postcolonialism is the academic study of the cultural legacy of colonialism and imperialism, focusing on the human consequences of the control and exploitation of colonized people and their lands.
postcolonialism is a critical theory analysis of the history, culture, literature, and discourse of european imperial power.
the name postcolonialism is modeled on postmodernism, with which it shares certain concepts and methods, and may be thought of as a reaction to or departure from colonialism in the same way postmodernism is a reaction to modernism. the ambiguous term colonialism may refer either to a system of government or to an ideology or world view underlying that system—in general postcolonialism represents an ideological response to colonialist thought, rather than simply describing a system that comes after colonialism. the term postcolonial studies may be preferred for this reason.
postcolonialism encompasses a wide variety of approaches, and theoreticians may not always agree on a common set of definitions. on a simple level, it may seek through anthropological study to build a better understanding of colonial life from the point of view of the colonized people, based on the assumption that the colonial rulers are unreliable narrators.
on a deeper level, postcolonialism examines the social and political power relationships that sustain colonialism and neocolonialism, including the social, political and cultural narratives surrounding the colonizer and the colonized. this approach may overlap with contemporary history and critical theory, and may also draw examples from history, political science, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and human geography.
sub-disciplines of postcolonial studies examine the effects of colonial rule on the practice of feminism, anarchism, literature, and christian thought.