Post-Colonialisms Today / Overview
Post-Colonialisms Today is a research and advocacy project recovering insights from the immediate post-independence period in Africa, and mobilizing them through a feminist lens to address contemporary challenges. It is a collective undertaking directed by a working group and advisory group of African activist-intellectuals, with Regions Refocus serving as Secretariat carrying out administrative and substantive work to facilitate the project community’s analysis and advocacy. In the first research phase of the project (2017-2018), they selected eight researchers from an open call for proposals and guided them to undertake case studies on topics ranging from industrial policy, to development planning, to pan-African feminist organizing. In the second advocacy phase of the project (2019-2021), which kicked off with the Intergenerational Dialogue, PCT is disseminating insights from the research phase through popular media and dialogues between actors engaged in contemporary struggles for African political and economic agency, including natural resource sovereignty, monetary independence, and industrialisation.
Post-Colonialisms Today argues that the necessary starting point for development policy in Africa is the recognition that many of the continent’s challenges stem from its subordinate place within the global economic order as primary commodity exporters. In a pattern established under colonialism, African states are dependent on exporting raw primary commodities (agricultural goods, minerals, oil, etc.) to fuel the economies of the industrialized global North, an unequal dynamic that is perpetuated in the contemporary period through exploitative neoliberal finance, aid, trade, and investment regimes. This has undermined the agency of governments to shape their domestic social and economic policy, as African societies have been structured around the imperative of producing and exporting primary commodities in service of North states and corporate forces rather than generating broad-based development.
In the immediate post-independence era, African governments, movements, and institutions disrupted this dynamic of economic and political dependence on their colonisers through, for example, policies for industrialisation, international solidarity, and delinking from colonial currency, thereby challenging the unequal global order. This initiated a unique period in Africa’s contemporary history in which governments were responsive to popular forces, and thus designed and implemented policy that improved the material conditions of their people rather than served external imperatives. This was cut short by the onslaught of neoliberalism in Africa, beginning with World Bank/IMF structural adjustment policies in the 1980s, which actively undermined these post-independence interventions and used a so called “free market” rationale to recapture Africa’s economies and bolster the colonial order. Initially, these neoliberal policies were largely teleguided by outside agencies; but as neoliberalism became the pervasive global economic model, many African institutions came to embrace it wholesale, enforcing policy prescriptions like trade liberalization and deregulation of finance capital that have proved disastrous worldwide.
As the failures of neoliberalism in Africa become increasingly apparent, activists and policymakers are questioning the current order and people are mobilizing across the continent in the struggle for progressive alternatives. In progressive landscape fragmented by decades of neoliberal ideological onslaught, Post-Colonialisms Today is drawing from the immediate post-independence period to chart a path towards Africa’s political and economic agency.
Join our mailing list to receive updates on the project at bit.ly/PCTUpdates.
Working GroupSocial Justice Platform Heba M. Khalil is a PhD Candidate at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Her work focuses on legal mobilization, social movements and the political economy of Egypt.
Working GroupCo-Founder Tunisian Observatory of Economy Jihen Chandoul is the co-founder of the Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE), a think and do-tank created after the revolution in 2011 in Tunisia. She currently holds the position of Head of Policy & Advocacy at the TOE where she is responsible for developing policy research and analysis on trade, debt and investments issues and Advocacy work on these issues. She holds a BA in Political Sciences and Economy from Sciences Po Strasbourg and a Master of International Law from University Paris and has previously worked as a consultant on economic issues (debt and international financial institutions, trade and investment). She also teaches Political Economy Module at Tunis Business School, a public university in Tunis.
Working GroupHead of Programmes, Third World Network-Africa Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei is the Head of Programmes at the Third World Network-Africa. He holds an LLM in International Economic Law and has more than 20 years of work experience in international trade and investment policy and negotiations. His work has been informed by fundamental questions of Africa’s economic developmental challenges.
AdvisorDirector for Africa and West Asia, International IDEA Adebayo Olukoshi is Director for Africa and West Asia of International IDEA and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg. He has previously served as Executive Secretary of CODESRIA, Director of the Africa Governance Institute, and Director of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning. His research centers on the politics of development
AdvisorFormer Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana Akilagpa Sawyerr, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities, taught law at the Universities of East Africa (Dar es Salaam), Ghana and Papua New Guinea, and held visiting and research appointments at several institutions, including The Open University (UK); Harvard and Yale Law Schools; The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; University of Alabama; and Northwestern University in the US; and the Max-Planck-Institut, Hamburg, Germany. His areas of specialization include international trade and investment law, international negotiations, mining energy law, higher education studies.
AdvisorFounding Editor, Feminist Africa Amina Mama is a Nigerian/British feminist researcher and academic, whose career spans European, African and U.S. institutions. She has dedicated much of her career to creating institutional spaces for strengthening radical intellectual work, teaching, research and publication, and film. Major publications include Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender and Subjectivity (Routledge 1995), co-edited Engendering African Social Sciences (CODESRIA 1997) and extensive contributions to peer-reviewed journals. She collaborated in the production of two documentary films, The Witches of Gambaga (2010 co-producer) and The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo (Executive Producer Fadoa films 2014). Her areas of interest include methodology, pedagogy, identity, politics, critical policy studies, higher education, militarism, and she is founding editor of the continent’s first open access gender studies journal, Feminist Africa.
AdvisorFounding Member, Tanzania Media Women’s Organization Fatma Alloo is the co-founder of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), co-founder and now board member of the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), founding member of Zanzibar Women on the Net (ZaWoN), and founder of FEMNET. Fatma’s work with these initiatives, and with organizations such as the Women’s Network Support Program of Association for Progressive Communications (WNSP-APC) and the Africa Association of Research Foundation (ARRF), has centered around the use of media as a mobilizing tool for advocacy and consciousness raising.
AdvisorPresident, Observatory of Food and Environmental Sovereignty Habib Ayeb is a geographer, researcher, documentary filmmaker, and president of the Tunis-based Observatoire de la Souveraineté Alimentaire et de l’Environnement (Observatory of Food and Environmental Sovereignty).
Akua Opokua Britwum
ResearcherPost-Independence Development Planning in Ghana and Tanzania: Agriculture, Women and Nation-building Akua Opokua Britwum is Associate Professor of Gender and Labour Studies at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Cape Coast. As a researcher for Post-Colonialisms Today, she focuses on post-independence development planning in Ghana and Tanzania. She previously served as Director of the Centre for Gender, Research, Advocacy, and Documentation. Her interests cover gender-based violence and gender and economic policy, as well as trade union democracy and informal sector labour force organization.
Chafik Ben Rouine
ResearcherEconomic Decolonisation and the Role of the Central Bank in the Post-colonial Development in Tunisia President and co-founder of the Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE), Chafik Ben Rouine is a graduate of the Ecole Centrale Marseille (“Grande École d’Ingénieur) in Applied Mathematics and of the “Groupement de Recherche en Economie Quantitative d’Aix-Marseille” (GREQAM). He is currently Head of Quantitative Research at the TOE, specializing in international finance (offshore economics, international financial system, and international financial institutions), monetary policy (central bank, banks and finance) and development economics (regional development index, measures of inequality and poverty).
ResearcherDevelopment as the Making of Political Community: Lessons from Ghana and Tanzania Faisal Garba teaches in the Department of Sociology University of Cape Town (UCT) and he is a fellow in the Centre for Humanities Research in Africa (CHR), University of the Western Cape (UWC). His research and teaching interests straddle African migration and livelihoods, social theory and political economy, working class history and movements, and pre-colonial African History.
ResearcherVariations in Postcolonial Imagination: Reflection on Senghor, Nyerere, and Nkrumah Jimi Adesina is Professor and the DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Social Policy at the College of Graduate Studies, University of South Africa in South Africa. Educated at the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) and Warwick University (UK), he served on the Executive Committee of the CODESRIA, and was Chair of its Programme Sub-Committee. A past President of the South African Sociological Association, he was elected to the Academy of Science of South Africa in 2005. He serves on the Board of the UN Research Institute for Social Development and the Board of RC19 of the International Sociological Association. His research interests include sociology, social policy, and the political economy of Africa’s development. He has published widely in these areas.
ResearcherThe Rocket in The Haystack: Between Nasser’s Developmental Vision and The Neo-Imperialist Mission Kareem Megahed is Economic Justice Programs’ Officer at Social Justice Platform (SJP). He finished his Master’s in Political Economy at the University of Manchester in 2017, where he wrote his thesis on Egypt's 1919 revolution and its economic nationalism, and he studied political science and history at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Previously, he worked as a teaching assistant in the department of Political Science in AUC and for two years he was a researcher at the Economic and Business History Research Center (EBHRC) in AUC.
ResearcherThe Rocket in The Haystack: Between Nasser’s Developmental Vision and The Neo-Imperialist Mission Omar Ghannam is Research Director at Social Justice Platform (SJP). Omar attained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy from the American University in Cairo (AUC) and is currently pursuing his master’s degree at the same institution with a focus on debt and imperialism. Previously, he was the Operations Director of a marketing firm and media production house, and he headed the economic justice program for the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A) as the constituent representative of North Africa.
ResearcherRadical Regionalism: Feminism, Sovereignty and the Pan-African Project Sara Salem is Assistant Professor in the Sociology department at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Sara’s research looks at questions of political economy, feminist and gender studies, postcolonialism, history, and Marxism in the particular context of Egypt. She has recently published journal articles on transnational feminism, postcolonial nationalism, and capitalist development in Egypt.