism that recognizes “the universality of our elemental vulnerability to the wrongs we visit upon each other.” (It is not clear why the Enlightenment concept of humanism is capable of redemption from its colonial European pedigree whereas nationalism is not.)"

Read the rest of the long review at Boston Review.

Here's Amazon's page for the book - if you want to buy it & check it out.

- Sujewa

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