Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Re-Colonize This!

The Sudanese government has rejected calls to send in international troops, saying that it would effectively "re-colonise" the African nation.

The post-colonial scholars have always struck a chord with me, but one thing I can't get past is how, in the real world, their rhetoric is far more likely to appear in the defense of brutal oppression than in the liberation. I sincerely doubt that Omar al-Bashir is reading Spivak, but clearly he and his ilk have realized that this sort of language is remarkably effective at stalling liberal international groups' commitment to challenging their brutal regimes.

There is no way, of course, that sending in international troops to stop a genocide is a (re)colonization of anything. But it does no good for me to say that, because I'm from the US. So what I'd really like to hear is a response from the African Union--or even a consortium of African states--unambigiously proclaiming that such an intervention would not constitute colonization in any way, shape, or form.


Stentor said...

I haven't read much postcolonial stuff, so I'm curious how they (and you) define "colonization." Because it seems to me that putting foreign troops in charge of a region is by definition colonization, albeit in this case not complete colonization, and colonization done in the name of preventing a greater evil.

David Schraub said...

For my personal definition, I'd provisional forward the following 3 criteria as necessary for something to be "colonizing"

1) People from a foreign ethnic group

2) Moving to settle in another people's location

3) For the purpose of asserting permanent or indefinite long-term control by the foreign power associated with ethic group.

Each of these is necessary but not sufficient alone. I don't think foreign troops being in the region meets this definition for at least two reasons-- 1) there is no settlement and 2) there is a definite term. To boot, imagine if the UN did intervene in Sudan. Would you really say that Sudan is now a "UN colony"? I think that's just weird.

The probligo said...

David, I suspect that may well be the reason why UN uses the word "Protectorate".

There is one element of colonialism, the last that you list, that can stand without the first two. Example India.

Anonymous said...

The probligo is right. See here for additional information. In addition, most textual overviews of transnational colonial history have good definitions of settler versus "other" types of colonialism.