The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957)

Published in 1957, this book is authored by a Tunisian living under French colonial rule. Albert Memmi's wrote as European colonization was falling. It provides broader insight into oppressor-oppressed relationships:

On the system:

  • "Racism appears then, not as an incidental detail, but as a consubstantial part of colonialism. It is the highest expression of the colonial system and one of the most significant features of the colonialist. Not only does it establish a fundamental discrimination between colonizer and colonized, a sine qua non of colonial life, but it also lays the foundation for the immutability of this life." (74)
  • "Nothing could better justify the colonizer's privileged position than his industry, and nothing could better justify the colonized destitution than his indolence. The mythical portrait of the colonized therefore includes an unbelievable laziness, and that of the colonizer, a virtuous taste for action." (79)

On the oppressor / colonizer:

  • "He finds himself on one side of the scale, the other side of which bears the colonized man. If his living standards are high, it is because those of the colonized are low; if he can benefit from plentiful and undemanding labor and servants, it is because the colonized can be exploited at will and are not protected by the laws of the colony; if he can easily obtain administrative positions, it is because the are reserved for him and the colonized are excluded from them; the more freely he breathes, the more the colonized are choked." (8)
  • "If every colonial immediately assumes the role of colonizer, every colonizer does not necessarily become a colonialist. However, the facts of colonial life are not simply ideas, but are the general effect of actual conditions. To refuse means either withdrawing physically from those conditions or remaining to fight and change them." (19)

On the oppressed / colonized:

  • "The representatives of the authorities, cadres, policemen, etc., recruited from the colonized, from a category of the colonized which attempts to escape from its political and social condition. But in so doing, by choosing to place themselves in the colonizer's service to protect his interests exclusively, they end up by adopting his ideology, even with regard to their own values and their own lives." (16)
  • "As long as he tolerates colonization, the only possible alternatives for the colonized are assimilation or petrifaction. Assimilation being refused [to] him, as we shall see, nothing is left for him but to live isolated from his age. He is driven back by colonization and, to a certain extent, lives with that situation. Planning and building his future are forbidden. He must therefore limit himself to the present, and even that present is cut off and abstract." (102)
  • "What is left then for the colonized to do? Being unable to change his condition in harmony and communion with the colonizer, he tries to become free despite him … he will revolt. Far from being surprised at the revolts of colonized peoples, we should be, on the contrary, surprised that they are not more frequent and more violent." (127)

On privilege and power:

  • "Will he agree to be a privileged man, and to underscore the distress of the colonized? Will he be a usurper and affirm the oppression and injustice to the true inhabitant of the colony? Will he accept being a colonizer under the growing habit of privilege and illegitimacy, under the constant gaze of the usurped? Will he adjust to this position and his inevitable self-censure?" (18)
  • "We have seen that colonization materially kills the colonized. It must be added that it kills him spiritually. Colonization distorts relationships, destroys or petrifies institutions, and corrupts men, both colonizers and colonized. To live, the colonized needs to do away with colonization. To become a man, he must do away with the colonized being that he has become. If the European must annihilate the colonizer within himself, the colonized must rise above his colonized being." (151)

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