Criticizing colonialism and its main structures can be regarded as a kind of marginal activity when compared to mainstream issues of literary theory and cultural discourse because of the limited number of people with a particular interest in the geographical peripheries of metropolitan European culture. Yet, the long-term strategy of postcolonial thinking is to produce a revolutionary restructuring of European understanding of history. Opposing the critique of colonialism to European culture can prove to be unproductive but looking at the extent to which they are already deeply implicated within each other could turn out to be a really rewarding enterprise.
Postcolonial paradigms do not necessarily imply removing colonial thinking from European thought, but rather a repositioning of the European systems of knowledge operating as the effect of their colonial other, because sympathy for the oppressed other, and pressure for decolonization are as old as European colonialism itself. What has recently been new has been the attempt to decolonize European thought within the cultural phenomenon customarily and currently defined as postmodernism.
These and a number of other issues including the analysis of the effects of colonialism upon colonized peoples and their cultures and the way they are treated in Joseph Conrad’s works are the subject-matter of my paper. Men make history, but some men and women are condemned to silence and, paradoxically, the justification of this silencing is to be found in the values of Western humanism.