Colonial Exceptionalism: Post-colonial Scholarship and Race in Czech and Slovak Historiography

Filip Herza 1
  • 1 Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences, v.v.i., Na Florenci 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic

Abstract

In spite of recent calls for the decolonisation of Czech and Slovak academia, there is still relatively little reflection of post-colonial theory in either Czech or Slovak historiography or related disciplines, including ethnology and Slavic studies. In the following essay I summarise the local discussion of coloniality and colonialism that has been going on since at least the end of the 2000s, while pointing out its conceptual limits and blind spots; namely the persistence of ‘colonial exceptionalism’ and the lack of understanding and use of race as an analytical tool. In dialogue with critical race theory as well as recent literature that deals with comparable ‘non-colonial’ or ‘marginal-colonial’ contexts such as South-Eastern Europe, Poland and the Nordic countries, I discuss how the local debates relating to colonial history as well as the post-colonial / post-socialist present of both countries would benefit from embracing the concept of ‘colonial exceptionalism’ and from including concepts of race and ‘whiteness’ as important tools of a critical analysis.

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