Over the past several days academics on social media have been discussing in increasingly agitated language the publication of “The Case for Colonialism,” by Portland State University associate professor of political science Bruce Gilley, in the academic journal, Third World Quarterly. There is now a petition with over 6,000 supporters (as of the time of writing this post) calling for the editorial team to retract the article, for the editors who approved it to apologize for “further brutalizing those who have suffered under colonialism,” and for the editors to be replaced. Ignoring McNulty’s wisdom—this particular dispute belongs to political science, not philosophy—I’d like to share some thoughts on this. After all, what is going on now isn’t all that different from a recent episode in our discipline, and it provides an opportunity to put some thoughts out there should we face such a situation again. Here are the introductory paragraphs of Gilley’s article, which I post to give you a sense of what it’s about (there is an ungated version of the piece here): For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. Colonialism has virtually disappeared from international affairs, and there is no easier way to discredit a… Read full this story
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