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Postcolonial Theory and Politics

This course is focused on developing students’ ability to engage with a range of approaches that shaped postcolonial thinking and practice, with a particular emphasis on how the extended period of European colonialism continues to shape global outcomes and relationships. The course explores the different concepts and themes proposed by different fields of postcolonial theory, in order to better understand both contemporary and historical social processes – ranging from a critical understanding of the broader historical sweep of capitalism to the particularities of contemporary migration and European nationalisms.

The course develops an overview of early, canonical postcolonial thought, (e.g. Franz Fanon and Edward Said), alongside recent postcolonial critiques, (e.g. Gurminder Bhambra), of contemporary sociology and its conceptual legacies, whilst also addressing influential postcolonial readings of various foundational sociological themes. (capitalism, religion, feminism, the nation-state, and war). Various noteworthy concepts that students will explore include: orientalism, eurocentricism, othering, racialisation, hybridity and diaspora, Islamophobia and the war on terror, humanism and cosmopolitanism, essentialism/anti-essentialism, secularism and post-secularism, and postcolonial methodology. The course will also engage the emergent field of ‘decoloniality’, an approach that places a heightened stress on active political intervention and anti-racist social consciousness.

If there is, however, one simple theme that distinguishes the postcolonial theory approach for most other sociological dispositions, it is its emphatic emphasis on global relations. The course, therefore, endows students with a uniquely global picture of contemporary economic, cultural and security relations. This alone renders the postcolonial approach invaluable to any aspiring scholar and global citizen alike.