Capitalism, Culture, Agency: Dependency Versus Postcolonial Theory

This article reads dependency alongside and against postcolonial theory in an attempt to reinvigorate and re-validate some of the insights of the former while at the same time supporting the latter’s current ascendancy in the field of Third World politics. It is argued that although dependency and post- colonial theory share some common territory — a suspicion of Western liberal modernity, a critical-historical analysis — they tend to have irreconcilable differences that show up their respective strengths and vulnerabilities. Dependency chooses a structuralist and socioeconomic perspective, seeing imperialism and development as tied to the unfolding of capitalism, whereas postcolonial theory favours a post-structuralist and cultural perspective, linking imperialism and agency to discourse and the politics of representation. The article stages a mutual critique of them, based on the work of Frank, Cardoso & Faletto, Said, Spivak and Bhnbha.

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