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28 April 2021 - 28 April 2021

4:00PM - 5:00PM

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Guest Speaker Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Sussex

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'Decolonising' European Social Theory

European social theory has been in denial of the colonial and imperial past of Europe and its significance for how it has been configured. This denial has several forms. One is the absence of discussion of European colonialism and imperialism, and their legacies, when reflecting on contemporary global social, economic, and political issues. The second, seemingly paradoxical, form is a claim that we have spent too much time discussing the colonial past, that we need just to move on from this and to move beyond any perceived need to make amends for it. The third form of denial is to argue that, in any case, empire and its typical forms of domination are by no means exclusive to Europe. In contrast, in this talk, I begin from a position that focuses explicitly on Europe, its colonial and imperial histories, and the ways in which these continue to shape the world. As such, the talk focuses on how colonialism was the context for the particular forms and practices of knowledge associated with modern social theory as it is expressed within the ‘Western’ academy and its canons. While this is a critique of the canon, the purpose is not to add to it or to deny it. My purpose, rather, is to restore the colonial context to the canon in order to renew the project of social theory.

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