No recent reading of Othello and The Tempest would be complete without following the fashion of tossing in some reference to Post-Colonialism, and this essay is no exception. In her important essay “Sexuality and Racial Difference”, Ania Loomba discusses some key aspects of this theoretical approach in Othello. She shows that the fact that Othello is black is important for both questions of sexuality and power and that sexuality and race influence each other. Black people were connected to the devil because they lived at the margins of Christianity, they were thought to be a threat to the whites (Iago is a representative of the white dominating part of society who fears that a black might take over power and thus surpass him) and they were generally seen as uncivilized, barbaric and inferior.
The distinction between white and black, colonizing and colonized, “us” and “them”, centre and margin/ periphery is crucial in Post-Colonialist theory. Europe was considered to be the centre of ‘culture, power and civilization’, exerting influence over the regions at the margin – with the aim of doing missionary work and turning the savages to Christians, of course. This short essay shows that by learning the language of the colonizing, the colonized tried to deconstruct the notions of “we” and “them” – only to find themselves in between the two poles, not belonging to either group any more.