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Postcolonial Economies: Genealogies of Capital and the Colonial Encounter

Deadline: 30 Sep 2017

Regarding an ongoing research project at Columbia University, Barnard student Sabrina Singer reflected that when she walks around the campus, now, she wonders: 'What else is history going to forget?' The research Singer and her student colleagues are doing looks at the historical ties between the institution now educating them and the historical institution of slavery. We were prompted to similar reflections having visited Yale's Peabody Museum and an exhibit there of Elihu Yale's gemstones collection. The economic history of Yale's founding and its founder involves multiple debts, not just resources but human bodies and the lives those bodies might have lived had they not been colonized or not been enslaved or not been violently ended. At a time when economists (Piketty 2014; Stiglitz 2013) and educationalists are re-imagining universities as transnational corporations 'perpetuating' and 'exacerbating' inequalities and a 'caste system' (Guinier 2015; Mettler 2014; Stevens 2007), it is perhaps no surprise to find the roots of these institutions lodged deep in historical slavery and other forms of exploitation and oppression.

We take Yale and Columbia as object lessons for a broader inquiry that extends to Asia and marks U.S. educational intervention there. This project addresses not merely the context of the university but political history itself and the colonial economics of border politics, the control of trade, or enslavement and indentured servitude as industrial praxes. It is both a regional and a revisionist study that asks why we have not looked at economic genealogies more generally in our research on postcolonial history and postcoloniality?

This project starts from the assumption that culture cannot be judiciously unpacked if extricated from the sources and distribution of capital. It reads colonialism as, first and foremost, an economic undertaking, viewing it intersectionally through historiographical, economic, racial and postcolonial frames. We propose a postcolonial criticism that provincializes Europe and the U.S. (Chakrabarty 2007) by bringing a version of the economic analysis Chibber and Cleary posit together with the historical materialist perspectives of subaltern studies. What might a postcolonial criticism look like that establishes a scholarly, intellectual and theoretical rationalization for reparations and reads empire through an economic-historical lens in order to evaluate the 'cost(s)' of that structure and its economic aftereffects? The project aims to answer that question by unpacking genealogies of capital in/and the colonial encounter in locations across the globe.

We seek abstracts of no more than 1000 words by 30 Sept 2017 and full chapters of 7000 - 8000 words by 30 Dec 2017.

Potential topics may include (but are not limited to):

* inheritance and imperialism
* the economic other
* decolonizing capital
* comparative education reparations
* the question of complicit science
* legacies of the East and West India Trading Companies
* economic flows of diaspora and hybridity or travelling monies, colonial circuits
* the political economics of subalternity or postcolonial piracy, criminality, plunder
* economies of nation, nationalisms, national identity, of cosmopolitanism(s)
* the materiality of economic colonialism and/or postcolonial power relations

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Filed under: Call for Papers - Publications

Last updated: 17 Jul 2017



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Studies in Travel Writing (journal)
Centre for Travel Writing Studies (Nottingham Trent University)


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