GV4K2      Half Unit
Postcolonial and Comparative Political Theory

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Leigh Jenco


This course is available on the MSc in Gender (Rights and Human Rights), MSc in Political Science (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. In previous years we have been able to provide places for all students that apply but that may not continue to be the case. 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 key texts. We focus in particular on how historical narratives and uses of the past complicate the attempt to overcome Eurocentrism. This course will be of interest to students of political theory, intellectual history, and the history of political and social thought.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the Winter Term. There will be a reading week in WT Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay (1500 words maximum excluding footnotes and bibliography) in the WT.

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.
  • 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. 2006. Journeys to the Other Shore. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • 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 (80%, 3500 words) in the ST.
Class participation (20%) in the WT.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 32.2
Merit 52.5
Pass 13.6
Fail 1.7

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2022/23: 23

Average class size 2022/23: 12

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Communication