File spoon-archives/postcolonial.archive/postcolonial_2002/postcolonial.0207, message 35

Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 08:33:58 -0700
Subject: discourse analysis of children's books

I review children's books for a multicultural publication.

In particular, I need some assistance in articulated more formally, 
problematic issues of attempts at de-colonizing of the colonized by the 
colonizer through this medium.  Scholatic's "My Heart is on the Ground" by 
Rinaldi is an example.

For example, "liberating" girls through children's books that devalue the 
child's culture through narratives that appear culturally respectful and 
"factual" (as in anthropological facts) but have as a subtext a critique 
based in individual rights values, the American way, mom & apple pie, etc, 
that are the values of the author.  For example, feminist "re-tellings" of 
children's books which "exposed" the patriarchy.

The effect is an is an undermining of the child's culturally constructed 
narrative self based in a network of social, moral and economic etc. 
relations and experiences.  The child becomes cognitively colonized and 
dependant on external voices and values such as the author's.  This would 
be in comparison to stories written in a voice internal to the culture.  A 
voice which has made the transition between ones indigenous culture and 
Euroheritage/pop/WHY culture that can provide the child with a working 
model on which to build.  Recent research suggests both aboriginal and 
non-aboriginal children (Canadian definitions) who operate from a narrative 
core understanding of self have lower levels of suicide (Chandler & 
Lalonde, 1999, 2000. 2001)  (probably not restricted to kids). This 
ultimately does not preclude a cultural critique but permits the child a 
basic working model that isn't shame based and cognitively dependant model 
in their more developmental years.
Does anyone have suggestions?

Marlene R. Atleo, PhD

"We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that 
which others have made of us"
Franz Fanon

People with great passions, people who accomplish great deeds,
People who possess strong feelings even people with great minds
and a strong personality, rarely come out of good little boys
and girls
L.S. Vygotsky


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