CoDE Seminar: Brexit and the Boomerang of Empire
|Dates:||13 May 2021|
|Times:||14:00 - 15:30|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE)|
|Who is it for:||University staff, External researchers, Adults, Alumni, Current University students, General public|
|Speaker:||Dr Kojo Koram|
In the midst of Britain’s ongoing political crisis, this paper reframes the Brexit question by beginning at edges of Britain’s relationship to its colonial outposts over the twentieth century. Whilst figures imperial romantics like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg offer a vision of an independent ‘Global Britain’ returning to its past glories, if we analyse the coming spectre of ‘Global Britain’ - reducing taxation laws, relaxing environmental and worker protections, relying on foreign corporate investment, erasing spending on public welfare, etc – we start to see similarities to the shock doctrine economic liberalisation that Britain’s former colonies in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean experienced during the post-colonial moment.
In Britain, an ongoing myopia regarding what Aimé Césaire famously called the ‘boomerang’ of empire is indebted to abiding allegiance a historical determinism that fixes Britain at the forefront of development. Having birthed industrial capitalism and parliamentary sovereignty, Britain still sees the ‘developing’ nations of its former colonial world following in its wake, along a linear path. As a result, political thought in Britain has largely ignored political and economic changes that visited the rest of the world, both during the British empire and in its aftermath; however this myopia has left us unprepared for the ‘boomerang’ of the changes which are now starting life within Britain itself. At the heart of these global economic changes is a conflict between imperium and dominium: Imperium is best understood as the world of states and sovereignty, dominium being the world of capital and property. Following the decolonial moments, where the outposts of the British empire fought to enter into the world of states and sovereignty, there was a backlash against imperium by those who wished to protect what they owned. Britain’s allegiance with the world of dominium, with the corporations that did so much to build the empire itself created the conditions for the problems and challenges Britain faces today. Tracing the histories of both the colonies and the motherland since decolonisation, this paper takes an original perspective on the Brexit crisis by showing its relationship to the postcolonial legal, economic and political changes of the twentieth century.
Dr Kojo Koram
Role: Lecturer in Law
Organisation: Birkbeck College, University of London
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