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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Lynn M. Thomas
HIST 530
Seattle Campus

Comparative Colonialisms: Methodological and Conceptual Approaches

Introduces students to the historiography of modern European/American colonialisms, focusing on Africa, Asia, and/or the Americas. Addresses methodological and conceptual issues by examining relationship between capitalism and colonialism; violence and routinization of colonial power; colonial categories of race, ethnicity, class, and gender; and resistance movements and nationalist politics.

Class description

This course will introduce students to scholarship on colonialism and postcolonialism in nineteeth- and twentieth-century Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Questions to be explored include: How have various scholars approached the study of colonialism? To what extent have they understood colonialism as an outgrowth of capitalism and to what extent have they viewed it as constitutive -- not just transformative --of culture? How have they framed the relationship between colonialism, postcolonialism, and modernity? Do they view contemporary postcolonial societies and states in Asia and Africa as derivative of colonial economies, institutions, and discourses or do they see radical departures? We will explore these questions by reading eight historical and anthropological monographs (see below) alongside a series of shorter pieces by social theorists including Karl Marx, Franz Fanon, Benedict Anderson, Gayatri Spivak, George Orwell, Ann Stoler, Homi Bhaba, Michel Foucault, and Walter Benjamin.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Previous graduate coursework in the social sciences or humaniteis.

Class assignments and grading

Readings, class participation, three short essays, and one long essay. The class will meet once per week. Each class will be devoted to dicussion and debate of the assigned readings.

Class Participation 25% Short Essays (each) 15% Long Essays 30%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Stefanie M Starkovich
Date: 11/16/2001