Table Topics “Decolonization and Postcolonial Solidarity”
Leslie James (University of Birmingham) and Elisabeth Leake (University of London) will talk about Decolonization and Postcolonial Solidarity.
At this table, we will reflect on the rise and spread of postcolonial solidarity and South-South networks, as well as rethinking what ‘solidarity’ actually entails. Starting with the premise that postcolonial solidarity formed primarily around the desire to ‘decolonize’ – i.e. to rid society of the structures of colonial rule – we will identify the major issues that galvanized cooperation and dialogue between formerly colonized people, including social, legal, ecological, technical, and cultural practices. Our table will approach recognized conferences and global movements, such as nonalignment and Tricontinentalism, not as ends in themselves but as junctures within looser networks of thinkers and revolutionaries. We will explore various ways that ‘solidarity’ can be defined, whether through transnational movements focused on socialism and social change, global revolution and revolutionary undergrounds, or issues of race and religion. We argue that solidarity should not be thought of as agreement, but as engagement.
In the past decade scholarship on decolonization and transnational networks has coalesced around ‘future’ narratives. As leaders set out their governmental institutions, legal apparatuses, and planned government projects, they sought out possible futures that did not conform with those imagined by leaders in the West or the East. Intellectuals across the global South debated the extent to which their future should be entirely ‘new’ – expunging both the colonial and pre-colonial past – or should integrate previous social and religious practices and power regimes. Leslie James is interested in how intellectuals and political leaders in Africa and the African diaspora shared ideas about how to integrate – but also overcome – colonial narratives about their past. Elisabeth Leake is interested in ‘unorthodox’ solidarities, such as pan-Islamism and the rise of anti-state actors, spanning South Asia and the Middle East that provided alternative futures for the regions that disrupted conformity to the Westphalian nation-state.