SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Postcolonial theory

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2

This module seeks to provide UG students taking politics degree, alongside other interested students at the department, an advanced background in key issues in postcolonial political thought. It will work on some of the key issuse and key authors in the field, including questions of translation and translatability, decolonization, subaltern studies, and more. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Acquire familiarity with key debates in postcolonial political theory
  • Engage critically with the canon of political thought; Contextualize and question the canon
  • Develop analytical skills and reading strategies to allow deep engagement with theoretically sophisticated (and challenging) material 
  • Acquire familiarity with some of the most recent work in decolonial and postcolonial theory 


2 hours lecture per week

Scope and syllabus

  1. Orientalism
  2. Hybridity
  3. Subaltern studies
  4. Postcolonial theory and raceBA
  5. Postcolonial feminism and intersectionality
  6. Queer postcolonial theory
  7. Postcolonialism versus Marxism?
  8. Time, history, memory
  9. Governmentality: civil and political society
  10. The postcolonial and the decolonial

Method of assessment

 Assessment is 100% coursework (one 850 word essay and one 2000 word essay).

Suggested reading

  • Edward Said, Orientalism
  • Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture
  • Gayatri Spivak, 'Can the Subaltern Speak?'; Critique of Postcolonial Reason
  • Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason
  • Chandra Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders
  • Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages
  • Keguro Macharia, Frottage
  • Rahul Rao, Out of Time
  • Vivek Chibber, Postcolonial Theory and the Spectre of Capital
  • Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules