This is the first in a mini-series unpacking the various ways in which we might employ the term “postcolonial”. How the term is written changes its meaning, leading to different interpretations in different contexts.

Let’s start with post-colonial. The prefix post, accompanied here by the hyphen, suggests that we’re referring to the temporal space after the “event” of colonialism. This term works for describing the historical events that followed the roll-back of European presence in external colonies, (think when the British left India and Kenya) but there are serious critiques of this usage of this term to describe the uneven patterns of post-colonial history, ongoing repercussions of colonial domination that we have not yet transcended, settler colonialism and the ongoing project of decolonisation which we’ll go on to unpack in the next post.

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