Robbie Shilliam

Mar 24, 2021

Decolonizing Politics

An Introduction

Polity 2021

Robbie Shilliam’s new book for the Polity Press’s “Decolonizing the Curriculum” series explores how the discipline of political science was born of colonialism, and takes us through different ways of reimagining our study of politics. In this conversation, Robbie talks to host Yi Ning Chang not just about reconceptualizing the various subfields, but also about the university, the politics of knowledge production in and beyond the academy, and how decolonizing, for him, is fundamentally about transforming our experience of higher education.

Decolonizing Politics: An Introduction (Polity Press, 2021) argues that political science emerged as a response to the challenges of imperial administration and the demands of colonial rule. While not all political scientists were colonial cheerleaders, their thinking was nevertheless framed by colonial assumptions that influence the study of politics to this day. This book offers students a lens through which to decolonize the main themes and issues of political science - from human nature, rights, and citizenship, to development and global justice. Not content with revealing the colonial legacies that still inform the discipline, the book also introduces students to a wide range of intellectual resources from the (post)colonial world that will help them think through the same themes and issues more expansively. Decolonizing Politics is a much-needed critical guide for students of political science. It shifts the study of political science from the centers of power to its margins, where the majority of humanity lives. Ultimately, the book argues that those who occupy the margins are not powerless. Rather, marginal positions might afford a deeper understanding of politics than can be provided by mainstream approaches.

Yi Ning Chang is a PhD student in political theory at the Department of Government at Harvard University. She works on the history of contemporary political thought, postcolonial theory and race, and the global histories of anticolonialism and anti-imperialism in Southeast Asia. Yi Ning can be reached at yiningchang@g.harvard.edu.

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Yi Ning Chang

Yi Ning Chang is a PhD student in political theory at the Department of Government at Harvard University. She works on the history of contemporary political thought, postcolonial theory, and the global histories of anticolonialism and anti-imperialism in Southeast Asia. Yi Ning can be reached at yiningchang@g.harvard.edu.

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