Frederick Cooper's reply to the thoughtful comments of Gregory Mann, Sam Okoth Opondo, and Richard Drayton emphasizes the value of looking beyond a narrative that presumes its end point—the dissolution of colonial empires into nation-states—and focuses instead on the uncertain context of political action in the 1940s and 1950s and the need for a step-by-step analysis of the openings and closures of politics over these years. Reconstructing the multiple ways in which activists sought routes out of empire—including the possibility of postimperial federalism—is essential to understanding the history of decolonization and is a useful reminder today of the importance of thinking creatively about political action in a world that both rigidifies and destabilizes borders and both fosters interaction across space and reifies distinctions among peoples.
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Frederick Cooper; Routes Out of Empire. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2017; 37 (2): 406–411. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-4133013
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