NEW COURSE | THE DECOLONIAL TURN AND WEST ASIA

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The end of the Second World War also marked the end of European dominion over most of the world and the rise of the US and the USSR as new global powers. In 1955, leaders of the newly independent Afro-Asian states met in Bandung, Indonesia, in a watershed conference that marked the beginning of a seemingly new epoch of Afro-Asian solidarity, decolonization and common anti-colonial struggles. Nine Arab states took part in this watershed conference, and Egypt would later play host to the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization. This course will introduce students to the legacy of this era as seen from the vantage point of the Arab World and West Asia more broadly. It will consider the ways in which this era has influenced first postcolonial and later decolonial scholarship, and engage some of the works to emerge from the Arab anti-colonial struggles available in English translation. In the first half of the course, students will consider the main distinctions between postcolonial and decolonial theory, decolonization and decoloniality, and engage with different conceptualizations of colonial modernity. Students will also critically evaluate this theory through works that foreground political economy and the intellectual history of the Ottoman Empire, the forerunner to European Empire in the region. In the second half of the course, students will consider the Bandung moment and the centrality of Egypt to the Afro-Asian anti-colonial imaginary, and engage anti-colonial thinkers and themes in relation to the legacies of the decolonization movements and the resultant knowledges and decolonial pedagogies of the formerly colonized world.

For more information visit the course listing in the Columbia Course Directory.

Anaheed Al-Hardan is the Arcapita Visiting Professor at the Middle East Institute for Spring 2018. She is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the American University in Beirut.