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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Empire, Colony, Subject: A Genealogy of Ideas - Dr Adam Woodhouse

Is today’s world best described as post-colonial or neo-colonial? Have peoples in former colonies truly secured their freedom? Is empire still with us? These questions continue to animate vigorous debate among political theorists and students of international relations from across the political spectrum. To clarify what is at stake here, this course traces through history the genealogy of a cluster of concepts –– empire, colony, and the imperial subject –– which sustained intellectually Western imperial practices from Roman antiquity to the twentieth century, and arguably continue to do so. We will study the development of our concepts in the thought of several major historical theorists, including Cicero, Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and Kwame Nkrumah. We will also read influential studies by contemporary thinkers who continue to deploy versions of the concepts while trying to make sense of international politics today.  

Further information can be found here