What are the colonial constitutions and inflections of global order – past and present – and how do they manifest across political, economic, cultural, psychological and intellectual domains? International Relations (IR) scholarship has demonstrated an increased interest with the colonial question through theoretical and substantive engagements as well as via historical and contemporary investigations. This interest ranges from established to early career scholars to graduate students.

However, institutional support for the growing interest in the colonial question has been slow in manifesting. Of especial importance is the cultivation of a space wherein the colonial question can be operationalized as the distinctive framework for inquiry. The Colonial, Postcolonial and Decolonial working group (CPD) under the auspices of the British International Studies Association (BISA) has been set up in order to fulfil this need.

Our activities in the working group are not delimited by allegiance to any one set of concepts (e.g. neo-colonialism), methodological tradition (e.g. postcolonial thought), or ethics (e.g. decoloniality), nor to any particular time period or substantive area of inquiry.  Instead, what draws us together as a research community is the positing of the colonial question as fundamental to inquiry. We are especially interested in supporting early career scholars as well as facilitating engagements between academics and third sector organizations.

Our members currently engage with the colonial question across numerous debates in the field of IR, for example: culture, civilization and war; multiculturalism, liberal governance and domestic security; the liberal peace and humanitarian intervention; globalisation, development and neo-colonial economies; neo-imperialism and empire; South-South relations and new regional groupings; post-positivist theories, including values, norms, subjectivity; and the disciplinary history of IR itself.

For these purposes we hold annual workshops and post-graduate methodology master classes. We also submit panels to various conferences and we build relationships between our membership and cognate inter-disciplinary research centres across the world. It is our intention that CPD will become an exciting and innovative forum that will catalyse debate across different theoretical and methodological positions, between theoreticians and more empirically oriented scholarship, and spanning historical and contemporary concerns.

Key Aims

  • To facilitate research into the colonial question across a broad array of approaches, issue areas and debates in IR.
  • To exercise leadership in the field by organising focused debates on pressing themes via workshops, special issues and edited collections.
  • To build relationships with cognate research centres in the UK and worldwide in order to promote IR scholarship in inter-disciplinary research, expand the networks of CPD scholars, and bring new scholars into contact with BISA.
  • To organize, on an ad hoc basis, panels in various conferences and workshops in the UK and worldwide.
  • To support the impact agenda by building relationships and partnerships between CPD members and the public sector, thus enhancing the public visibility of BISA.
  • To appropriately include early career scholars in all activities.