anti-colonial & anti-imperial currents in s.e.a. & oceania

South/South Movement is convening an affinity group on anti-colonial and anti-imperial currents in southeast asia and oceania. Unapologetically, we intend to shift the site of knowledge and (geo)politics towards these geographies. Why? From our perspective, s.e.a. and oceania tend to be bypassed by the tide of “decolonising” discourses within the anglophone, eurocentric “global” academy today. 

To trouble this tendency, this affinity group has two broad aims. On the one hand, we will engage epistemically with s.e.a. and oceanic struggles against colonial and imperial powers—from within and without, western and non-western, past and present. On the other hand, although we recognise s.e.a. and oceania remain submerged in colonial/imperial regimes of oppression, we refuse to dwell on this fact. Crucially, we will emphasise acts of anti-colonial and anti-imperial resistance in both discourse and practice, especially from below and beyond the “postcolonial” nation-state in this part of the world. While we may come from distinct geopolitical contexts, we strive to claim and build this space in the spirit of kapwa (Pilipino for being-with-others) and kōrerorero (Māori for dialoguing).

Together, we will raise and think through different questions from anti-colonial and anti-imperial perspectives.
  • How does coloniality in all its manifestations persist in s.e.a. and oceania today? In what ways is it being contested?
  • Is it possible to reimagine anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism beyond the politics of the “postcolonial” nation-state? If so, in what ways? 
  • Why are s.e.a. and oceanic states complicit in fuelling the colonial/modern machine?
  • How are s.e.a. and oceanic struggles entangled with other decolonial struggles globally, not least that of the Palestinian people?
  • Why should we think of china’s “ten-dash-line” as an imperial policy over s.e.a. maritime spaces? And how is this inciting the (military) intervention of so-called “great powers” in the regions?
  • How can we counter the hegemony of china and other non-western imperial powers in the regions without “siding” with western colonial powers? Put differently: how can we oppose western hegemony in the regions without being seduced by the myth of china as a “benevolent” power?
  • Viewed from s.e.a. and oceania, what does climate justice mean in discourse and practice?
  • Why do plantation economies persist in small island states in the Pacific? How are western economic governance regimes complicit in this persistence?
  • What does the world look like from the cosmovisions of indigenous peoples in s.e.a. and oceania?
We will collaborate on concrete activities in the coming years.
  • Launching this affinity group virtually (fall 2024)
  • Hosting a series of virtual reading circles on anti-colonial/anti-imperial writings from/for/with s.e.a. and oceania (from fall 2024)
  • Self-organising a hybrid/in-person conference on the theme of “anti-colonial and anti-imperial currents in s.e.a. and oceania” based in a commonly agreed location in s.e.a. / oceania (2025/2026?)
  • Co-editing a special issue/book project on the same theme (2025/2026?)
We will engage with writings via reading circles.
  • Julian Go. 2023. Thinking against empire: Anticolonial thought as social theory. British Journal of Sociology, DOI: 10.1111/1468-4446.12993.
  • Linda Tuhiwai Smith. 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Dunedin: University of Otago Press.
  • Quito Swan. 2022. Pasifika Black: Oceania, Anti-colonialism, and the African World. New York: New York University Press.
  • Quỳnh N. Phạm and Robbie Shilliam. 2016. Meanings of Bandung: Postcolonial Orders and Decolonial Visions. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Robbie Shilliam. 2015.  The Black Pacific: Anti-Colonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Southeast Asia’s absence in postcolonial studies. Postcolonial Studies, Volume 11, Issue 3, 2008.
  • Susanna Ounei. 1989. For Kanak independence: The fight against French rule in New Caledonia. 
  • Valerie Morse. ed. 2022. Peace Action: Struggles for a Decolonised and Demilitarised Oceania and East Asia. Aotearoa: Left of the Equator Press.
  • Zeus Salazar. 1989. Pantayong Pananaw: Isang Paliwanag. (For-us-from-us perspective: An interpretation). Philippine Currents IV(9): 17-20.
  • Further suggestions welcomed!!!

This affinity group welcomes students, academics, activists, artists, civil society organisers, and other fellow travellers from s.e.a., oceania, in the diaspora, and beyond. It is a mainstay hosted under the “Countering the Colonial” project at South/South Movement. Co-conveners so far include Antonio Salvador M. Alcazar III, Chu May Paing, Cindy Cao, Josh Makalintal, Andya Paz, Tin Alvarez, Joshua Babcock, and Anaïs Duong-Pedica.

If you would like to co-convene1 or become a member of this affinity group, please sign up below. We are particularly keen to co-convene with fellow travellers with embodied knowledges from/in oceania.

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    1. Co-convening means taking turns in leading reading circles, conference co-organising, and/or co-editing slash co-writing. As with everything we do at South/South, these intellectual and organisational labours are voluntary. ↩︎