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Gurminder Bhambra: Decolonial Project of Europe

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Europe’s past is an imperial and colonial past.

Often presenting itself as a cosmopolitan continent of nations, it is, in fact, one of national projects buttressed by colonial endeavours. Endeavours in which populations from across the European continent have participated. There is a failure within standard social science to acknowledge long-standing colonial connections and the ways in which they were both organised along lines of domination and oppression and hierarchically constructed. This is particularly the case in terms of thinking about the ways in which race comes to define, and to provide the justification for, the hierarchies and inequalities created through colonialism and which continue to structure both academic and public debates today. Such issues are also central to questions of legitimacy and related fears of 'white replacement' that are currently gaining traction in Europe, not just on the right, but also from figures ostensibly associated with the left.

This talk sets out the ‘varieties of colonialism’ at the heart of the European project and asks what a decolonial project of Europe would look like. I argue it would be one that makes the colonial histories of Europe central to our understandings of its present and which seeks redress of the injustices associated with that history through postcolonial reparative action.

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