Sunday, March 27, 2011

Call for Help!

Ok guys, I need your help on this one.  I've been thinking a lot about what I want to write my paper on, and I'm still not really sold on anything.  I've been trying to figure out what in this class most interests me, what I think about the most outside of class.  And I think it's got to boil down to the relationship between the colonized and the colonizer.  I love how twisted and complicated it is.  I mean it's really like watching a movie about a really complicated relationship where one person is not really any more bad than the other; they both make mistakes and hurt the other, and they both try to do the right thing.  It's kind of fun to go back and forth as you try to pick a side.  Obviously, coming from my earlier post, there is one clearly evil character:  the colonizer.  And the colonized is completely the victim.  But nothing in life is so black and white.  I have a fascination with human behavior, I suppose.  And I really like the idea of scaling down a national situation to a more personal (and perhaps more easily accessible), two person-situation.  I love metaphors, and creating a story-line with two characters and how they interact would make for a killer metaphor (of allegorical proportions!).

So I want to closely examine that relationship.  If not so much the characters themselves (like Memmi's Portraits of the Colonized and the Colonizer), but how they interact.  And catch the whole relationship too, like before the colonizer invades and starts colonizing, then during, then the whole time the colonizer is there (and then also looking at the reaction of the metropole, the common people still living in the homeland of the colonizer), then finally liberation and it's after-effects.

I feel like I've learned so much about the colonization of Northern Africa (I guess the class would have been a failure if I didn't feel that way), and I'm tempted to just delve further into that situation, with this specific "relationship" lens.  But then there's always South America.  I have a growing fascination with the place, and I fully intend to live there for a while, very soon.  So that would be cool, to do a bunch of historical research on Peru, then go there myself.  Or Guatemala, where two of my best friends are from. Those best friends too, are indigenous, living in a small town in the mountains and learning Spanish as their second language, after their first native tongue (Mam, a type of Mayan).  Or!  It would be kind of cool to just follow their story, first looking at the colonization of Guatemala (in particular the Spanish colonization) and then follow them to the States where they currently live and work.  Then I could look at the somewhat neo-colonialistic relationship between the US and Guatemala and their lives here, which often parallel aspects of the colonized's lives, but in a reversed situation in that they are living in the land of the colonizer and not the other way around.

See, at this point I'm just swimming in ideas, and I'm really needing a more focused direction.  I've pretty much named all the things I'm interested any specific paper ideas?  I'd love those.

One other thing, I'm a little worried about finding my research.  Especially the research regarding the colonial history of say Peru or Guatemala.  In class, most of the actual historical facts I've learned about the colonization of North Africa have come from fabulously knowledgable professors like Dr. Barnard and Dr. Propes.  In the minimal amount of research I've done, however, on the topics of South American colonization, I've mostly come across articles that are either far too elementary or far too complicated.  Any suggestions for this matter?

Obi-Wan, I need your help.

Monday, March 21, 2011

(Other general aspects that interest me)

I'm interested in the whole debate about "is colonialism good or bad?" or "what are the good things about colonialism and what are the bad things?".  I want to especially look at how the colonized are effected when making these decisions, but I will also try to examine the effect on the colonizer.  I basically just want to get the fullest picture of colonialism that I can, then be able to make my own educated opinions and conclusions.  

Aspects of Colonialism

When people of one nation decide that they need to invade another nation, this is colonialism.  When you are sitting on the beach you grew up on, and you see foreign ships coming your way, and foreign-looking men get off these ships and begin killing your people and stealing your things – this is colonialism.  When a stranger yells at you with words you cannot understand and then slaughters your family in front of you, this is colonialism.  When you are stripped naked and one of these foreign men rapes you, this is colonialism. 
It takes many forms, spreads across many lands, and touches people of all races and religions.  It spans across centuries, millennia.  It involves explorers, soldiers, diplomats, criminals, kings, presidents, clergymen, politicians, day laborers, missionaries, businessmen, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters.  Its battles are fought over land, resources, religion, money, and power.  It makes some people very rich, and leaves others with nothing.
There are few spots on this Earth that haven’t been touched by this scourge of human action, and though every case is different, there are certain universal ways in which people react in a colonial situation.  Although the colonizer has taken many forms, colors, tongues, and apparel, he has qualities that tie him to every other colonizer in history.  Similarly, the colonized represent a rainbow of cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds, yet they go through some of the same steps in their reaction.
Albert Memi, a Tunisian, wrote about his observations regarding these matters in his The Colonizer and the Colonized (or Portrait du colonisé, précédé par portrait du colonisateur).  He described the colonizer as someone who was mediocre in his home and perhaps went to a new land seeking a sense of importance.  He painted the colonized as a person who goes through stages, first seeking assimilation, that is to say striving to be like the colonizer.  But this will inevitably fail, says Memi, and when it does the colonized decides that he does not need to be like the colonized, but rather he is intensely self-affirming and latches on to his cultural customs.  At this point he turns to revolt.  He tries, in whatever ways he can, to throw off the fetters of colonialism.