"Class": Definitional Discussions
Entered by Leong Yew, Research Fellow, University
Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore
Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies
Although they do not provide a definition for class in their entry in Key
Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, Ashcroft et al understand it as an enormously
complex notion in postcolonialism. In order to appreciate "class,"
one must go beyond Karl Marx's
division of society between the proletariat and capital-owning class and the
Eurocentrism displayed in his distinction between capitalist countries and those
still employing "Asiatic" modes of production (39). For postcolonial
- is used in forging the colonizers' attitudes toward "different groups
and categories" among the colonized;
- is also the mechanism eventually adopted by colonized subjects to organize
and explain the development of their own societies;
- provides the proletarian-capitalist model, which serves as a paradigm for
the imperial centre/colonial periphery distinction;
- is tightly interwoven with the category of race;
- in order to be a useful concept, must be able to negotiate cultural and
social considerations, for example the notion of caste in India, and the production
of an 'anti-class' myth in Australia.
- still has to be more adequately addressed, particularly in analyzing the
relationship between "representation and material practice."
Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. Key Concepts in Post-Colonial
Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 1998. 37-40.
1 April, 2002