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Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism
2000, NYU Press
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Added by: Suddha Guharoy, Andreas Sorger

Publisher’s Note: This classic work, first published in France in 1955, profoundly influenced the generation of scholars and activists at the forefront of liberation struggles in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Nearly twenty years later, when published for the first time in English, Discourse on Colonialism inspired a new generation engaged in the Civil Rights, Black Power, and anti-war movements and has sold more than 75,000 copies to date.

Aimé Césaire eloquently describes the brutal impact of capitalism and colonialism on both the colonizer and colonized, exposing the contradictions and hypocrisy implicit in western notions of “progress” and “civilization” upon encountering the “savage,” “uncultured,” or “primitive.” Here, Césaire reaffirms African values, identity, and culture, and their relevance, reminding us that “the relationship between consciousness and reality are extremely complex. . . . It is equally necessary to decolonize our minds, our inner life, at the same time that we decolonize society.”

Comment: Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism is a foundational text in postcolonial theory, which provides an excoriating critique of not only European practices of colonialism, but also the underlying theories and logics used to justify them. Specifically, Césaire takes aim at the view of colonialism as a ‘civilising mission’, where benevolent Europeans would provide non-white non- Europeans with the tools necessary for modernisation. Instead, he argued that colonialism wrought destruction everywhere it went, killing people, eradicating civilisations, and obliterating any alternative cultural ideas that contrasted European values. Crucially, Césaire explores the psychological effects of colonialism on both the colonised and the coloniser – a theme that would be taken further by Frantz Fanon (a student of Césaire’s) in his writings.

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Hoffmann, Nimi. Involuntary experiments in former colonies: The case for a moratorium
2020, World Development 127.
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: There is a rich literature on the use of medical trials as a model for designing and evaluating the outcomes of social policy interventions in former colonies. Yet social experimentalists have not engaged in a correspondingly vibrant discussion of medical ethics. A systematic review of social experiments shows that few studies explicitly discuss informed consent, or the serious constraints on securing informed consent from impoverished or child participants, particularly in the context of cluster randomization. The silence on informed consent, and in some cases active denial thereof, suggests that it is often considered less important than other elements of experimental design. This matters since involuntary experimentation on vulnerable people violates their personhood, increases the risk of unintended harm, and establishes continuities with colonial experimentation. There is a need to develop more effective mechanisms for regulating social experiments in former colonies. In the interim, scholars in the South have a responsibility to call for a moratorium on experiments.

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