Feb 132018
 February 13, 2018

This roundtable will discuss the perverse incentives of ‘impact’ in academia; the ethics of authorship, board membership and publication; and practicing freedom of speech in our contemporary political climate. We will draw from the example of a recent publication by the journal Third World Quarterly of a ‘Viewpoint’ in September 2017 arguing for the merits of colonialism. This piece follows in the footsteps of several Western intellectuals who have tried to reopen debates over the balance sheet of colonialism’s impact. In the context of Trumpism and vocal white supremacy in the US and increasing xenophobia in Europe and parts of Africa, this now deeply controversial essay led to considerable outcry, including nearly half of the Editorial Board of the journal resigning in protest.

This debate about the so-called benefits of colonization comes at a time when universities in Africa and around the world are calling for the decolonization of the curriculum in their institutions. Moreover, the resonance between a paper arguing for colonialism and questions about journal mismanagement and lack of peer-review is ironic given the documented challenges that scholars based in developing country universities face in getting published in high ranking, western-based journals throughout the social sciences and humanities.

This panel will take up the issues of why an argument in support of colonialism could be profitable at this time and what the commodification of scholarship means for decolonizing the academy. The panel includes representatives of the Third World Quarterly Editorial Board, journalism, and scholars and social media activists.

For a brief overview of the case, see here.



Ilan Kapoor, Professor of Critical Development Studies at York University, TWQ Editorial Board Member and development studies scholar specializing in postcolonial perspectives, queering development studies and psychoanalysis.

Lisa Ann Richey, Professor of International Developmetn Studies at Roskilde University, Denmark and Visiting Professor at Kenan Institute for Ethics, TWQ Editorial Board Member and development studies scholar specializing in new actors and alliances in aid, celebrity humanitarianism, and African causes.

Walter Mignolo, William H. Wannamaker Professor of Romance Studies in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Duke

Yolande Bouka,  Postdoctoral Fellow, Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

And moderated by Jessica Namakkal, Assistant Professor of the Practice in International Comparative Studies, Duke


Ahmadieh Family Conference Room, West Duke 101

5:00 – 6:30pm

Please RSVP to Suzanne Katzenstein at sk272@duke.edu by March 5th at noon.