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Postcolonialism Notes

Politics Notes > Theories of International Relations Notes

This is an extract of our Postcolonialism document, which we sell as part of our Theories of International Relations Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Warwick students.

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*Cross-reference - PO219 Theory & World; Theorizing the Post-Cold War Era; Geopolitics // PO203 Development; Private Sector Development;
Sustainable Development // PO230 Adam Smith; David Ricardo // PO201 Studying the History of Political Theory


1. To what extent do colonial ideas and practices persist in contemporary IR? [2016]
Assess the claim made by postcolonial scholars that IR theory is 'Western-centric'.

2. To what extent does postcolonialism offer a reasonable critique of traditional statist approaches in IR? [2017]

 'A settlement in a new country... a body of people who settle in a new locality, forming a community subject to, or connected with, their parent state' [Oxford English Dictionary]
 Avoids any reference to people apart from the colonizers, thereby evacuating 'colonialism' of its confrontational/political implications.

No indication that this 'new locality' is already inhabited, nor that the process of 'forming a community' requires the un-forming or re-forming of indigenous structures via coercive means, e.g. genocide, plunder, enslavement,
warfare, mass migration, etc.

Improved definition: 'The combination of economic, social, political, and cultural policies by which an external power dominates and exploits the people, ideas and resources of an area' [Krishna].

The official worldwide demise of slavery and 'triangular trade' was signaled rhetorically by abolition and national development*. Yet, the reality behind this rhetoric suggests that today's world is not post-colonial in any meaningful sense; e.g. humanitarian intervention*, systemic poverty and disease, border disputes, supply chain exploitation*, the
Washington Consensus*, etc.


Removing the hyphen suggests a refusal to treat 'postcolonial' as synonymous with 'European decolonization'.
Postcolonial scholars are interested in how the legacy and transformative experience of colonialism continues to inform/manifest in modern world politics, and in reparative justice; serving as 'a salutary reminder of the persistent 'neocolonial' relations within the 'new' world order and the multinational division of labor' [Bhabha].

A normative commitment to identifying and interrogating Western-centric metanarratives in IR theory which 'seek to parochially celebrate and defend/promote the West as the proactive subject of, and highest or ideal normative referent in, world politics' [Hobson]

Comprised of three major themes:

1. Temporality

2. Production (i.e. productive agency and resistance)
A. Economic/monetary hegemony*
B. Subjectivity and knowledge production

3. Place
A. Geographical and demographical alternation; the Scramble for Africa imposed new territorial borders with little regard for existing cleavages nor distinctive forms of law/governance. This creates serious ethnic tensions that still reverberate today, e.g. the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kashmir conflict (between India and
B. Attention to the dislocation of colonized populations (postcolonial diasporas), transforming cultural configurations of 'home'.
C. The spatial metaphors of 'core' and 'periphery'; 'Global North' and Global South'; 'First World' and 'Third
World*'. (see: GEOPOLITICS - cartographic sleight of hand)

In Orientalism (1978), Said discusses how Western hegemony is reproduced through elaborate
Edward Said*
stereotypical fictions and 'imagined geographies' that patronize/homogenize/feminize the 'Orient' by transposing undesirable traits (e.g. barbaric, mystical, stagnant, sensual) abroad. This, in turn,
legitimates colonial intervention, violence and domestication. The binary opposition* between
Occident and Orient, 'civilized Self' and 'uncivilized Other', is crucial to Western subjectivity and

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