GV4K2      Half Unit
Postcolonial and Comparative Political Theory

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Leigh Jenco


This course is available on the MSc in Global Politics and MSc in Political Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at two groups. Priority will be given to students enrolled on the MSc in Political Theory programme. 

Course content

This course will examine the consequences of, and responses to, the historic domination of Euro-American forms of knowledge in the field of political theory. Situating political theory as one of many disciplines that reinforce the cultural imperialism of colonial orders, the course will consider how postcolonial theorists have diagnosed this form of epistemic imperialism. We will go on to discuss how recent attempts at forging a “comparative political theory” might (or might not) productively engage more diverse forms of thinking for the purpose of making our conversations about political life more truly global, rather than parochially “Western.” The course will provide students with the vocabulary and conceptual tools to navigate this difficult theoretical terrain, through a focus on a close reading of primary texts, including both classics of postcolonial criticism as well as contemporary work in comparative political theory.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 25 hours in the Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and seminars. There will be a reading week in LT Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay (1000 words maximum excluding footnotes and bibliography) in the LT.

Indicative reading

  • Nandy, Ashis. 1988. The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Cesaire, Aime. [1956] 2010. “Culture and Colonization.” Social Text 103 (2): 127-144.
  • Idris, Murad, Leigh K Jenco, and Megan C. Thomas, eds. 2019. The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Political Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Euben, Roxanne L. 1997. “Comparative Political Theory: An Islamic Fundamentalist Critique of Rationalism.” The Journal of Politics 59 (1): 28–55. https://doi.org/10.2307/2998214.
  • Chen, Kuan-Hsing. 2010. Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press.
  • Jenco, Leigh. 2015. Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hokari, Minoru. 2011. Gurindji Journey: A Japanese Historian in the Outback. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Dallmayr, Fred. 2004. “Beyond Monologue: For a Comparative Political Theory.” Perspectives on Politics 2 (2): 124–44.


Essay (45%, 2000 words) and in-class assessment (10%) in the LT.
Essay (45%, 2000 words) in the ST.

Further information:

The 10% assessment will be in the form of a 30 minute, in-class quiz during the LT.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: 20

Average class size 2020/21: 10

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Communication