The Colonial, the Postcolonial and the Decolonial

Academic Year: 
2018 to 2019

Melissa Free, Assistant Professor, Department of English

Isaac Joslin, Assistant Professor, School of International Letters and Cultures

The Colonial, the Postcolonial and the Decolonial research cluster aims to facilitate the exchange of ideas and production of research across historical, ideological, cultural, material, geographical and epistemological dimensions. Participation is welcome to those interested in all sites and forms of colonial conquest, resistance, complicity and aftermaths. Monthly meetings will be organized around a topic or question selected and led by two or more participants, conduct one ore more virtual colloquia with members of similar clusters at other sites and host a public event that will contribute to the creation of more inclusive, just, and sustainable futures.



The Long Hand of Terror: White Spaces in South Africa, the US and New Zealand

Monday, March 25, 2019
1:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m.


The Colonial, the Postcolonial and the Decolonial Research Cluster invites you to attend a special event we put together in the wake of the New Zealand attacks. We hope you will not only attend, but participate in the discussion.

"The Long Hand of Terror: Histories, Narratives and Legacies of White Spaces in South Africa, the United States and New Zealand"

The lecture will include three informal talks by Melissa Free, Lee Bebout and Tobias Harper, followed by an open discussion.

  • The Colonial Roots of Apartheid in South Africa, by Melissa Free, Assistant Professor of English
  • The Connections between Everyday and Extremist White Supremacy in the United States, by Lee Bebout, Associate Professor of English
  • Peace, Violence and Race in New Zealand, by Tobias Harper, Assistant Professor of History


'Protect Yourself,' the Ideas of Worth in Colonial Bombay

Thursday, April 4, 2019
4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.


In the 19th and early 20th century, the message to native communities in Bombay was largely, "protect yourselves." In contrast, the colonial government asumed to role of protector for the European community.

"Protect Yourself: Government, Communities and Charity in Colonial Bombay"

In this lecture, Preeti Chopra, professor of architecture, urban studies and visual studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will demonstrate how a study of Bombay’s charitable institutions provides a deeper understanding of what British colonials deemed as worthy objects of charity in western India. It is not simply the dichotomy between colonial engagements with charitable institutions for Europeans and native communities that is of interest. What is unexpected and enlightening is that the government's relationship with the charitable institutions of native religious communities — Parsi, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish — was not always the same.

Based on these varied engagements, this talk reveals the colonial government’s complex and diverging ideas of worth. 



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