derealization and the Cultural Imperialism Thesis

Some of the issues which I have been raising are considered
from a very different angle in Appiah’s work
on the viability of Pan-Africanism. Appiah’s primary
theme is ‘the question of how we are to think about
Africa’s contemporary cultures in the light of the two
main external determinants of her recent history –
European and Afro-New World conceptions of Africa
– and of her own endogenous cultural traditions’. His
contention is that the ‘ideological decolonization’
which he seeks to effect can only be made possible by
what he calls finding a ‘negotiable middle way’
between endogenous ‘tradition’ and ‘Western’ ideas,
both of the latter designations being placed within
quotation marks by Appiah himself. He objects
strongly to what he calls the racial and racist thrusts of
much of the Pan-African idea, pointing out that
insofar as Pan-Africanism makes assumptions about
the racial unity of all Africans, then this derives in large
part from the experience and memory of non-African
ideas about Africa and Africans which were prevalent
in Europe and the USA during the latter part of the
nineteenth century. Speaking specifically of the idea of
the ‘decolonization’ of African literature, Appiah
insists, I think correctly, that in much of the talk about
decolonization we find what Appiah himself calls
(again within quotation marks) a ‘reverse discourse’:
The pose of repudiation actually presupposes the
cultural institutions of the West and the ideological
matrix in which they, in turn, are imbricated. Railing
against the cultural hegemony of the West, the
nativists are of its party without knowing it […]
[D]efiance is determined less by ‘indigenous’ notions
of resistance than by the dictates of the West’s own
Herderian legacy – its highly elaborated ideologies of
national autonomy, of language and literature as their
cultural substrate. Native nostalgia, in short is largely
fueled by that Western sentimentalism so familiar
after Rousseau; few things, then, are less native than
nativism in its current form.