Call for Apology and Retraction from Third World Quarterly
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We insist that you, Third World Quarterly, retract and apologize for the publication of Professor Bruce Gilley's appalling article, "The Case for Colonialism" published September 2017. In truth, we originally thought this work was satire; if that is the case, it is satire that fails.
The sentiments expressed in this article reek of colonial disdain for Indigenous peoples and ignore ongoing colonialism in white settler nations. The author ponders "what would likely have happened in a given place absent colonial rule?" (2) with the predictably racist conclusion that peoples and cultures would have remained "primitive," relying upon an obscene, reductive colonial epithet. The author suggests a return of invasive, forced Western governance based on the purported “consent of the colonized” (2), which is a ludicrous proposal to anyone who has even a remote awareness of the history of national revolutions and independence movements. The author's argument that colonized peoples "saw the benefits of being governed by a modernised and liberal state" (4) attempts to validate the white man's burden ideology denounced by scholars such as Gayatri Spivak in her foundational essay, "Can the Subaltern Speak." Gilley then devolves again into his white supremacist and Eurocentric call for "civility." The point that "Western countries should be encouraged to hold power in specific governance areas (public finances, say, or criminal justice)" (2) cannot be taken out of the context in which BIPOC around the world are surveilled, disenfranchised, and murdered by colonial and state structures of criminal “justice.” This condescension also infantilizes and dehumanizes BIPOC by claiming that they are incapable of self-governance. This is especially appalling when the author elsewhere in the article takes the words of multiple decolonial scholars of colour out of context in order to justify his violence against their respective communities and cultures.
We prefer to be brief here and not spend our valuable time doing the work that your peer-reviewers and editorial board members should have done. We will close by asserting that this article is not only offensive but damaging. It is an active attack on BIPOC scholars, thinkers, and people, as well as on the project of decolonization. In our current political context, the lives and safety of BIPOC, refugees, and allies are being threatened by radicalized white supremacist groups. These kinds of ideas are not simply abstract provocations, but have real, material consequences for those who Prof. Gilley seeks to dominate and objectify. Regardless of its intention, and we are already suspicious of those intentions given Professor Gilley's publication history and fields of inquiry, this article is harmful and poorly executed pseudo-"scholarship" and should be retracted immediately.
Your journal will continue to lose credibility the longer this article remains published.
- Jenny Heijun Wills, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of English and Director of the Critical Race Network, University of Winnipeg
- Rebecca Salazar, Ph.D. (cand.), University of New Brunswick
- Carrianne Leung, Ph.D.
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