The Colonizer and the Colonized / Albert Memmi

“This fit of passion for the colonizer’s values would not be so suspect, however, if it did not involve such a negative side. The colonized does not seek merely to enrich himself with the colonizer’s virtues. In the name of What he hopes to become, he sets his mind on impoverishing himself, tearing himself away from his true self. The crushing of the colonized is included among the colonizer’s values. As soon as the colonized adopts those values, he similarly adopts his own condemnation. In order to free himself, at least so he believes, he agrees to destroy himself. This phenomenon is comparable to Negrophobia in a Negro, or anti-Semitism in a Jew. Negro women try desperately to uncurl their hair, which keeps curling back, and torture their skin to make it a little whiter. Many Jews would, if they could, tear out their souls-that soul which, they are told, is irremediably bad. People have told the colonized that his music is like mewing of cats, and his painting like sugar syrup. He repeats that his music is vulgar and his painting disgusting. If that music nevertheless moves him, excites him more than the tame Western exercises, which he finds cold and complicated, if that unison of singing and slightly intoxicating colors gladdens his eye, it is against his will. He becomes indignant with himself, conceals it from strangers’ eyes or makes strong statements of repugnance that are comical. The women of the bourgeoisie prefer a mediocre jewel from Europe to the purest jewel of their tradition. Only the tourists express wonder before the products of centuries-old craftsmanship. The point is that whether Negro, Jew or colonized, one must resemble the white man, the non-Jew, the colonizer. Just as many people avoid showing off their poor relations, the colonized in the throes of assimilation hides his past, his traditions, in fact all his origins which have become ignominious. “

2 thoughts on “The Colonizer and the Colonized / Albert Memmi

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    1. Looking at this excerpt, you are probably right. But in the book, Albert digs deeply into this topic and addresses why the colonized cannot fight back, or what internal state the colonized is in, whenever the colonized fights back. I loved the book because Albert is neither a colonizer nor a completely colonized person. Someone who is lost in between… Or maybe both at the same time. So he writes regarding the perspective of both sides.

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