Colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures, and destroys it. This work of devaluing pre-colonial history takes on a dialectical significance today.

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.

Let’s think about this for a moment in relation to the “Arab Spring” or the “Arab Awakening” and how we (they) have already begun to reconstruct and write a narrative of “pre-revolution” history, even in the way we have titled the uprisings. So in Fanon’s words above, instead of just colonialism, we can think also of neo-colonialism, and instead of merely pre-colonial history, also post-colonial authoritarian history. And while everyone loves throwing around “orientalism” as if it is merely a practice of representation and caricaturizing the other, let’s remember that petty, exotic/barbaric representations are a symptom of orientalism, not its meaning, and that orientalism is, by its practice of producing bodies of knowledge and dictating language, is a practice of constructing reality that it consequently colonizes and devalues, both “ours” and “theirs”.

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