How to Write a Paper on Post-Colonialism

by Robert Russell

Post-colonialism is an umbrella term used to embrace a large variety of topics. The term "post-colonial" is an effort to give a name to the time period that follows colonialism. It is related to other such terms as postmodern and deconstruction. Colonialism refers to the age of European imperialism. The European powers -- England, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal -- divided much of the world among themselves. European colonies existed in the Americas, a large part of Africa, a large part of the Middle East, as well as some parts of Asia. The age of colonialism usually is associated with Eurocentrism. European culture, science and ideas became the standard by which all other cultures were measured.

Focus on a particular academic discipline that is concerned with post-colonialism. Post-colonialism is a topic in philosophy, political science, history, art, film and literature. One theme that each of these academic disciplines share in common -- and the reason that all are post-colonial -- is the question of identity. Post-colonialism or post-colonial "theory" is concerned with a colonized people's sense of identity.

Select a particular theme or topic. The post-colonial concern with identity can be broken down into related categories such as racism, Eurocentrism, European imperialism, domination and oppression, and cultural diversity. Some theorists also place feminism within the post-colonial camp.

Research the important theorists and writers who have written on your theme or topic. For example, if you are writing about the European domination of Latin America, one of the important thinkers to consider is the Argentine-Mexican philosopher Enrique Dussel. Dussel has written extensively on the about the post-colonial experience of Latin American and the Eurocentric model that has dominated philosophy, science and politics.

Choose a writing style for the paper. A paper on post-colonialism may be expository or critical, or an original analysis. If the paper is written for a college course or seminar, the professor will offer guidelines for the paper. An expository paper presents a theorist or thinker's theories about post-colonialism. An expository paper may clarify certain elements of the theorist or thinker's position that are not clear. A critical paper, on the other hand, focuses on weak points, contradictions and inconsistencies in a particular theory or theorist. The third option is the most difficult. Presenting an original analysis requires extensive research and familiarity with the relevant literature.

Divide the paper into an introduction, main body and conclusion. The introduction should start with a thesis statement that tells the reader exactly what the paper is about. The main body may be divided into several subsections. Each subsection should be devoted to a particular theme or argument. The conclusion summarizes the major points of the paper and anticipates possible objections.

About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.

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