is decolonisation dead?


“Is decolonization dead?” What does such a question mean? In what ways could decolonization be dead? That would be, it seemed to me, either the day when the colonized have thoroughly overcome colonization OR the day when the colonized themselves are all dead.

Unless, of course, “decolonization” here refers simply to an academic fad whose time has come and gone, and so its being “dead” only means that it is no longer worthy of study, no longer worthy of attention, no longer worthy of tenure—if it ever had been perceived as such by mainstream academics, for the colonized themselves have had a hard enough time getting tenure. Perhaps it is no longer hip, now that something hipper must have come along. So these must be the postdecolonial days during which we must all be doing our Postdecolonial Studies.

But if, on the other hand, “decolonization” still refers to decolonization—the rigorous, dangerous, and ongoing process of challenging the external and internalized roots, mechanisms, institutions, willful as well as unconscious blindnesses, and the unrelenting sanctioned violence of colonialism—then decolonization has hardly begun.

George Hartley (2009), from his blog.

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