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The Postcolonial State


Three major conceptual fields are identifiable in the above literature. The first is that of structuralism, spanning ideas from structural functionalism to Marxism and with concomitant emphases on individualism and class. This field was in the ascendant in the 1960s and 1970s, its influence waning since then. The second field, emerging in the late 1980s, highlights the agency of actors in and around the state, located in interrelated historical, material, and cultural contexts. Although highly innovative in its syntheses of literature in history, politics, and cultural studies, the ideological orientation of this work in relation to social action is less clear. Finally, there is the field of feminist thought. This field shares common features with that highlighting agency, such as poststructural approaches to the analysis of power and the recognition of nonunitary, contradictory interests surrounding the postcolonial state. Unlike either of the other two fields, feminist scholarship is distinguished by its analysis of gendered state processes, the implications for women, and strategies for realizing gender justice.


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Charmaine Pereira

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