University_of_Otago_logoThe Postcolonial Studies Research Network and the Department of Media, Film and Communication presents:

Colonial Attritions:
State Violence and Social Forgetting

August 5th, 2015  |  University of Otago

Featuring Professor Sherene Razack (University of Toronto)

Whilst formal colonisation has ended in many settler states, colonial ways of knowing and exercising authority continue in the violent policing and incarceration of Indigenous and minority communities in these states. In her landmark book, Dark Threats and White Knights, Sherene Razack writes poignantly: “Concealed in an apparently universal framework in which there is good and evil is a small piece of history—the history of imperialism, fascism, and racism” (2004, p. 157).

Contemporary geopolitics and state sovereignty are founded on political and historical assumptions that Western liberal democracies represent progressive freedom and a benign and stabilising force in international affairs. Razack’s evocation of the ‘small piece of history’ works to interrupt state narratives of goodness that obscure the violence of settler colonial and imperial histories.


This one-day symposium likewise seeks presentations that call for an account of state violence and a remembrance of imperial and colonial histories and their embodied, everyday effects.

Presentations and panels can address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • epistemologies of ignorance and forgetting in national and local narratives of place
  • state violence and surveillance of Indigenous and minority communities
  • racial and religious notions of belonging in the nation-state
  • the moralisation of state and non-state violence
  • citizenship, violence and the ‘war on terror’
  • the role of social justice movements and activism in challenging state authority
  • pedagogy and colonial narratives
  • gender and sexuality in political and state discourses of equality
  • tourism and the cultivation of nation-hood
  • race, development and international aid work
  • media economies, geopolitics and settler colonialism
  • media bipower and necropower

Please send abstracts of 200 words with an accompanying bio of 50 words to the symposium organiser, Dr Holly Randell-Moon at:

We will accept abstracts on a rolling basis until July 17th. Registration for students/ unwaged participants is $5 and for academic participants $10.

For more information about the Postcolonial Studies Research Network, please visit our website here:

Symposium organisers: Dr. Holly Randell-Moon and Mahdis Azarmandi

References: Razack, S. (2004). Dark Threats and White Knights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeping, and the New Imperialism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.