It is easier to label "Postcolonial literature" than to stay exactly what is meant by it, especially because of the range of writing to which the label can be applied. It can in fact be applied to sonnets written by a 19th century in female poet, to a novel depicting life in Nigeria before the arrival of the British, to the production of theatre work shop in South Africa and to the reggae and "dub" beats of black British poetry.
What do their writings have in common? Why might they be categorize as Postcolonial literature?
One simple answer is that all the above writing as arisen out of experiences which result from contact with the British empire. In this sense Postcolonial literature is writing which reflects, in a great variety of ways, the effects of Post colonialism.
This might include the enforce mass migrations of the slave trade, or the impact of colonialism upon indigenous societies, to name only two areas of focus. Though Postcolonial writing is clearly a response to empire, it should not, however, be defend purely against it.
As "Post" implies it is also the literature written often the end of formal colonial role.
The British retreated from the Empire after the 2nd World War and the gain of the independence by the vast majority of its colonies, has meant that particularly in what has been termed the "developing" or "Third World" new conflicts and power struggles have arisen; the television screens of Europe often show pictures of ethnic conflicts or famine, and in some countries corruption has come to characterize much post independence policy.
Internal conflicts has been one legacy of colonialism, particularly in countries such as India or Nigeria where traditionally isolated or conflicted groups were brought within national boundaries created by Colonialism.
This is another context which informs the writing of Postcolonial authors: the problem faced by independent countries and the lack of security and certainty in such a world.
On one level, Postcolonial literature is an expression of these crises as well as a testimony to whose who resist s them.
In an important way, it also presents alternative prospective of third world countries to whose presented on the television screens on the West.
Many might argue that it is a mistake to describe such a world as "Postcolonial". Political independence has not necessarily brought economic freedom.
Many countries are still economic dependent on the develop world, produced cash-crops such as coffee and tobacco for multinational companies that reap the profits and are ruled by dictators supported by foreign aid. It can be argued that such a world is not Postcolonial but Neo-colonial: though the obvious signs of an empire may be go.
After the 1966 increasingly of oppressive regime of military rule could be seen in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, to name only four countries.
Postcolonial literature should be clearly distinguish from Colonial literature
Colonial literature is writing produced by authors who belong to the colonial power (white writing about India, Africa or the Caribbean) and written before independence in the relevant regions.
Colonial writing also comes in many shapes and forms; it covers a large time afraid from the 16th to the 20th century and colonial writers are certainly not uniform in their depiction or opinion of empire.
Though it is only possible to include a small amount of Colonial writing in our study what can be included is just to provide key example of its kind and to be seen in relation to the writing of Postcolonial authors.
Colonial writing can be acted as a backdrop highlighting the particular concerns of Postcolonial authors who have, in various way, responded to it.
The label Postcolonial demands a shift in focus a way from British literature (literature produced by British writers) to world literatures in English. Postcolonial literature questions the importance of both "British ness" and "Englishness".