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colonialism, capitalism, nation states

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today in my class ‘thru another lens’ we read about the deliberate construction of national identities and about how ‘the appropriation of the construct of the nation-state (used to regulate european models of society) proved problematic when implemented in african and asian realities of multi ethnic, racial, religious and linguistic societies.’ so true for south asia. we read samir amin on the inextricable ties between capitalism and colonialism and the false symmetry enforced by free trade, and finally Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on indigenous socialism vs colonial capitalism in the context of the settler colonial state. these were big ideas about big systems embedded in complex histories but most of my students kept up with it. they connected our readings back to the colonial legacy in rwanda. they confessed how they associated socialism with marx and were surprised by its prevalence in native american societies. one of my students understood colonialism as this violent system of disruptions, erasure, exploitation and imbalances, which when removed leaves behind fragmented identities and conflicts (perhaps that’s the whole point he said); another pointed out how colonial institutions and borders continue to fester long after the colonizers are gone. while sharing their thoughts, many said, ‘before this class i would have thought… but…’ – that’s all i need to hear.

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