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Teaching Programme

Masters in Politics, Development and the Global South


Abandoned building.

Colonial research represented an important part of the renascent academic discipline of sociology after 1945, especially in Britain and France. Colonies key object, terrain of investigation, and employment site for sociologists, engaging 33-55% of the British and French sociology fields between 1945 and 1965.The article begins by showing that colonial developmentalism created a demand for new forms of social scientific expertise, including sociology. Sociologists became favoured partners of colonial governments, resulting in novel forms of applied sociology focused on urbanization, detribalization, labour migration, industrialization, poverty, and resettlement. The article establishes the existence of networks of colonial sociologists, charts their size and composition, and reconstructs these colonial sociologists’ relations to neighbouring academic disciplines, especially anthropology, and to the metrocentric majority within their own discipline. Colonial sociologists also made a number of theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions that shaped the subsequent discipline in unacknowledged ways and foreshadowed recent work on race relations, transnational and global history, and “southern” and postcolonial theory.

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