Postcolonial criticism offers a political approach to literary criticism. It arose in a historical context of decolonization and national liberation struggles in the so-called “third world” in the latter half of the 20th century after the end of WWII. Some of the writers most closely identified with postcolonial criticism participated in these struggles.
Frantz Fanon (1925—61) was born in Martinique, which was a French colony at the time (and which remains an overseas department of France). Fanon participated in the Algerian War of Independence (1954—62) against the French state and offered a Marxist account of the conditions of anti-colonial revolution in The Wretched of the Earth (1961).
Fanon, who was also a psychiatrist, wrote a polemical critique of the psychology of colonial domination in Black Skin, White Masks (1952). It was as much a study of the formation of black identity under imperialist oppression as it was a critique of the imperialist world order. Fanon characterized the formation of black identity under colonial conditions as a process of “self-division”:
Every colonized people - in other words, every people in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality - finds itself face to face with the language of the civilizing nation; that is, with the culture of the mother country.