Postcolonial theory: speaking back to empire

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Colonialism – ‘the conquest and control of other people’s land and goods’ (Loomba, 1998: 2) – has been a constant feature of human history.1 However, it is usually the expansion, conquest and occupation by European powers of the majority world in Africa, Asia and the Americas from roughly the sixteenth century onwards, and the subsequent contraction of those empires and political independence of former colonies, that form the historical backdrop for the interests of postcolonial scholars. Postcolonialism is a critical response to this history and the contemporary global system which bears its legacy; postcolonial theory provides a set of intellectual resources and an interrogative space to animate this response. Postcolonialism is a highly significant body of work for organizational researchers for two crucial and interrelated reasons. First, because (varieties of) (neo-)colonialism and imperialism are historical and contemporary lived realities for the vast majority of peoples in the world. That nearly 85 per cent of the world’s population was subject to colonization less than 100 years ago, as Loomba notes, is a condition of possibility and ever-changing reality of the global political economy in which organizations function and organizing takes places. Young’s (2001) concept of ‘postcoloniality’ as ‘the economic, materialand cultural conditions that determine the global system in which the postcolonial nation is required to operate – one heavily weighted towards the interests of international capital and the G7 powers’ (Young, 2001: 57) encapsulates this state of affairs. Legal and illegal migration, farmer suicides and protest movements in India, Islamaphobia in Western Europe, and the struggles for self-determination by Indigenous peoples across the world all have certain roots in various colonial pasts and imperial presents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Philosophy in Organization Studies
EditorsRaza Mir, Hugh Willmott, Michelle Greenwood
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780203795248
ISBN (Print)9780415702867
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameRoutledge Companions in Business, Management and Accounting

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