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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 (from this Blueprint): 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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Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples
2012, 2nd Edition. London and New York: Zed Books.
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Added by: Suddha Guharoy and Andreas Sorger
Publisher’s Note: To the colonized, the term 'research' is conflated with European colonialism; the ways in which academic research has been implicated in the throes of imperialism remains a painful memory. This essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research - specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as 'regimes of truth.' Concepts such as 'discovery' and 'claiming' are discussed and an argument presented that the decolonization of research methods will help to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being. Now in its eagerly awaited second edition, this bestselling book has been substantially revised, with new case-studies and examples and important additions on new indigenous literature, the role of research in indigenous struggles for social justice, which brings this essential volume urgently up-to-date.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s Decolonising Methodologies argued that, for the colonised, the idea and practice of academic research was imbued with imperialism. Thus, to escape this problem and reclaim indigenous forms of knowing, an effort to decolonise the methodologies of research is imperative. The reading for this week is the first chapter of the book, in which Smith advances her critique of Western knowledge to show that “every aspect of producing knowledge has influenced the ways in which indigenous ways of knowing have been represented” (p.35). Smith’s critique is far-reaching, and her point is to suggest that Western notions of history, writing, and theorising are bound up in the way research is pursued such that they exclude and marginalise indigenous groups.

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