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Time, history, politics: Anticolonial constellations

Gruffydd Jones, Branwen ORCID: 2019. Time, history, politics: Anticolonial constellations. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 21 (5) , pp. 592-614. 10.1080/1369801X.2019.1585919

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One of the most significant elements of the international relations of the twentieth century was the transformation from a colonial to a postcolonial world order. That transformation, contested, lengthy and uneven, was the fruit of struggles by colonised peoples for independence. The postcolonial experience has proved very different from that hoped for by the anticolonial generation. From the perspective of our own times, how can we learn from the thought and practice of those earlier struggles? In this article I first discuss the work of David Scott who has posed this question in compelling terms, arguing that our postcolonial present requires a tragic apprehension of anticolonialism. Finding his questions urgent but his conclusions too restrictive, I turn to Walter Benjamin, and show how his method offers alternative possibilities for exploring the questions that Scott poses. Drawing on archives of African anticolonialism I consider how we can engage with these struggles for our own times, through three elements of Benjamin’s approach: the question of time and temporality; the method of montage and quotation; and the device of the dialectical image. In doing so this article sketches possibilities of an anticolonial method suitable for our own neoliberal but still imperial times.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff Law & Politics
Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1369-801X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 January 2019
Date of Acceptance: 2 January 2019
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 18:41

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