CONVENERS Dallas Rogers and Naama Blatman

ABOUT – We’re a group of scholars working across a number of fields and intellectual traditions. We come together to read and discuss new ideas with relevance to our own teaching and research. The group has a broad interest in developing our knowledge of Critical Race Theory as it pertains to a range of other social theory, empirical fields and geographical regions. With some important exceptions, Critical Race Theory is under-utilised in mainstream Australian scholarship and students in Australian universities do not have enough exposure to this rich, important and rapidly growing field of thought. By closely reading and debating new and old books in this field, we aim to enhance and enrich our research, teaching and practice in ways that further challenge the racial structures we are all embedded in. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, the Australian academy itself.

Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent

Our third book for 2021 is Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent, by Priyamvada Gopal and published by Verso.

August to October 2021

Description – How rebellious colonies changed British attitudes to empire. Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom. Priyamvada Gopal examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire. Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. Insurgent Empire sets the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.

Schedule – to be confirmed

4th August 2021 12 – 1pm Introduction tbc
11th August 2021 12 – 1pm 1. The spirt of the sepoy host tbc
18th August 2021 12 – 1pm 2. A barbaric Independence tbc
25th August 2021 12 – 1pm 3. The Accidental Anticolonialist tbc
1st September 2021 12 – 1pm 4. Passages to Internationalism tbc
8th September 2021 12 – 1pm 5. The Interpreter of Insurgencies tbc
15th September 2021 12 – 1pm 6. The Revolt of the Oppressed World tbc
22nd September 2021 12 – 1pm 7. Black Voices Matter tbc
6th October 2021 12 – 1pm 8. Internationalising African Opinion tbc
13th October 2021 12 – 1pm 9. Smash Our Own Imperialism tbc
20th October 2021 12 – 1pm 10. A Terrible Assertion of Discontent tbc
27th October 2021 12 – 1pm Epilogue tbc

(B)ordering Britain: Law, Race and Empire

Our second book for 2021 is (B)ordering Britain: Law, race and empire by Nadine El-Enany and published by Manchester University Press.

April to May 2021

Description – (B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. In announcing itself as postcolonial through immigration and nationality laws passed in the 60s, 70s and 80s, Britain cut itself off symbolically and physically from its colonies and the Commonwealth, taking with it what it had plundered. This imperial vanishing act cast Britain’s colonial history into the shadows. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out. In fact, immigration laws are acts of colonial seizure and violence. They obstruct the vast majority of racialised people from accessing colonial wealth amassed in the course of colonial conquest. Regardless of what the law, media and political discourse dictate, people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.

Schedule – to be confirmed

14th April 2021 12 – 1pm Introduction: Britain as the spoils of empire tbc
21st April 2021 12 – 1pm 1. Bordering and ordering Shanthi Robertson
28th April 2021 12 – 1pm 2. Aliens: immigration law’s racial architecture tbc
5th May 2021 12 – 1pm 3. Subjects and citizens: cordoning off colonial spoils tbc
12th May 2021 12 – 1pm 4. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers: predictable arrivals tbc
19th May 2021 12 – 1pm 5. European citizens and third country nationals: Europe’s colonial embrace tbc
26th May 2021 12 – 1pm Conclusion: ‘Go home’ as an invitation to stay tbc

Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World

Our first book for 2021 is Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World by Gary Wilder and published by Duke University Press.

February to March 2021

DescriptionFreedom Time reconsiders decolonization from the perspectives of Aimé Césaire (Martinique) and Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal) who, beginning in 1945, promoted self-determination without state sovereignty. As politicians, public intellectuals, and poets they struggled to transform imperial France into a democratic federation, with former colonies as autonomous members of a transcontinental polity. In so doing, they revitalized past but unrealized political projects and anticipated impossible futures by acting as if they had already arrived. Refusing to reduce colonial emancipation to national independence, they regarded decolonization as an opportunity to remake the world, reconcile peoples, and realize humanity’s potential. Emphasizing the link between politics and aesthetics, Gary Wilder reads Césaire and Senghor as pragmatic utopians, situated humanists, and concrete cosmopolitans whose postwar insights can illuminate current debates about self-management, postnational politics, and planetary solidarity. Freedom Time invites scholars to decolonize intellectual history and globalize critical theory, to analyze the temporal dimensions of political life, and to question the territorialist assumptions of contemporary historiography.

The University of Sydney Library link here

Schedule – to be confirmed

3rd February 2021 12 – 1pm 1. Unthinking France, Rethinking Decolonization Adam Morton
10th February 2021 12 – 1pm 2. Situating Césaire: Antillean Awakening and Global Redemption Sha Liu
17th February 2021 12 – 1pm 3. Situating Senghor: African Hospitality and Human Solidarity Caitlin Buckle
24th February 2021 12 – 1pm 4. Freedom, Time, Territory Dallas Rogers
3rd March 2021 12 – 1pm 5. Departmentalization and the Spirit of Schoelcher tbc
10th March 2021 12 – 1pm 6. Federalism and the Future of France tbc
17th March 2021 12 – 1pm 7. Antillean Autonomy and the Legacy of Louverture tbc
24th March 2021 12 – 1pm 8. African Socialism and the Fate of the World Rebecca Clements
31st March 2021 12 – 1pm 9. Decolonization and Postnational Democracy Naama Blatman

Theft Is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory

Our first book for 2020 is Theft Is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory byRobert Nichols and published by Duke University Press.

November to December 2020

Description – Drawing on Indigenous peoples’ struggles against settler colonialism, Theft Is Property! reconstructs the concept of dispossession as a means of explaining how shifting configurations of law, property, race, and rights have functioned as modes of governance, both historically and in the present. Through close analysis of arguments by Indigenous scholars and activists from the nineteenth century to the present, Robert Nichols argues that dispossession has come to name a unique recursive process whereby systematic theft is the mechanism by which property relations are generated. In so doing, Nichols also brings long-standing debates in anarchist, Black radical, feminist, Marxist, and postcolonial thought into direct conversation with the frequently overlooked intellectual contributions of Indigenous peoples.


11th November 2020 12pm – 1pm Introduction
1. That Sole and Despotic Dominion
Dallas Rogers
18th November 2020 1pm – 2pm 2. Marx, after the Feast Adam Morton
25th November 2020 12pm – 1pm 3. Indigenous Structural Critique Naama Blatman
2nd December 2020 12pm – 1pm 4. Dilemmas of Self-Ownership, Rituals of Antiwill Alistair Sisson
9th December 2020 12pm – 1pm Conclusion Pratichi Chatterjee