Contemporary societies and politics reflect the continuing presence and pertinence of the colonial past in various ways. For one thing, there are structural constellations like global capitalism, racism, state borders as well as attempts at their transgression that can hardly be understood without taking this presence and pertinence into account. But there are also a number of current struggles and debates – the controversy over looted art objects and human remains in museums and research institutions, the call for a decolonization of universities and of Eurocentric curricula as articulated by activist scholars and students, the various movements for reparations for colonial crimes against humanity, or for a debt relief for countries in the global South – which directly point to colonial continuities. Against this backdrop, it almost goes without saying that social and political theory should address and critique such continuities; the fact that they often do not do so can be interpreted as part of these continuities itself. Postcolonial theories differ in this respect; but to this date, there is an apparent gap between Western “mainstream” social and political theories on the one hand, and postcolonial theories on the other hand. Western “mainstream” social and political theorists often distance themselves from postcolonial theories for their reluctance to lay bare their normative assumptions such as their implicit conceptions of justice. On the other hand, postcolonial and particularly decolonial theorists sometimes problematize “mainstream” social and political theories for moral paternalism, for a provincial as well as a restricted and hence false universalism, or for contenting themselves with piecemeal endeavors of normative engineering that disregard concrete historical experiences and therefore cannot but remain on the level of pure academics.
Our workshop aims at using this situation as an opportunity to ask if and how political and social theory can be productively reinterpreted from a postcolonial point of view. Therefore, we want to bring scholars together who work at the intersection of postcolonialism, political theory, social theory, and practice, and who embrace different focal points as well as theoretical and methodological approaches.