Postcolonial Geography

1. Overview

1.1. Short Description

This module offers an introduction to the postcolonial approach to human geography. Weekly sessions invite students into contemporary discussions in postcolonial geography, and offer them a basic awareness of various geographical concepts, the global history of colonialism and imperialism, and the postcolonial relations of social difference, including race, class and gender. Students learn how to critically engage with West/Eurocentrism, Orientalism, and various colonial practices of social distancing, exploitation and control. The module equips students with a critical understanding of (post)colonial relations in the historical and current media, politics, culture and science.

But why do we never learn about colonialism from a Hungarian perspective? Why is it not part of our historical consciousness? The module’s point of departure is that postcolonial studies have only focused on the global center (colonisers) and the global periphery (colonised), hence regions “in between” became curious blind-spots in the dominant Western/Atlantic narrative of colonial history. The significance of this module is that it equips students with a critical geographical sensibility towards Eastern European – especially Hungarian – viewpoints and experiences of colonialism, and encourages to apply their pre-given local knowledge self-reflexively in global context. Our primary goal is to develop arguments about why postcolonial critique is relevant to Hungary by critically revising the hegemonic narrative of Western/Atlantic colonialism and countering the dismissive phrase “we never had colonies, so colonialism does not belong to our history and responsibility”. The pedagogic structure of the module is to start with the global scale and move step-by-step toward our regional and local context.

Students interested in any social science related subject are encouraged to participate, but the geographical tradition covers the natural and environmental sciences too. The module is ideal for those wishing to specialise in geography or area studies, or continue their education in history, cultural studies, literature, communication and media.

1.2. Module Format and Credits

Level: Immersion 1.

Division: Social Sciences

Pathway: Economy, Environment, Enterprise

Credits: 8

Module Format: eight 50-minute sessions over the course of 8 consecutive weeks.

1.3. Learning outcomes

The main outcome of the module is to familiarise students with postcolonial studies, which is one of the most important academic approaches to the social sciences and the humanities. Our focus on postcolonial geography also provides an interdisciplinary opportunity to combine the social and natural sciences. Students will gain knowledge of a new dictionary of concepts and critical methods in postcolonial geography, which is ensured by keywords for each session and supplemented by dictionary entries as readings. The module builds in large part on developing historical knowledge and sensibility, and is based on the findings of current academic research, in fact students have the opportunity to learn from current international research projects at the University of Exeter.

Module sessions aim to equip students with a number of practical skills and methods:

1.) Learn the practice of self-reflexivity: individual knowledge is always geographically conditioned and positioned. Students will learn to interpret their local experiences in global and comparative contexts, and understand why knowledge positions are also power relations.

2.) Think in structural relations: embed individual positions in wider processes and contexts, most notably centre and periphery power relations.

3.) Gain a raised awareness of social inequalities, social difference, and cultural awareness based on their own cultural and historical heritage, and a critical view on how race and racism relates to the different social distinctions between people (class, gender, generation, geography).

4.) Acquire cognitive skills in critical cartography, learn how to analyse maps for their research, and discover how and why maps and geographical entities are socially constructed and value-laden.

5.) Gain a critical sensibility to postcolonial themes, and apply arguments in the geographies of knowledge to contemporary debates around Western hegemony and Eurocentrism.

The module uses various visual materials, including photos, paintings and videos, but the prime and unique focus of cognitive training in all sessions are maps. Classes deal with a number of academic and source texts, and students practice how to connect historical materials with current issues, and understand how different times and places come into conversation with each other.

The main outcome of the module is a student essay written on a given topic and based on individual research, and students must also accomplish a few quizzes.

1.4. Prerequisites

No special prerequisites apply. A good training in English writing and a social studies orientation and/or social sensibility is advised. Since geography in Hungarian primary and secondary schools is very different from university-level and academic geography, and substantially different from mainstream Anglo-Saxon geography, the module will put extra effort into re-orienting students and rebuffing myths about the disciplinary approach of geography and human geography in particular.

All students planning to attend are advised to read carefully all session descriptions.

1.5. Module Preparation


Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., Tiffin, H. (1998) Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies. London, New York: Routledge.

Kitchin, R., Thrift, N. (eds.) (2009) The International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Oxford: Elsevier.


Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., Tiffin, H. (ed.)(1995) The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. London, New York: Routledge.

Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., Tiffin, H. (2002) The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge.

Blunt, A., McEwan, C. (2002) Postcolonial Geographies. London, New York: Continuum.

Böröcz, J., Sarkar, M. (2012) Colonialism. In: Anheier, H. K., Juergensmeyer, M., Faessel, V. (szerk.): Encyclopedia of Global Studies. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 229–234.

Bush, B. (2006) Imperialism and Postcolonialism. New York: Routledge.

Butt, D. (2013) Colonialism and Postcolonialism. In: H. Lafollette (ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.

Jazeel, T. (2019) Postcolonialism. (Key Ideas in Geography.) London: Routledge.

Loomba, A. (2005) Colonialism, Postcolonialism. London, New York: Routledge.

McLeod, J. (2000) Beginning Postcolonialism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Potter, R. B., Binns, T., Elliott, J. A., Smith, D. W. (2004) Understanding Colonialism. In: Potter, R. B., Binns, T., Elliott, J. A., Smith, D. (eds.): Geographies of Development (2nd Edition). Harlow: Pearson Education. 49–79.

Quayson, A. (2000) Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Sharp, J. (2008) Geographies of Postcolonialism. London: Sage.

Young, R. J. C. (2003) Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Young, R. J. C. (2001) Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell.

Supplementary readers

Harding, S. (ed.)(2011) The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Reader. Durham, London: Duke University Press.

Go, J. (ed.)(2016) Postcolonial Sociologies: A Reader. Bingley: Emerald Group.

McLeod, J. (2007) The Routledge Companion to Postcolonial Studies. London, New York: Routledge Chapman and Hall.

Parekh, P. N., Jagne, S. F. (eds.)(1998) Postcolonial African Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport: Greenwood Press.


2. Module Structure

2.1. Week-by-Week Lesson Plan

2.1.1. Session 1 – Self-reflexive Introduction to Postcolonial Geographies

Session Summary

This introductory session provides a nutshell history of the various contexts from which postcolonial studies emerged and how it became one of the leading theoretical approaches to the social sciences and the humanities, including human geography.

Since students are likely to be unfamiliar with the historical and theoretical background of geography as a scientific discipline, a “crash course” introduction to basic geographical concepts follow. Students are then introduced to postcolonial geography and critical geographies, which focus on contesting spatial inequalities and hegemonic geographical knowledge to benefit the social empowerment of marginalised and exploited people. We then learn about the critical arguments of the geographies of knowledge and explore why our geographical self-reflexivity is important.

In our class discussion we deconstruct the common Hungarian assumption “we never had colonies, therefore we are not responsible for colonialism and the consequences of colonisation”, and aim at revising the dominant and stereotypical views of colonialism to open up for Eastern European and Hungarian understandings and experiences of coloniality.

Focus Materials

The session engages in using and interpreting various maps, including spatial visualisations of knowledge production, representation and circulation.


critical geography, self-reflexivity, geographies of knowledge, place, space, region/territory, landscape, scale, circulation, colonialism, imperialism, postcolonialism, postcolonial present

Seminar Questions

1.) What are the main critical arguments of the geographies of knowledge, and why are these important in our geographical self-reflexivity?

2.) What are the differences between the main concepts of geography discussed in class?

3.) What are the differences between colonialism and imperialism? Why is a geographical perspective important in defining them?

4.) Debate the following claim: “We never had colonies, therefore we are not responsible for colonialism and the consequences of colonisation.” Is this true? How and why could colonialism be relevant to study in our region and Hungary?


Students are asked to prepare for the interactive class discussion by submitting their personal ideas in a 200 words miniessay about the 4th seminar question until 7 February. The quality of this essay will not be graded, but students submitting the miniessay will be rewarded extra points in their final module assessment. Use your compulsory reading of Stephen Howe’s text to think about whether different forms of colonialism or imperialism is relevant for Hungarian history.

Watch the video: What contexts of Hungarian dependency does the song use to make a point about colonial relations? What visual and sound effects does the clip use to connect Hungarian coloniality to the dominant narrative of colonialism?

Required Reading

Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., Tiffin, H. (1995) General Introduction. In: The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. London, New York: Routledge. 1–4.

Howe, S. (2000) Empire: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 30–33, 62–103.

Optional Reading

Bhambra, G. K. (2007) Sociology and Postcolonialism. Another “Missing” Revolution? Sociology, 41(5): 871–884.

Blunt, A. (2000) Colonialism/Postcolonialism. In: Sibley, D., Jackson, P., Atkinson, D., Washbourne, N. (eds.) Cultural Geography: A Critical Dictionary of Key Concepts. 175–181.

Gilmartin, M., Berg, L. D. (2007) Locating Postcolonialism. Area, 39(1): 120–124.

Harley, J. B. (1989) Deconstructing the Map. Cartographica, 26: 1–20.

Livingstone, D. N. (2003) Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Shohat, E. (1992) Notes on the “Post-Colonial.” Social Text, 31–32: 99–113.

Young, R. J. C. (2001) Postcolonialism. In: Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell. 57–70.


2.1.2. Session 2 – Colonialism and Imperialism I: Global History and Eurocentrism

Session Summary

This session follows our introductory ideas about colonialism and imperialism into global history. We turn towards why a global or transnational historical perspective is crucial in providing a systematic understanding of colonial history. Our session offers an overview of the succeeding hegemonies of European powers and their economic, cultural and military interactions with rival global powers (for example, China, India, Japan) in changing geopolitical contexts. We use this global context to situate the specific geographic and economic factors behind the Age of Discoveries and Western/Atlantic colonisation (triangular trade, Atlantic slave trade, Middle Passage), which led to the development of modern capitalism, science and society in Europe (or the West) from the 16th century.

We take this dominant Western/Atlantic historical narrative as a point of departure to critically reflect on the problems of Eurocentrism by focusing on the commonly posed question: why did Europe develop and not other regions, what led to the divergence between “the West and the rest”? First, we use critical cartography to point out value-laden geographical misconceptions and revise our pre-given geographical assumptions (such as the Eurocentric contstruction of continentalism), and look at the colonial power politics of representing geographical spaces. Second, we criticise the views of unilinear development by dispositioning European and Western development within comparative global chronologies, then show how global colonial history has been appropriated by Europe and the West, and how we can contest colonial memory and highlight “people without history” – those not represented – in education. We shall continue this line of thought more explicitly in Session 5.

Focus Materials

Mental mapping is an important tool to analyse how geographical spaces are imagined. We draw a bit and use this to explore some culture-specific examples of “maps in our head”. We also watch a short video about the critique of the Mercator map projection, and play with the Google Mercator Puzzle to familiarise ourselves with the relative and objective measures of countries and continents. Focus materials also consist of school textbooks.


colonialism, settler colonialization, inernal colonization, imperialism, formal and informal imperialism, high imperialism, global and transnational history, methodological nationalism, hegemony, critical cartography, continentalism, Age of Discovery/Exploration, Middle Passage or Atlantic slave trade, triangular trade, Slave Coast, uneven exchange, Industrial Revolution

Seminar Questions

1.) Why is colonialism a fundamentally geographical concept? In what different ways can we define colonialism and imperialism from a geographical perspective? (This connects to Session 1.)

2.) What are the main critical arguments of global and transnational history and how are these relevant in understanding colonial and imperial history?

3.) What were the political, economic and natural geographical factors behind European colonisation and the Atlantic slave trade?

4.) What is Eurocentrism, how does it connect to colonialism and imperialism, and how does it determine our views about global history?


Students should read the compulsory text.

Required Reading

Conrad, S. (2016) Introduction. In: What is Global History? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1–16.

Optional Reading

Allen, R. C. (2011) Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Blaut, J. M. (1993) The Colonizer’s Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History. New York: Guilford.

Clayton, D. (2009a) Colonialism. In: Gregory, D., Johnston, R. J., Pratt, G., Watts, M., Whatmore, S. (eds.): The Dictionary of Human Geography. (5th Edition.) Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 94–98.

Clayton, D. (2009b) Imperialism. In: Gregory, D., Johnston, R. J., Pratt, G., Watts, M., Whatmore, S. (eds.): The Dictionary of Human Geography. (5th Edition.) Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 373–374.

Conrad, S. (2016) What is Global History? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Daly, J. (2015) Historians Debate the Rise of the West. London, New York: Routledge.

Frank, A. G. (1998) ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age. University of California Press.

Mignolo, W. D. (2005) The Idea of Latin America. Malden, Oxford, Victoria: Wiley-Blackwell.

Pomeranz, K. (2000) Introduction. In: The Great Divergence. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 3–27.

Pakenham, T. (1991) The Scramble for Africa: The White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912. New York: Random House.

Saarinen, T. F. (1987) Centering of Mental Maps of the World. (Discussion Paper.) Tucson: University of Arizona, Department of Geography and Regional Development.

Wolf, E. (2010 [1982]) Europe and the People Without History. Berkeley, London: University of California Press.

Young, R. J. C. (2001a) Colonialism. In: Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell. 15–25.

Young, R. J. C. (2001b) Imperialism. In: Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell. 25–44.


2.1.3. Session 3 – Colonialism and Imperialism II: Race and Geography

Session Summary

In this session, we focus on how colonialism and imperialism connects to the geographies of race. Students learn why the biological, phenomenological, and fundamentally geographical concept of race emerged historically from European colonialism, and how a tripartite global racial hierarchy was constructed by religion, biological heredity, physical anthropology and anthropogeography, and how racialised ideas connected to power ideologies and class politics (Malthusianism, social-Darwinism). We study about the different forms of racism (scientific, cultural, institutional, colour-blind), and how migration policies, social movements (eugenics) and state governance (biopolitics) connected to the racial divisions of labor in the capitalist world economy.

We then look into how various spatial imaginations and practices constructed an essentialised relationship of race and environment in the philosophies of geographical determinism and possibilism. Our class overviews the scientific practices of racial landscapes, racial mapping, organic analogies of “state morphology” and “life areas”, the “acclimatisation” politics of “white civilisation” in the expansive frontiers of colonialist development, and how geographical distance, environment and imagination functioned in constructing the tropics and the racial practices of infantilisation, exoticisation and sexualisation. Our seemingly neutral geographical concepts, such as solar and climatic zones, map projections, or continents are conditioned by Eurocentric and colonial assumptions, and ideas about a global moral climatology lurk behind European philosophy. We conclude by pointing out some recent examples of this Eurocentric heritage.

Focus Materials

Our focus materials in class are divided into two tasks.

1.) We take a quick look at the specific places, sites and practices of colonial exhibitions and human zoos.

2.) We look at some maps and the geographical arguments of colonisation, imperialism and racial superiority in texts connected to the “Scramble for Africa” during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


race/racism, Enlightenment, geographical determinism/possibilism/nihilism, physical anthropology, anthropogeography, social-Darwinism, tropics, frontier, moral climatology, acclimatisation, eugenics, institutional racism, cultural racism, infantilisation, exoticisation, dehumanisation, monogenism and polygenism, colonial exhibitions and human zoos, racial division of labour, racial mapping, biopolitics

Seminar Questions

1.) What are the different forms of racism?

2.) What is the difference between geographical determinism, possibilism and nihilism, and how did these philosophies contribute to colonialism?

3.) How did colonial spatial practices connected to race and ethnicity function on different geographical scales (global, regional, nation-state, local)?

4.) What different racial and geographical arguments were mobilised to legitimate colonialism and imperialism?


Students should prepare by reading the compulsory texts.

Required Reading

Blaut, J. M. (1992) The Theory of Cultural Racism. Antipode, 24(4): 289–299.

Winlow, H. (2009) Mapping, Race and Ethnicity. In: Kitchin, R., Thrift, N. (eds.) International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography. Oxford: Elsevier. 398–404.

Optional Reading

Alland Jr., A. (2002): Race in Mind: Race, IQ, and Other Racisms. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Bulmer, M., Solomos, J. (szerk.)(1999): Racism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Eze, E. C. (ed.) (1997) Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader. London: Blackwell.

Hobson, J. M. (2004): The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Livingstone, D. N. (2002). Race, space and moral climatology: Notes toward a genealogy. Journal of Historical Geography, 28(2), 159–180.

Tilley, H. (2011) Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870–1950. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press.

Winlow, H. (2006) Mapping Moral Geographies: W. Z. Ripley’s Races of Europe and the United States. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 96(1): 119–141.

Winlow, H. (2009) Mapping the Contours of Race: Griffith Taylor’s Zones and Strata Theory. Geographical Research, 47(4): 390–407.


2.1.4. Session 4 – Orientalism

Session Summary

In this session, we discuss how the conflicting dichotomies of East and West were constructed, and how the East was geographically imagined by the West as its supplemental but inferior “Other”. As an introduction, we turn to Edward W. Said’s ideas about Orientalism, together with some of its critics and historical geographical problems. We attempt to understand how subalternity, mimicry and hybridity complicate colonial identities and positions, and how local strategies tried to contest the imperial culture and order, but often resulted in counter-stereotypes of the West (Occidentalism) and essentialised local histories and cultures (nationalism, nativism). Based on Session 2, we also discover how certain hegemonic shifts in global economic history, including trade, economic policy, technology transfer and migration contributed to the shifting geographical imaginations, knowledge exchange and cultural relations between East and West. As a further step we revise our dominant Eurocentric understandings of Western influence (Session 2) and discover the mutual connections between East and West, and how the East contributed to the cultural and economic development of the West.

Focus Materials

During class we discuss some romanticist paintings from the 18th and 19th century about the “East”, and compare these to contemporary visual materials of popular culture. Drawing towards our own geographical context, we use hand-out materials to focus on Hungarian case studies, most notably the grandiose “Constantinople in Budapest” project opened in 1896, and analyse this cultural and touristic site from the perspective of capitalism, imperialism and Orientalism.


Orientalism, Occidentalism, geographical imagination, Othering, dichotomy and binarism, discourse, intertextuality, hybridity, mimicry, subalternity, nativism, nationalism, Oriental despotism, Islam fundamentalism

Seminar Questions

1.) What are the different definitions of Orientalism and how are these connected?

2.) What are problems and contradictions in the concept of Orientalism from a geographical perspective?

3.) How can we contest the power politics of Orientalism, and what problems may emerge from different strategies of doing so?


Read the compulsory text, which helps you understand your task’s context. Watch the video “Edward Said on Orientalism” (Media Education Foundation) and finish the “Orientalism” quiz on Canvas.

Find video here:

Required Reading

Sharp, J. (2008) Chapters on “Orientalism,” “Orientalist Art,” “Orientalism in the Present,” and “Critique of Orientalism.” In: Geographies of Postcolonialism. 16–28.

Optional Reading

Ahmad, A. (1992) Orientalism and After. In: Williams, P., Chrisman, L. (eds.) (1994) Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory. New York: Columbia. 163–171.

Ashcroft, B., Kadhim, H. (eds.) Edward Said and the Post-Colonial. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Gregory, D. (2004) The Colonial Present. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hobson, J. M. (2004) The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, R. (1996) Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation. London: Routledge.

Mahbubani, K. (1998) Can Asians Think? Understanding the Divide between East and West. Hanover, NH: Steerforth Press.

Said, E. W. (1978) Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.

Said, E. W. (1985) Orientalism Reconsidered. Race and Class, 28(2): 1–15.

Said, E. W. (1994) Culture and Imperialism. New York, Toronto: Random House.

Shohat, E., Stam, R. (1994) Unthinking Eurocentrism. London: Routledge.


2.1.6. Session 5 – Decolonising Europe

Session Summary

This class revisits the critique of Eurocentrism to argue for a global postcolonial history of Europe. We start our session by critically revising the possible geographical definitions of “Europe”. Our main help here are the ideas of the widely influential comparative sociologist Max Weber, who explains why true development commenced “only in the West”. We take his claims and a number of other Eurocentric arguments to reveal how the vision of unique Europeanness is based on an essentialist European history and a “tunnel vision” of unilinear and teleological development from Greco-Roman antiquity, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution to liberal democracy. We look into how these ideas concealed colonial conditions and other development paths and argue for the importance of provincialising and decolonising our Europan knowledge.

In the second part of the session, we look into how the history of European integration may be interpreted in a global and postcolonial perspective. The European Economic Community (1957) and the European Union (1993) emerged not only as a result of U.S. imperialism and Cold War geopolitics, but also due to decolonisation and various postcolonial links and processes. We inspect how rival regionalisms fostered by the United Nations (1945) and emerged during Afro-Asian decolonisation, such as Pan-Africanism, the Third World and the Non-Aligned Movement, contested political and economic dependency. Then we look at the postcolonialist political projects devised by Europeans, such as Eurafrica, the Mediterranean Union and Pan-Europe, and the postcolonial contexts left out from “European integration”, such as Caribbean Europe. Finally, we discuss whether European Union geopolitical ambitions and economic interests toward Africa are reminiscent of the colonial past.

Focus Materials

In the first part of our session, we interpret Weber’s Prefatory Remarks originally published in his Collected Essays on the Sociology of Religion (1920), a grand collection which contained his famous The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904), to which the Prefatory Remarks later became an introduction.


Europe, Eurocentrism, teleology, Caribbean Europe, Eurafrica, Mediterranean Union, Pan-Europe, Global South and North, Third World, Non-Aligned Movement, provincialising Europe, decolonizing the mind, fortress Europe

Seminar Questions

1.) In what different ways can we define “Europe” and what traits constitute “Europeanness”? How can we compare these traits geographically?

2.) Why is the “tunnel vision” of Eurocentric history problematic from the perspective of different geographical scales (global, continental, regional, national, local)?

3.) What geographical arguments did Europeans apply to form macroregions with Asia or Africa? (You can refer back to Sessions 1 and 4.)

4.) How can we interpret the history of European integration in a postcolonial geographical perspective?


Read Weber’s text and answer the questions in the Quiz. Use the short summaries of Blaut (2000) for some orientation, or optionally you might also read his chapter on Weber.

Required Reading

Blaut, J. M. (2000) Chapter 10: Thirty Reasons Why Europeans Are Better Than Everyone Else (A Checklist). In: Eight Eurocentric Historians. New York, London: The Guilford Press. 200–204.

Blaut, J. M. (2000) Chapter 11: The Model. In: Eight Eurocentric Historians. New York, London: The Guilford Press. 205–208.

Weber, M. (1992 [1930/1920]) Author’s Introduction. In: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. xxviii–xlii [28–42]. London, New York: Routledge.

Optional Reading

Blaut, J. M. (2000) Eight Eurocentric Historians. New York: The Guilford Press. (Especially the chapter on Weber!)

Böröcz, J., Sarkar, M. (2005) What Is the EU? International Sociology, 20(2): 153–173.

Chakrabarty, D. (2000) Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ginelli, Z. (2017) A Nyugaton, és csakis a Nyugaton: A kapitalizmus szellemének földrajza. Replika, 103: 115–140.

Jensen, L., Suárez-Krabbe, J., Groes, C., Pecic, Z. L. (eds.)(2017) Postcolonial Europe: Comparative Reflections after the Empires. Rowman and Littlefield.

Kayaoglu, T. (2010) Westphalian Eurocentrism in International Relations Theory. International Studies Review, 12: 193–217.

Vlassopoulos, K. (2007) Introduction. In: Unthinking the Greek Polis: Ancient Greek History Beyond Eurocentrism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1–10.


2.1.5. Session 6 – Eastern Europe and Balkanism

Session Summary

In this session, we follow our ideas developed in Session 4 and apply the notions of colonialism, imperialism and Orientalism to our region.

First, we explore through critical cartography the historically shifting imaginative and political boundaries of Eastern Europe as a geographical region, and look into how Western Europe constructed its Eastern Other as a “subordinate” civilisational entity from the 18th century onwards. Students also learn about the region-specific understandings of internal colonisation and the various historical contexts of rival regional concepts, such as Central Europe, East Central Europe, South Eastern Europe, or political entities like the Danubian Region and Yugoslavia, or imperialist regionalisms like German Mitteleuropa, the Hapsburg Empire and the Soviet Union.

Second, the session looks into how this Eastern European history is conditioned by political economic dependency and visions of catching up to the West, and how these center-periphery relations create a perceived East–West civilisational slope often reproduced by practices of self-colonisation. Then we look at how these manifested in the socialist period, and later re-emerged after the system change (1989) and during the Eastern expansion of the European Union in the 2000s. Finally, we take the region further apart by looking into the peripheralising mechanism of nested Orientalism in the concept of Balkanism, and discover how global peripheries constructed their own local peripheries.

Focus Materials

Our textual and visual focus materials deal with Hungarian Balkanism and the “turn to the East”. We discover how and why different forms of Hungarian colonialist and imperialist visions developed towards the Balkans and how they connected to global colonialism.


Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Balkanism, Mitteleuropa, Enlightenment, nested Orientalism, continentalism, critical cartography, center-periphery relations, internal colonisation, self-colonisation, civilisational slope, catching up to the West

Seminar Questions

1.) How was Eastern Europe imagined by the West?

2.) Based on the ones discussed in class, which regional entities do you think would better represent Hungary and why?

3.) Which regional entities contained some sort of colonial relation, what kind of colonial relation was it, and which power was related to it?

4.) What geographical arguments did Hungarians mobilise to gain imperial and colonial power?


Students are required to read compulsory texts.

Required Reading

Wolff, L. (1994) Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment. Stanford University Press. 1–16.

Optional Reading

Aldcroft, D. H. (2006) Europe’s Third World: The European Periphery in the Interwar Years. Aldershot, Burlington: Ashgate.

Boatca, M. (2008) Define and Rule: The Role of Orientalism in Recolonizing Eastern Europe. In: Samman, K., Mazhar, A-Z. (ed.): Islam and the Modern Orientalist World-System. Boulder, London: Paradigm. 187–201.

Bracewell, W. (2008) The Limits of Europe in East European Travel Writing. In: Bracewell, W., Drace-Francis, A. (eds.) Under Eastern Eyes: A Comparative Introduction to East European Travel Writing on Europe. Budapest, New York: Central European University Press. 61–120.

Kiossev, A. (2011) The Self-Colonizing Metaphor. Atlas of Transformation.

Korhonen, P. (2010) Naming Europe with the East. (Chapter 1.) In: Miklóssy, K., Korhonen, P. (eds.): The East and the Idea of Europe. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 1–21.

Lewis, M. W., Wigen, K. E. (1997) The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mishkova, D. (2018) A Concept with Many Names. In: Beyond Balkanism: The Scholarly Politics of Region Making. London, New York: Routledge. 7–40.

Morozov, V. (2015) Russia’s Postcolonial Identity: A Subaltern Empire in a Eurocentric World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pocock, J. G. A. (2002) Some Europes in Their History. In: Pagden, A. (ed.): The Idea of Europe From Antiquity to the European Union. Cambridge University Press, 55–71.

Todorova, M. (1997) Balkanism and Orientalism: Are They Different Categories? In: Imagining the Balkans. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 3–20.

Wolff, L. (1994) Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


2.1.7. Session 7 – Post/Colonial Hungary I: Colonisation and Decolonisation

Session Summary

This class builds on all previous sessions in order to offer a synthesised overview about how and why Hungary in particular related to global colonisation and decolonisation. Some of the previous contexts are put into a wider narrative about how Hungary had an uneasy relationship to global colonialism by occupying a contradictory semiperipheral position between the global center and periphery.

We start by reviewing Eastern European history from the perspective of colonial relations and search for comparative colonial moments, and consider how Hungarian positions shifted between being expansionist coloniser or colonised victim. We run through various contexts ranging from the Ottoman Turks, the Hapsburg Empire, the Balkans, German hegemony, Sovietisation, Western influence and global capitalism. We revisit Orientalism and look at the Hungarian “turn to the East” – the Turanist Movement and the search for the Hungarian ancient homeland – as a form of cultural imperialism towards Asia (Session 4 and 5), and explore interwar era political discussions in the League of Nations about how the sovereignty principle was used to connect Trianon revisionism with African ideas of decolonization. Our historical analysis about Hungarian colonialism includes migration and diasporic trends, expeditions and trade ventures, political discussions, and geographical imaginations about the colonial world.

In the second part, we study how previous perceptions changed after World War II, and what special role Eastern European countries and Hungary played in Afro-Asian decolonisation. State-socialist anti-imperialism created solidarity towards former colonial countries, but also devised a socialist “civilizing mission” of modernization within providing development assistance and education to postcolonial Afro-Asian countries – with very pragmatic economic and political interests. We also study how parallels between Eastern European and Afro-Asian colonial history were constructed, and how the idea of “Balkanisation” was applied by African leaders. Our conclusion is that from the 1980s, the “turn to the West” and “back to Europe” discourse (Session 5) resulted in delinking from the postcolonial world and in a postsocialist amnesia of forgetting our interconnected past.

Focus Materials

We look at texts and various visual materials (photos and maps) showing how the postcolonial periphery was portrayed in Hungarian textbooks, development planning, travel literature, and cultural discourse.


semiperiphery, decolonization, colonial migration, League of Nations, sovereignty principle, Third World, dependency, development theory, Balkanisation, anti-imperialism

Seminar Questions

1) How did Hungary participate in global colonialism?

2.) What different contexts in Hungarian history might be understood as colonial and why (or why not)? How can the concept of semiperiphery be important for understanding the specific position of Hungary in global colonialism?

3.) According to David Chioni Moore, how and why should we reinterpret post-Soviet history in a global and comparative colonial history?

4.) What colonial parallels were drawn between Eastern European and African history in the socialist period?

Required Reading

Moore, D. C. (2001): Is the Post- in Postcolonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Toward a Global Postcolonial Critique. PMLA, 116(1): 111–128.


Mark, J., Slobodian, Q. (2018) Eastern Europe. In: Thomas, M., Thompson, A. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Ends of Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1–28.

Optional Reading

Chari, S., Verdery, K. (2009): Thinking between the Posts: Postcolonialism, Postsocialism, and Ethnography after the Cold War. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 51(1): 6–34.

Gille, Zs. (2010) Is there a Global Postsocialist Condition? Global Society, 24(1): 9–30.

Ginelli, Z. (2018): Hungarian Experts in Nkrumah’s Ghana: Decolonization and Semiperipheral Postcoloniality in Socialist Hungary. Mezosfera, May.

Hladík, R. (2011): A theory’s travelogue: Post-colonial theory in post-socialist space. Theory of Science, 33(4): 561–590.

Mayblin, L., Piekut, A., Valentine, G. (2016): ’Other’ Posts in ’Other’ Places: Poland through a Postcolonial Lens? Sociology, 50(1): 60–76.


2.1.8. Session 8 – Postcolonial Hungary II: Colonial Present

Session Summary

In this last session, we review our previous topics and turn toward contemporary postcolonial relations in the world and Hungary. Do we still live in a global colonial condition?

First, we take a snapshot overview about how colonial relations continue to affect our global present. These include mapping current centre-periphery relations and economic dependencies (Session 5, 6) in global production chains, commodity fetishism, and modern slavery. We also look at issues of cultural representation in how globalisation politics and multiculturalist ideologies connect to consumer racism and the fetishising or exhibiting cultures based on colonial practices of cultural appropriation. The geopolitics of war and displacement result from Western foreign policy and environmental crises show continuities in colonialist ways of exploiting resources, while the resulting global migration crisis clashes with ideas of multiculturalism, ethnic nationalism and fears of Eastern European population decline. In this changing geopolitical environment, new critics and propagators of colonialism or imperialism have emerged, and these ideas are increasingly exploited by (geo)political lobbies of imperial nostalgia (Trump, Putin, Brexit).

In the second part of our session, we turn to how colonial discourse permeates the politics and everyday life of Hungary today. First, we first look at how the concept of race can be used as an analytic tool to understand the marginalisation of our “inferior Others”, and how social struggles around local roma/gypsy and Jewish culture may be analogous to global postcolonial contexts. Second, we look at how the government constructed a new colonial discourse by distancing from the previous liberal period (1989–2010), and geopolitically repositioning Hungary against the former colonial-imperial “liberal” center (now the European Union), and constructing racial and civilizational demarcation from the former colonial periphery, thereby both silencing and appropriating colonial history for Eastern European nationalism. Our session evaluates this in the context that from the early 2010s, Hungary initiated a “global opening” and an “opening to the East”, in which it started rebuilding relations towards the East and Central Asia and also Africa.

Focus Materials

Our primary focus in this last session are media content, such as short videos, pictures, online news portals and newspaper articles.


globalization, multiculturalism, global production chains, consumer racism, cultural appropriation, slum tourism, modern slavery, migration crisis, expat, victimisation, imperial nostalgia, Global North and South

Seminar Questions

1.) What are the new forms of geographical dependencies and colonial practices in our present world? Why are they similar to or different from previous versions of colonialism?

2.) What are the contradictions behind Hungary’s current relations to the postcolonial world?

3.) Debate the current migration crisis in Europe – is Hungary responsible for the crisis?

4.) What local historical experiences of coloniality does the Hungarian government mobilise to construct a new colonial discourse?


Students are asked to check and note where their clothes were produced.

Find the source materials for this session on Canvas, which consist of speeches and interviews of the Hungarian Prime Minister. Complete the quiz entitled “Colonial Discourse in Current Hungarian Politics” by analysing the texts and answering the given questions. How does the Prime Minister refer to and position Hungary in relation to coloniality? What historical moments and epochs are interpreted as colonial relations?

Required Reading

Slater, D. (2004): Post-colonial Questions for Global Times. In: Geopolitics and the Post-colonial: Rethinking North-South Relations. London: Blackwell. 169–196.

Optional Reading


2.2. Off-Site Option

Due to national holiday (15 March), one session should be held on an extra occasion to be discussed later.

Missing classes is highly discouraged. Making up for absences is possible through a reasonable amount of individual work by checking the material provided in the sources. Since none of the references reflect exactly what is discussed in the classes, consulting fellow students and acquiring notes of the sessions are advised. However, session materials will be uploaded to Canvas in .pptx format.

3. Assessment

3.1. Assessment Types and Weighting


●      Attendance, class activity (10%): Active presence and use of provided literature at classes is rewarded. Presence is marked for every class.

●      Session assignments (30%): Occasional quizzes consisting of basic questions about the current class material.

●      Essay assignment (60%): The main form of assessment is the student essay based on one of the two given topics (see “Requirements” below). A clear style, argument and indication of sources will lead to a more positive evaluation.

3.2. Requirements

The first requirement is class activity and attendance, which will be rewarded accordingly. Be sure to read the session descriptions for orientation and taking ideas into class. If you cannot attend a class with a valid reason you must inform the module leader before the class. Valid absences are for example: physical or psychological problems validated by a doctor or guardian, significant academic activities validated by a mentor.

The second requirement is taking time to fulfill session assignments, such as quizzes, which must be submitted before class until the deadlines indicated on Canvas.

The main module requirement is completing the final essay of 1200 words. Submissions is online by a single .docx file upload. The formal requirements for this are the following: title and author should be indicated on top, 12px Times New Roman, 1,5 line height, 2,5 cm margin.

One of the following titles may be chosen for the final essay:

  1. “We never had colonies.” – Can the Hungarian context be relevant to postcolonial geography?
  2. Why is Eurocentrism a problem in our education and how can we contest it?

For the 2nd topic, you might want to focus on Blaut’s book, Eight Eurocentric Historians.

Students are required to provide arguments based on both class discussions and individual research in a clean style and with well-developed structure to receive good marks. Students must refer to academic texts to provide indication of individual research.

They should also provide 3 keywords, which must be indicated after the title line and defined in the essay. Keywords should be chosen among the session keywords and should be consistent with the essay arguments and topic.

Plagiarising or copying a fellow student’s work results in zero points for all parties involved. Students should understand every part of their submission and need to be able to explain their sources and arguments to the module leader if requested.

3.3. Deadlines

The exact deadlines are clearly indicated at Canvas. No submission is possible after the deadline. This is true for both session quizzes and the final essay.

If submission or fulfillment of tasks feels challenging, the student is advised to contact the module leader for asssistance.

3.4. Feedback

Feedback is given to the uploaded .pdf files in the form of annotations and by Canvas comments. Feedback is provided within two weeks of assignment submission and no later than April 10, the final grading deadline.

3.5. Grading

Please specify general grading philosophy and grading criteria.

The grading scheme works on a 1–10 scale with 1–3 being a fail and 8–10 being exceptional for which extra work beyond the requirements is needed. Indicative grade boundaries are 95%, 85%, 75%, 65%, 55%, 45%, 35%, 25%, 15%. However, if the number of absences is more than 40% of the classes, the student can get a grade of at most 4.

4. Academic Handbook

In situations not described in the Syllabus, the rules of Academic Handbook applies.