Spaces of New Colonialism

Reading Schools, Museums, and Cities in the Tumult of Globalization

by Cameron McCarthy (Volume editor) Koeli Moitra Goel (Volume editor) Ergin Bulut (Volume editor) Warren Crichlow (Volume editor) Brenda Nyandiko Sanya (Volume editor) Bryce Henson (Volume editor)
©2020 Textbook XXX, 402 Pages


Spaces of New Colonialism is an edited volume of 16 essays and interviews by prominent and emerging scholars who examine how the restructuring of capitalist globalization is articulated to key sites and institutions that now cut an ecumenical swath across human societies. The volume is the product of sustained, critical rumination on current mutations of space and material and cultural assemblages in key institutional flashpoints of contemporary societies undergoing transformations sparked by neoliberal globalization. The flashpoints foregrounded in this edited volume are concentrated in the nexus of schools, museums and the city. The book features an intense transnational conversation within an online collective of scholars who operate in a variety of disciplines and speak from a variety of locations that cut across the globe, north and south. Spaces of New Colonialism began as an effort to connect political dynamics that commenced with the Arab spring and uprisings and protests against white-on-black police violence in US cities to a broader reading of the career, trajectory and effects of neoliberal globalization.
Contributors look at key flashpoints or targets of neoliberalism in present-day societies: the school, the museum and the city. Collectively, they maintain that the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit movement in England marked a political maturation, not a mere aberration, of some kind—evidence of some new composition of forces, new and intensifying forms of stratification, ultimately new colonialism—that now distinctively characterizes this period of neoliberal globalization.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword: Citification, Mediatization, Theme Park-ification of the Contemporary US Midwest University (Angharad N. Valdivia)
  • Introduction: Understanding the Spaces of New Colonialism: The City, the School, and the Museum (Cameron McCarthy, Koeli Moitra Goel, Ergin Bulut, Warren Crichlow, Brenda Nyandiko Sanya, and Bryce Henson)
  • Section I Precarious Entanglements
  • Chapter One The City: Its Return as a Lens for Social Theory (Saskia Sassen)
  • Chapter Two Trading in Multiculture: The City and the University in the Age of Globalization (Cameron McCarthy, Brenda Sanya, and Koeli Moitra Goel)
  • Chapter Three Stage of Exception: Carnaval, Political Violence, and Black Life (Bryce Henson)
  • Chapter Four Cementing Hegemony in New Turkey: The Construction Spectacle of Istanbul and the Rise of Right-Wing Masculine Populism (Ergin Bulut, Başak Can, and Nurçin İleri)
  • Chapter Five The “Megacity” as the Face of 21st-Century India: Rethinking Urban Life Beyond the Binaries of Globalism (Koeli Moitra Goel)
  • Section II Fraught Circuits of Citizenship
  • Chapter Six The Right to the City: Pauline Lipman Interview, University of Illinois-Chicago, November 5, 2018 (Koeli Moitra Goel, Cameron McCarthy, and Susan Akello Ogwal)
  • Chapter Seven Colonial Pasts and Global Presence in Citadels of Education: Crafting “World-Class” Futures by Digitalizing Traditions (Koeli Moitra Goel and Cameron McCarthy)
  • Chapter Eight A Tale of Two Cities: Dhaka’s Urban Imaginary in the Twenty-First Century (Nubras Samayeen)
  • Chapter Nine Seeing the Future in the Mirror of the Past: Technologies of Cultural Governance and the Reclamation of Creative History in Seoul1 (Chamee Yang)
  • Section III Futurities
  • Chapter Ten Museums of Modern Art and the End of History (Stuart Hall)
  • Chapter Eleven Blackqueer Pedagogy: (Un)making Memory, Citizenship, and Education (Durell M. Callier)
  • Chapter Twelve Rural Global City: The US Midwestern Land-Grant University as a Palimpsest of Colonialisms (Brenda Nyandiko Sanya and Malathi M. Iyengar)
  • Chapter Thirteen The Territory as an Extractive Network: A Reading from the Mining Museum (Karla Palma)
  • Chapter Fourteen Landscapes of Violence (Brad Evans)
  • Afterword: Seeking Resources of Hope for a Different Type of Emancipatory Future? (Natalie Fenton)
  • List of Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index


In Memory of Toni Morrison February 18, 1931–August 5, 2019

A city like this one makes me dream tall and feel in on things. (Jazz, 1992, p. 7)

As Spaces of New Colonialism goes to press, we note the passing of one of the great contemporary commentators on the intersection of art, schooling, and city life: the incomparable Toni Morrison (Jazz, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, The Bluest Eye, Love). The quote above, taken from Morrison’s searing account of the urban condition in the novel Jazz, sets the tonal parameters of our book—the antithesis and dialogue between critique and hope. These nodes of understanding, after all, are the terms by which Stuart Hall, after Gramsci, announced the task of the intellectual in our time: “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” Many in our collective remember Toni Morrison as the spark driving us forward to deeper problematization of the transforming relationships articulated at the nexus of schools, museums, and the city. These transformations are both profoundly local and global in dimension and scale, deeply connected to a past linked to colonialism and slavery and to a present and future to which colonialism has returned as irony and behind a new mask, the mask of neoliberal globalization.

We want here to acknowledge Morrison’s great hovering intelligence and presence in what follows in New Spaces of Colonialism. We acknowledge her clarion call to our cast of transnational intellectuals to look at the fullness of city life, at the complexity of the unfolding present in the gentrification and respatialization of city space and its ramifications across other critical institutional sites. We take ←xi | xii→up in Spaces of the New Colonialism, particularly, the school and the museum and their coarticulations to the city. Morrison’s quote above underscores the obligation of the contemporary intellectual, the Third World intellectual no less, to view the world unfolding in the new era complexly (“A city like this one makes me dream tall and feel in on things” [Morrison 1992, p. 7]). We therefore have come together as a collective with our eyes wide open propelled by the social thickness of understanding generated in the writing of Morrison and fellow travelers such as Stuart Hall and Walter Benjamin.

Spaces of New Colonialism is true testimony to the value of camaraderie and tenacity of a group of international scholars that has met online for the past 5 years to discuss the contemporary fate of cities, schools, and museums in light of rapid and drastic patterns of respatialization of urban milieus across the Global South and North. As editors, we want to first thank our contributors to this volume for staying the course, even as we have had to change thematic directions in keeping with developments in the international arena: developments of such enormous significance that they forced us to rethink the meaning of the nexus of schools, museums, and cities we were studying. Key among these were the uprisings in the urban settings of the MENA regions and the attendant Arab spring, the pitched battles fought in US cities such as Ferguson, Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and Charleston over police brutality and assaults on poor black and brown communities, as well as the rise of feral nationalism on both sides of the Atlantic epitomized by Brexit-Trump.

We owe special thanks to Catherine Hall for granting us permission to publish the late Stuart Hall’s extraordinarily insightful talk on the future of museums, their ethical and political responsibilities, and their redirection in contemporary city space. Similarly, we are grateful to Saskia Sassen and filmmaker John Akomfrah as well as his interviewer, Brad Evans, for allowing us to republish their generative essays on the meaning of current developments in the urban setting for present research and thinking about the future of human societies. We are indebted as well to Pauline Lipman who granted us an extraordinary interview regarding her insights on transforming school environments in the light of the racial banishment of the minority poor in cities such as Chicago and across the USA as well as drawing the readers’ attention to the ominous resurgence of white supremacism in city space. We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the extraordinary technical support that Susan Akello Ogwal, Hannah Tomlin, and Samaa Haniya provided in their facilitation of our live synchronous Blackboard Collaborate sessions throughout the entire time. Many of us have had the opportunity to test our ideas within our universities and community settings and at international conferences across the world. We are grateful to those who have read our manuscripts and responded to our presentations with keen criticisms and insights. As our scholarship spanned the megacities across the globe, groups of scholars, activists, and ordinary folks ←xii | xiii→from all over the world opened up their lives and communities to us so we could tell their stories. We are grateful for all they gave as gatekeepers and facilitators—from focus groups crafted in coffee shops and pubs to prized photographs and artifacts—this group allowed us glimpses of their urban rhythms which we would have missed otherwise. Thus we applaud the generosity of many like Samrat Bose, Jashodhara Dasgupta, Shilpa Jain, and Nurur Khan. Our team spirit has held, and grown stronger even while delivering an exceptional peer review process; and connections have been made for life and across the world. We critically acknowledge the contribution of Karishma Desai to this volume and its gestation. Though Karishma was unable to see the book through to the end, her thoughtful interventions and observation influenced its final shaping profoundly. Similarly, we acknowledge our editor Erika Hendrix and her team who provided momentum and assistance to our project on behalf of our publishers, Peter Lang.

Many of us would not have progressed to our critical limits without the patience and support of our first author and revered teacher, Professor Cameron McCarthy. Many other professors like Norman Denzin, Benjamin Bross, and D. Fairchild Ruggles, as mentors and advisors, also guided our group of emerging scholars in mastering the art of critical interpretive inquiry and creatively presenting academic literature for classrooms as well as wider global audiences. Last but not the least, our deepest gratitude to our colleagues Angharad Valdivia of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Natalie Fenton of Goldsmiths, University of London, for generously agreeing to give their time and expertise in writing the Foreword and Afterword, respectively, and masterfully delivering them with precision, within schedule and with deep critical understanding of our project.

No book, no edited volume is produced without extraordinary expenditure and exertion of human labor. And we have become incredibly conscious over the years of the particular special entanglements of our own intellectual labor in the contemporary moment and its generalized precarity. We have come to deeply understand how gentrification and respatialization are themselves reordering the spaces in which we work, our labor processes, and the very organization of knowledge within the university. This book is therefore launched with a keen sense of the altered terms of existence in which we live and the existential threat to thought itself in a time when hypercapitalism, as the great Marxist George Lukacs had maintained, has “penetrated the brain.” We know now that we are not simply helpless Razumovian spectators dwelling as it were in some version of Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes. We write this book with a sense of urgency of engaged intellectuals drawing on our collective energies and intending Spaces of New Colonialism not simply as a manuscript “in itself” but as a policy intervention articulated as a plea to halt the programs of negation generated in the wake of the hypercapitalist and supremacist assaults on the contemporary urban poor in our cities around the world. We therefore issue an indictment of globalization and the global city as ←xiii | xiv→they orchestrate and reorder the spaces of urban life and the fate of social subjects therein in the carnage that globalization produces and which its most celebratory proponents studiously ignore and disavow.


Morrison, T. (1992). Jazz. New York: Knopf.

Foreword: Citification, Mediatization, Theme Park-ification of the Contemporary US Midwest University

angharad n. valdivia

“We don’t need more books,” she said, “we need furniture.”

—A librarian’s response to an offer of a book endowment

In their provocative and important contribution towards “Understanding the spaces of new colonialism,” McCarthy, Goel, Bulut, Crichlow, Sanya, and Henson declare: “we aim to draw attention to different specific spatial logics of neoliberalism and commodification of social commons as these are violently or spectacularly realized within schools, museums, and the broader urban contexts both in the Global North and Global South.” I want to explore the peculiar spatialization of the university as a privileged site of schooling that dispossesses a multiplicity of populations while containing local versions of the Global North and the Global South. Through spatial logics of neoliberalism, the university has become both a gentrified city and a collection of museums through a range of transitions and displacements. Using my land grant university as a brief case study, we can discern the conversion of the social commons into a spectacularly organized location for privilege and consumer subjects through the commodification of an ever-increasing number of formerly free and accessible aspects of the university.

My brief statements address the overlap between schooling, represented by a large Midwest US Research 1 university, and the keywords identified by this research team: spatial, neoliberalism, commodification, globalization, colonialism, and social commons. I choose my university as a specific spatial site to explore the disappearance of the social commons and the deployment of neoliberal ←xv | xvi→city-fication that shifts the focus from public education to marketization through theme park-ification. As with similar processes, this city as theme park process once again normalizes whiteness as it marginalizes local racialized populations. Despite uninformed characterizations of the university as an “ivory tower,” the contemporary Research 1 university in the United States represents all of the contemporary shifts identified by the coeditors of this volume.

The university is not an ivory tower but rather a contact zone. The major university is at once a school, a city, and a museum. McCarthy et al. add “As we operationalize the term new colonialism, we want to especially register its function of commodification of social relationships through a paradoxical deployment of freedom, diversity, and multiplicity as they are materialized in specific historical and spatial contexts.” The university is one such specific historical and spatial context. Within the university we find postcolonial scholars, artists, and curators. Within the university we find postcolonial subjects, in the flesh as students, faculty, administrators, and staff. Within the university we find intellectual and artistic embodiments. Within the university we find the imbrication of political economic and cultural forces, which, of course, always function in tandem. Within the university we find vast inequalities, among its faculty, its students, its paradigms, deployments of technology and technological expertise, uses of space, funding streams, and its division of labor.

Between the university and its surroundings these inequalities proliferate as well. In the elite settings of Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge), walls and gates separate the public city commons from inside university spaces of privilege. However, in the “public” US university, there are no such walls or gates but there might as well be moats full of alligators, for thus do the townies perceive the permeability of the lack of physical barriers. Uses of space, human mobility, and labor flows mark the university as a zone of exception in relation to nonuniversity related town residents who nonetheless depend on the university for their economic well-being and that of their community.

In the case of the land grant Midwest universities, populating the university is accomplished via a number of historical displacements. The original displacement attacks indigenous property and way of life. This displacement reterritorializes the university first as a privileged site of “learning and labor,” the official motto of the university, as students quite literally had to work daily to go beyond “mere ‘book learning’” (Annual Register, 1868, p. 15).1 The university as a site for rationalization of agricultural knowledge does not acknowledge its colonization and displacement of previously existing populations. Settler colonialists displaced the indigenous. Then the regional population displaces the locals—as in Chicago area students overrepresent the students in relation to the local population. Despite administrative skirmishes regarding precisely these issues of local, regional, and national emphases; all is well as long as the state keeps its funding commitment to the ←xvi | xvii→university. However, when this implicit social contract no longer is honored, the university as a living institution with economic imperatives seeks other sources of funding. The most immediate source is students from other states charged higher out of state tuition. In-state students, especially in the most highly coveted access to the College of Engineering, have to compete against a much stronger pool of applicants and frankly can attend neighboring states universities, whose own efforts to make up for reduced state funding include in state tuition for out of state students. As with capitalism at large, a national strategy inevitably expands to the global. The university has a long history of recruiting international students, and in the latest fiscal crisis, this becomes yet another way of economic survival. The cycle of displacement of populations of students of the university is complete: the settlers displace the indigenous, the regional displace the locals, the national displace the regional, and the international displace the national. However, do not mistake the global displacement to include the marginalized of the world. By and large the globally diverse students hail from pockets of privilege. As well, the number of students does not grow exponentially so that this global inclusion is partly accomplished through the displacement of temporarily included groups of minoritized and working-class students.

power: inclusion and exclusion through submerged ethnic histories

In late modern societies’ aggressive neoliberal turn, universities become key sites for the deployment of new technologies of power. As McCarthy et al. note: “throughout the course of history the school, the museum and the city have rationalized systems that produce power asymmetrically, and exacerbate inequalities.” To be sure, universities operate simultaneously as sites of exclusion and inclusion—this schizophrenic impulse reveals power asymmetries where the former functions much more strongly than the latter. Admissions, hiring, and a strong ethos of meritocracy serve as the rhetorical raison d’être for the contemporary university (Littler, 2018). The official rhetoric holds that only the worthy are admitted, graduated, hired, and/or promoted through standards of excellence, which purportedly remain objective and neutral. However, many waves of inclusionary politics, stemming from gender, race, and global populations, resulting from the intractability of exclusionary practices have resulted in demands placed upon the university to reexamine its policies of exclusion and its pretense of neutrality.

One of the many elements that troubles the ivory tower fantasy narrative is the colonial history of the university (Wilder, 2013; Smith and Ellis, 2017). Indeed, the university exhibits long histories of colonial spoils and ethnic displacement. ←xvii | xviii→The US Morrill Land-Grant Acts of 1862 and 1890 “granted” universities in the United States lands that belonged to indigenous populations. Universities exerting property expansion over recently appropriated indigenous lands via the Morrill Act represent an instance of settler colonialism (paperson, 2017), colonization matters (Byrd, 2011), and economies of dispossession (Byrd, Goldstein, Melamed, and Reddy, 2018; Harootunian, 2000). Many US universities are recently acknowledging their location over sacred indigenous grounds and slave burial places and their history of slave labor, as in the case of the University of Mississippi (Smith-Barrow, 2018) or of donations from slave owners and donors who made their fortunes through the slave trade as in Harvard (Binkley, 2017). The university is part and parcel of settler colonialism funded and fueled by the colonial slave trade. Iconic heroes of US education and government, such as Thomas Jefferson, one of the “founding fathers” of the US constitution as well as the founder of The University of Virginia, have been revealed to have had long-term “relationships” with slaves they owned and to have derived their wealth from slave labor with whom they reproduced (Gordon-Reed, 1997 and 2008). This is but the briefest of histories of the lack of purity and colonial and ethnic violence undergirding the history and establishment of today’s universities. No, the US university is not an ivory tower but rather the illustration of power and wealth applied to the construction of exclusionary educational institutions with the rhetorical veneer of inclusion through the simultaneous dispossession of the indigenous.

The University of Illinois is part of this colonial history that erases the presence of the indigenous. Founded in 1867 through the Morrill Land Grant, it remains the flagship public university of the state of Illinois. The Illini were the largest tribe on the land now known as the State of Illinois, and their name was adopted by the university for the school mascot, “Chief Illiniwek.” The symbol of the chief remains divisive for a university that has been sanctioned by both the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) in 2005 for use of native American imagery and by the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) in 2017 for violating free speech rights of Steven Salaita. The former refers to an embattled history of the use of the native American logo and impersonator in sports events and materials, and the latter refers to the internationally covered controversy over the hiring and firing of Steven Salaita. As of 2007 the university retired the chief but seldom polices his unofficial appearances. Created in 2003, the American Indian Studies Program [AISP] at the University of Illinois in 2013 sought to expand its profile and transnational reach by offering a position to Steven Salaita, a transnational indigeneity scholar, which the university in 2014 rescinded due to what some perceived as anti-Semitic tweets. The effort to study indigeneity and settler colonialism from a global perspective proved to be too threatening to many stakeholders of the university, especially donors who figured prominently in the calls to rescind the faculty position to Salaita. One of the many outcomes of ←xviii | xix→this controversy was that nearly all AISP faculty left the program, either for other departments or other universities. The Salaita controversy overlapped with that of the figure of the “fighting Illini,” which remains a divisive issue for university students, alums, and community members (Rosenstein, 1997). Repeated efforts to replace the use of this mascot, such as removing it from official university events since 2007, have met with resistance and barely unofficial displays of the symbol and the mascot at sporting and other university events. A recently released university statement underscores how fraught and contested this issue continues to be. In it the university ambiguously announces its intention to retire the indigenous mascot while simultaneously celebrating the intent and history of mascot supporters (http://chancellor.illinois.edu/NativeImageryReport.html, June 7, 2019). The charge given to the commission by the chancellor demonstrates both the tone and ranking of tasks:

Provide closure, healing, and reconciliation for stakeholders

Facilitate the establishment of new traditions

Remember the history of the Chief—with a focus on both the intent and impact of the tradition Honor and partner with the Native Nations for whom Illinois is their ancestral home (http://chancellor.illinois.edu/NativeImageryReport.html)

This conciliatory approach to supporters of the chief through respecting and honoring the “intent and impact of the tradition” is the most up to date status on the university’s acknowledgment of its complicity with settler colonialism.

the university as a city and in relation to the city

I take McCarthy et al.’s suggestion that conceptualizing “the city, school and museum as operating separately in disconnected flows was a flawed perspective” and continue my brief application to the contemporary major university as a city, school, and museum. Major universities are small cities. Indeed, cities spring around and depend on universities, especially when universities are located in small towns in which a major university is the biggest employer and economic engine. Entire small cities feed off the large university. Rows of bars and cheap and quick food establishments cater to the needs and budgets of students. More upscale restaurants cater to wealthier students, their parents, the faculty, and highly paid administrators. Stores and hotels organize their supplies and sales around student calendars. Local grocery stores, for instance, stock up on toilet paper and sundries at the beginning of each school year and packing supplies at the end of the school ←xix | xx→year. Hotels survive on sports events attendees as well as other major university functions such as Mom’s Day and commencements (of which there are three very year: Spring, Summer, and Fall). Private dorms spring up around the university as do vendors and franchises, the lucky ones of which actually gain a foothold within dorms, libraries, and other university buildings with high student traffic: Starbucks and Subway in the student union, a local coffee chain in the library, etc.

Education begets education. Faculty expect a high-quality education for their children. Unless public schools meet faculty standards, private preschools, elementaries, and high schools begin to spring up. Faculty all but colonize the university sponsored pre- and secondary schools. STEM faculty found and grow pricey “countryside” schools. Local churches also draw students from parents who find the public system below their standards—educationally and/or socially. Communities of color argue that the public school “gifted” classrooms are mainly populated by dominant culture students. Even parents who support public education try to move within the catchment areas of the more highly ranked ones—communities wherein lower income families cannot afford to live. Exclusion reaches from the infant care facilities through high school. Moreover, tutor systems also proliferate: Kumon, Kaplan, and private math and science favorites. A university community is a lucrative place to peddle commodified supplemental educational products and services.


XXX, 402
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XXX, 402 pp., 13 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Cameron McCarthy (Volume editor) Koeli Moitra Goel (Volume editor) Ergin Bulut (Volume editor) Warren Crichlow (Volume editor) Brenda Nyandiko Sanya (Volume editor) Bryce Henson (Volume editor)

Cameron McCarthy is Communications Scholar and University Scholar in the Department of Educational Policy, Leadership and Organization (EPOL) and in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana. Koeli Moitra Goel is an independent researcher and writer from Chicago, who also devotes her time to community organizing and filmmaking. She holds a doctorate in Communications and Media from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Ergin Bulut is Assistant Professor at the Department of Media and Visual Arts at Koc University, Istanbul and Visiting Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton University. Warren Crichlow is Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, York University. Brenda Nyandiko Sanya is Assistant Professor in Educational Studies, Colgate University. Bryce Henson is an Accountability, Equity, Climate, and Scholarship Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Identity in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University.


Title: Spaces of New Colonialism