Colonialism & Post-Colonialism

sankaraSankara, T. 2007. Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987 Pathfinder Press.

“Under Sankara’s leadership, the revolutionary government of Burkina Faso in West Africa set an electrifying example. Peasants, workers, women, and youth mobilized to carry out literacy and immunization drives; to sink wells, plant trees, build dams, erect housing; to combat the oppression of women and transform exploitative relations on the land; to free themselves from the imperialist yoke and solidarize with others engaged in that fight internationally.”

how-europeRodney, W. 1972. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Black Classic Press.

“Few books have been as influential in understanding African impoverishment as this groundbreaking analysis. Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa… With oppression and liberation his main concern, he ‘delves into the past’, as he says in his preface, ‘only because otherwise it would be impossible to understand how the present came into being … In the search for an understanding of what is now called “underdevelopment” in Africa, the limits of inquiry have had to be fixed as far apart as the fifteenth century, on the one hand, and the end of the colonial period, on the other hand.’ He argues that ‘African development is possible only on the basis of a radical break with the international capitalist system, which has been the principal agency of underdevelopment of Africa over the last five centuries’.”


robinsonandkelleyRobinson, C. and Kelley, R. 2000. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. University of North Carolina Press.

“In this ambitious work, first published in 1983, Cedric Robinson demonstrates that efforts to understand black people’s history of resistance solely through the prism of Marxist theory are incomplete and inaccurate. Marxist analyses tend to presuppose European models of history and experience that downplay the significance of black people and black communities as agents of change and resistance. Black radicalism must be linked to the traditions of Africa and the unique experiences of blacks on western continents, Robinson argues, and any analyses of African American history need to acknowledge this… To illustrate his argument, Robinson traces the emergence of Marxist ideology in Europe, the resistance by blacks in historically oppressive environments, and the influence of both of these traditions on such important twentieth-century black radical thinkers as W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, and Richard Wright.”


blackbodyRoberts, D. 2014. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York: Vintage.

“This is a no-holds-barred response to the liberal and conservative retreat from an assertive, activist, and socially transformative civil rights agenda of recent years–using a black feminist lens and the issue of  the impact of recent legislation, social policy, and welfare “reform” on black women’s–especially poor black women’s–control over their bodies’ autonomy and their freedom to bear and raise children with respect and dignity in a society whose white mainstream is determined to demonize, even criminalize their lives.   It gives its readers a cogent legal and historical argument for a radically new , and socially transformative, definition of  “liberty” and “equality” for the American polity from a black feminist perspective.”


daviesBoyce Davies, C. 2008. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones. Duke University Press.

“In Left of Karl Marx, Carole Boyce Davies assesses the activism, writing, and legacy of Claudia Jones (1915–1964), a pioneering Afro-Caribbean radical intellectual, dedicated communist, and feminist. Jones is buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery, to the left of Karl Marx—a location that Boyce Davies finds fitting given how Jones expanded Marxism-Leninism to incorporate gender and race in her political critique and activism… Boyce Davies examines Jones’s thought and journalism, her political and community organizing, and poetry that the activist wrote while she was imprisoned. Looking at the contents of the FBI file on Jones, Boyce Davies contrasts Jones’s own narration of her life with the federal government’s. Left of Karl Marx establishes Jones as a significant figure within Caribbean intellectual traditions, black U.S. feminism, and the history of communism.”


derrickDerrick, J. 2008. Africa’s ‘Agitators’: Militant Anti-Colonialism in Africa and the West, 1918-1939. Columbia University Press.

“In this compelling history, Jonathan Derrick, a renowned scholar of Africa’s past, recounts the opposition to British and French rule practiced both by Africans living on the continent and by European anticolonialists and members of the Black Diaspora… Derrick reveals how, with the exception of a few colonies, anticolonial activity was easily organized, primarily because militants in Europe had the freedom to operate and create a tremendous impact. In the later 1930s, nationalist movements, fuelled by African outrage at the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, began to spread in parts of Africa. The approach and onset of the Second World War affected the rhetoric of anticolonialists, with French Communists opposing calls for independence as long as the danger of Nazism and Fascism existed, but some militants continued their anti-empire campaigns until 1939. The war then pushed colonial issues to the background, but as Derrick argues, in the long term the anticolonialists of the interwar era may have helped pave the way for later decolonization.”


williamsWilliams, E. 1994. Capitalism and Slavery. University of North Carolina Press.

“Slavery helped finance the Industrial Revolution in England. Plantation owners, shipbuilders, and merchants connected with the slave trade accumulated vast fortunes that established banks and heavy industry in Europe and expanded the reach of capitalism worldwide.

Eric Williams advanced these powerful ideas in Capitalism and Slavery, published in 1944. Years ahead of its time, his profound critique became the foundation for studies of imperialism and economic development. Binding an economic view of history with strong moral argument, Williams’s study of the role of slavery in financing the Industrial Revolution refuted traditional ideas of economic and moral progress and firmly established the centrality of the African slave trade in European economic development. He also showed that mature industrial capitalism in turn helped destroy the slave system. Establishing the exploitation of commercial capitalism and its link to racial attitudes, Williams employed a historicist vision that set the tone for future studies. In a new introduction, Colin Palmer assesses the lasting impact of Williams’s groundbreaking work and analyzes the heated scholarly debates it generated when it first appeared.”


aminAmin, S. 2004. The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World. Monthly Review Press.

“Samir Amin’s ambitious new book argues that the ongoing American project to dominate the world through military force has its roots in European liberalism, but has developed certain features of liberal ideology in a new and uniquely dangerous way. Where European political culture since the French Revolution has given a central place to values of equality, the American state has developed to serve the interests of capital alone, and is now exporting this model throughout the world. American imperialism, Amin argues, will be far more barbaric than earlier forms of imperialism, pillaging natural resources and destroying the lives of the poor.”



Carr, M. 2012. Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent. The New Press.

“On the militarized Turkish-Greek border, Afghan migrants brave minefields to cross into Europe—only to be summarily ejected by Greek border guards. At Ceuta and Melilla, Spanish enclaves in North Africa, migrants are turned back with razor wire and live ammunition. Deportees from the U.K. and France have died of “positional asphyxia” on deportation flights, strapped to chairs, their mouths sealed with tape. In a brilliant and shocking account, Fortress Europe tells the story of how the world’s most affluent region—and history’s greatest experiment with globalization—has become an immigration war zone, where tens of thousands have died in a human rights crisis that has gone largely unnoticed by the U.S. media… Journalist Matthew Carr brings to life these remarkable human dramas, based on extensive interviews and firsthand reporting from the hot zones of Europe’s immigration battles. Speaking with key European policy makers, police, soldiers on the front lines, immigrant rights activists, and an astonishing range of migrants themselves, Carr offers a lucid account both of the broad issues at stake in the crisis and its exorbitant human costs.”


wretchedFanon, F. 1961 (2007). The Wretched of the Earth. Grove Press.

“Frantz Fanon was one of the twentieth century’s most important theorists of revolution, colonialism, and racial difference, and this, his masterwork, is a classic alongside Orientalism and The Autobiography of Malcolm XThe Wretched of the Earth is a brilliant analysis of the psychology of the colonized and their path to liberation. Bearing singular insight into the rage of colonized peoples and the role of violence in historical change, the book also incisively attacks postindependence disenfranchisement of the masses by the elite on one hand, and intertribal and interfaith animosities on the other. A veritable handbook of social reorganization for leaders of emerging nations, The Wretched of the Earth has had a major impact on civil rights, anticolonialism, and black-consciousness movements around the world. This new translation updates its language for a new generation of readers and its lessons are more vital now than ever.”


imgresMudimbe, VY. 1994. The Idea of Africa (African Systems of Thought). University of Indiana Press.



cesaireCésaire, A. 2001. Discourse on Colonialism. Monthly Review Press.

“Aimé Césaire eloquently describes the brutal impact of capitalism and colonialism on both the colonizer and colonized, exposing the contradictions and hypocrisy implicit in western notions of “progress” and “civilization” upon encountering the “savage,” “uncultured,” or “primitive.” Here, Césaire reaffirms African values, identity, and culture, and their relevance, reminding us that “the relationship between consciousness and reality are extremely complex. . . . It is equally necessary to decolonize our minds, our inner life, at the same time that we decolonize society.” An interview with Césaire by the poet René Depestre is also included.”


irigarayIrigary, L. 2012. In the Beginning, She Was. Bloomsbury Academic.

“In this new book, crucial for understanding her journey, Luce Irigaray goes further than in Speculum and questions the work of the Pre-Socratics at the root of our culture. Reminding us of the story of Ulysses and Antigone, she demonstrates how, from the beginning, Western tradition represents an exile for humanity. Indeed, to emerge from the maternal origin, man elaborated a discourse of mastery and constructed a world of his own that grew away from life and prevented perceiving the real as it is. To recover our natural belonging and learn how to cultivate it humanly is imperative and needs turning back before the golden age of Greek culture. Another language is, then, to discover, capable of expressing living energy and transforming our instincts into shareable desires.In the Beginning, She Was reworks themes that are central to Irigaray’s thought: the limits of Western logic, the sexuation of discourse, the existence of two different subjects, the necessity of art as mediation towards another culture. These themes are approached with a new level of maturity that reconfirms the place of Irigaray as one of the world’s most important contemporary thinkers.”


kundnaniKundnani, A. 2007. The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain. Pluto Press.

“Is Britain becoming a more racist society? Arun Kundnani looks behind the media hysteria to show how multicultural Britain is under attack by government policies and vitriolic press campaigns that play upon fear and encourage racism… A new form of racism is emerging, exacerbated by the attacks of 9/11 and 7/7. It is based on a systematic failure to understand the causes of forced migration, global terrorism and social segregation. The result is a climate of hatred, especially against Muslims and asylum seekers, and the erosion of human rights. Communities are more divided than ever. Yet the government presses ahead with flawed policies and anti-terrorist legislation that creates further resentment, alienation and criminalisation… What can be done? This timely and precise analysis is a useful account of why racism is now thriving – and what can be done to stop it.” (From


TrouillotTrouillot, M-R. 2012. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Beacon Press.

“Trouillot, a widely respected scholar of Haitian history, has experienced firsthand how the recounting of historical “truth” can be manipulated to serve the interests of a particular group in power. Nevertheless, he rejects the facile proposition that history is no more than self-justifying propaganda written by the “winners” of conflict. Rather, he suggests that we can gain a broader and more accurate view of past events by striving to listen to a broader spectrum of voices. While recognizing that competing groups and individuals may lack equal access to modes of communication, he maintains that the variety of voices is there; we simply have to work harder to hear them. To illustrate this point, Trouillot examines the untold aspects of the Haitian independence struggle as well as the ongoing conflict over the “true” legacy of Columbus. Trouillot is a first-rate scholar with provocative ideas; general readers may find themselves somewhat lost in his discourses, but serious students of history should find his work a feast for the mind.” (From Booklist)


goldbergGoldberg, D T. 2008. The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism. Wiley-Blackwell.

“Written by a renowned scholar of critical race theory, The Threat of Race explores how the concept of race has been historically produced and how it continues to be articulated, if often denied, in today’s world… A major new study of race and racism by a renowned scholar of critical race theory… Explores how the concept of race has been historically produced and how it continues to be articulated – if often denied – in today’s world… Argues that it is the neoliberal society that fuels new forms of racism… Surveys race dynamics throughout various regions of the world – from Western and Northern Europe, South Africa and Latin America, and from Israel and Palestine to the United States.”


maartMaart, R. 2004. Rosa’s District Six. TSAR Publications.

“Rosa’s District 6 is a collection of five short stories set in Cape Town in 1970. At this point South Africans had experienced more than two decades of Apartheid; many of their political leaders (including Mandela) were imprisoned on Robben Island (visible from Cape Town); and student activism was emerging (under Steve Biko). Rozena Maart was born and raised in District Six, a “Coloured” suburb of Cape Town. When she emigrated in 1989, Maart brought this history with her to Canada. While her stories are rooted in South Africa and reflect a post-Apartheid concern with questions of gender and sexuality, they also subtly explore the problematic of Canadian identity… The opening story in the collection, “No Rosa, No District Six,” won the Journey Prize for Best Short Fiction when it was first published in 1992. It charts a young girl’s encounter with the complexities of female identity and sexuality.” (from Canadian Literature)


mcclintockMcClintock, A. 1995. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. Routledge.

“Imperial Leather chronicles the dangerous liaisons between gender, race and class that shaped British imperialism and its bloody dismantling. Spanning the century between Victorian Britain and the current struggle for power in South Africa, the book takes up the complex relationships between race and sexuality, fetishism and money, gender and violence, domesticity and the imperial market, and the gendering of nationalism within the zones of imperial and anti-imperial power.”


Contributed by Amber Murrey-Ndewa, DPhil candidate in Geography.


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