Postcolonial Theory Bibliography Meaning

The research in this section offers a solid introductory knowledge of the history and theory of postcolonialism. None of the cited research is written from the perspective of the music disciplines, because no such full-length overview exists. This research nevertheless provides a helpful orientation to the multidisciplinary field of postcolonial studies. Gandhi 1998 and Young 2001 are excellent general introductions to postcolonialism and postcolonial theory. Loomba 2005 is an overview oriented toward literary studies and is particularly useful for researchers interested in early modernity. Moraña, et al. 2008 and Forsdick and Murphy 2014 are multiauthor introductions to Latin American and global Francophone postcolonialism, respectively. Schwarz and Ray 2005 and Huggan 2013 are multiauthor general overviews of postcolonial studies, both of which make a marked effort to put postcolonialism in dialogue with other relevant topics and critical paradigms.

  • Forsdick, Charles, and David Murphy, eds. Francophone Postcolonial Studies: A Critical Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2014.

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    Multiauthor edited collection of original essays on aspects of postcolonial studies in the Francophone world. Sections address the history of French colonialism, language and identity, nationalism and globalization, and Francophone postcolonial thought and culture. Usefully compares Francophone and Anglophone postcolonialisms. First published in 2003.

  • Gandhi, Leela. Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

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    First critical overview of postcolonial theory by a distinguished literary scholar. Recommended as an intellectual history and introduction to key debates. Includes sections on decolonization, postcolonial memory and counter-knowledge, the postcolonial humanities, Said, feminism, nationalism, and postnationalism, and postcolonial literature.

  • Huggan, Graham, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199588251.001.0001E-mail Citation »

    Multiauthor collection of original essays by leading scholars on aspects of postcolonial studies. Includes the sections “The Imperial Past,” “The Colonial Present,” “Theory and Practice,” and sections on postcolonialism in various disciplines and geographical locations. Each section includes a formal response.

  • Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.

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    Important overview of postcolonialism by a renowned early modernist. Particularly clear and concise discussion of key concepts, histories, and critical debates. Especially valuable for researchers interested in early modern empires. First published in 1998.

  • Moraña, Mabel, Enrique Dussel, and Carlos A. Jáuregui, eds. Coloniality at Large: Latin America and the Postcolonial Debate. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

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    Landmark English-language collection of essays considering postcolonial histories and theories of Latin America. Usefully compares Latin Americanist postcolonialism with other forms. Distinctive focuses include coloniality of power, liberation theology and philosophy, and decolonization.

  • Schwarz, Henry, and Sangeeta Ray, eds. A Companion to Postcolonial Studies. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470997024E-mail Citation »

    Multiauthor collection of original essays introducing key issues in postcolonial studies. Features a roster of distinguished postcolonial scholars. Includes sections on history and critical issues, the local and the global, and key thinkers and formations. The essays on subaltern studies, feminist theory, and postcolonial queer theory are especially noteworthy.

  • Young, Robert J. C. Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Oxford and Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001.

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    Indispensable overview of the history, politics, and theory of postcolonialism by a prominent poststructuralist. Notable features include its historical account of the relationship of anticolonial movements, Marxism, and postcolonial theory. Also stands out for its nuanced critical interpretation of key postcolonial and poststructuralist thinkers.


    This bibliographical project is designed to provide a starting point for those who begin to explore the field of postcolonial studies. Given that this interdisciplinary field has expanded in diverse directions in the last few decades, exploring the vast terrains of postcolonial studies may seem a daunting task. Moreover, there are so many guides, readers, and introductory resources that one may need a guide for choosing a guide or guides that will best serve one’s purposes and interests. In this regard, the present project seeks to provide a starting point by offering bibliographical information of select introductory resources. The project is structured as follows.

    The first part presents lexical references.

    The second part contains a few kinds of introductory resources. Anthologies and readers may work better for those who seek general surveys of influential academic works. Some may be interested in interpreting literary texts. Some might want to know about particular critics such as Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Homi Bhabha. Some might want to focus on particular subjects such as race, gender, and colonial subjectivity. Depending on one’s interest one can choose from the list below.

    The third part lists select resources that address historical and theoretical issues. In particular, I have included some resources that deal with defining key terms including postcolonialism. Unlike some other fields, defining postcolonialism or postcolonial theory has been a vexed question in postcolonial studies. One reason is that, as Mishra and Hodge put it, postcolonialism “is not a homogeneous category either across all postcolonial societies or even within a single one. Rather it refers to a typical configuration which is always in the process of change, never consistent with itself.” (“What Is Post(-)colonialism?,” 413). Another reason is that, as Robert Young says, “At one level there is no single entity called, ‘postcolonial theory’: postcolonialism, as a term, describes practices and ideas as various as those within feminism or socialism” (Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction, 7). Accordingly, I have underscored in my annotations essays and book chapters that address the question of definition and other general theoretical issues.

    The fourth part provides concrete examples of postcolonial readings of significant literary texts.

    The fifth part presents preexisting (annotated) bibliographies.

    The sixth and currently last part presents journals for postcolonial and other contiguous studies.

    Any suggestions, comments, and corrections are welcome.




    Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, eds. Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts. 3rd ed. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2013.  

    A standard, handy, and affordable reference. The 3rd edition is the most recent.

    Radhakrishnan, R. A Said Dictionary. Chichester, UK: Blackwell, 2012.

    Bibliography at the end of the book provides Edward Said’s work and secondary literature on it.

    Benson, Eugene, and L. W. Conolly, eds. Encyclopedia of Post-colonial Literatures in English. 2nd ed. 3 vols. London: Routledge, 2005.

    The formerly two-volume reference has been expanded to three volumes. Entries in the first edition have been updated as needed, and some 200 entries have been added. Entries suggest further reading.

    Hawley, John Charles, ed. Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies. Westport: Greenwood, 2001.

    A 500-page reference with bold-faced cross-references.


    The following two are, as their titles indicate, historical references that are useful for studies of particular regions.

    Poddar, Prem, and David Johnson, eds. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures in English. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2005. (published also as A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Thought in English. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007).

    Poddar, Prem, Rajeev S. Patke, and Lars Jensen, eds. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and Its Empires. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.  


    Standard references in literary studies usually include brief definitions of postcolonial literature. They also include brief further readings. For example:

    Abrams, M. H. and Geoffrey Galt Harpham. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 10th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2012.

    Harmon, William. A Handbook to Literature. 12th ed. Boston, Mass.: Longman, 2012.




    Ramone, Jenni. Postcolonial Theories. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

    This book seems optimized for an introductory class. The first part addresses the historical emergence of postcolonial thinking; the second discusses key concepts and critics under three categories, namely, otherness, migration, and the native; the third offers brief postcolonial readings of select novels commonly discussed in class (such as Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad). The fourth and final section deals with future developments such as “postcolonial ecocriticism” and “postcolonial queer.”

    Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006.

    See ch. 12 “Postcolonial criticism” (417-50). This book is indeed user-friendly. As in other chapters, Tyson in ch 12 presents a brief introduction to postcolonial studies, some questions for doing postcolonial criticism, an application to a text (The Great Gatsby is the example to which he applies methods throughout the book), and a list of resources for further reading.

    Baldwin, Dean R., and Patrick J Quinn, eds. An anthology of Colonial and Postcolonial Short Fiction. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2007.

    Three general introductions, “Defining Imperialism and Colonialism,” “The Colonial and Postcolonial Short Story,” and “Postcolonial Theory: A Primer,” are followed by regionally categorized short fictions. Categories include England, Ireland, Canada, the Caribbean, India/Pakistan, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Each regional category is provided with an introduction.

    Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Post-colonial Studies Reader. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2005.

    Whereas the first edition arranged 86 excerpts under 14 categories, the second edition offers 121 excerpts in 19 categories (but some excerpts in the former edition have been shortened). For students of the Bible or religion, the final part, “The Sacred”, which contains 6 texts, is a welcome addition. One way to use this book is to read the introduction to a given category and proceed to acquire the full texts of the excerpts because, in my view, some texts in the book can barely be understood without reading them in full (e.g. Bhabha’s “Signs Taken for Wonders”). Moreover, Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” needs to be read in full and with Spivak’s later comments on this essay in her A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1999).

    Young, Robert. Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003.

    Although this book does have introductory functions, its approach is quite unconventional. This book neither explains key concepts systematically nor provides a historical overview of postcolonial studies. Nor does it offer step-by-step instructions for conducting postcolonial readings. Moreover, this book, Young remarks, does not have “an overall thesis or argument” (7). Young introduces postcolonial thinking in a passionate voice, employing a method he labels “montage” by which he addresses a number of concrete historical examples (even with photos). This book is an excellent introduction to what he calls postcolialism. For Young’s introduction in a conventionally academic form, see his 500-page Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2001).

    Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, eds. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2002.

    This book has been influential in the sense that it has been often quoted and discussed, and that it has been widely used as an introductory text.

    Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London: Routledge, 1998.

    A fine introduction to postcolonialism. The first part reviews key terms such as colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism, and postcolonialism; it also reviews the historical development of colonialism and colonial discourse. The second part explores significant subjects such as race, cultural difference, class, gender, colonial subjectivity, and hybridity. The third and last part deals with forms of resistance to colonialism such as nationalism, pan-nationalism, and feminism; it also discusses positions concerning the question of whether the subaltern can speak.

    Moore-Gilbert, Bart. Postcolonial Theory: Contexts, Practices, Politics. London: Verso, 1997.

    This book may look little dated now but still is a useful resource. The first chapter offers a brief account of how commonwealth literature evolved into postcolonialism. The next three chapters discuss the works of three critics, namely, Said, Bhabha, and Spivak, and criticisms of these critics.

    Peter, Childs, and Patrick Williams. An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theory. Prentice Hall, 1997.

    Another fine introduction to postcolonial theory. Somewhat like Moore-Gilbert’s book above, the middle parts summarize and critically discuss the works Said, Bhabha, and Spivak.



    Chew, Shirley, and David Richards, eds. A Concise Companion to Postcolonial Literature. Chichester, UK: Blackwell, 2010.

    Not an introduction to postcolonial studies per se. Instead, drawing from ten different disciplines, this collection of essays aims to explore how those disciplines have addressed cultural issues such as race and identity in countries which had become independent in and after 1947 (1). The titles of the essays are as follows: “Framing Identities,” “Orality and Literacy,” “The Politics of Rewriting,” “Postcolonial Translations,” “Nation and Nationalism,” “Feminism and Womanism,” “Cartographies and Visualization,” “Marginality: Representations of Subalternity, Aboriginality and Race,” and “Anthropology and Postcolonialism.”

    Edwards, Justin. Postcolonial Literature. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

    Each chapter discusses a key subject and debate in postcolonial studies. Subjects addressed in this book (15 in total) includes postcoloniality, difference, language, orality, rewriting, violence, travel, maps, gender, queer, haunting, memory, hybridity, diaspora, and globalization.

    Loomba, Ania, Suvir Kaul, Matti Bunzl, Antoinette Burton, and Jed Esty, eds. Postcolonial Studies and Beyond. Durham and London, UK: Duke University Press, 2005.

    An interdisciplinary collection of essays from a conference by the name of the book title in 2002, with a focus on globalization. Students of history may find part four particularly relevant: see esp. Daniel Boyarin, “Hybridity and Heresy: Apartheid Comparative Religion in Late Antiquity” (339-58); David Scott, “The Social Construction of Postcolonial Studies”(385-400); Frederick Cooper, “Postcolonial Studies and the Study of History”(401-422).

    Schwarz, Henry, and Sangeeta Ray, eds. A Companion to Postcolonial Studies. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2005.

    This companion provides 29 essays in four categories. For those interested in historical and theoretical issues, the first part, “Historical and Theoretical Issues,” and the third part, “The Inventiveness of Theory,” will be helpful. Here are the titles of essays in the first part: “Imperialism, Colonialism, Postcolonialism”; “Postcolonial Feminism/Postcolonialism and Feminism”; “Heterogeneity and Hybridity: Colonial Legacy, Postcolonial Heresy.” Those in part three: “Humanism in Question: Fanon and Said”; “Spivak and Bhabha”; “A Small History of Subaltern Studies”; “Feminist Theory in Perspective”; “Global Gay Formations and Local Homosexualities.”

    Ludden, David. “Introduction: A Brief History of Subalternity.” Pages 1-42 in Reading Subaltern Studies: Critical History, Contested Meaning and the Globalization of South Asia. Edited by David Ludden. London: Wimbledon, 2002.

    Young, Robert. Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2001.

    A seminal work that provides theoretical and historical examinations. For a general survey and definitions one will find helpful the first introductory chapter “Colonialism and the Politics of Postcolonial Critique” and Part I “Concepts in History” that discusses colonialism, imperialism, neocolonialism, and postcolonialism in turn. The following parts trace the development of postcolonialism as he investigates anti-colonial movements in detail.

    Huggan, Graham. The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins. London: Routledge, 2001.

    As its title indicates, this book investigates the production, marketing, and consumption of postcolonial writings in the West, which in an interesting way helps understand the rapid growth of postcolonial studies. Those who are interested in marginality and otherness may find helpful Huggan’s analysis of exoticist discourses.

    Ahmed, Sara. Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality. London: Routledge, 2000. See, “Introduction: Stranger Fetishism and Post-Coloniality” (1-18).

    Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “Subaltern Studies and Postcolonial Historiography.” Nepantla: Views from South 1, no 1 (2000): 9-32.

    Quayson, Ato. Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process? Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2000.

     While this book is “pitched at the level of the advanced undergraduate student or the graduate student who has some familiarity with key debates in the field” (20), Quayson does provide overviews of concepts and debates for those who are new to the field. The first three chapters may be especially helpful for students of history: chapter one pertains to postcolonialism and interdisciplinarity; chapter two addresses postcolonial historiography, reviewing subaltern studies in particular; chapter three, “Literature as a Politically Symbolic Act,” deals with the relation between literature and politics.

    Moore-Gilbert, Bart, Gareth Stanton, and Willy Maley, eds. Postcolonial Criticism. London, UK: Longman, 1997.

    This collection of essays by leading postcolonial critics provides an overview of postcolonial studies. “Introduction” by the editors itself is a succinct survey of major issues and thinkers; especially, summaries of Fanon, Said, Spivak, and Bhabha are helpful. Contributors include Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Helen Tiffin, and Aijaz Ahmad.

    Ahmad, Aijaz. “The Politics of Literary Postcoloniality.” Race and Class 36 (1995): 1-20.

    McClintock, Anne. “The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term ‘Post-Colonialism.’” Social Text 31/32 (1992): 1-15.

    Shohat, Ella. “Notes on the ‘Post-Colonial.’” Social Text 31/32 (1992): 89-113.

    Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial?” Critical Inquiry 17 (1991): 336-57.

    Mishra, Vijay, and Bob Hodge. “What Is Post(-)colonialism?” Textual Practice 5 (1991): 199-414.

    Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography.” Pages 3-32 in Selected Subaltern Studies. Edited by Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Reprint of “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography.” Pages 330-63 in Subaltern Studies IV: Writings on South Asian History and Society. Edited by Ranajit Guha. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985.Link to the text.

    Tiffin, Helen. “Post-Colonialism, Post-Modernism and the Rehabilitation of Post-Colonial History.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 23 (1988): 169-81.

    Tiffin, Helen, “Post-Colonial Literatures and Counter-Discourse.” Kunapipi 9, no 3 (1987): 17-34.




    Hai, Ambreen. Making Words Matter: the Agency of Colonial and Postcolonial Literature. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2009.

    The first chapter reads Rudyard Kipling’s Indian short stories and the second chapter his novel Kim. After a preliminary examination of E. M. Forter’s career in chapter three, chapter four reads his Passage to India. The last two chapters deal with Salman Rushdie’s thoughts and works. Throughout this book the author pays attention to the issue of agency as it is related to the human body as a site of autonomy, instrumentality, and subjection. The author aims to “show how politics inheres in the aesthetics of the writings” examined in this book (11).

    Harrison, Nicholas. Postcolonial Criticism: History, Theory and the Work of Fiction. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.

    The subtitle of this book may give a misconception that it deals with the history and theory of postcolonial studies in general. It is more like a collection of case studies followed by two concluding chapters. The first three chapters analyze two essential texts in postcolonial studies, namely, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (chs. 1-2) and The Outsider by Albert Camus (ch. 3). Chapter four discusses The Simple Past by Driss Chraïbi. Notably, against Chinua Achebe’s influential declaration that Conrad was “a bloody racist” (2), the author offers a reading of Heart of Darkness with a focus on its historical context.

    Quayson, Ato. Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process? Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2000.

    Chapter 6 “Parables from the Canon: Postcolonializing Shakespeare” (156-84) attempts to read The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare “as a secular parable by which to resituate issues of race, class, multiculturalism and diaspora in the West today” (20).

    Childs, Peter, ed. Post-Colonial Theory and English Literature: A Reader (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999).

    An anthology of postcolonial readings of eight literary texts: William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, James Joyce’s Ulysses, E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. An introduction and four essays (except Kim for which three essays) are provided for each text.

    Walder, Dennis. Post-colonial Literatures in English: History, Language, Theory. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1998.

    See, chapter 5 “Indo-Anglican Fiction,” chapter 6 “Caribbean and Black British Poetry,” and chapter 7 “South African Literature in the Interregnum.” One of the unusual strengths of this book is that the three chapters in the first part which address general issues involving history, language, and theory often bring poems into discussion.



    Ramone, Jenni. Postcolonial Theories. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

    “Annotated Bibliography” (207-10), followed by an unannotated bibliography (211-20), is a brief bibliography intended to present the breadth of postcolonial theories some of which is not addressed in the book. Although the number of annotated books is limited, comments on the works included are longer than usual.

    McLeod, John. Beginning Postcolonialism. 2nd ed. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2010.

    An annotated bibliography (“Selected Reading”) is offered at the end of each chapter. The author provides a classified and annotated bibliography at the end of the book. I highly recommend these bibliographies.

    Moore-Gilbert, Bart, Gareth Stanton, and Willy Maley, eds. Postcolonial Criticism. London, UK: Longman, 1997.

    In “Further Reading” (277-91) resources are classified and presented with introductory annotations. Categories include “Orientations” (defining postcolonial theory), “Negritude,” “Frantz Fanon,” “Anglophone criticism of Africa and the Caribbean,” “Edward W. Said,” “Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,” “Homi K. Bhabha,” “Commonwealth literary studies,” “Women’s and feminist postcolonial criticism,” “Minority discourse and internal colonialism,” “Dissenting Voices.”

    Faura, Salvador, and Felicity Hand. “A Selected Annotated Bibliography on Post-Colonial Literature and Theory.” Links & Letters 4 (1997): 79-96.

    A classified and briefly annotated bibliography. Sections include “Readers,” “Foundation and Introductory Texts,” “General Post-colonial Theory,” “Specific Areas,” and “Journals.” “Specific Areas” is divided into “Gender Studies” and “Ethnic/Geo-Political Studies”; the latter has three regional categories, namely, Australia, Indian subcontinent, and Africa & Caribbean. While the bibliography does not claim to be exhaustive, it offers a good starting point for those who first enter postcolonial studies. Discussions of anthologies and summaries of classic texts are especially helpful.




    ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature

    Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies

    Journal of Postcolonial Writing (Formerly, World Literature Written in English)

    Kunapipi: Journal of Postcolonial Writing and Culture

    The Journal of Commonwealth Literature

    Third Text


    A list of journals by Paul Brians is found here (some links in the list are broken)

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