Colonial Minds, Postcolonial Places

Abstract : I have felt moved to write this piece for two reasons. First, the episode I will recount below resonates strongly with my experience and that of other non-European colleagues (those I have been discussing with, at least) regarding the politics of academic knowledge production in Western academic contexts. Second, it exemplifies what in my view is a rather problematic understanding of " Eurocentrism " and " theory " , reducing the former to an unproductive polemical register, and confusing the latter with a user's manual. The episode consists of me being called " Eurocentric " in an academic workshop, although this piece is in no way intended as a response to my accusers. Rather, it is written in the spirit of addressing the issues identified above, which I take to be of political, theoretical and pedagogic significance. What, then, was my sin to deserve this academic and political kiss of death? I was surprised—stunned even—especially because I had taken good care to start with a disclaimer that my paper was informed by the French context and inspired by a particular French thinker. Since the previous day of the workshop had seen numerous remarks of the type " Yes, but this doesn't work in Sri Lanka! " (there was a contingent of anthropologists and development geographers with ongoing research projects there), I was careful, running the risk of sounding defensive, to also emphasize that my paper offered one among many possible ways of thinking about the relationship between space and politics, one of the workshop themes. Alas, it didn't work in Sri Lanka! Although I tried to explain that my paper was neither inspired by nor responding to the situation in Sri Lanka, I, the only non-European present, ended up being the only Eurocentric of the whole workshop. The problem, according to my interlocutors, was that my alleged " model " (a term I had deliberately avoided) either " did not work in " or " did not apply to " Sri Lanka (Pakistan, if I remember correctly, was also mentioned). It is this kind of use of the term that I find unproductive and problematic. Based on a strictly geographical or even cartographical
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Mustafa Dikeç. Colonial Minds, Postcolonial Places. Antipode, Wiley, 2010, 〈10.1111/j.1467-8330.2010.00775.x〉. 〈hal-01274394〉

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