In This Chapter


Authored by: Olivia U. Rutazibwa , Robbie Shilliam

Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138944596
eBook ISBN: 9781315671192
Adobe ISBN:


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As discussed in our main introduction, postcolonial critique first came to prominence in the academy through English and Commonwealth literature and cultural studies. In this respect, some scholars have questioned the postcolonial focus on discourse and representation to the detriment of more ‘material’ issues of political economy. This is an especially pertinent critique when we consider the long tradition in Marxist thought of analysing the relationship between imperialism and capitalism. Of course, issues of political economy have always been central to the colonial project, especially struggles over land and the appropriation and control of the resources and peoples in, on and of it. These struggles have themselves been folded into key theological, legal and moral disputes in early-modern European thought: from Vitoria, Las Casas and Sepúlveda to John Locke. Moreover, the political economy of colonial expansion and imperial rule must be considered as a global project: the dispossession and enslavement of indigenous and African peoples in the Americas finds echoes in proclamations of terra nullius (uninhabited lands) by European colonisers in Australia and the Pacific.

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