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Spaces of New Colonialism

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


Edited By Cameron McCarthy, Koeli Moitra Goel, Ergin Bulut, Warren Crichlow, Brenda Nyandiko Sanya and Bryce Henson

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.

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Chapter Twelve Rural Global City: The US Midwestern Land-Grant University as a Palimpsest of Colonialisms (Brenda Nyandiko Sanya and Malathi M. Iyengar)


chapter twelve

Rural Global City: The US Midwestern Land-Grant University as a Palimpsest of Colonialisms

brenda nyandiko sanya and malathi m. iyengar

i. introduction

“It would be hard to find a more iconic American campus than the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,” according to the first sentence of a 2015 Inside Higher Ed article. The same article (Redden 2015) describes an iconic scene from this iconic campus: an “unseasonably warm” October afternoon during homecoming weekend, with peppy students showing their school spirit by posing for pictures with their arms forming the letters “I” and “L,” alumni visitors anticipating the big game, a male a cappella group singing “I love Illinois” to the tune of “I Love Rock n’ Roll,” abundant beer, and homecoming revelers whose tone and volume suggest that they have already imbibed a great deal of it. Though the article does not mention the university’s racist “Chief Illiniwek” mascot, it is clear that this time-honored US college scene would certainly have included at least a smattering of the settler-colonial faux-Native minstrelsy of the “Chief.” The character was officially retired as mascot in 2008;1 however, with the decision not to name another mascot, “Chief Illiniwek” remained prominently in use as an unofficial “symbol” thereafter. The Inside Higher Ed article does not linger on such technical details, however; rather, the purpose of the article is to discuss a curious new element of this classic US collegiate landscape: the presence on campus...

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