This page was created by Sara Juntunen.  The last update was by Ellie Pedersen.

Star of the Sea : A Postcolonial/Postmodern Voyage into the Irish Famine

Connections to Trauma Theory and Globalization

When studying postcolonial theory, it is important to consider other theories that might help to further interpret and analyze the situation. Imperialism partly started due to colonizers' wish to expand their territory and empire. As a result, globalization gradually happened, continuing to happen even today. But globalization is a complicated concept that is difficult to fully define. However, Timothy Brennan attempts to do exactly that: “On the one hand, it holds out hope for the creation of new communities and unforeseen solidarities; on the other hand, it appears merely to euphemize corporatization and imperial expansion” (39). In its essence, globalization strives to provide interaction and integration of people, worldviews, and culture at the same time as it eliminates the aspect of imperial expansion. Therefore it is a step forward in attempting to create bridges between cultures and provide a society where everyone is accepted.

Globalization focuses mainly on two different concepts: policy and process. While process is “an amalgam of material skills, spatial reorderings, anonymous developments and movements,” policy is more focus on “a myth-making operation whose purpose is to project a world order that a small group of national and/or financial interests ardently desires to be the future for the rest of us” (Brennan 39). These two concepts provide a direct insight into how globalization happens. In connection to postcolonial theory, the process concept might be more fitting to the conversation. In brief, globalization combines skills, developments, and changes of culture in colonies when coming together to create their collective identity as partly postcolonial.

Both postcolonial theory and globalization provide a scholarly discussion where it is possible to understand cultural achievements both European and non-European. According to Timothy Brennan, “it seeks to show how earlier scholars in the West have been narrowly obsessive, culturally limited, and tendentiously ignorant of many of the world’s most consequential artistic and intellectual creation” (45). Due to the stereotypical race/class difference and perception of the colonies in Africa and Asia, they were not considered as civilized and artistic nations. This might also be said about colonies inside of Europe such as Ireland, where many Irish artists and writers have been neglected and ignored because they were considered and inferior people or they were subsumed under a British label. How many anthologies or academic labels still use the term British for writers such as Sheridan, Wilde, Shaw, and Yeats?  Globalization strives to eliminate these perceptions and create respect for these nations' artistic forms.

Another important theory to consider is trauma theory. The word trauma is defined as an event that involves a “recognizable stressor that would evoke significant symptoms of distress in almost everyone” (Visser 271). In a colonial situation, being taken over and controlled could be determined as a recognizable stressor. Therefore, trauma theory can help explain what happens to the colonized after the point of impact. In that sense, trauma “refers not so much to the traumatic event as to the traumatic aftermath, the post-traumatic stage” (Visser 272). A colonized people can be studied through postcolonial theory and trauma theory with regard to how their post-traumatic stage impacts their identity and culture. In addition, it can show what happens to a people after being subjected to repeated and prolonged stressor events. It is evident that trauma theory and postcolonial theory go hand in hand.

The theories dealing with globalization, trauma, and the postcolonial condition all focus on bringing experiences of the past into a new understanding of the future and of cultural identity. There is also an attempt to expose the tyrannies of value that have been created by the Western colonial powers in an attempt to control the other parts of the world. Combining all three theories is essential to achieve a complete view of a previously colonized area and its people.
Works Cited
Brennan, Timothy. “Postcolonial Studies and Globalization Theory.” The Postcolonial and the Global. Ed. Revathi Krishnaswamy and John Hawley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. Web.

Visser, Irene. “Trauma Theory and Postcolonial Literary Studies.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 47.3 (2011): 270-282. Web. 
Researcher/Writer: Ellen-Marie Pedersen
Technical Designers: Derek Heilig and Sara Juntunen
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