Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Defining Alterity

A Postcolonial Representation of Arabic
by Mohamed Benhaddou - Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tetuan, Morocco
[Find the complete paper Here]

Textualizing events, beliefs, traditions and languages of the subjugated communities has always served the colonial purposes. The general aim was to indicate through the power of discourse who matters most and who is subordinate. Such a practice could not be said to be ended in post-colonial era. Post-colonial discursive practices still carry traces of colonial textualization of the Other. Euro-centricism, then, was not covert during colonization to the extent that the concept of European superiority was made very salient in most colonial writings and mainly in travel writings. In fact, intellectual superiority formed the control centre, i.e., the macro-topic around which all the other concepts are simply used to support and to strengthen the major topic.

Such discursive practices have not disappeared in the aftermath of colonialism. Residual effects have persisted. They have remained the usual and the common practice whenever the Other -and by Other it is meant not only the individual, but everything characterizing this individual- is taken as the object of scientific inquiry as it is the case of post-colonial study of Arabic. This paper is an attempt to illustrate certain aspects of post-colonial discursive practices concerning the linguistic habits of the Other. It is in actual fact a critical review of, or in post-colonial terms, resistance to studies dealing with the language of the Other. Such an approach is intended to show not only the actual view of the Self vis-à-vis the Other, i.e., the confirmation of the superior Self vis-à-vis the inferior Other. But it intends to explore the operational process underlying the creation and utilization of language. This kind of process takes advantage of the structural, textual and contextual factors, in order to achieve the ultimate aim behind the production and reception of such a stretch of connected verbal interaction, as it manifest itself in dominant discourse practices or in counter-discourse practices.

Inspiring picture by Thavisouk
[artist: Dan Perjovschi]