“The Case for Colonialism”
NAS President Peter Wood wrote about the backlash over an essay titled “The Case for Colonialism.”
From Minding The Campus:
The Article That Made 16,000 Ideologues Go Wild
Portland State University scholar Bruce Gilley drew a lot of attention with his August 29 article on Minding the Campus, “Why I’m leaving the Political Science Association.” A week or so later, he provoked an even greater controversy by telling readers of the Third World Quarterly what they don’t want to hear.
“The Case for Colonialism” was by ordinary academic standards a straightforward opinion essay: well-reasoned, well-informed, and cognizant of conflicting views. It had passed peer review and the judgment of the journal’s editor. A contemporary scholar arguing the case in favor of a positive judgment of the history of Western colonialism, however, was clearly venturing into territory that carried the risk of adverse reaction among his peers. It wasn’t long before that reaction arrived.
Bruce Gilley happens to be the head of the National Association of Scholars’ Oregon affiliate. I know him through that connection and have seen him take strong stands in defense of academic and intellectual freedom on several previous occasions.
Professor Gilley’s cordiality, however, proved of little avail in the weeks that followed the publication of “The Case for Colonialism.” Both the article and the author came under ferocious attack.
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