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Post-colonial theory looks at issues of power, economics, politics, religion, and culture and how these elements work in relation to colonial hegemony (Western colonizers controlling the colonized).Therefore, a post-colonial critic might be interested in works such as Daniel Defoe's where colonial "...ideology [is] manifest in Crusoe's colonialist attitude toward the land upon which he's shipwrecked and toward the black man he 'colonizes' and names Friday" (Tyson 377).
However, not all migration takes place in a colonial setting, and not all postcolonial literature deals with migration.
A question of current debate is the extent to which postcolonial theory also speaks to migration literature in non-colonial settings.
Seminal post-colonial writers such as Nigerian author Chinua Achebe and Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o have written a number of stories recounting the suffering of colonized people.
For example, in , Achebe details the strife and devastation that occurred when British colonists began moving inland from the Nigerian coast.
They advocated for its inclusion in literary curricula, hitherto dominated by the British canon.
However, the succeeding generation of postcolonial critics, many of whom belonged to the post-structuralist philosophical tradition, took issue with the Commonwealth label for separating non-British writing from "English" literature produced in England.
Other terms used for the writing in English from former British colonies include terms that designate a national corpus of writing such as Australian or Canadian Literature; "English Literature Other than British and American", "New Literatures in English", "International Literature in English"; and "World Literatures".
These have, however, been dismissed either as too vague or too inaccurate to represent the vast body of dynamic writing emerging from the colonies both during and after colonial rule.
the practice of securing colonies for economic gain), make it difficult to determine whether a colonizer's physical evacuation guarantees post-colonial status.
Before the term "postcolonial literature" gained currency, "commonwealth literature" was used to refer to writing in English from countries belonging to the British commonwealth.