The Eurocentrism of Post-Colonial Studies

Posted by dianamuir on October 12, 2012
Imperialism, Medieval nationhood, Ottoman Footprint / Comments Off on The Eurocentrism of Post-Colonial Studies

Happened on this very interesting article  seeking  “to connect with the broader postcolonial project of decolonizing the mind by exposing and deconstructing its Eurocentric frames of reference”   on the grounds that the phenomena of conquest and colonization can be more usefully studied as a group that includes earlier empires.

“It would have been beyond the scope of this article to more fully illustrate the economic continuities be- tween premodern and modern colonialism in this article, but we defer to others who have argued and shown that most economic activities that are commonly associated with modern, capitalist colonialism-profitable mercantile activity (Wheatley 1966; Duncan-Jones 1974; Mann 1986); the extraction and import of raw materials from colonies and export of manufactured goods in profitable return (Polanyi 1977); the control and exploitation of colonized land (Mayer 1988) and labor (Hawkes 1973); the taxation of colonized peoples (Given 1989); the appropriation of land and direct resettlement-predate the modern, capitalist period.”

The subtext for many post-colonial authors “is that the modern period witnessed a fundamental shift in the ways in which society was organized. Furthermore, the ideological and organizational forms of the premodern and modern periods are characterized by significant qualitative differences. In effect, the group senses of identity, the polities, the economic forms, and the ways of thinking of the modern period are fundamentally different from those that existed in the premodern period. In its most extreme form, it can lead social scientists to argue that the new social and spatial formations of the modern period could not conceivably have existed during premodern times (with regard to nationalism, see Gellner 1983; in the context of rational bureaucracy and the state, see Giddens 1985; Dandekar 1990, 1-2).

“We vigorously contest such views. As Latour (1993) has shown, there has been much continuity between the premodern and modern periods (on another broad note, see Dodgshon 1999). More specifically, Tilly (1990) has demonstrated that the state was “consolidated” from its earlier inchoate form in Europe during the modern pe- riod. It was not formed anew and, therefore, did not represent the first territorialization of power within Eu- ropean society. Similarly A. D. Smith (1986) has ex- plored the way in which modern nations were based on earlier ethnic communities or ethnie. Nations are there- fore not wholly fabricated modern social phenomena. Indeed, A. D. Smith’s (1996, 386) assertion that nihil ex nihilio, or “nothing comes from nothing,” is a clarion call for more sustained analysis of group senses of identity, but also state forms, rationalities, modes of production and, we argue, colonial practices over the long term. Students of nationalism and the state have learned much from expanding their temporal horizons, and we suggest that the same may well be true for those who wish to examine imperialism in all its forms. The challenge must be to engage with the premodern and the non-European and to explore what lies beyond: to unsettle geographical horizons.”

Unsettling Geographical Horizons: Exploring Premodern and Non-European Imperialism
Author(s): Rhys Jones and Richard Phillips,  Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 95, No. 1 (Mar., 2005), pp.141-161Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of American GeographersStable URL: .Accessed: 12/10/2012



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