A huge danger of
neo-colonialism is the indirectness of its exploitations. There is no official
blame that can be placed on any country that continues to wield power over
other countries through “investment” but it continues to create anglophiles.
Anglophilia is the love for Western (British/Dutch) culture. Minke believes the
Dutch to have superior education and is ashamed of his background. There is a
drive to become like the English which has been idealised and internalised
through the forced repetition by the coloniser. There is an ongoing conflict
through the self-diagnosis Chacko experiences because Chacko is aware of their
love for Europeans, yet they cater to it to some extent (90). The most potent
political force within the last five hundred years is that of colonialism. Its
effects, intended and unintended, have reverberated through the past and
continue to impact society today – though its hegemony has mostly ended (but
not in terms of neo-colonial theory).
postcolonial theorist and psychoanalyst in his book Black Skin, White Masks
argues against the implied dependency of colonised people found in
ground-breaking texts such as Max Havelaar and Heart of Darkness.
He says that “The feeling of inferiority of the colonised is the correlative to
the European’s feeling of superiority. Let us have the courage to say it
outright: it is the racist who creates his inferior” (93). He goes on to
say the “a normal Negro child, having grown up in a normal family, will become
abnormal on the slightest contact with the white world” (143) and this is
because the child goes from believing the possibility of moving forward in
life, only to see the impossibility due to societal structure. That the
child, despite his/her fluent French (in this case Dutch), despite his/her
tailored clothes, despite his/her wealth, despite his/her European ties and
education, he/she is irretrievably, uncompromisingly a colonial subject. There
is no hope of being European, which has been upheld as the ideal by the
coloniser. There is only mimicry (Bhabha) in the eyes of the European, and this
of course belies the modus operandi of the colonial ideology that excused the
behaviour of the coloniser under the guise of developing native meritocracy
(Donnelly 2003: 24). The disjunctive dichotomy creates that abnormality.
Minke is this
exact position. Through Nyai, uneducated (traditionally), a prostitute/mistress
to Mellema, Minke finds a source of inspiration. She is what opens Minke’s eyes
to the world he is living in, but nothing truly emphases his position in the
novel like when Annelies is taken away despite being married to him. And this
problem of lack of recognition of cultural rituals, disregards entire religions
and ways of life, an inherent disease that is still present in today’s society.
The law that is Western was, is and always will be ‘superior’ and less ‘barbaric’
than other modes of judgment. To this day, Islamic marriages are not legally
recognised until registered with the court (British Government). Even time is
based on the Greenwich Mean Time. There is a need to question these
representations that place a focus on Europe as the centre of the world. Even
maps (Mercator Projection) are very Eurocentric and spatially inaccurate and
portrays European countries at the top half and bigger than Asian countries
which are at the bottom half and smaller. These maps are used in schools and is
very relevant in terms of the perception and conception of a countries’ image.
It is very important to challenge the supposed neutrality in representations
and how literature plays into that, which is exactly what both Roy and Toer.
both Roy and Toer use literature as a form of showcasing the neo-colonialist
influence of the west on decolonised spaces through representations of
stereotypes in literature and the role literature plays in the representation
of empires. The representation is the construction of the world not a
reflection, although it can be and is constructed in some cases to be
reflective of issues. For example, when Roy describes a locked house with
shadows that whisper, and footprints in the sand that have been swept away (90)
which works like a metaphor. The lock and the footprints that are gone
represent the ‘something’ that has been taken away and now they have no access
to the original (perhaps Indian) point of view. That point of view has been lost
by the parade of Colonisers that have wiped India’s history away and replaced
it with violence and slavery. Both Roy’s
work as well as Toer’s can be considered the Resistance in the “Orient” or in
Asia that Said fails to mention or focus enough on because fiction doesn’t
exist in a vacuum. It is also consumed and just like art, it is powerful and
can be very subversive. Toer and Roy bring to light the continuing imbalance
societally between the Europeans and ‘The Other’. Everyone feels just a little bit
more sad when a white child is oppressed, neglected, abused. There is less of
an impact when the child is coloured because society has been conditioned to
think that a child of colour deserves it more than a white child does.
Neo-colonialism works in the little nuances that puts people of colour at a
disadvantage in almost every way.