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Why Colonialism is Wrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-373
Number of pages27
JournalCurrent Legal Problems
Issue number1
Accepted/In press17 Sep 2019
Published26 Sep 2019

King's Authors


Historically, colonial domination has involved subjecting innocent populations to atrocities such as murder, torture, and exploitation. But pointing at these wrongs is not enough to explain the distinctive way in which colonialism is wrong. After all, murder, torture and exploitation are wrong whether or not they occur in the context of colonial occupation. If all we can do to explain the nature of colonialism is point at the fact that it typically involves the perpetration of these crimes, we cannot vindicate the thought that there is something distinctively wrong with it. And yet, intuitively the victims of colonial domination have suffered a distinctive wrong over and above those associated with these crimes. How should we understand the nature of this wrong? I answer this question by arguing that that colonial domination undermines the capacity of political communities to exercise their self-determining agency in a particular way.

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