Mahmood Mamdani’s Analysis of Colonialism Applied to the U.S.-led War on Iraq

Polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy 5 (2004)
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The paper explores the insights of Mahmood Mamdani regarding recent U.S. military actions in Iraq and the U.S. role in setting up a new government there. The majority of the paper does not, however, rely on sources of Mamdani addressing this topic directly. Rather the author consults Mamdani's work on colonialism and imperialism to find clues as to what is at heart wrong with the colonial approach to ruling. Four key attributes of colonialism that also play a role in recent U.S. actions in Iraq are the use of indirect rule, the politicization of indigeneity, economic domination, and the »civilizing mission.« While some advocates of imperialism such as Niall Ferguson think that there can be a good imperial power, Mamdani's analysis leads to a different conclusion. In Mamdani's early works we find that colonialism always sows the seeds of its own destruction; this insight is applied to the current Iraq situation as a cautionary tale.



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Gail Presbey
University of Detroit Mercy

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