Spring 2023 - IS 419 D100

Special Topics II (4)

Decolonization & Its Discontents

Class Number: 5001

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Thu, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2023
    Mon, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Specific details of courses to be offered will be published prior to enrollment each term.


This course covers the major problems and debates in the history of decolonization focusing mainly on Asia and Africa. Instead of going the typical route and covering anticolonial movements, the course proceeds thematically focusing on the ideas and institutions of colonial rule that continue to linger on into the contemporary period.

The revolutionaries, idealists and political leaders who lead anticolonial movements did not have a clear road map on what the future after colonialism would look like. As Gary Wilder (who we will also read in this course) points out, every anticolonial leader did not have national independence in mind as their ultimate goal for achieving freedom. Indeed, the ideas of freedom and how they would be manifest in the postcolonial world were not always compatible with the institutional constraints that were bequeathed by colonialism.

How then do we understand decolonization? This course attempts to unpack this question by thinking about decolonization not as a movement, but a process that is still unfolding as once colonized people across the globe try to think about the many meanings of freedom.

This course will be taught as a seminar and is fairly reading intensive so it is essential that you do your readings before class.


By the end of this course students will be able to
- Describe the different types of colonialism (and attendant institutions) that were put in place across the world.
- Use case studies to analyze the international legacies of colonialism.
- Analyze and critique the ideas of anti-colonial leaders
- Differentiate between different types of primary sources


  • Class Participation 20%
  • In-class presentation and 1 page write-up 15%
  • Discussion about research essay with instructor 5%
  • Essay (Literature review and Vlog) 25%
  • Final Research Essay 35%


Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.



All course materials will be provided to you over canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html