SO4B5      Half Unit
The Anticolonial Archive: The Sociology of Empire and its Afterlives

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sara Salem STC.S218


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

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Places are allocated based on a written statement, with priority given to students on the MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics and MSc in Political Sociology. As demand is typically high, this may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course focuses on 20th century anti-colonial movements in order to explore the postcolonial moment that emerged after the end of European empire. It addresses debates within global sociology, postcolonial studies and political sociology, looking at the legacies and afterlives of empire and what these mean for our current moment. We trace conversations anti-colonial movements had around nationalism and post-nationalism; capitalism and geopolitics; resistance, subjectivity and modernity; and global patterns of inequality. The course investigates these topics through various “anticolonial archives,” including theoretical texts by major anticolonial and postcolonial theorists, literature, archival data, posters, images, speeches, films, memoirs and private correspondence.

The first part of the course explores anticolonial movements through some of the major theoretical texts that emerged during this moment by thinkers such as Frantz Fanon, B.R. Ambedkar, Kwame Nkrumah, Claudia Jones, Aimé Césaire, Chandra Mohanty, and Edward Said, among others, in order to sketch out the theoretical stakes of decolonisation and in particular the multiple alternative postcolonial projects that were proposed. The second part of the course focuses on two particular features of anticolonial movements and the postcolonial states they produced: their internationalism on the one hand and their focus on nationalism on the other. We look at internationalist and third worldist movements such as pan-Africanism, pan-Arabism, transnational feminism and Third World Marxism—particularly through the lens of international spaces such as the Marxist ‘internationals,’ the Afro-Asian Conference at Bandung and the Pan-African Congresses—before delving more deeply into particular national contexts (cases include South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, India and Cuba). The course ends by addressing the afterlives of empire, assessing the emergence of postcolonial states; global migration and the end of empire; the effects of the global neoliberal project on the postcolonial world; and contemporary debates around postcolonial/decolonial theory


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the LT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

A 1,500 word reflective essay to be handed in during Week 7 of LT that takes a particular object or material from an “anticolonial archive” and discusses it in relation to the course themes, readings, and questions. This may be used to build an online “anticolonial archive” based on the course as a whole, on the LSE Sociology website. This should lay the basis for a topic or set of questions which you will explore in your summative essay. The formative is intended as an opportunity to begin to explore the various anticolonial archives and how to approach materials within them in relation to theoretical questions.

Indicative reading

Indicative readings:

Chatterjee, P., 2012. The black hole of empire: History of a global practice of power. Princeton University Press.

Fanon, F., 1963. The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove Press.

Gordon, A.F., 2008. Ghostly matters: Haunting and the sociological imagination. University of Minnesota Press.

Kelley, R.D., 2002. Freedom dreams: The black radical imagination. Beacon Press.

Krug, Jessica. 2019. Fugitive Modernities: Kisama and the Politics of Freedom. Duke University Press.

Mahler, A.G., 2018. From the Tricontinental to the global South: race, radicalism, and transnational solidarity. Duke University Press.

Said, E.W., 1983. The world, the text, and the critic. Harvard University Press.

Scott, D., 2004. Conscripts of modernity. Duke University Press.

Singh, J., 2017. Unthinking mastery: Dehumanism and decolonial entanglements. Duke University Press.

Steinmetz, G. ed., 2013. Sociology and empire: the imperial entanglements of a discipline. Duke University Press.


Essay (85%, 4000 words) in the ST.
In-class assessment (15%) in the LT.

15% of the final mark will be given for a presentation during one seminar and participation throughout.

The in-class presentation is a way to ensure participation and a deeper engagement with the material. It also allows students to respond to material in creative ways. This presentation will be collaborative and will explore a particular explore a knowledge object.

We will complete a reading round at the start of each class, during which students will spend a few minutes reflecting on the readings and pointing to any questions they may have raised. Students are expected to participate in this every week, and this is what counts towards participation throughout, which together with an in-class presentation adds to the 15%.

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: Sociology

Total students 2020/21: 30

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills