Postcolonial Studies

The Post Colonial Studies Group fosters discussions on issues related to the field of postcolonial studies, including topics as varied as post-colonial, post-hegemonic, transnational, globalization, diaspora, migration and gender studies, as well as related theories.

Mark Liechty, Anthropology and History
Nasser Mufti, English


Postcolonial Studies Working Group: Kaveh Ehsani, Depaul University

Date(s): Wednesday, 9/7 4:00 PM to Wednesday, 9/7 5:30 PM

“The Social Life of Oil”

Oil is the key ingredient of the industrial and consumer civilization of late capitalism and its life cycle from exploration to consumption affects all aspects of social and planetary life.  Yet, since the 1970s the analysis of the political and spatial impact of oil by scholars, commentators, and policy makers has been increasingly stripped of its social content.  ‘Oil’ is nowadays discursively reduced to financial revenues to governments, a geopolitical resource, or a cause of global warming.  The role of labor, local communities, and the interwoven social and political networks that make the production and circulation of oil in its various forms are rendered invisible.  This talk will focus on the Middle East oil producers and discuss the origins of this discursive de-politicization in the region and its consequences.

Kaveh Ehsani is Assistant Professor of International Studies, and Director of Graduate Studies at DePaul University in Chicago. He has been a longstanding member of the editorial boards of the journals Goftogu (Dialogue) in Tehran, Middle East Report (Merip), and more recently of Iranian Studies.  He is a regular media commentator about domestic and international Iranian politics.

Book Discussion: Ann Stoler, Duress: Imperial Durabilities in our Times (DUKE UP 2016) 

Date(s): Wednesday, 10/26 4:30 PM to Wednesday, 10/26 6:30 PM

Conversation:  Duress and the Persistence of Empire

How do colonial histories matter to the urgencies and conditions of our current world?  Join us for a discussion of Ann Laura Stoler’s new work Duress:  Imperial Durabilities in our Times (Duke UP 2016).

Chapter 1 of the book is available at the Duke University Press website.  To receive a copy please email

“Idols of ISIS”
Tuesday, 4/26 4:00 PM to Tuesday, 4/26 6:00 PM

With Aaron Tugendhaft
University of Chicago

Introduction by Ömür Harmanşah,
University Illinois at Chicago

Abstract: On February 26, 2015, the Islamic State released a video onto the internet depicting destruction of ancient sculptures in the Mosul Museum, claiming that these sculptures were idols that needed to be destroyed. This talk will explore how religion, politics, and art intersect in this image of image destruction and raise questions about the aestheticization of politics in the age of the selfie.

Postcolonial Studies Working Group Reading: “Historial Teleologies in the Modern World” 
Wednesday, 4/13 3:00 PM to Wednesday, 4/13 4:30 PM

We are reading selections from Historical Teleologies in the Modern World edited by Dipesh Chakrabarty, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, and Henning Truper.

Roundtable: Free Speech, Protest, University
Wednesday, 3/16 3:00 PM to Wednesday, 3/16 4:30 PM

February 9, 2016:
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
Kanhaiya Kumar, student union leader, is arrested on charges of sedition for his progressive left-liberal call for “freedom” on the university campus.

February 25, 2016:
North-West University, Mahikeng, South Africa
Students burned down university building while protesting continued privilege of white-minority and use of Afrikaans as lingua franca.

March 11, 2016:
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Illinois, United States
Donald Trump, anti-immigrant Republican presidential candidate, holds rally at UIC Pavilion in a campus that is home to over 15000 Latino/Hispanic/Asian/Black/African-American students, a little over half the student population.

It is time we got together to talk about this. Join us next Wednesday around the table!

Global Partition: A Colonial Legacy?
Wednesday, 12/2 3:00 PM to Wednesday, 12/2 4:00 PM

For all of its self-proclaimed advantages, modern colonialism sustained itself by using tools and methods that isolated the colonized people and introduced a lasting divisive politics among the colonized. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most post-colonial nation states have by now experienced violent uprisings and civil wars in one form or another. This round table discussion will historically and comparatively focus on how colonial and post-colonial practices of partitioning populations are enabled by discourses of religion, culture, and geo-politics. Our discussants will rely on the concept of partition to offer a more global understanding of these practices, broadly focusing on the areas of India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine, South Africa, and North America.

Andy Clarno, Sociology, UIC
John French, Political Science, DePaul
Nadine Suleiman Naber, Gender and Women’s Studies, UIC
Nasser Mufti, English, UIC
Rama Sundari Mantena, History, UIC
Moderator: Mark Liechty, History, UIC

Postcolonial Studies Reading Group
Wednesday, 10/28 3:00 PM to Wednesday, 10/28 5:00 PM

We are reading select chapters from Walter ‘Mignolo’s Local Histories and Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking (Princeton, 2000). Selected chapters available for download with the attached link. Come join us!

In Conversation: Identity, Politics, and Contemporary Art in Pakistan
Wednesday, 10/7 3:00 PM to Wednesday, 10/7 5:00 PM

Participants: Art Critic Nafisa Rizvi, Prof. Nasser Mufti (UIC)

About the speaker:

Nafisa Rizvi is a Pakistani art writer and independent curator currently residing in Chicago, Illinois. She is the founder of ArtNow, Pakistan’s first online magazine on contemporary art. She has contributed to several major publications around the globe, including The Eye Still Seeks, edited by Salima Hashmi. Most recently, she co-edited the book Imran Mir –What you see is what you see on the life and works of the late artist Imran Mir. She is set to curate her first show in North America, at Twelve Gates Gallery, Philadelphia, titled: “They Really Live the Real Reality” in October 2015 featuring four young artists from Pakistan.

About the interlocutor:

Nasser Mufti’s research and teaching focuses Victorian and postcolonial literature, as well as critical and political theory. He is especially interested in literary approaches to the study of nationalism. He is currently completing his book manuscript, “Civil War and Imperialism: Un-Imagining Community and the British Empire” which argues that representations of civil war energized and animated nineteenth-century British imperialism and decolonization in the twentieth century.