Postcolonization Theory as it Relates to Globalization and Modernization

Many people recognize globalization as the understanding that the world is becoming a more interconnected place; that ideas, technology, events, and people move porously through state, national, and regional boundaries. But for those scholars who are focused on peace- specifically international peace- are aware that globalization is much more than that. Globalization is also the evolution of the concept of nation-state, addresses the concerns around modernization, and derives a large amount of theory from postcolonization.


While I was preparing for a class on postcolonization theory, I read a wonderful essay by James Ferguson called Decomposing Modernity. He describes the modern globalizing world from a much different point of view, exposing the polarization that occurs within the context of globalization and modernization. A few benefit from globalization, but many are forced to suffer in deterriorating living conditions. This is creating a crisis of identities in some regions. Focusing on the continent of Africa, he sums up a familiar viewpoint shared among Africans: Africans do not see themselves as less developed, they see themselves as less; poor countries are no longer behind the West, they are beneath it.


In other words, statuses and conditions of peoples and nations may change over time due to globalization, but not necessarily in a progressive way. These beliefs are further reinforced subconsciously (or not) in the production of Mercator maps, featuring Europe in the center and everything else surrounding it. One doesn't have to look too far to see the effects of colonization in the mindsets of Westerns still today.


From this standpoint, it is clear to see the value postcolonization theory has on the formation and evolution of globalization and conflict resolution. Westerners (corporations especially) look at developing nations and ask "What is it worth?". The consequences of this type of thinking are seen in the dwindling rainsforsts, the sites that are used as toxic dumping zones, the offshore tax havens, all of which are refered to as zones of invisibility. Westerners typically don't concern themselves with what goes on in these areas or how their lifestyles are contributing to the waste and destruction.


As individuals, we must be sure not to simply write off globalization as a positive evolution- many countries and peoples are suffering because of it. It is therefore necessary to review methods and outcomes from colonization through postcolonization theories to develop a course of action that will allow for different (and more positive) outcomes. Postcolonization theory also adds new dimensions to conflict resolution theories, as it raises many issues and problems that may not have been seen as direct sources of conflict. This should remind us that every point of view needs to be explored deeply when preparing a plan for global conflict management and prevention politically, economically, socially, culturally, and historically. The question is, will we learn from the past in time to change the future?

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Tags: colonization, globalization, inequality, modernization, post, theory


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Comment by Vinay Jain on June 4, 2012 at 8:34pm

Europeans had given rise to colonization to serve domination of rather peaceful and well placed nations. Modern globalization may be viewed as an expansive form of 'similar intent' of the so-called advanced blocs 'from a distance' post-colonization. A theory that the world is becoming a more interconnected place can never be a reality till developing countries and third-world countries partitions exist alongside.

We shall continue facing situations of different kind of conflicts & wars on economic-grounds; cultures, histories, development etc having little meaning. What views other than shrewed diplomacy can be meaningful? Art of diplomacy has been crucial even in armed conflicts!

Comment by Mashingaidze on June 2, 2012 at 6:46pm
Thank you Angel and i like your area of passion environment indeed because we are reflections of our environs, more so its upon us to try to strike a balance on what we get from it and what we give it back. Indeed the challenge in on the abily of environment to regenerate through on its own. They are some valuable indigenous knowledge systems that need not be discarded because these can be indentified with the people and if adopted in conservation programmes and design of farming models indeed one cannot dispute that a more sustainable agricultural activities can make African economically and food secure.
Comment by Angel J Avila on June 2, 2012 at 3:47pm

I think you bring up excellent points, Mashingaidze. The Structural Adjustment Programs set up by the World Bank have been devastating to African farmers, villages, communities, and their food supplies, which has consequently resulted in landless farmers and thousands of displaced people. This, I believe, is brought about not only by greed but the belief that the Western way of doing things (in this case agriculture) is the correct and superior method. Traditional values and procedures are discounted and considered antique. Little thought is given to the destruction of the earth and the soil, which will not be able to sustain the over-farming practices. This issue in particular is one that I am deeply passionate about!

Comment by Mashingaidze on June 1, 2012 at 3:48pm
Indeed i concur with you. Globalisation has so far been glorified to the extent that its impact on 'developing states' is so sad. It is evident in how the unsubsidised african farmers have been elbowed out of any real economic as they compete with those in western countries taking or the due honey as they are heavily subsidised. As for africans have now become to accept the gospel of deregulation in order to remove spanners along the globalisation paths.yet this has led to massive deindustrialisation leading to unemployment. Talk of the concept of tax holidays to multinational has undermined the capacity of african governments to get real economic value from exploited natural resources. An example in case is niger delta in nigeria over oil and environmental degradation. The developing nations have been caught up again in rebranded 'colonialism'. They been opiumised to wait up on trickle down process yet anticipation for good is anathema for creativity and drive for intrinsic driven and designed development discourse that contextualise the realism that the domains of international political economy are entrenched in inequalities that can traced in tenets of globalisation.
Comment by Angel J Avila on May 30, 2012 at 7:35am

Thank you for your post, Raad!

I agree with you - we are products of our environments. The beautiful thing is that we have the ability to change our viewpoints and our environment. My argument for globalization as another form of colonization stems from the fact that more people are being marginalized in the movement than are actually seeing the benefits of modernization. By looking at postcolonial theories, we will be better equipped to formulate a plan to ensure history of colonization in the 13th + centuries does not repeat itself.

Comment by Raad Amer on May 29, 2012 at 11:10pm

Interesting analysis with interesting Worldview. I think It is worth while to sometimes try to use different lenses to see how the surrounding looks like. How the new colors, the view affect or change our perception and decision making processes?

My understanding of peacebuilding as a dynamic and multi level and process practice comes from the fact that different environments, and cultures bring to the table different reading to the events of conflict. For example, a "Westerner" reading to the conflict will only reflect that person's worldview at that point that is shaped by certain environmental, cultural, economical and political conditions.This reading will change if the conditions change. The change in the reading--the diagnosis--leads to different analysis and therefore different project design, implementation and evaluation.

 What I am talking about is worldviews and how these worldviews get affected when we change the environment or when we put on a different lens to see the world.

Comment by Garcia on May 29, 2012 at 9:24pm

A perfect example for your argument is the so called War on Drugs, which besides being a failure, criminalizes ancient indigenous practices such as growing coca plant for medical and nutritional purposes.

Comment by Angel J Avila on May 29, 2012 at 1:21pm

Thank you for your input! I found the similarities between globalization in the current context and colonization in the 13th century amazing. So many practices are still today put it place but without the label of "colony" or "empire." And, much in the same way colonization was praised,the blind support and encouragement for globalization/modernization to take its course is lauded. This, of course, assumes that there are no downsides to the movement, or at least not for the West. There was a great quote in Ferguson's essay... Just because the West did not gain much from colonization does not mean that the colonies didn't lose.

Comment by jone kamut on May 29, 2012 at 12:31pm

An interesting analysis Angel. It seems to me as if the globalization is conceptualized by developing nations as another way of colonization,especially when they think of losing their sovereignty to an "inetnational government" imgained and proposed by the propronents of globalization...especially when you bring the "What is it worth" question.

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