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Decolonisation & Its Discontents

Decolonization has become a recurring subject in an endless stream of op-eds, think pieces, and books. Yet despite so much ink spent on the topic there seems to be little agreement on what exactly we want to achieve by ‘decolonizing’ something. Answering this, and clarifying what is at stake in these conversations, requires posing additional questions like ‘what is our relationship to the institution or discipline we want to decolonize? Are we asking for those things to be reformed, or do we want them abolished altogether? Or is decolonizing a method of critique, intended to expose the colonial and racist foundations of its target? And, crucially, how do contempary movements for decolonization—emerging almost exclusively from universities, museums and art institutions—relate to the aims and achievements of the national liberation movements that dismantled colonial states?

Building on Kevin Ochieng Okoth’s forthcoming article in Salvage #10, Annie Olaloku-Teriba and Barnaby Raine will aim to answer these questions and discuss what today’s calls to decolonize can learn from the struggles that defeated imperial powers in the twentieth century.

This discussion will be part of the ongoing Salvage Live events series, hosted by Haymarket Books.


Kevin Ochieng Okoth is a writer and researcher living in London. He is a corresponding editor at Salvage.

Annie Olaloku-Teriba is a writer and podcaster whose research focuses on how neoliberalism has transformed the theory and practice of ‘race.’

Barnaby Raine is writing his PhD at Columbia University on visions of ending capitalism. He teaches at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.


This event is co-sponsored by Haymarket Books and Salvage