Posts Tagged 'Postcolonial'

Transnational Theory and the State

In her new book on globalization, “labor brokerage”, and Filipina/o migrant workers Dr. Robyn Magalit Rodriguez (you can gain access to her current lectures at UC Davis here) offers a critique of current scholarship on globalization (and hence postcolonial and transnational theory).  Especially in the field of Filipina/o studies where a huge focus has been on ignoring the roles of nation states and class structures under the current flows of global capitalism and American imperialism.

Philippine international migration is emblematic of globalization.  In describing the increasing mobility of labor, it is often Filipina and Filipino migrants that scholars refer to as a primary example of this phenomenon.  To suggest that the Philippine state is crucial to an understanding of Philippine international migration, as I do here, therefore, it to make an important intervention in the scholarship on international migration.  Much of the scholarship on international migration of late has tended to reify capital flows from “above” to undersand global labor flows or, in opposition to this scholarship, has examined globalization, specifically immigrant transnationalism from “below.”  My research shows that the state plays a central role in both these processes, but just as importantly my research shows how the state links and mediates between these two processes through a case study of Philippine migration.  I argue that the state is fundamental to globalization, just as importantly global processes constitute the state (143-4).


Rodriguez, Robyn Magalit.  2010.  Migrants for Export: How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World.  Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press

The Gospel of John as Colonial Text

Musa W. Dube writes that the Jesus of the Gospel of John must be understood in the context of Roman colonialism and modern day imperialism:

Western academic biblical readings, therefore, tend to read the Johannine texts, and other books of the Bible, as if they only refer to ancient times and having nothing to do with our current world.  The reluctance to cross the borderline of the ancient setting and to assess how the biblical texts, together with such texts as Heart of Darkness and the Aeneid, inform contemporary structures and power of the world…is one way in which biblical studies are not only colonized, but become a colonizing body of knowledge.  Biblical studies vigilantly guards the boundaries, insisting on reading biblical texts without assessing or relating them to modern and contemporary world politics.  For the most part biblical texts are read in isolation from other secular works of literature.  Whether this is intended or not, this approach maintains and perpetuates the imperialistic power of the West over non-Western and non-Christian places, peoples and cultures.

…I therefore hold that the Johannine approach to exalting Jesus to divine status, above all Jewish figures and above all other cultural figures of the world, is a colonizing ideology that is not so different from the ideology of the Aeneid and Heart of Darkness.  More importantly, John’s colonizing ideology calls upon academic readers to go beyond just expounding and explaining the construction of John’s text.  Rather, readers are called upon to decolonize its ideology and to work on readings of liberating interdependence between Christians and Jews, One-Third World and Two-Thirds World, Western and Non-Western, Christian and Non-Christian cultures, women and men, etc. (Dube, 131-132)


Dube, Musa W.  “Savior of the World but not of This World: A Post-Colonial Reading of Spatial Construction in John.”  In The Postcolonial Bible edited by R.S. Sugirtharajah, 118-135.  Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.

Postcolonialism and Globalization


Charting the trajectory of postcolonial studies, R. S. Sugirtharajah writes about globalization and colonialism:

The current globalization is not something that happened suddenly.  Its roots go back to colonial history and it is a legacy of European colonialism and modernity…Recently, the flow has been mainly from West to the rest of the world.  Previously it was the other way around.  It was Europe which was assimilating Arabic science and technology and Indian mathematics, and consuming goods from China. Like most of the cultural forces of our time, globalization manifests itself in a variety of ways – economically, politically, and culturally – and all of these evolved over several centuries of European imperialism.  In some ways, what the present globalization does, following the demise of the old colonialism, is to intensify the power relations in a more acute manner.  The crucial difference between the old colonialism and the current globalization is the unrivaled grip of the United States on the world economy through military and foreign policies, its financial and mercantile corporations, and its hold on world culture through its massive media outputs – television, film, and publishing. (Sugirtharajah, 20-21)


Sugirtharajah, R. S., “Charting the Aftermath: A review of Postcolonial Criticism,” in The Postcolonial Biblical Reader, ed. R. S. Sugirtharajah.  Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006.


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