Outsourcing Postcolonialism

  • Rukmini Bhaya NairEmail author


This essay draws attention to the almost coeval birthing of the transitive verb ‘outsource’ and the now invisibly hyphenated noun ‘postcolonialism’ in the late twentieth century, to suggest that, via the violent enjambment of these oddly disparate yet fraternal words, some of the meanings that attach to the former term have consequences for a contemporary reading of the latter. Just as in the sphere of economic transactions much of the ‘back-end’ work for ‘finished products’ is accomplished by cheap and largely anonymous sources of labor in the developing world while the design and logo rights typically remain with the usually high-profile parent company located in the developed world, within the epistemological complex ‘postcolonial studies,’ the productive locus of ‘theory’ is usually to be found in western (and mainly Anglophone) universities, while the ‘data’ to substantiate this theorizing—the material production of disaggregated ‘small parts’—is outsourced to ‘native speaker’ researchers in diverse far-flung locations such as the Indian subcontinent, East Asia, or West Africa. Nair finally explores ways in which ‘postcolonial theory’ in its current formation can self-reflexively monitor these complicated processes of insourcing and outsourcing, offering a set of interdisciplinary practices that could help resolve the fraternal tension between the harsh historical inheritance of postcolonialism and the alluring economic attractions of outsourcing in a world at once ideologically divided and linguistically unified by English.


Post-colonialism Outsourcing Subalternity Indian colonization British empire Lingua franca Globalism Localism Interdisciplinarity Economic imperialism Deconstruction 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD)New DelhiIndia

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