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Publications [#329925] of Prasenjit Duara

Journal Articles

  1. Duara, P, Decolonization and its legacy, in The Cambridge World History (January, 2015), pp. 395-419, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9781107000209 [doi]
    (last updated on 2020/09/20)

    © Cambridge University Press 2015. Although decolonization has been one of the most significant events in the twentieth century, transforming colonies and dependent territories into nation states, it remains an amorphous term because of the different phases and varieties of decolonization. This chapter excludes the pre-twentieth-century movements of independence in the Americas, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand, and focuses on the movements for independence from Western and Japanese colonial rule principally in Asia and Africa from the early part of the century until the 1980s. I do include the "decolonization" of several countries in this region that were never fully or formally colonized, eg. China, Iran, Siam, and others, because they shared several important characteristics and most especially a world view with the anti-colonial movements mentioned above, that, while transformed, continues to be relevant today. Conceived narrowly, decolonization refers to the transfer of institutional and legal control by colonial governments over their territories and dependencies to indigenously based, formally sovereign states. But the movement was a much wider one, championing claims to human justice that had been denied by imperialism. Decolonization can be approached from a very wide range of perspectives including those of economic and social, cultural, and environmental histories, among others. I have chosen to focus on political and ideological themes in the relationship of decolonization to imperialism, nationalism, and especially the Cold War, because this is a neglected issue and has the potential to change the ways we look at several of the other approaches. The victory of Japan over Russia in 1905, symbolizing the first military defeat of a modern European state by an Asian one, gave the nascent decolonization movement a fillip. A number of anti-colonial resistance groups began to perceive their movements as part of a worldwide and world-redeeming project. While the movement is seen to have reached a climax in the Bandung Conference of Afro-Asian solidarity in 1955, decolonization movements particularly in smaller countries in Africa and Caribbean and Pacific islands continued until the 1980s.

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