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Collection: Decolonization

 

As a taster of our publishing in Decolonization, we put together a collection of free articles, chapters and Open Access titles. If you are interested in trying out more content from our Global Social Challenges collections, ask your librarian to sign up for a free trial.

Decolonization

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In early 2022, over 30 years after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first report on the challenges posed by climate change and four subsequent Assessment Reports later, the word ‘colonialism’ finally entered its official lexicon. The sixth report on ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’  references colonialism, not only as a historical driver of the climate crisis, but also as something that continues to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of communities to it (). As argues, this comes in the wake of long-standing arguments made by Indigenous groups and others on the frontline of climate change about the centrality of colonialism to comprehending and responding to the crisis. The last decade has also seen a significant increase in scholarly literature that draws explicit links between colonialism and climate change – much of which is referenced in the latest IPCC report. While formal acknowledgement of this relationship is long overdue, in this article we argue for caution and precision in the invocation of colonialism within these debates. Following classic article setting out why ‘decolonization is not a metaphor’, we argue relatedly that colonialism needs to be understood as more than a metaphor in climate change debates.

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The chapter introduces the volume, sketches the broad outlines of the 16 substantive chapters which follow and sets out the issues and concerns which underpin the approach taken by the collection. The discussion engages, albeit briefly, with the work of a range of Southern and postcolonial commentators who have drawn attention to Southern differences and the postcolonial intersectionalities of race, gender and class. The chapter also introduces the notion of ‘boomerang’ (or ‘blowback’) effects as violence and forms of criminalization and securitization, which were first deployed by imperial nations across their empires, find their way back home and into in the modern governance systems of Northern neoliberal societies. At the same time, processes of transnational governance, even disarmament, peace and human rights initiatives, replicate the many of imperial relations they were meant to ameliorate or replace.

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The Introduction situates the book’s argument, contribution and methodology within academic debates about neoliberal meritocracy and intra-EU migrations, reframing these debates through key concepts from postcolonial sociology, decolonial theory and the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Furthermore, the Introduction situates the book’s argument vis-à-vis relevant debates about Italian emigration, postcolonial Italy, and class, racial inequalities and gender inequalities in post-2008 Europe and Italy.

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This chapter discusses the current state of the law school in the UK and explains why decolonisation has been suggested as a response to that state. This summary includes a description of the qualifying law degree, the composition of the canon, the composition of law schools across the UK, as well as an examination of experiences of marginalised students and staff. This includes a critique of the uses of diversity to remedy those experiences. This critique extends to the work of law schools … what is taught and researched, as well as their structures. Therefore, this chapter provides the contextual background against which the chapters that follow are set. It also introduces the main arguments of the book – that any effective work on decolonisation in law schools must trouble the fundamental concepts of the discipline, as well as the position of the law school within the neoliberal university and enmeshed in a world driven by racialised capital.

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Since the return to democracy in the 1990s, community programmes in Chile have been pervaded by the neoliberal and neo-colonial approaches of social policies promoted by the state and supranational organisations, such as the World Bank. In this article, we examine the possibilities of front-line community social workers dismantling such a hegemonic rationale. Drawing upon the contributions of Latin American decolonial thought, we argue that social workers are able to exert resistance on the individual, competitive and instrumental approaches underlying their community interventions by decolonising their understandings and professional practices, and by being involved in collective political action. An exploration of Mapuche philosophy is offered as a means to illustrate some key dimensions in order to scrutinise community interventions and challenge the traditional mainstream Western and Eurocentric notions of community, knowledge and professional bonds and encounters. These proposals apply when working not only with culturally different populations, but also with all those subaltern groups oppressed by the neoliberal and neo-colonial rationale, in the interest of contributing to cognitive justice – another dimension of social justice.

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There is a growing literature on the legacy of colonial social policies in sub-Saharan Africa. In the UN subregion Middle Africa, the colonial period is marked by concession economies. However, the francophone and especially the iberophone countries of this region are largely ignored in the literature. A literature-based historical sociology approach is used to answer two research questions to address this gap: What were the driving forces of social policies in concession economies? And what is their post-colonial legacy? Case studies of the concession economies of Angola, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and São Tomé e Príncipe have been made. They reveal three key drivers of social services and schemes in concession economies: the scarcity of labour, domestic pressure and international pressure. The social services and schemes provided varied. They were most extensive in company towns where at the end of the colonial period the social reproduction of the workforce was possible, less extensive in what could be termed company villages, smaller in the scattered plantations and forest camps, and too small to create a permanent workforce in one concession. However, in a context of population growth, labour was no longer scarce and lost its bargaining power. Governmental and especially international pressure supported the reversal of social services through privatisation and informalisation. The quality of these services and schemes generally declined after independence. Therefore, labour scarcity is a key condition for the provision of social services by concession companies.

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The introduction provides the reader with an overview of the rationale, structure and contents of the book, which is includes a foreword by Arturo Escobar, 15 central chapters, and an afterword by Davina Cooper. The introduction begins by outlining the origins and usefulness of prefigurative politics today and then highlights some of the recurring themes connecting the chapters, including: the relationship between prefigurative politics, state bodies and capitalism; the transformative mechanism of ‘erosion from within’, typical of prefiguration; the challenges of assessing prefigurative initiatives’ capacity to bring progressive social change; the critiques pointing at prefiguration’s exclusionary and insular character; and the need to decolonize the epistemological lenses through which scholars are studying prefigurative politics. Following a brief summary of the 15 chapters, the introduction closes by underlining the vibrancy and interdisciplinarity of this field of research, which is set to keep growing given the necessity to envision more just and sustainable futures.

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This introductory chapter explains how the book draws on postcolonial and decoloniality studies to challenge exceptionalist narratives and Eurocentric epistemologies that underly the fields of refugee and forced migration studies. Scholarship from disciplines such as international relations, sociology, criminology, and political science often reveals a curious silence on the continuities of colonialism and historical legacies that inform contemporary refugee phenomena. Postcolonial and decolonial critiques, however, offer ways to move beyond certain dominating analytics of Western thinking and geographies about displacement – the nation-state, border control and humanitarianism. This chapter surveys several productive critiques from postcolonial scholarly engagement with the field of refugee and forced migration policy. Using postcolonial theoretical approaches, the volume as a whole interrogates how the control, securitization, policing and surveillance of mobility follows racialized and geopolitical patterns with colonial and historical roots. Contributors represent a variety of disciplines and employ a creative array of methodological and theoretical tools. Their work requires careful assemblage of social and political theory, historical archival research, and careful analysis to link those histories to the present. The Introduction ends with a brief synopsis of each of the book’s chapters.

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The Spanish colonial past permeates the institutions of higher education, configuring the contents and forms of disciplinary knowledge production that constitute it, as is the case of social work. In this article, we visit different scenarios where colonial memories are disputed in the context of the commemorations of 12 October (also called ‘Hispanic Day’ or ‘Race Day’) in Barcelona. Although multiple articulations of anti-racist movements, such as those related to Black Lives Matter, question the material and semiotics that sustain structural racism, colonial cultural layers are still predominant in the Spanish state. Analysis shows how colonial logics nest in social work practice by: first, contributing to the definition of subject positions – such as ‘migrant’ – as problematic and needy of integration policies and intervention; and, second, making structural racism invisible through the avoidance of radical analysis and action regarding the cultural layers that sustain and perpetuate institutional racism.

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