Postcolonial Matters: New MSc Unit begins January 2017


The MSc in Human Geography, Society and Space is please to introduce a new unit to its curriculum in the academic year 2016-17. Starting in January 2017, ‘Postcolonial Matters’ will launch as an option for current and future registered students. The unit will be taught by Mark Jackson and Naomi Millner.


‘Postcolonial Matters’ (GEOGM0008) examines how postcolonial and decolonial geographies are renewing themselves to meet the theoretical and empirical demands of a more-than-human world. It will address the continued relevance of postcolonial politics and ethics, but within the decolonial need for new analytical questions, methodologies, and representational strategies that draw from diverse interdisciplinary approaches, including: political ecology; indigenous studies; anthropology; material studies; agro-ecology; social movement studies; cultural and historical geography; and critical political economy.

More specifically, the unit will explore contemporary approaches to the critical relationships of materiality, ecology, coloniality, race, and humanism. It invokes the discourses of postcolonial and decolonial thinking and theory, political ecology, indigenous studies, and posthumanism to re-think the theoretical and empirical domains of postcolonial geographies. The need to do this stems from ecological, environmental, and technological questions, which increasingly challenge the anthropocentric analyses that dominate the traditional attention of the social sciences and humanities. Human-centred orthodoxies in postcolonial analysis, whose focus has been on topics like identity, cultural hybridity, and political heterogeneity, are now also being asked to account for how human beings are entangled ontological aspects of wider relational and ecological processes. The criteria for making these relational and material claims about human entanglement also challenge constructionist and textual approaches still taken for granted in postcolonial studies. Postcolonial theory, and postcolonial studies more generally, have struggled to respond effectively to these new conceptual and empirical demands. Some authors have even argued that postcolonialism has run its course, or has entered a contradictory period of decline. Despite this view, global genealogies of ongoing colonial violence, exclusion, and inequality continue to be more relevant than ever. It is clear we still need postcolonial critique, but in a form that is more responsive to contemporary demands about who our ‘others’ (human and non-human) are, how research may be done with them, and in so doing, re-framing the ‘our’ and the ‘thinking’ in our thinking.

The syllabus invokes a range of scholars and scholarships, including the following: Sylvia Wynter, Eduard Glissant, Aime Cesaire, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Gyatri Spivak, Nelson Maldonado- Torres, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Sarah Radcliffe, Zoe Todd, Juanita Sundberg, Walter Mignolo, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Anibal Quijano, Chris Andersen, Elizabeth Povinelli, Julie Cruikshank, Sarah Hunt, Eduardo Kohn, Angela Last, Marisol de la Cadena, Anna L. Tsing, Tania M. Li, Robbie Shilliam, Tom van Dooren, Julie Cupples, Mel Y. Chen, Kim Tallbear, Myra Hird, Vine Deloria Jr., Brian Massumi, Nicole Fabricant, Katherine McKittrick, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Rolando Vazquez, Chris Bracken, Leanne Simpson…a huge range of fascinating people, fascinating thinking, and fascinating practices…

If you would like more information on the unit or the programme, please feel free to contact the unit convenor and course director, Mark Jackson (

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