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English Literature   >   Postcolonialism


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In this course, Professor Ania Loomba (University of Pennsylvania) provides a broad introduction to the field of postcolonial studies. In the first module, we think about the scope of postcolonial studies, including running through some key definitions. In the second module, we consider the intersection of race and class in colonial societies, before turning in the third module to the concept of ‘colonial discourse’, especially the work of Michel Foucault (1926-84) and Edward Said (1935-2003). In the fourth module, we think about the concept of knowledge itself was transformed by the colonial encounter, before turning in the fifth and sixth modules to think about responses to colonialism and postcolonialism in literature. In the seventh and eighth modules, we think about the concepts of nationalism and pan-nationalism in a colonial and postcolonial context, before turning in the ninth module to think about the interaction of gender and nationalism. Finally, in the tenth module, we think about recent developments in postcolonial studies, including the shift to non-European perspectives and the interaction of postcolonial studies with environmental activism.


In this lecture we think about the scope of postcolonial studies, including some key definitions, focusing in particular on: (i) the origins of the word ‘colonialism’ and the dictionary definition of the word ‘colony’; (ii) the importance of both the colonisers and the colonised when thinking about colonial encounters; (iii) the history of colonisation, including the Roman Empire, the Mongol Empire, the Aztec Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Qing Empire; (iv) the key differences between ancient and early modern empires and modern European empires; (v) the global scale of colonisation and (consequently) post-colonialism; (vi) the different kinds of colonialism and the key features of each, including: administrative colonialism, settler colonialism, plantation colonialism, and territorial annexation; (vii) the concept of neo-colonialism; (viii) the continued impact of colonialism in ‘postcolonial’ countries, including the oppression of those who remain outside the ruling elite even after formal decolonisation (e.g. African-Americans in the United States, lower-caste Indians in India, etc.); and (ix) the importance of precolonial as well as colonial and postcolonial histories.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Loomba, A. (2022, October 14). Postcolonialism - Definitions [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Loomba, A. "Postcolonialism – Definitions." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Oct 2022,


Prof. Ania Loomba

Prof. Ania Loomba

University of Pennsylvania