Saturday, August 27, 2016

Post-colonial Biblical Interpretation

Here is a how-to-use "post-colonial" example:

In Postcolonial biblical interpretation Jeremy Punt reflects on the nature and value of the postcolonial hermeneutical approach, as it relates to the interpretation of biblical and in particular, Pauline texts. Showing when a socio-politically engaged reading becomes postcolonial, but also what in the term postcolonial both attracts and also creates distance, exegesis from a postcolonial perspective is profiled. The book indicates possible avenues in how postcolonial work can be helpful theoretically to the guild of biblical scholars and to show also how it can be practiced in exegetical work done on biblical texts.

You may ask, as I did, what is he referring to?

Well, I checked.  Here are two chapter contents:

2 Postcolonial Readings, or Not? Obvious or Impossible? Aspects of the Hermeneutical Scene from a South AfricanPerspective
Why Not Postcolonial Biblical Criticism?
Hermeneutics in Service to the Church and/or the Academy?
Textual Politics and Real Readers in Actual Locations
A Different Status for the Bible
The Role of Tradition(s) of Interpretation
Hybridity Confronts the Nationalist Agenda
3 Postcolonial Theory as Academic Double Agent? Power, Ideology and Postcolonial Hermeneutics
Why Postcolonial Biblical Studies?
Re-Invoking Ideology? Postcolonial as Ideological Criticism
Antipathy towards Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: The Case in Africa
Turf Wars? Unsettling Liberation Theology?
Continuing Struggles about Agency and Identity?
Narrow Academic Enterprise? Ivory-Tower Discourse?
Politically Ambiguous?
A Compromised Bible (and Christian Faith)?

I found another book on the subject. 

Intrigued, I searched and found this:

...postcolonialism pursues a particular grievance—the impact of European colonialism. The mention of postcolonialism raises the spectre of empire, conquest, slavery, racism, sexism, and orientalism, and it is seen as being implicitly critical. Postcolonialism, at its simplest, can be seen in two ways. One is historical, marking the dismantling of the empire and its attendant instruments of power; and the other is an intellectual project that searches for “alternative sources, alternative readings, alternative presentation of evidence” (Viswanathan 2001, p. 222). In the latter sense, it pays much attention to the intricate relations between the native and invader societies and cultures, wrestles with questions of identity and representation, and invests much in theories of indigeneity and diaspora. In this sense, essentially, postcolonialism identifies the dominant power, exposes it, and engages critically with it.
...The current phase confronts the contemporary neo-imperial practices of market economy and humanitarian intervention—the new form of the “White man’s burden” assumed on behalf of humanity....It has now come to embrace a larger set of conceptual and ideological positions and interests. It has also moved from the earlier hostile Occident-Orient binary division to cross-cultural contact and dialogue between the once colonized and the colonizer.

Postcolonial Preoccupations.

Like many critical theories, postcolonialism reached biblical studies late in the 1990s...Postcolonial biblical criticism was an inevitable progression from the then prevailing interpretative practices that went under the name of contextual, vernacular, or liberation hermeneutics. While these interpretative approaches were rightly preoccupied with questions of economic exploitation and victimhood, postcolonialism was able to add another increasingly problematic issue—the cultural implications of living in diverse religious and racial communities in a globalized society. This was also the time when the biblical “orient” was re-discovered by those biblical scholars, especially in America, who were trying to apply social-science and anthropological approaches to biblical texts...

...Postcolonial biblical criticism has several textual functions. Firstly, it pays attention to the presence of the empires of the biblical world. The ancient Israelites were under the control of the Egyptian empire. The Judean scribes, priests, and prophets, who shaped the Pentateuch and prophetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures, were confronted with Persian and Assyrian empires. The books of the New Testament emerged during the Roman empire. In studying the Bible, a postcolonial critic interrogates the texts with a series of questions such as: How are these imperial powers portrayed? Do the biblical authors support or challenge them? Where does their allegiance lie—with the subjugated people or the dominating power? Secondly, it asks how, in their examination of biblical texts, biblical commentators interpret these empires? Do they support or oppose them? How do they represent the “other”? What kind of oriental images appear in their work? Do they unwittingly re-orientalize the orient? Thirdly, it examines the role played by the Bible in colonial expansion and its veneration and degradation in the colonies. Fourthly, it engages in a work of retrieval. This involves (a) bringing to the fore forgotten, sidelined, and often maligned biblical figures and texts; (b) reclaiming the resistant literature of the ‘natives’ themselves as they talk back to the master using the very texts provided by them; and (c) recovering the hermeneutical work of a few missionaries and Orientalists who, though invariably compromised with the ideals of empire, were at the same time ambivalent about its usefulness Fifthly, it pays scholarly attention to Bible translation projects and their positive and negative contributions to indigenous languages. Finally, it addresses issues which have arisen in the aftermath of colonialism—migration, multiculturalism, nationhood, and diaspora.

Postcolonial biblical criticism has a number of allies that share its concerns. One of these is Feminism. ...

So, now I, and you, know.


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