Pierre Bourdieu, Algeria and Postcolonial Sociology

Go J.

Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, Chicago, USA jgo34@uchicago.edu

DOI: 10.31857/S013216250004589-0
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Go J. Pierre Bourdieu, Algeria and Postcolonial Sociology. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2019. No 4. P. 86-98


While scholarship on Pierre Bourdieu has recovered his early work on Algeria, this essay excavates his early thoughts on colonialism. Contrary to received wisdom, Bourdieu did offer a theory of colonialism and a systematic understanding of its effects and logics. Bourdieu portrayed colonialism as a racialized system of domination, backed by force, which restructures social relations and creates hybrid cultures. His theory entailed insights on the limits and promises of colonial reform, anticolonial revolution, and postcolonial liberation. Bourdieu’s early thinking on colonialism drew upon but extended French colonial studies of the time. It also contains the seeds of later concepts like habitus, field, and reflexive sociology while prefiguring more recent disciplinary postcolonial studies. Bourdieusian sociology in this sense is not just a study of Algeria but more specifically a critique of colonialism. It can be seen as contributing to the project of postcolonial sociology.

Bourdieu; colonialism; postcolonialism; habitus; field


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