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Foundational concepts

Introductory text about several key concepts and links to related encyclopedic entries for more details.

  • Anticolonialism  "Anticolonialism is a broad term used to describe the various resistance movements directed against colonial and imperial powers. The ideas associated with anticolonialism—namely justice, equality, and self-determination—commingled with other ideologies such as nationalism and antiracism."
  • Anticolonialism (Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450) "Western colonialism has engendered anticolonialism from the beginning of the age of European expansion. All empires, in fact, have provoked local and indigenous defiance, backlashes, and resistance throughout human history. The conquest, domination, exploitation, and rule of neighboring and distant peoples and their lands by a powerful and often alien polity, by their very nature, has time and again produced many different kinds of challenges, opposition, and violence."
  • Colonialism (International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences) "Colonialism, in the almost 600 years of its world-system domination, is a systemic, hegemonic, and totalizing form of oppression stemming from the project of European Enlightenment, and as such it has structured the world-system in favor of the West. While direct colonialism, through colonial rule, may eventually wither away through anticolonial movements and processes of “decolonization,” the effects of such a system linger in the international relations, internal structures, and mental cartography of the colonized."
  • Critical Race Theory (Sage Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods) Critical race theorists define racism as a firmly entrenched structure that systematically benefits Whites at the expense of people of color. They refrain from seeing racism as just random and noticeable acts, but rather as unconscious acts or microagressions of individuals in everyday interactions.       
  • Critical Theory (Encyclopedia of Governance) Critical theory proceeds from the view of mankind as the creator of history and society; it seeks a society of free actors that transcends the tension between, and abolishes the opposition to, the individual's purposefulness, spontaneity, and rationality and the results of his or her labor.
  • Decolonization (Encyclopedia of Human Geography) "Although formal political independence inevitably brought with it the trappings of a new society—a new flag, currency, national airline, and so on—many observers question whether or not decolonization ended as simply as it appeared to end."
  • Globalization (the Encyclopedia of Human Geography) "A common stereotype pertaining to globalization is that it is purely economic in nature. Yet such a view is overly narrow and ignores the multiple ways in which globalization operates as a political, cultural, and ideological force as well. For example, immigration clearly is a topic pertinent to globalization, with many so-called noneconomic dimensions associated with it. Equally, one could point to the globalization of education, disease, or terrorism. Some of the aspects of globalization that are resisted most vehemently in parts of the world are its cultural dimensions, including the globalization of fast food, dress, and cinema, all of which are bound up with people's worldviews and daily lives."
  • Globalization: Development or Disaster? (Encyclopedia of Sustainability) "Globalization creates new markets and wealth. These new markets are often very lucrative for some people in the world, but not for others. For example, many medicines come from the tropical rainforests. Indigenous peoples’ knowledge is critical to understanding the uses of these plants. Pharmaceutical companies have patented indigenous knowledge of medicine, making billions of dollars in profits without including the indigenous people whose knowledge contributed to the understanding of these substances. Globalization is a powerful, ambivalent force. It can bring immense change, often benefiting those most in need, but sometimes devastating their lives and livelihoods."
  • Local Knowledge (Encyclopedia of Governance) "Local knowledge refers to people's knowledge of their own circumstances and lived experiences, whether those be community residents for whom public policies are being legislated or the legislators' staff members or the implementers of public policies (or any other setting)."
  • Postcolonialism (Encyclopedia of Governance) "Postcolonialism refers both to a specific historical period or state of affairs—the aftermath of imperialism—and to an intellectual and political project to reclaim and rethink the history and agency of people subordinated under various forms of European imperialism."
  • Postcolonialism (Encyclopedia of Social Theory) A central feature of anticolonial and postcolonial thought is the recognition that colonization is a sophisticated and multileveled ideological process, which operates both externally and internally. In reality, colonization is not restricted to physical deprivation, legal inequality, economic exploitation, and classist, racist, and sexist unofficial or official assumptions. [It includes a psychological dimension wherein] the colonized become their own oppressor, in that they exert the colonizers' imaginary suppositions of inferiority upon their own self-esteem...the objectification and dehumanization of the colonized.

Adapted from: Colonization, Decolonization and Postcolonialism: An Interdisciplinary Guide - University of Winnipeg Library, M. Dudley




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