SPEAKER SERIES

Ajay Parasram

The State as Colonial Violence

This paper questions the “post”colonial moment by drawing attention to the violence central to transforming indigenous territory into colonial satellite states within 19th century British imperialism in particular. Drawing on insights from postcolonial and decolonial theory, as well as interdisciplinary approaches to studying state formation, the paper argues that the colonial violence of state-formation is more than the physical production of state territory. The presentation of the modern nation state as the single, “universal” option through which formerly colonized people must aspire to as an “end” point in order to achieve equality within a modern/colonial international system assumes a Eurocentric understanding of reality that represents itself as an objective reality. I argue that the consequence of this violent universalism unnecessarily limits the range of possible options today that might inform strategies for conflict resolution in postcolonial places. By recognizing the “coloniality” of the state as a starting point, uncolonized pasts inform decolonial futures without necessarily “passing through” the sieve of Eurocentric modernity.


Displayed map photo credit: “Imperial Federation, map of the world showing the extent of the British Empire in 1886” Author: John Charles Ready Colomb, 1886

Displayed map photo credit: “Imperial Federation, map of the world showing the extent of the British Empire in 1886” Author: John Charles Ready Colomb, 1886