Sociology and Criminology

Postcolonial Europe?

Module code: L3118B
Level 6
30 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module will engage with the relevance of postcolonial perspectives for social thought and sociology. It will explore controversies about the impact of European imperial expansion on the global order, as well as the role of the social sciences in this context: How has sociology contributed to establishing ideas of less advanced or backward regions, via, for example, a however imagined ‘Orient’? The module will review critiques of sociology as Eurocentric and reflect on their implications for our understanding of modernity, temporality, spatiality, and positionality.

We will then explore the significance of a postcolonial lens for empirical sociology. Which questions have been asked too often, and which ones have not been asked often enough? What does it mean to connect histories, narratives and epistemologies of the ‘Global North’ and the ‘Global South’? These considerations will be examined via a set of case studies that trace how coloniality shapes public institutions within and beyond Britain and Europe.

We will explore how colonial legacies materialize in our understanding and practice of education, race, religion, citizenship, human rights, as well as how they resonate with emotions or materialize in our homes and everyday activities. We also discuss how a postcolonial lens enables us to make sense of power asymmetries between Europe’s ‘East’ and ‘West’, the humanitarian crisis at the European border, the rise of far-right populist movements across Europe, of which the disintegration of the European Union (‘Brexit’) is a symptom.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of different sociological perspectives on global social inequalities and consider their relative merits
  • Critically evaluate the narration of European history, law and public institutions, as well as the making of collective self-representations in a global context
  • Apply the contributions of different strands of postcolonial thought to a variety of country case studies across and beyond Europe
  • Analyse and structure material from recent academic research, public debates, and, where relevant, personal experience, to illustrate the conceptual approaches covered in the module
  • Conduct independent research and critically appraise diverse sources of knowledge
  • Make appropriate use of empirical data and theoretical work to produce coherent and detailed written work for academic and non-academic audiences