Theoretical Encounters: Postcolonial Studies in East Asia


Author: Melissa Kennedy, University of Vienna, Austria
Published: May 2013

Citation: Kennedy, M. (2013). Theoretical Encounters: Postcolonial Studies in East Asia. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 2(1).


Postcolonialism has grown from a minor branch of English literary studies applied to the decolonising movements of the British Empire in the 1950s to a term increasingly applied to various legacies of exploitation, exclusion and discrimination around the world. As globalisation is recognised as a contemporary form of cultural and economic imperialism, and as world literature and the global circulation of media make available voices from hitherto under-represented peoples, postcolonial studies has become a many-headed beast. While South Asia (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) and South-East Asia (former British, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish colonies) are represented in the field, East Asia remains under-explored. This essay applies postcolonial precepts to minority communities in Japan, particularly the indigenous Ainu, and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of applying the postcolonial framework to a non-European setting.


postcolonial studies, Japanese imperialism, Ainu, East-Asian studies