Four Views of Imperialism and the Transformation of its Meaning

Leong Yew, Research Fellow, University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore


The vast variety of narratives on imperialism has become an eclectic and dissonant mix of academic conjecture, ideological positions, and rhetorical expositions as the basic questions that characterize the mainstream or canonical views of imperialism, like what it is, what constitutes it, what are (or were) its causes and effects, and is it still existing, have become subject to a wider range of contestation and reinterpretation. How should one come to terms with imperialism especially within postcolonial studies? What follows is not necessarily to list these variations as a natural or logical progression in the semiotic history of "imperialism," but to show that imperial discourse has in itself a strategy in coping with these changes and variations without diminishing the role and position of the metropolitan centre.

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Last Modified: 9 April, 2002