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POLS330 Special Topic: Anti- and Post-Colonial Theory

This paper introduces students to core texts and conceptual tools in postcolonial political thought, including discourses on nationhood and identity, the politics of resistance and self-determination, and continuing anti-colonial struggles. The syllabus is structured in four parts:

• Natural Rights, Naturalized Histories, and Dehumanized Bodies
• Anti-Colonialism, Solidarity, and Resistance
• Key Issues in the Postcolonial Present
• Decolonizing the Future

First, on the interconnected relationship between the colonial and the postcolonial eras, we discuss liberal conceptions of freedom, property, and sovereignty in the contexts of colonial and settler-colonial land dispossession, chattel slavery, and labor exploitation. Texts include selections by Locke, Mill, Rousseau, and Tocqueville, as well as The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, and Treaty of Waitangi. Second, turning to anti-colonial politics, we focus on movements for national independence, projects of decolonization (e.g., Négritude and Pan Africanism), and the critiques of colonial power, race, and identity developed by Fanon, Césaire, Senghor, Gandhi, Ambedkar, and Du Bois.

The latter half of the course focuses on key issues in the postcolonial present. We will discuss globalization and global inequality, knowledge systems and power (e.g. testimonial injustice, decolonizing pedagogy), climate change, reparations, the politics of reconciliation and memorialization, and Indigenous resurgence. In the final week, resources from mid-century science fiction, Afrofuturism, and Indigenous Futurism guide an analysis of the politics of the imagined future. What do these representations of the future reveal and conceal about the experience of being subject to and shaped by the postcolonial landscape?

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Examination of major themes in anti-colonial and post-colonial politics, including discourses of nationhood and identity, the politics of resistance and self-determination, and continuing anti-colonial struggles around resource extraction.

Paper title Special Topic: Anti- and Post-Colonial Theory
Paper code POLS330
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2020
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $904.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,954.75

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18 200-level POLS points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Teaching staff

Course coordinator: Dr Chris Rudd
Lecturer: Dr Amy Hondo

Teaching Arrangements

There will be two 2-hour lectures and a 1-hour tutorial each week.


Textbooks are not required for this paper; readings are posted on Blackboard.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

This paper aims to aid the student's understanding of anti- and post-colonial theory. As an advanced (300-level) paper, the emphasis is on deepening discipline-related capabilities and promoting a number of generic graduate attributes (in brackets below). Students will learn to:



  1. Identify and analyse the main anti- and post-colonial theories worldwide (Research; Global perspective; Cultural understanding; Ethics)
  2. Identify and evaluate the discourses of nationality, identity, and other discourses related to anti- and post-colonial theory (Research; Scholarship; Critical perspective)
  3. Find and interpret data and information on aspects of global colonial practices (Research)
  4. Appreciate the characteristics of 'good arguments' in this field of study and to apply these insights in developing the student's own style of argument (Scholarship; Communication; Critical thinking)
  5. Develop the ability to draw on scholarly insights to enrich the public debate about colonialism, both in New Zealand and on a global level (Communication; Critical thinking)


In addition, this paper aims at developing the student's general ability to:


  1. Distinguish between the different uses to which language is put in academic discourse (Communication)
  2. 'Work with' ideas - that is, understand and apply concepts and theoretical constructs in order to aid your understanding of an issue (Scholarship)
  3. Participate in reasoned discussions on issues of the day ('reasoned' implies an ability to define concepts clearly, to argue systematically, and to use appropriate evidence and warrants to back up claims) (Communication)
  4. Solve problems by investigating in a group context a specific research question and by systematically generating and presenting reasonable and creative answers based on research (Research; Teamwork; Communication)


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Not offered in 2020

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system