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11.07.2021 11:55 Alter: 2 yrs

Imperial Debt

Call for Publications

Theme: Imperial Debt
Subtitle: Colonial Theft, Postcolonial Repair
Publication: Edited Volume, published in Routledge's Postcolonial
Politics Series
Deadline: 31.8.2021

This is a Call for Papers for a new collection I'm working on:
Imperial Debt: Colonial Theft, Postcolonial Repair. This would be the
first collection of its kind, forwarding a case for reparations –
restorative, reparative justice – in the context of modern era
imperialism. (This will be my second book on reparations, the first
being my monograph that came out late last year on Morrison’s
Beloved.) The collection will offer a set of chapters that consider
the matter from various points of view, disciplinary, national,
theoretical, historical, some comparative, all more than likely

Work collected in the volume is to focus on reparations both in
national frameworks and also internationally. It takes up the matter
of restorative justice “after empire," if you will – not that empire
is over, rather in consideration of its longue durée, what kind of
economic equilibrations are called for today? The idea is to
consider, assess and theorize empire through the triptych: theft,
debt, repair – imperial. Any one of those, any two, or all three. Any
discipline, any geography, history, empire, any methodology, data,
material as long as it is probing and answering these questions in
some way.

What does Britain owe South Asia given even just one incident in
which they loaded the entire treasury of the state of Bengal onto a
hundred ships and left with it? Far beyond their wrongly charging
Haiti “reverse-reparations” for the Haitian revolution, what besides
that does France owe Haiti? How even begin to taxonomize the matter
of “land reform” in the context of Native North America? And what
does the U.S. owe mass incarcerated America, endemically
police-brutalized America? Quite apart from civil suits, what is owed
to Kalief Browder’s family, Breonna Taylor’s family, Eric Garner’s
family, Jacob Blake and his family, in the name of the nation-state?
Beyond the U.S. and what we owe to the descendants of slaves, what
does Britain also owe to those same descendants of the institution?
For it was under the British empire – with its laissez faire policy
regarding how the colonizers built the colonies – that chattel
slavery became the unbridled, brutally savage force in the North
American colonies, and later the new republic. What is owed to
numerous African nations for the “scramble” sanctioned by the Berlin
Africa conference? We think, then, of materialist readings of modern
era imperialist chattel enslavement that forward a clear, convincing
case for restorative justice, the same with regard to First Peoples.
We think likewise of Armenia, Palestine and Israel, the former Soviet
bloc, as well as Hong Kong and some of the under-researched African
nations – perhaps Tunisia, Sudan, Liberia – or places like Cyprus,
Scotland, Ireland. However, given that this type of reading is
generally unfamiliar to postcolonial criticism, all locations,
histories, colonies will be under consideration.

This is, in part, a revisionist project that redefines empire as a
criminal enterprise, a massive capital campaign founded upon thievery
and the appropriation of resources and trade routes belonging to
others. And, whether the equilibrations occur, the return of goods,
the repayments for stolen trade routes, betrayed treaties, and the
mass of additional imperialist appropriations; to whatever extent
such assertions of a necessary repairing are heeded or might be
successful; the documentation of such debt, the barely or non-started
or unfinished processes of reparative justice must be represented,
must enter the record, the archive, and indeed the conversation. Few
people are doing this work; there is some in Economics but little
besides, surprisingly little in Postcolonial studies where one
assumes we’d find more work that takes the question of reparations
seriously, that considers the matter of a necessary international
equilibration after empire given the global distribution of wealth
and how it got that way.

As argued in the 2021 collection I edited with Michael O'Sullivan,
The Economics of Empire, such forms of materialist analysis are vital
and we hope defining for the future of postcolonial studies, empire
studies, policy studies, legal studies, and the many other research
areas touching empire and the racial capital inextricably tied to it.
As with that collection, one role I hope the book will play is to
bring to light a fuller awareness and knowledge of areas touched by
imperialism that often go unregistered and are under-studied and

That collection was published in Routledge’s Postcolonial Politics
series, and I will submit this one to the same series. I would like
to have all proposals by end of summer, so let's look to a deadline
of 8/31/21.

If you could respond with a one or two page abstract and a short CV
to my CUNY email:

With a cc to my personal email:

Any questions, I am happy to discuss ideas.

Maureen Ellen Ruprecht


Maureen Ruprecht Fadem
The City University of New York / Kingsborough
Email: /