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Postcolonial Bourdieu: Notes on the Oxymoron


The notion of a postcolonial Bourdieu presents us with an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms – that points to a set of conditions which have informed the international translation of Bourdieu’s work as well as certain tensions existing both within and towards the field of postcolonial studies. Colonial contexts, as well as competing anti-colonial positions, have been a part of the social environment that has generated much of the social theory we present to our students. Yet these contexts are rarely given due consideration. Moreover, Manichean presentations and receptions of theory that have reduced various intellectual fields to a series of ‘isms’ lack the subtlety that is necessary for an understanding of the complex, interwoven and shifting nature of social thought (Puwar & Sharma 2007).

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