Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC2103: Introduction to Postcolonialism

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.

Please note that this module is only delivered on the Penryn Campus.


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Shubranshu Mishra (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


In this course you will examine postcolonialism as a field of study that is intrinsic to understanding world politics and International Relations, by focussing on the ways in which the contemporary global order is constituted by the experience and practice of colonialism.


The module will introduce you to the concepts of Postcolonialism and decoloniality by focusing on the key debates and concepts theorised by thinkers such as Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, WEB DuBois, Gayatri Spivak, Walter Mignolo and the Subaltern Studies collective among others. By shedding light on the multiple meanings and conceptual varieties of postcolonial and decolonial perspectives, you will examine the colonial subjectivity and power relations through categories of race, class, caste and gender. You will also explore contemporary issues of security and migration, development and resistance through empirical examples to understand colonial continuities in the present. You will also rigorously address the lingering presence of colonialism in the spaces we inhabit and our everyday lives, be it statues that have spurred protest movements like Rhodes Must Fall, or seemingly neutral sites of knowledge like museums.


By placing postcolonial perspectives at the heart of its research agenda – contrary to their widespread treatment as a subsidiary critique of what is regarded as ‘mainstream’ academia - this course offers an important means for you to understand and participate in larger debates of decolonising knowledge.


An integral part of this module is a proposed visit to ‘sites of postcolonial encounter’ to enable you to critically analyse the ‘everyday’ structures of colonial power and resistance. This visit could be virtual or real. For example The British Museum is one such site or the Indian restaurant called Dishoom, modelled after the old Irani cafes of colonial Bombay, while attempting to subvert the temptation for colonial Raj nostalgia. Based on your critical analysis of these sites you will write a midterm essay (30% of the total credit score) on your understanding of sites of power and interrogate the nature of power relations between the colonizer and the colonized that continue to permeate public spaces. 


Although no prior knowledge is required, it is expected that students taking this course are interested in historical and contemporary security and cultural debates from a theoretical and empirical point of view. A background in social science will be helpful for following the key debates. The module is especially suitable for students studying International Relations, Politics and History.

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