Note-taking on Presentation – Part One of Week 4

The main ideas that were discussed during the presentation evolves around the use of Fanon’s Manichean world view, of dividing the world neatly into two – the Colonizer and the Colonized. Fanon’s framework was used mainly as a platform to approach the relationships, use of violence in a colonial regime, as set in Passage to India. This is then followed by exploring Fanon’s discussion of a colonist’s quest for a real and authentic experience in their colony which Forster seems to have debunked in his novel.

As the presentation continued, Fanon’s dialectic view, when applied onto Passage to India, comes across as overly simplistic in its view of dividing the colonial world, in the novel, into colonists and colonized (made up of Hysterical masses and the intellectual). With this view in mind, it seems that Fanon saw that relationships in the colonial world can only be made and negotiated within the dialectic framework. However, a character like Aziz is a poses problems for the framework as he does not fit in perfectly into the category of colonized intellectual – one who idealizes and looks up to their colonizers and adopting their colonizer’s values and beliefs. Aziz, on the other hand, looks towards maintaining his traditions and religion of Islam.

Hence, the importance of understanding the issues in a colonial world dwells down to a matter of perspectives as  present in the novel. When we consider that it was those in power (the colonizers) who viewed their colonial world through ethnocentric lens – it becomes clearer why India seems unrecognizable to them. For instance, the orderly and rationality espoused by the West led them to view India’s civilisation as a muddle, a “confused multitude of things”. This inclination to neatly categorize the world leads them to overlook how complex, vast and diversified India really is (Das 81). Hence, missing the “real” India; the “hundred Indias” (Forster 13).

Therefore, despite the colonists’ questing, in search of the “real” India – India remains elusive to them. This is probably due to their own limited perspectives and inability to experience and see out of their own “British/colonist space” within India. This state is put forth by Fielding: “They(the colonists), had not the apparatus for judging” (Forster 248). Whatever the colonists (namely, Miss Quested and Mrs Moore) had experienced, is not the “real” India, even though what they experienced is not fake. To put it simply, they have encountered parts of India but they can never be said to have explored the actual India.

All in all, Fanon’s view of colonialisation seems to be too simplistic for many in class, but contextually as modern readers, it seems that our seasoned understanding of fluidity of categorization might have allowed us to see an issue with the binaries that Fanon’s view works on. This once again dwells on the importance of perspectives.