Memmi, Albert(1920-)Tunisian born Jew whose most famous contribution to post-colonial theory is The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957). He described this book as a ‘portrait of the protagonists of the colonial drama and the relationship that binds them’ (1957:145). According to Memmi, the project of the colonizer affects the colonized population at every level of social and psychological organisation. Apart from exposing the racism that informs the structure of the colonial institution, Memmi also focused on the ideology of the colonizer's culture. That is, the systems of thought which advance the view of the colonized's sub-humanity and legitimate oppressive legislation. Following FANON's reading of French colonial rule, Memmi used HEGEL's theory of the master/slave dialectic in order to explore the psychological relationship between colonizer and colonized. Through the concept of the ‘Nero Complex he argued that the colonizer's mastery is dependent on the domination of the colonized consciousness. In suggesting an escape from this parasitic relationship Memmi discussed the potential for revolutionary action. He argued that the revolt of the colonized population should be seen as the built-in conclusion to the colonial process. By fighting against the colonizer's rule the colonized must reject the knowledge and language of the dominant culture. They must assert their own identity in order to escape colonial alienation and overthrow the dominance of the colonizer's ideology Memmi continues to contribute to POST-COLONIAL THEORY. His most recent text Racism (1999) expanded upon his previous work in order to discuss the mechanics of wider racist discourse.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000