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Cambridge Centre for Political Thought


Anti-Colonial Political Thought

King's College and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Place Markers at the Bandung Afro-Asian Conference, 1955. (Life Magazine, April 1955)


One of the most dramatic geo-political developments in the twentieth century was the demise of European empires, which had been gradually formed and re-formed since the early modern period. This process of disintegration was accompanied by the rise of anti-imperial polemic, both in European metropolitan centres and in various imperial dependencies across the globe. This conference will focus on arguments against empire deployed by those who resisted its authority in numerous colonial settings spanning Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Asia. Contributors will reconstruct the ideologies deployed by key intellectual figures embroiled in the process, including Pearse, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Nasser, Cabral, Fanon, Nkrumah and Khomeini. The academic literature has tended to identify opposition to empire as an instance of ‘nationalism’, thus reducing a complex range of responses to a single ideological counter. The aim of this conference is to attend more carefully to the diversity of political languages that were originally employed.

The conference will take place on 1-2 July 2022. Please see the full programme here.



Andrew Arsan (St. John’s College, Cambridge)

Richard Bourke (King’s College, Cambridge)

Faisal Devji (St. Antony’s College, Oxford)

Adom Getachew (University of Chicago)

Lawrence Hamilton (University of the Witwatersand)

Aaron Jakes (New School for Social Research)

Leslie James (Queen Mary, University of London)

Shruti Kapila (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)

Sudipta Kaviraj (Columbia University)

Jean Khalfa (Trinity College, Cambridge)

Julia Lovell (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Karuna Mantena (Columbia University)

Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Ashoka University)

Hussein A.H. Omar (University College Dublin)

Neguin Yavari (Columbia University)

Musab Younis (Queen Mary, University of London)

Faridah Zaman (Somerville College, Oxford)



Prof. Richard Bourke (King's College, Cambridge)

Dr. Shruti Kapila (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)

Dr. Hussein A.H. Omar (University College Dublin)