Session 10: The Post-Colonial and the Modern State
The What: What is this session on?
In the last two sessions we have spoken about some of the most classical conceptualizations of the
state. Namely that the state is a product of the monopolization of violence (through the four
processes of war-making, state-making, extraction and protection as Charles Tilly speaks about),
that the state is a product of a social contract between consenting individuals, and that the state is a
product of the organic creation of national identities, that then want to draw borders around their
geographical territory. We have also spoken about the pluralist, marxist and pluralist accounts of the
state. Throughout the sessions, we related these concepts to the example of Pakistan, and found that
the conceptualizations were not always accurate.
This session, we therefore move on from these classical, Eurocentric approaches.
We do this by looking at two very peculiar sets of states. One, the post-colonial states, or in
other words, states that were created in the process of independence from a colonial power. The
most obvious example is Pakistan, India, Algeria and other states that threw out their colonial
masters. But settler colonies that eventually got independence, like the United States and Australia,
are equally examples of post-colonial states, though not normally associated with the term.
Two, we will look at the peculiar emergence of modern states in modern times, like East
Timor (for more on East Timor – google around!). States where their emergence seems to have
depended not just on their
as a state, but also on the
by other states, by
international organizations and thus by the international community.
Like last time, we will explore the origins and characteristics of these two types of states,
comparing and contrasting such origins and characteristics to the theories we explored in the last
The Why: Why are we focusing on this (importance)?
Why are we having a third session on the state, but this time focusing on post-colonial and modern
In the last few sessions, we have been looking at different
that attempt to explain
both the origin and the characteristics of states. We have already discussed how many of these
theories are insufficient in explaining our lived experience in Pakistan. Therefore, this session is an
attempt to take a third look at another set of theories that theorize on state origins and
characteristics, to see if we can find a better explanation for how countries like Pakistan as well as
others originated and can be characterised.
Readings: What are the key things to focus on in the readings?
Like last time, I could have given you many readings about the post-colonial and modern states. But