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Subject Brooks' postfeminism
Posted by Vivian
Posted on Thu Jun 1 11:54:25 2000
From IP h100.s104.ts.hinet.net  

A Journal on Ann Brooks' "The 'Landscape of Postfeminisms': the Intersection of Feminism, Cultural theory and Cultural Forms"


Ann Brooks' essay mainly explores the interrelationship between postmodernism, feminism, and postcolonialism. Annn Brooks views that feminism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism all concern about the reconstruction of identity, subversion of Eurocentric patriarchal History, and agency in resistance against dominant Western culture or system of thoughts. This essay is indeed a complex one because Ann Brooks elicits viewpoints from miscellaneous critics and then offer her arguments. In this journal, I would like to focus on Brooks' discussion of how postcolonialism intersect with postmodernism and feminism since my major is about postcolonial theory and criticism.

At the very beginning of the part entitled "The Intersection of Feminism, Postcolonialism, and Postmodernism," Brooks offers and then develops Hutcheon's distinction between postcolonialism and postmodernism. However, in my own view, Hutcheon seems to over-simplifiy postcolonialism, whose emphasis is more than "the relationship between imperialism and subjectivity." It is true that postcolonialism mainly concerns about the subjectivity of the colonized and cultural and economic agreesion of the imperial country such as the United Sates in the postcolonial age. Nevertheless, most often, people in some postcolonial countries, though now free from the dominance of the empire, still suffer from internal colonization. The native elites who assert a higher social rank and receive Western canonical education now return to their own country and colonize their people by enforcing their thoughts on people of the lower social position for their own political or economic benefits. Different countries which used to be the colonized face different problems in the postcolonial age. Therefore, Hutcheon's view is too naive.
Moreover,not only postmodernism butalso postcolonialism put emphasis on the relationship between liberal humanism and subjectivity. Edward W. Said serves the best exmple of an advocator of liberal humanism. In Said's critique of humanism, the colonizer appropriates the Western notion of humanism to debase the colonized as the non-humnan, barbarious, so that they can enfornce their "civilizing mission" to educate the colonized into more human-like people.

Later on, Brooks presents During's viewpoint of postcolonial identity and offers her own critique. During argues thath postcolonial identity is "an identity uncontaminated by universalist or Eurocentric concepts or images." I quite agree with Brooks' critique of During's argument in her notion that a postcolonial identity is plural and hybrd rather than pure and totalized. Because the identities of the colonized are constructed under the influence of the Western culture, we cannot simply say that an postcolonial identity is unaffected by "Eurocentric concepts or images." In Spivak's view which contitues the postmodern notion of identity, any pure identity or essentialized subject is non-existent because individual's identity cannot be traced "in isolation from both the colonizing formation and other sectors of local society" (Moore-Gillbert 87). Therefore, During's idea of postcolonial identity actually reinforces the Eurocentric, hegemonic notion of identity--the colonizer is always on teh side of "Self," whereas the colonized is always represented as "Other." Furthermore, I cannot agree During's view that the desire for a postcolonial identity is closely related to nationalism. Actually, in this transnational, cosmopolitan world influenced by late capitalism or international finanical organization such IMF, each country has cultural, economic, and soical influences toward each other. Therefore, on country can no longer assert essentialized nationaism but instead embrace transnationalism. The desire for essentialist nationalism will only result in another version of imperialism. For example, Mainland China always appropriates nationalism--"One China Policy"--to claim the rights of Taiwan and then attempt to perform an imperialist behavior of regaining or suppressing Taiwan by military forces.

In addition, the section "The 'Political Ambitions' of Postfeminism and Postcolonialsim" also manifests some problems. Firstly, it is an Eurocentric and hegemonic to argue that "Postfeminism and postcolonialism have both therorised the politics of oppression and repression," in which "women, like colonized subjects, have been relegated to the position of "Other," "colonized" by various forms of patriarchal domination" In my viewpoint, this statement displays Western, hegemonic binarism of the colonizer/ the colonized and men/women. The stereotypical differences between the colonizer and the colonized, according to Homi BhaBha, is actually fluid and ambivalent. This dichotomy of the colonizer/ the colonized and Self/ Other is another reinforcement of Eurocentric essentialist idea.

Secondly, in this section, Mohanty・s critique of Spivak is problematic. In my own view, Mohanty seems to misunderstand Spivak・s argument on the Sublatern. In fact, Spivak does not deny the existence of the voices of native women as Mohanty criticizes. According to Spivak, the Subaltern women cannot speak because their voices are not heard by the patriarchal society and thus form a :cognitive failure,; a failed communication. To retrieve the voices of the subaltern women, Spivak in her essay :Deconstructing Historiography; even offers some strategies, such as tracing the rumor and negative voice-consciousness, or subject-effect, and endowing the subaltern women citizenship.

Generally speaking, Brooks・ essay is creative and valuable in pointing out the overlapping notions of postmodernism, feminism, and postcolonialism. However, it is pitiful that in offering various critics・ argument, Brooks sometimes fails to provide

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