Beyond Postcolonial Theory:
Two Undertheorized Perspectives on
Science and Technology
Orientalism depends for its strategy on this 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. And why should it have been
otherwise, especially during the period of extraordinary European ascendancy
from the late Renaissance to the present? . . . There emerged a complex Orient
suitable for study in the Academy, for display in the museum, for reconstruction
in the colonial office, for theoretical illustration in anthropological, biological,
linguistic, racial, and historical theses about mankind and the universe, for in-
stances of economic and sociological theories of development, revolution, cul-
tural personality, national or religious
character.—Edward SaId,
Resistance to the critique of Eurocentrism is always extreme, for we are here
entering the realm of the taboo. The calling into question of the Eurocentric di-
mension of the dominant ideology is more difficult to accept even than a critical
challenge to its economic dimension. For the critique of Eurocentrism directly
calls into question the position of the comfortable classes of this world.
—SamIr amIn,
Historically it was activists and intellectuals in or from the colonies and newly
decolonized nations that most effectively articulated the opposition to co-
lonialism, imperialism, and eurocentrism; these critiques were allied to those
developed in the west. What is so striking in retrospect is the sheer energy, vol-
ume, and heroic commitment of the intellectual as well as political opposition
to colonialism, and that productively continued into the postcolonial period.
Postcolonial studies has developed that work to give it a disciplinary focus, and
foregrounds its significance. For the first time, in a move that was the very re-
verse to that which Said describes in Orientalism (1978), the power of western
academic institutions has been deployed against the west. For the first time, in
the western academy, postcolonial subjects become subjects rather than the
objects of knowledge. For the first time, tricontinental knowledge, cultural and
political practices have asserted and achieved more or less equal institutional
status with any
other.—robErt J. Young,
According to Western policymakers after World War II, the world
peace that so many desired required greater investment in scientific and
technical research.1 World peace could not occur without democratic
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