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Communication Theory

Six: One

Raka Shome

February 1996 Pages: pp. 40-59

Postcolonial Interventions in the Rhetorical Canon: An Other View

Postcolonial theory and criticism provide rhetorical studies with an important critical and political perspective with which to engage in issues of neocolonialism and racism. This essay offers an overview of postcolonial theory and criticism, and delineates some of the implications of a postcolonial perspective for rhetorical studies by demonstrating how a postcolonial rhetorical approach pushes the traditional frontiers of the discipline in a manner that enables racially and culturally marginalized perspectives on rhetoric to emerge.

There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all. -Michel Foucault,
The Use of Pleasure

In recent times, the discipline of rhetorical studies - a discipline that for years has celebrated the public voices of white men in power and has derived most of its theories from such foci-is being challenged in various ways. Perhaps two of the most significant challenges that rhetorical studies has had to confront in recent years are those posed by critical rhetoricians (McGee, 1990; McKerrow, 1989, 1991; Ono & Sloop, 1992; Pollock & Cox, 1991) and feminist rhetorical scholars (Biesecker, 1992,1994; Campbell, 1973,1988,1989; Condit, 1988,1993; Dobris, 1989; FOSS, 1989; Foss & FOSS, 1988, 1989; Spitzack & Carter, 1987, 1988). Arguing that the aim of contemporary rhetorical studies should be to escape from the trivializing influence of universalist approaches (McKerrow, 1989, p. 91) and that the canons of rhetorical studies [are] overwhelmingly biased towards men, especially towards white men of the Western tradition (Condit, 1993, p. 214), these incursions into the field have begun to question and problematize some of the criteria, assumptions, and methods (such as a transcendental subject, universal audience, critical objectivity, the right standards of eloquence) on which rhetorical scholarship has rested. In so doing, critical and feminist scholarship have begun to push the disciplines traditional paradigms of criticism and theory in significant ways.
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In this essay, my aim is to continue this task of pushing the paradigms of rhetorical scholarship even further by underscoring the necessity of a postcolonial perspective for rhetorical studies. I believe that while postmodern and feminist perspectives are challenging the paradigms of rhetoric in useful and much needed ways, there is still more to be done if rhetorical studies is truly to open itself up to alternative and marginalized voices and dialogues. That still more that I have in mind concern issues of racism and neocolonialism about which both traditional and nontraditional scholarship in the discipline have expressed little concern. I thus argue for the importance of a postcolonial perspective for rhetorical studies. Postcolonialism, which is a critical perspective that primarily seeks to expose the Eurocentrism and imperialism of Western discourses (both academic and public), has significantly influenced a wide range of fields across the humanities such as sociology, anthropology, education, literature, cultural studies, and even some areas in communication such as mass communication and development communication. However, the field of rhetorical studies has not adequately recognized the critical importance of a postcolonial perspective. By working from a postcolonial perspective, I suggest that as we engage in rhetorical understandings of texts, or produce rhetorical theories, it is important to place the texts that we critique or the theories that we produce against a larger backdrop of neocolonialism and racism, and interrogate to what extent these discourses and our own perspectives on them reflect the contemporary global politics of (neo)imperialism. In todays world, when people are constantly discriminated against by virtue of their skin color or by virtue of their belonging to other worlds, to avoid the issues of racism and neocolonialism in our critical politics is to avoid questions concerning ways in which we see the world; it is to remain imprisoned . . . by conditioned ways of seeing . . . without the self-consciousness that must be the point of departure for all critical understanding (Dirlik, 1990, p. 395). In order to highlight the importance of a postcolonial critical perspective for rhetorical studies, I provide in the first section of the paper a theoretical overview of postcolonialism and discuss how it calls for a self-reflexive perspective on academic work. In the second section, I delineate the implications of postcolonial theory and criticism for rhetorical studies and discuss how they point to a need for a reorientation of our field to the present historical and social exigencies of racism and neocolonialism.

Postcolonialism: An Overview The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary. -Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Solitude of Latin America
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My aim here is not to provide an exhaustive survey of postcolonialism (for which I do not have space) but rather to introduce those themes and issues of postcolonialism that I perceive as having important implications for rhetorical studies. Specifically, I discuss three broad perspectives of postcolonialism and the theoretical and critical issues they raise for the critical scholar: discursive imperialism, hybrid and diasporic cultural identities, and postcolonial academic self-reflexivity.
Discursive Imperialism

Articulated mainly within the intersectional critical space of cultural studies, postcolonialism primarily challenges the colonizing and imperialistic tendencies manifest in discursive practices of first world countries in their constructions and representations of the subjects of third world countries and/or racially oppressed peoples of the world. Although most postcolonial critics writing today are from nations that were or are (in the case of Ireland or Hong Kong) historically under European imperial powers such as England and France, their critical focus is not restricted to the discursive practices of these nations during the time they were empires. Rather, many postcolonial critics now also focus on the neocolonialism of nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom, in their representations of subjects of developing countries and racially oppressed groups (whether in popular media or in academia) as an other- racially inferior and hence open to subjection by (white) Western discursive practices. As Edward Said (1976) suggests, a postcolonial critic investigates those system[s] of discourse by which the world is divided, administered, plundered, by which humanity is thrust into pigeonholes, by which we arehuman and they are not (p. 41). Among others, two questions that are central to the postcolonial project are: how do Western discursive practices, in their representations of the world and of themselves, legitimize the contemporary global power structures? To what extent do the cultural texts of nations such as the United States and England reinforce the neo-imperial political practices of these nations? These are very important questions to investigate for they illustrate how, in the present times, discourses have become one of the primary means of imperialism. Whereas in the past, imperialism was about controlling the native by colonizing her or him territorially, now imperialism is more about subjugating the native by colonizing her or him discursively. There are a number of reasons, some of course very obvious, why the focus on Western discursive imperialism -especially that of the United States and England- has been a relatively major preoccupation of postcolonial criticism. Here I will mention two. The first has to do with the historical relation of colonialism between the East and the West. While discursive imperialism is and was surely in operation in countries that have wielded considerable influence in world politics, such as Japan and the former USSR, these countries do not have the same history of centuries of global colonialism and expansion behind them as England and
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France, for example. The historically colonized lands of the East such as India, Africa, parts of South East Asia, and Latin America do not have the same relation of subjection and subordination with them as they do with Western empires. The second reason, which today is even more important, has to do with the tremendous global media presence of Western nations, and it is here that the U.S. role as a neoimperial power gets established. U.S. communication products (both print and televisual , popular and academic) penetrate most parts of the world. As Said (1993) notes, [Rlarely before in human history has there been so massive an intervention of force and ideas from one culture to another as there is today from America to the rest of the world (p. 319). The issue is not merely one of technological or cultural power but also one of linguistic power. The universality of English makes communication products produced in the United States and England accessible to most parts of the world. In the case of the United States, such accessibility is even more significant because it is backed by financial and technological resources that are able to transport its culture to almost every part of the world. It is this tremendous global American presence that invites examination of U .S. discourses as neocolonial texts; for texts, after all, are sites of power that reflect the politics of their surroundings. The construction of the people of non-Western cultures as an insignificant other-an object of study and interest in first world discourses was defined by Said (1978) as Orientalism. Although in using the term Orientalism, Said had in mind specifically the construction of Eastern subjects by Western discourses, this phenomenon that stereotypes and dehumanizes subjects of underdeveloped countries is also applicable to those countries and racial groups that are not regarded as Oriental, but yet subject to the same processes of misrepresentation and colonization in Eurocentric Western discourses. Countries of Latin America and Africa, and racial groups in the United States, such as Hispanics and African Americans, to name a few, can surely fall into this category. For Said (1978), Orientalism is a function of intellectual power (p. 41) that frames and studies the racial other in classrooms, in illustrated manuals, in the media, in scholarship, for scrutiny, judgment, discipline, and governing. To do so is to have knowledge of such subjects-who in the process become objects- and such knowledge then provides the intellectual power to dominate it, to have authority over it, and in the process deny autonomy to it (p. 32). Thus the study of the Orient and marginalized groups becomes a learned field (p. 63)-and because it is a learned field, the subjects who are learned about are confined to a narrow and discursive space created by the West. Such discursive confinement is not merely a scholarly confinement but is ultimately a reflection of the ideological and political practices of developed nations; for it is only when two thirds of the world can be so confined into such a manageable discursive field, which erases and
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neutralizes their differences and individualities, that it becomes possible for first world subjects to devise and adopt a generalized attitude toward natives of third world countries or third world origins. Abdul JanMohamed (1985) refers to this strategy of generalization as the commodifi[cation] of the native, so that he is now perceived as a generic being that can be exchanged for any other native (they all look alike, act alike, and so on) (p. 64). Said (1978) further observes that such generalizing strategies also depend on a flexible positional superiority, which puts the Westerner in a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand (p. 7). Such a strategy of generalization that effaces cultural differences between peoples of various nonwhite cultures has, for instance, been a significant feature of much of Western feminist discourse on the third world. In such discourse, cultural differences between women of various third world cultures are often effaced in order to construct a monolithic image of a third world woman as passive, powerless, backward, uneducated, victimized, and more (Mohanty, 1991)-categories that are easily interchangeable for the other must always be a generic other if the task of discursive colonization is to be made manageable.
Cultural Hybridity and Diasporic Identity

Although critique of Western discursive imperialism is one of the central aims of postcolonial criticism, the postcolonial project is more than that. Postcolonialism is about borderlands and hybridity. It is about cultural indeterminacy and spaces in between. Resisting attempts at any totalizing forms of cultural understanding (whether imperialistic or nationalistic), the postcolonial perspective argues for a recognition of the hybrid location of cultural value[s] (Bhabha, 1992, p. 439). Just as postcolonial critics challenge the hegemonic operations of Western discourses, many of them also rightly recognize that the answer to Western hegemony does not reside in closing off boundaries and resorting to high nationalism (as has often been the case in some third world nations, such as Iran). As Arif Dirlik (1990) points out, taking refuge in a pre-Western past and indigenous traditions as a source for articulating identities is a native chauvinism (p. 401) that reproduces a kind of internal orientalism (Breckenridge & Van der Veer, 1993, p. 11) and rearticulates the binary of us versus them on which much of modernist understandings of identities rest. Instead of holding onto some notion of an indigenous cultural or national identity as a means to reject and resist Western hegemony, the point is to recognize that today, with increasing globalization of the world, it is not possible to conceive of cultures and nations monolithically (Appadurai, 1990; Dirlik, 1990; Giddens, 1990; Hall, 1994; Said, 1993). As Said (1993) points out, everyone is at cultural intersections today. We cannot think of culture as an enclosed system of practices. [Nlew alignments made across borders, types, nations, and essences are rapidly coming into view, and it is those new alignments that now provoke and challenge the fundamentally static notion of iden44

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tity that has been the core of cultural thought during the era of imperialism (Said, 1993, pp. xxiv-xxv). These perceptions of the postcolonial critic typically emerge from the experiential ambivalence that marks the position of the critic. Living between two cultures or between two nations, and yet not being of either one, the postcolonial subject is forced into a nomadic, diasporic position that is marked by what Gloria Anzaldua (1987)calls a mestiza consciousness - a consciousness of the borderlands. This mestiza consciousness shuttles between two or more cultures but is unable to situate itself in either one.

But every place she went they pushed her to the other side and that other side pushed her to the other side of the other side of the other side. . . . Pushed to the edge of the world there she made her home on the edge. . . . Always pushed toward the other side In all lands alien, nowhere citizen. (Anzaldua, 1994, p. 3). The postcolonial individual is thus cultureless (as we normally perceive culture) and yet cultured because she or he exists in a culture of borderlands (Anzaldua, 1987). It is this that bestows on the postcolonial subjects position an unique ambivalence. I emphasize this ambivalence not to delineate it as a weakness; rather, this ambivalence is what makes the postcolonial perspective so significant in deconstructing grand cultural master narratives. Being a part of two or more cultures, and yet not belonging to either one, the postcolonial subject is equipped to see that national and cultural identities cannot be essentialized, that they are protean, that they cross borders, and that they are transnational.
Postcolonialismand Academic Self-Reflexivity The importance of a postcolonial position to any scholarly practice is

that it urges us to analyze our academic discourses and connect them to the larger political practices of our nations. This means that in examining our academic discourses, the postcolonial question to ask is: T o what extent do our scholarly practices-whether they be the kind of issues we explore in our research, the themes around which we organize our teaching syllabi, or the way that we structure our conferences and decide who speaks (and does not speak), about what, in the name of intellectual practices -legitimize the hegemony of Western power structures? In posing this question, the postcolonial perspective does not suggest that as scholars writing in the West all that we do is legitimize the imperial political practices of Western nations. Rather, the argument is that we need to examine our academic discourses against a larger backdrop of Western hegemony, neocolonial, and racial politics. We need to
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engage in contrapuntal lines of a global analysis where we see texts and worldly institutions . . . working together (Said, 1993, p. 318). In the pursuit of our scholarly goals, we often do not stop to think or ask questions about why, for example, research agenda A seems more important to us than research agenda B? What is the ideology that operates in us that makes research agenda A seem more significant than research agenda B? How are we always already interpellated into examining A but not B? What does that interpellation say about our role in reproducing and participating in the hegemonic global domination of the rest by the West? What does it mean, for instance, when I am told that there is a market for research agenda A but none for research agenda B? O r that if I did pursue research agenda By I would have to do it in a way that would make it marketable? And what way would that be? Whose way would that be? Who decides what is marketable? What does the decision have to do with the political practices of our nations? How does this market serve the capitalistic and racist hegemony of Western nations? And what is my position, as an intellectual, in reproducing this hegemony? The point in asking such questions is to recognize the latent ideological structures that inform our scholarship and practices. As Van Dijk (1993) puts it, often under the surface of sometimes sophisticated scholarly analysis and description of other races, peoples, or groups . . . we find a powerful ideological layer of self-interest, in-group favoritism, and ethnocentrism (p. 160). In fact, even when we do sometimes try to break out of the Eurocentric canons informing contemporary academic scholarship by including alternate cultural and racial perspectives in our syllabi, we often do not realize that instead of really breaking free of the canon, all that we do is stretch it, add things to it. But the canon remains the same and unchallenged. Our subject positions in relation to the canon remain the same and ~nchallenged.~ Instead of examining how the canon itself is rooted in a larger discourse of colonialism and Western hegemony, we frequently use the canon to appropriate other voice^.^ The question than arises, so what is to be done? Perhaps the first step here is to do what Spivak (1990) suggests: to unlearn our privilege (p. 9). And the first step toward that unlearning requires self-reflexivity; it requires seeing ourselves not sequestered in an academic institution but connecting things that we think or not think, say or not say, teach or not teach, to the larger political and ideological practices of our nations in their interactions with the rest of the world. A second aspect of postcolonial self-reflexivity is the problem of essentialism that a postcolonial critic is often faced with when she or he challenges the discursive constructions of nonwhite cultures and racially oppressed peoples of the world in hegemonic Western discourses. The problem of essentialism that this critical task brings about is that of having to challenge the misrepresentations of racial others in Western
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discourses, while at the same time avoiding the suggestion that there is an authentic racial identity that the critic knows is being misrepresented. So, for instance, when a postcolonial critic argues that a particular Western feminist discourse on a third world culture, say India, is a misrepresentation of the lives of the women of that culture, the critic implicitly falls prey to a problem of essentializing because one must know what it means to be an Indian woman to argue that a subaltern Indian woman is being misrepresented. This, then, raises the ensuing question about essentialism: Is there any such thing as an Indian woman? And if, to engage in her or his critical practice, the critic must assert that there is, then does that not lead to a kind of colonization all over again, where the critic becomes the voice of authority that determines what constitutes or does not constitute a particular cultural or racial identity? The question then is: How can the critic engage in such postcolonial criticism without being once again the totalizing voice of authority that determines an authentic racial or cultural identity? A way out of this critical dilemma is provided by Spivaks (1988, 1990) notion of strategic essentialism. Spivak suggests that while it is true that to engage in a postcolonial criticism that challenges the misrepresentations of racial others in hegemonic discourses one does to a certain extent end up essentializing, that essentializing, however, is only a necessary strategic essentializing- a risk that the critic must take in a scrupulously visible political interest (1988, p. 205): In deconstructive critical practice, you have to be aware that you are going to essentialize anyway. So then strategically you can look at essentialisms, not as descriptions of the way things are, but as something one must adopt to produce a critique of anything (1990, p. 51; italics added). Strategic essentialism, then, is only a political tool that the postcolonial critic often has to adopt to resist any kind of hegemony. The important point about strategic essentialism is that the critic always remains aware that she or he is essentializing only in order to realize certain political goals. In suggesting that the essentialism that a postcolonial critic engages in must be a strategic political essentialism, Spivak thus warns us against the temptation of really essentializing and carving a fixed and authentic identity for a particular racial group that we, as critics, claim is being misrepresented. Such a temptation is problematic because it has the potential to reproduce the colonizing power relations that postcolonialism is out to challenge in the first place. If, in strategically essentializing, the critic lapses into really essentializing and believing in the cultural essence that she or he creates (say of an Indian woman), then the critic ends up being the hegemonic voice that has already predetermined an indigenous cultural or racial identity. The self-reflexivity that the term strategic essentialism then asks us to engage in has to do with constantly examining our subject positions as postcolonial critics when we challenge the misrepresentations of racial others in Western texts. In Foucauldian terms, this means that instead
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of engaging only in a judicial/hierarchical examination of power in Western discourses, postcolonial critics also need to conduct an ascending analysis of power (Foucault, 1980, p. 9 9 ) by seeing how they themselves might be inscribed in the power relations that they are attempting to resist. That is, instead of merely uncovering hegemony in Western discourses, the critic also needs to examine the power relations that structure her or his own discourses. This is especially important, because having been primarily schooled in Western academic mode (even those of us who write from the margins or who write from metropolis institutions of non-Western countries), the postcolonial critics intellectual perspectives cannot wholly be free of the power relations that she or he is out to displace. For me, as a person from the third world writing in Western academia, such a postcolonial self-reflexive examination entails asking such questions as: What does it mean when I, as a postcolonial/third world critic, am able to be heard in the West? How much of a compromise do I make to be recognized and established as a postcolonial critic? What does the particular postcolonial position that I articulate in the Western academy have to do with the institutional operations of power in Western educational institutions? And if that power contributes to the capitalist hegemony of Western nations, then what is my participation in that power that I am out to critique in the first place? These are important questions to ask because it is only by asking such questions and engaging in such constant auto-critiques that postcolonial critics will be able to recognize and resist the possible operation of the very same colonial power in their critical endeavor that they are out to challenge in the first place.
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Rethinking Our Paradigms: Implications of Postcolonial Theory and Criticism for Rhetorical Studies

As superpowers realign and markets diversify, many of the conventional boundaries of earlier eras have been dismantled. Yet our critical languages and our methodologies continue to refer to these older constructs. -Caren Kaplan, The Politics of Location as Transnational Feminist Critical Practice

So far, I have presented a theoretical overview of postcolonialism and discussed the kind of theoretical issues that it raises for the critic and critical practice. Now I want to draw out some of the implications of postcolonial theory and criticism for rhetorical studies. First, one of the most significant implications of postcolonial theory and criticism for rhetorical studies is the notion of postcolonial selfreflexivity. As I have already suggested, a postcolonial self-reflexivity
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entails that as scholars practicing in the West we be aware of how our scholarly practices are often engaged in reproducing neocolonial patterns of intellectual domination (Breckenridge & Van der Veer, 1993). This has important implications for rhetoric. Rhetoric as a discipline is largely based on humanist theories and speeches of white men in power and has not been adequately self-reflexive about its scholarship in relation to issues of race and neocolonialism. In fact, as Dwight Conquergood (1991) recently and quite directly suggested, the limitation of rhetorical and communication scholarship is that it has ironically been unreflexive about the rhetorical construction of its own disciplinary authority (p. 193). Although calls for other kinds of self-reflexivity (feminist, postmodern, ideological) have been made, albeit all too briefly, the discipline on the whole has been disturbingly silent about its own disciplinary position in relation to issues of race and neocolonialism. The silence that I am talking of is not about the lack of studies on nonwhite people. (In fact, there have been some rhetorical studies, although few, on nonwhite issues and cultures. Condit and Lucaitess (1993) valuable work on equality which, among other things, examines African American public rhetoric is a recent example.) The silence that I have in mind has to do with not rereading (and problematizing) our dominant rhetorical paradigms, our theories, our critical tools, and our research agendas, against a larger backdrop of racial and neocolonial politics. It has to do with not interrogating the extent to which our white universalistic rhetorical paradigms (whether of Aristotle, Plato, or Burke, Perelman, Toulmin, Bitzer) that we keep drawing on, as well as passing down to students without problematizing their Eurocentric limits, inhibits alternative racial and cultural perspectives on rhetoric from emerging, and continues a pattern of Eurocentric intellectual domination. Even the recent postmodern incursions in the field seem to be somewhat problematic in this regard. Scholars (McGee, 1975, 1990; McKerrow, 1989) operating from such a perspective have problematized the modernist subject on which the rhetorical tradition is largely based; however, they have not extended this problematizing to also identify this modernist subject (as well as the modernist canon) as being the subject of colonialism. For as Bhabha (1990) reminds us, the advent of modernism in the West was also the moment of colonialism.6 The solution, however, is not merely to do more rhetorical studies on nonwhite people (e.g., Campbells, 1986, study on African American women speakers), for that only becomes a matter of extending, instead of displacing or challenging, the canon by adding others. Rather, the solution is to critically examine and challenge the very value system on which the rhetorical canon and our scholarship is based. For instance, rhetoric as a discipline has been traditionally built on public address. But historically public address has been a realm where imperial voices were primarily heard and imperial policies were articulated. The colonized did not always have access to a public realm, or if they did, their speeches
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were not always recorded in mainstream documents, since the means of production rested with the imperial subject. All this perhaps means that we have built a lot of our understanding of rhetoric, and the canon of rhetoric, by focusing on (and often celebrating) imperial voices. This calls for a reexamination of our paradigms. The move here is parallel to that made by feminists in their challenges of the masculinist biases of the discipline. If rhetorical scholars are to reexamine the discipline in relation to issues such as imperialism, neocolonialism, and race, then they need to perhaps d o what Spivak (see explanation) suggests, unlearn a lot of the rhetorical tradition and evaluate critically what kinds of knowledge have been (and continue to be) privileged, legitimated [and] displaced in our texts and theories and what configuration of socio-political [and racial] interests this privileging, displacing, and legitimizing has served (and continues to serve) (Conquergood, 1991, p. 193). For one thing, this means engaging in some serious soul searching to uncover why scholarship in our discipline has been and continues to be so white (Rakow, 1989, p. 2l2). It is through such postcolonial self-reflexivity of our discipline, as well as our individual scholarship, that we will be able to continue the task of pushing the traditional paradigms of rhetoric further in order to create spaces for racially and culturally marginalized voices and perspectives on rhetoric to emerge - voices and perspectives that would comprise sensitive postcolonial responses to the neocolonial and racist circumstances of our present time. Second, the postcolonial critique of Western discursive imperialism that constructs racial others and that legitimizes the contemporary global power structures has important implications for rhetorical criticism, in that it beckons us to recognize postcolonialism as a timely and important critical and political perspective. As Williams and Chrisman ( 1 994) emphasizes with great urgency in their introduction to Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, it is alarming how many of the attitudes, the strategies, and even how much of the room for manoeuvre of the colonial period [still] remain in place (p. 3) in contemporary social, cultural, and I would add, academic practices. Given this, it is unfortunate that in our literature we hardly find articles, especially in our mainstream journals, that examine neocolonial representations of racial others or that analyze, for instance, the discursive processes through which the (white) West gets constantly legitimized in political, cultural, and social discourses. For instance, it is significant that while other kinds of analyses were done on George Bushs Gulf War rhetoric,8 there were hardly any analyses of how the U.S. rhetoric on the Gulf War constructed the Middle Eastern people (and different Muslim cultures) as uncivilized and immoral and always already inclined toward barbaric terrorist activities. (The recent depictions of Muslims and Middle Eastern people in the media during the World Trade Center bombing is also an example of
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this kind of rhetoric.) Nor am I aware of any rhetoricalstudy that examines how the U.S. political and media discourse always constructs the countries with whom U.S. foreign relations reach an impasse, as devilish others bent on destroying the world order envisioned by U.S. imperialism. (The media coverage of North Korea as The headless beast [my emphasis], a caption that Newsweek ran on its cover after the death of Kim I1 Sung, North Koreas former head of state, is a recent example.) My point here is not necessarily to condone the activities of any of these groups or countries but rather to suggest that when the rhetoric of cultural othering is manifest in almost every aspect of public discourse, it is unfortunate that rhetorical scholars have not done much to expose and decry the neocolonial strategies through which such discourse operates. At a time when every form of bigotry (racial, cultural, and sexual) prevails, our discipline, by not adequately focusing on issues of neocolonialism and racism, seems to be imprisoning itself in an ivory tower from which it seems more and more unable to hear the many oppressed who are struggling to be heard. The implications of all this for our discipline is simple. We simply need to engage in postcolonial analyses of texts. We need to develop critical perspectives that now seek to examine and expose to what extent neocolonial forces, whether they be representations of others or representations of self, underwrite cultural, political, and academic discursive practices, for as I have already suggested, if texts are sites of power that are reproduced by their social conditions, then neocolonial and racial forces are, to some extent, always already written into our texts. It is only when we embrace postcolonialism as a significant critical perspective that rhetorical studies will be able to adequately engage in the present historical and social conditions. A promising collusion between rhetoric and postcolonialism is also possible given that neocolonialism operates more discursively in contrast to colonialism, which was more territorial, and that neocolonialism operates subtly. On the point of subtlety, Spivak (1991) states that neocolonialism is like radiation-you feel it less like you dont feel it (p. 221). Both of these aspects of neocolonialism, its discursivity and its subtlety, suggest that rhetorics constitute neocolonial discourses in their attempts to obscure power and their interpellating capacity. Given this, it seems to me that rhetorical scholars could make significant contributions to the present historical moment if they took upon themselves the task of revealing and examining the various subtle rhetorical strategies through which neocolonialism establishes its hegemony. As I already mentioned earlier, one such strategy is the strategy of generalization whereby others are generically constructed, which makes the task of affirmation of the (white) Western self that much easier. We need similar and more detailed insights into the various other rhetorical tropes through which discursive imperialism operates. While scholars (Spurr, 1993; Suleri, 1992) in other fields, such as literature, have done some work in this
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area, I believe that this is a critical terrain that rhetorical scholars, given their orientation, are best suited to engage in as well as contribute to. Third, the postcolonial argument about diasporic cultural identities has important implications for the way identity has traditionally been conceptualized in rhetorical studies. Our mainstream rhetorical theories have generally presumed the reality of the speaker and listener as transcendental subjects engaged in a mutual process of coming together (Grossberg, 1979, p. 249). Although this position has been problematized by scholars in various ways (Biesecker, 1989; Grossberg, 1979; McKerrow, 1989, 1991), I believe that the postcolonial notion of diaspora and hybridity still has much to offer in this dialogue. As I have already discussed, the postcolonial notion of diasporic identity suggests that with increased globalization of the world, whereby people, technoiogy, ideas, cultures, and ethnic groups constantly cross borders (although not often physically), everyone is at cultural intersections. With the softening of national boundaries and the growth of a global economy, we are all in some way cultural hybrids (although some of us more than others) influenced by various transglobal movements of media, of ideas, of peoples, of cultures. In fact, as Tololyan (1991) points out, diasporas are the exemplary communities of the transnational moment (p. 5; italics added). Given this, it is no longer possible to conceive of cultures and cultural identities homogeneously, for each of us in some way occupies borderland territories. This is slightly different from, or rather an extension of, the position articulated by postmodernism. In postmodernism, what is in question is the individual subject; in postcolonialism what is in question, among other things, is a homogeneous conception of culture. While this position overlaps with postmodernism, much of postmodern theory itself (albeit implicitly) tends to view cultures homogeneously, since it works from a homogeneous notion of the Western world as having reached the last stage of capitalism, which tends to efface cultural differences between countries. The postcolonial notion of diasporic cultural identity calls for rhetorical theories that are able to address the rhetorical situations and experiences of disjunctured diasporic cultural identities. We now need insights into how rhetoric functions in hybrid borderlands and cultural spaces, as well as how rhetoric aids in the creation of diasporic disjunctured identities. For instance, a pertinent question here would be: how do cultural diasporas use rhetoric to negotiate through their different culturally disjunctured or pastiched states to enable some kind of shared meaning with people in their daily existence? In this connection, the concept of shared meaning and understanding, which has traditionally been regarded as one of the goals of rhetoric, also perhaps needs to be reexamined. How much meaning is shared when fractured and pastiched cultural states engage in rhetorical interactions? Furthermore, in dealing with issues of cultural diasporas, we also need to rethink many of our

Postcolonial Interventions in the Rhetorical Canon

tools and methods of rhetorical criticism, most of which are laden with universalist implications, and examine to what extent, if any, they allow us to deal with and understand identity formation in a postcolonial world. Fourth, the postcolonial notion of discursive imperialism, and its attendant rhetoric of generalization that tends to appropriate and efface differences between cultural groups, has important implications for feminist scholarship in rhetorical studies. Much of feminist scholarship in rhetorical studies has been carried out from a relatively liberal and generalized perspective. As feminist rhetorical scholars have begun arguing for the need to include and recognize womens rhetorical and communicative perspectives, they have not adequately addressed the important point (although it sometimes gets mentioned in passing, usually at conferences, and then forgotten) that a white womans rhetorical and communicative perspectives, practices, and experiences are not the same as non-white womens, and cannot be universalized therein. Much of feminist rhetorical scholarship, by ignoring issues of race, implicitly tends toward a discursive colonization, whereby the discourses more often than not express and speak to the perspectives and voices of white women. Adrienne Rich has called such a phenomenon white solipsism a tendency to think . . . and speak as if whiteness described the world (cited in Spelman, 1988, p. 116). Especially problematic in this regard is the generalized notion of a womans or feminist rhetorical or communication perspective, which is often articulated by feminists in the discipline. I believe that this notion needs to be problematized. As Stanback (1988) suggests, the rhetorical goals and experiences of women of different races are different. For instance, a white woman might use rhetoric to negotiate with a patriarchal structure, but a nonwhite woman may use rhetoric to negotiate simultaneously with a patriarchal and a racial structure, and perhaps more with the latter than the former. In other words, the experience, functions, and goals of rhetoric differ in the different cultural spaces of women, and hence the generic concept womans or feminist rhetorical or communication perspective tends to erase the element of race (and other kinds of differences that are beyond the category of sexual difference). Such a perspective also falls prey to a concept of rhetoric that McKerrow (1991) terms (and critiques) unidimensional instead of multi-dimensional (p. 76)- a perspective that once again secures, instead of displaces, the traditional rhetorical canon that feminist scholarship is out to challenge in the first place. Thus, feminist rhetorical scholarship, even though it is pushing the paradigms of the discipline in a laudable manner, still needs culturally localized perspectives, critical or theoretical, that address how race and gender work together to influence and often inhibit womens communicative experiences. Much of what I am saying here might seem obvious to some, but despite its apparentness, I believe that the point still begs to be made again. It is perhaps by
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recognizing and embracing postcolonialism as a significant critical practice that feminist scholarship in our discipline will be able to move into its next stage- where, in devising feminist interventions into the traditional rhetorical paradigm, it will also simultaneously be able to examine how and in what ways it might be using gender as a signifier that covers up issues of race and neocolonialism (Spivak, 1990). Having said this, I recognize that as feminist rhetorical scholars are engaged in the task of pushing the (white) male-oriented paradigms of the discipline, it may not always be possible to fracture the term woman or splinter the politics around it. It may sometimes be necessary to engage in feminist interventions in a somewhat monolithic way. It is perhaps here that the postcolonial notion of strategic essentialism provides us with helpful political strategy for intervening in the discipline, whereby in strategically essentializing the term woman or mobilizing as a group, we are also simultaneously engaged in a vigilant self-reflexivity where we remain aware of the politics and power of race and neocolonialism that might be operating through us. It is hopefully through such postcolonial self-reflexivity that our feminist scholarship will become characterized by what Spivak ( 1 994) defines a an impossible risk of a lasting essence (p.3). A postcolonial rhetorical intervention, as I have laid it out, has much in common with the theory of critical rhetoric developed by McKerrow ( 1 989). McKerrows call for a critique of domination (p. 92), critical self-reflexivity, a move toward heterogeneity, and a focus on the absences (p. 107) in texts also underlies a postcolonial rhetorical perspective. The important difference, however, is that McKerrows postmodern rhetorical perspective does not extend the notion of critical rhetoric to issues of imperialism and neocolonialism. Although such a perspective might be implicit in McKerrows postmodern perspective, I believe that the postcolonial move still needs to be explicitly made; for as Appiah ( 1 991) rightly suggests, the post- in postmodernism is not necessarily the post- in postcolonialism. That is, engaging in a postmodern critical practice does not necessarily mean that one is also engaging in a critique of neocolonialism or imperialism. In fact, a postmodern perspective itself may be Eurocentric and hegemonizing (Jamesons [1986] article Thirdworld Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism is a case in point).I2 Mishra and Hodge (1994)provide us with an important distinction here. They state: If for postmodernism the object of analysis is the subject as defined by humanism, with its essentialism and mistaken historical verities, its unities and its transcendental presence, then for post-colonialism, the object is the imperialist subject, . . . [and] the processes of imperialism (p. 281). There are thus significant intersections between the two, but they are not the same. Given this, I think that a postcolonial rhetorical perspective needs to be recognized as a challenge that productively adds to that posed by critical rhetoric (as well as feminist rhetoric since it also has points of
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intersections with the latter). It is perhaps when all these critical forces come together, as well as draw resources from each other, that rhetoric as a discipline will undergo its next paradigmatic shift where it is able to sensitively listen to all those diverse groups of people who, because of the stark historical reality of the late twentieth century, have been relegated to places out there. As Janice Radway (1992) reminds us, [tlhere are people out there who have voices. They speak in languages and practices that we dont ordinarily try to hear. The problem is our ability to hear different speech. The issue is that theyre already speaking-with actions, with fury, with anger, and we dont know how to hear them yet(p. 668).

Raka Shome is a doctoral candidate in the Speech Communication Department, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. The author thanks Ramona Liera-Schwichtenberg f o r her valuable suggestions and comments throughout the development of this essay, Celeste Condit f o r many useful conversations on postcolonialism, and the anonymous reviewers and Debjani Dasgupta for their helpful assistance.

Author

I am referring here to the rhetoric of racism and neocolonialism of the dominant culture, as opposed to examinations of the rhetoric of marginalized racial groups. Examining the rhetorical aspects of marginalized and nonwhite cultures, although important, is not the same as examining the rhetoric of racism and neocolonialism. While there surely have been studies (although few) in our discipline that have examined the rhetoric of nonwhite groups or rhetors, there are only very few studies that have examined racist rhetoric and discourse. Some examples of the latter are Condit and Lucaites (1991), Logue (1976, 1981), Klumpp and Hollihan (1979), and Nakagawa (1990). A recent study that can also be included here (although it does not explicitly address racist rhetoric) is Nakayama and Krizeks (1995) exploration of discursive space of whiteness. I should also mention here that when I refer to the dearth of studies in our discipline and literature on issues of racism and neocolonialism, I do not include the journal Critical Studies in Mass Communication (CSMC) as a part of this literature. Although CSMC is sponsored by the Speech Communication Association (SCA) and some rhetorical scholars have published in this journal, it is not oriented toward rhetorical studies in ways that Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication Monographs or some of the regional journals of SCA are. CSMC is primarily oriented toward mass communication theory and criticism, cultural studies and popular culture, and political economy- areas that have historically (and even now to a large extent) not been a focus of rhetorical scholarship. Critique of Eurocentric discourse and Western imperialism is one of the primary thrusts of postcolonial criticism. However, it is not the only thrust. For instance, various critiques of indigenous nationalisms engaged in by scholars from many postcolonial and third world countries, who demonstrate the often hegemonizing and elitist, colonialist, and Eurocentric inflections of these nationalist discourses are also a part of the expanding literature on postcolonial criticism. See, for example, the subaltern project of South Asian scholars, specifically the different volumes of Guhas (1982) Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History and Society; various essays in Sangari and Vaids (1990) Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History, especially Chatterjees chapter, The Nationalist Resolution of the Womens Question; Radhakrishnans ( 1992) Nationalism, Gender, and the Narrative of Identity; Natarajans (1994) Woman, Nation, and Narration in Midnights Children; and Spivaks (1994) Women in Difference in her Outside in the Teaching Machine. Some other works in postcolonial literature have examined the hegemonic cultural productions of postcolonial female subjects in many contemporary cultural discourses of some postcolonial countries. See, for example, Rajans (1993) insightful book, Real and lmagined Women: Gender, Culture, and Postcolonialism.

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Given the objective of my paper (and my own subject position in the United States), I will, however, limit my discussion of postcolonialism to what I perceive to be its most dominant impulse- the critique of Eurocentrism, and (neo)colonialism and imperialism. This understanding should guide the readers reading of my essay. The argument here is similar to JanMohamed and Lloydss (1990) caution that we must be wary of a particular kind of liberal pluralism in multiculturalism which along with assimilation, continues to be the Great White Hope of conservatives and liberals alike (p. 8). The authors note that [s]uch pluralism tolerates the existence of salsa, it even enjoys Mexican restaurants, but it bans Spanish as a medium of instruction in American schools (P. 8). See also, in this connection, essays by Giroux (1992), McCarthy (1993), McLaren (1994), and Mohanty (1989-1990). Although I recognize that there are a few scholars such as Asante (1987) who have pointed out the Eurocentric limits of some of our rhetorical conceptions, it is still a fact that such works are very few. It is also a fact that such reflexivity has not permeated most sections of our discipline. A dominant silence still prevails about the Eurocentric limits of much of our scholarship. Bhabhas (1990) argument here is worth quoting:

1 think we need to draw attention to the fact that the advent of Western modernity, located as it generally is in the 18th and 19th centuries, was the moment when certain master narratives of the state, the citizen, cultural value, art, science, the novel, when these major cultural discourses and identities came to define the Enlightenment of Western society and the critical rationality of Western personhood. The time at which these things were happening was the same time at which the West was producing another history of itself through its colonial possessions and relations. That ideological tension, visible in the history of the West as a despotic power, at the very moment of the birth of democracy and modernity, has not been adequately written in a contradictory and contrapuntal discourse of tradition. (p. 218)

Although Rakow (1989) makes this point specifically in relation to feminist scholarship in communication studies, I find it valid to extend it to the discipline of rhetoric as well. See, for example, Stuckeys (1992) Remembering the Future: Rhetorical Echoes of World War I1 and Vietnam in George Bushs Public Speech on the Gulf War. This particular issue of Newsweek is dated July 18, 1994. 10 For an excellent analysis of the tropes of imperialism, see Spurrs (1993) book The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial A d ministration. I For instance, Foss and Foss (1989) in their essay Incorporating the Feminist Perspective in Communication Scholarship: A Research Commentary discuss in a significantly generalized manner some of theessentia1 features of the feminist perspective (p. 6 5 , n. 1 ) . Although the authors briefly mention in a footnote that such a perspective may include many approaches, their elaboration of the essential features of the feminist perspective without adequately factoring in issues of difference, especially racial difference, remains problematic (Race is only cursorily addressed in a later section of the essay when the authors survey the use of the feminist perspective in communication research.) (p. 74). See also Dobris (1989), which provides a rhetorical theory accounting for gender. Once again, race is not adequately addressed in the authors discussion of a gender perspective on rhetorical theory and criticism (p. 148) (and the author herself seems to acknowledge this when she indicates in her conclusion the need for research that addresses race, class, and culture). See also Campbells (1973) essay The Rhetoric of Womens Liberation: An Oxymoron. In this essay, Campbells discussion of what she perceives to be some of the distinctive rhetorical features of womens liberation such as leaderlessness-[tlhere is no leader, rhetor, or expert (p. 79)-and participatory dialogue, tends to, I believe, express an egalitarian and privileged view of the feminist movement that elides the other issues of power, privilege, and silencing, which underwrite feminist rhetoric. While these are only some examples, much of what passes in our discipline under notions such as feminist rhetoric or womens communication is usually a white perspective where race is not adequately factored in-a factoring that might very well problematize some of the perspectives that are articulated. My aim here is not to devalue the political impulses informing feminist work in our discipline. The efforts that have been made by
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feminists to intervene in the male-oriented structures of our discipline are truly commendable. I am only arguing for a greater attention to issues of race and marginalization (and, by extension, power and privilege) as we begin to develop feminist rhetorical and communication perspectives. Whose (and what) perspective is ultimately being articulated in the notion of a feminist rhetorical and communication perspective is something that we need to address and examine more carefully than we have. This essay by Jameson (1986) has generated various debates and critiques. See specifically Ahmads (1987)critique of Jamesons totalizing perspectives on third world literature. See also Youngs (1990)essay The Jameson Raid in his White Mythologies. For another cogent critique of Jamesons postmodern perspectives on the third world, see Colass (1992)discussion of the role of the third world in Jamesons (1991)Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.

Ahmad, A. (1987). Jamesons rhetoric of otherness and the national allegory. Social Text, 17,3-25. Anzaldia, G. (1987).Borderlands/la frontera: The new mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/ Aunt Lute. Anzaldia, G. (1994).del otro lado. In J. Ramos (Ed.), Compaiieras: Latina lesbians (pp. 2-3). New York: Routledge. Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. Public. Culture, 2(2), 1-24. Appiah, K. A. (1991). Is the post- in postmodernism the post- in postcolonial? Critical Inquiry, 17(2),336-357. Asante, M. K. (1987). The Afrocentric idea. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Bhabha, H. (1990).Interview with Homi Bhabha. The third space. In J. Rutherford (Ed.), Identity: community, culture, difference (pp. 207-221). London: Lawrence & Wishart. Bhdbha, H. (1992).Postcolonial criticism. In S. Greenblatt & G. Gunn (Eds.), Redrawing the boundaries: The transformation of English and American literary studies (pp. 437465). New York: Modern Language Association. Biesecker, B. (1989). Rethinking the rhetorical situation from within the thematic of difference Philosophy and Rhetoric, 22(2),110-130. Biesecker, B. (1992).Coming to terms with recent attempts to write women into the history of rhetoric. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 25(2), 140-161. Biesecker, B. (1994, April). Shifting scenes: Rhetoric/feminism/postrnodernism.Paper presented at the 64th annual meeting of the Southern States Communication Association. Norfolk, VA. Breckenridge, C., & Van der Veer, P. (1993). Orientialism and the postcolonial predicament. In C. Breckenridge & P. Van der Veer (Eds.), Orientalism and the postcolonial predicament (pp. 1-19). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Campbell, K. (1973).The rhetoric of womans liberation: An oxymoron. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 5 9 , 7 4 4 6 . Campbell, K. (1986). Style and content in the rhetoric of early Afro-American feminists. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 72(4),434-445. Campbell, K. (1988).What really distinguishes and/or ought to distinguish feminist scholarship in communication studies? Women Studies in Communication, 11,4-5. Campbell, K . (1989). Man cannot speakfor her (vols. 1-2). New York: Praeger. Colas, S. (1992). The third world in Jamesons Postmodernism or the cultural logic of late capitalism. Social Text, 31/32, 258-270. Condit, C. (1988).What makes our scholarship feminist? A radical/liberal view. Women Studies in Communication, 11,6-8. Condit, C. (1993).Rhetorical criticism and feminism. In S. P. Bowen & N. Wyatt (Eds.), Transforming visions: Feminist critiques in communication studies (pp. 205-230). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. Condit, C., & Lucaites, J. (1991).The rhetoric of equality and the expatriation of AfricanAmericans, 1776-1826. Communication Studies, 42( l ) , 1-21. Condit, C., & Lucaites, J. (1993). Crafting equality: Americas Anglo-African word. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. Conquergood, D. (1991). Rethinking ethnography: Towards a critical cultural politics. Communication Monographs, 58(2), 179-194. Dirlik, A. (1990).Culturalism as hegemonic ideology and liberating practice. In A. JanMo57

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