Postcolonial Responses to Decolonial Interventions

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In the last decade, the terms ‘decolonial’ and ‘decoloniality’ have been deployed in an expansive manner and have gained increasing traction across many theoretical and political domains. Therefore, a critical assessment of the specific decolonial vocabulary is both timely and necessary. The relationship between the decolonial and the postcolonial especially requires more critical scrutiny than it has received so far. This special issue takes a step in this direction by staging critical dialogues between postcolonial and decolonial approaches on different terrains. While decolonial theory tends to operate as an expansive and centripetal force, pulling within its orbit a variety of other theoretical and political formation, our focus is on the original formulation of ‘decoloniality’ – or the ‘decolonial option’ – within the Modernity/Coloniality/Decoloniality (MCD) group. In this introduction, we outline some of the main objections that decolonial critics have formulated against postcolonial theory, and we argue that these critiques have been instrumental in defining the decolonial option itself. While advocates of decoloniality have been very vocal in their critiques of postcolonial theory, we note among postcolonial critics – with some exceptions – a predominant tendency either not to respond to these charges or to downplay them in favour of reconciliatory moves. As an alternative to this tendency, we stress the value of a postcolonial critical response to the decolonial intervention. We argue that postcolonial theories still have something to offer to a critique of the present and the past. In the face of the decolonial claim to have radicalized or surpassed postcolonial theory, we suggest that the postcolonial must speak back and reclaim the value of its critical apparatus in the context of the unfinished struggle for decolonizing knowledge and the social unconscious of postcoloniality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalPostcolonial Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Postcolonial
  • affirmative sabotage
  • critical dialogues
  • decolonial
  • delinking


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