New Imperialisms, New Imperatives: Taking Stock of Postcolonial Studies

Nagesh Rao


The new imperialism heralded by the U.S.-led "war on terrorism" poses a challenge that postcolonial studies can best respond to by re-examining its own institutional and ideological heritage. The article traces the development of postcolonial studies, pointing in particular to the manner in which postcolonial studies has rejected Marxism as a theoretical framework; nationalism as a potentially liberatory project; and "imperialism" as a necessary concept in analysing the capitalist world system. This "triple elision," it is argued, results in a mystification of the forms of power and domination characteristic of capitalism today. The article concludes with a critique of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire, suggesting that a more accurate appreciation of the current world system requires a more rigorously applied Marxist analytic.


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