The decolonial subject and the problem of non-Western authenticity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

It is argued in this paper that some decolonising strategies in the study of global politics are precluded by the problem of non-Western authenticity. I question the idea of an identifiable non-Western geo-cultural context that could significantly reconstitute what already is a post-Western subject. I claim that in most cases the asymmetrical encounter between the colonised and the coloniser has fundamentally and extensively redefined human subjectivity in a way that largely negates decolonial emancipatory projects. This is the result of the all-encompassing penetration of Western coloniality (in its political, economic and cultural representations) into the spaces of pre-colonial or uncolonised forms of subjectivity. I draw from Frantz Fanon’s and Jacques Lacan’s theories to argue that attempts to recover non-Western forms of self-identification are useful albeit illusory psychological mechanisms to stabilise hybrid postcolonial subjectivities rather than an actual restoration of non-colonial and purified forms of existing in the world. I suggest that an effective anticolonial politics of resistance will necessarily entail the understanding of post-Western subjectivity in terms of psychological ‘hybridity’ rather than decolonial ‘authenticity’.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-167
Number of pages18
JournalPostcolonial Studies
Volume22
Issue number2
Early online date5 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 May 2019

Keywords

  • authenticity, postcolonial psychology, post-western subjectivity, decolonial thought