Postcolonial Studies and Subaltern Studies

Poststructural and deconstructivist philosophy has influenced Postcolonial Studies and Subaltern Studies, both of which refer back to Marx. The origins of a postcolonial critique during the mid-20th century were still closely linked with the critique of colonialism and imperialism. During the 1970s and 1980s, however, Postcolonial and Subaltern Studies sometimes distanced themselves from Marx and Marxism and sometimes tried to supplement them, developing into a distinct current that exerts its influence mainly at universities and within political movements. A basic characteristic of this approach consists in the deconstruction of universalist discourse, and of the construction of the “Other” that tends to occur in such discourse.

Postcolonial Studies and Subaltern Studies examine the encounter and overlap of capitalist developments, with reference to various areas of society (history, politics, sociology, culture, literature, religion, etc.), and with a particular focus on the countries of the "South" and their relationship to the "North." Opposing economist and historically determinist notions, Postcolonial Studies and Subaltern Studies emphasise the autonomy of the various areas of society and their associated actors. While this approach does not represent a unified theory (hence the general term "studies"), it is consistently concerned with the effects of colonialism, relations of domination and (reciprocal) dependence, social upheaval, social conflicts and political practices, as well as with questions of sovereignty and adaptation.

The most well-known exponents include Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha.