Research themes 

Writing Postcolonial Histories: Methods and Approaches

The postcolonial turn in the writing of history began as a political project: to contribute to a genuine liberation of knowledge in the present from colonial and neo-colonial frames of thought. The political edge to that project may no longer be felt so keenly but the intellectual project remains. We recognize the colonial (and neo-colonial) archive to be a space of commencement and commandment; where our thought begins but is simultaneously disciplined and conditioned. We recognize the need to explore the historicizable past beyond what was cropped, edited and domiciled in English and beyond what lies in the traditional archive. And, we look to produce history that is not just disseminated and consumed in Europe and North America but accessible to and by our audience in the Global South. Our researchers engage with multiple forms of archive and evidence: from Nandini Chatterjee’s work on early modern Persianate legal documentation, to Silvia Espelt Bombin’s eighteenth-century indigenous treaties, to Emily Bridger’s oral histories of former anti-apartheid activists in Soweto. Many of our scholars adopt interdisciplinary methodologies, such as Rebecca William’s engagement with medical anthropology and public health to investigate Indian family planning policies, and Stacey Hynd’s drawing on sociology, anthropology and postcolonial literary analysis to analyse humanitarian campaigning against the recruitment of child soldiers.  Our PGR students are also involved in developing new, interdisciplinary research methodologies to trace the history of contemporary crises. Diana Valencia Duarte combines her scientific background in engineering and food security with oral history and environmental history perspectives to trace the history of the impact of agrarian counter-reforms on food sovereignty and in/security in late twentieth century Colombia, bringing indigenous peasant voices and knowledge to the fore.