Robyn Pasensie

Current Fellows: History Department, MA

My research interests are focused in the areas of race, political identity and political violence. I am particularly interested in how colonialism affected the formation of specific political identities and how these identities have come to interact with one another in the post colonial context. What is of interest in the post colonial context of Africa is the seemingly high instance of political violence. In the middle of the 20th  century, most African states underwent a process of decolonisation. In the years following decolonisation, some states experienced war, violence and authoritarian rule. Early scholarship into the post colonial state assumed that colonialism only had an impact on the economics of the state. This assumption meant that conflict would be as a result of market based identities. However the use of market based identities to explain deep and intense conflicts in Africa since independence is insufficient as an explanation.

I aim to understand how it is that this violence occurs in relation to the colonially constructed identities that have come to exist in the post colonial state.The influence of colonialism on political identity will be studied according to the influence that race based theories had in justifying/maintaining colonialism such as the Hamitic Hypothesis. The research aims to analyse the historical significance of colonialism on the construction of political identity and how this has impacted the use of violence in the post-colonial state.

An understanding of the construction of political identity in relation to colonialism and its impact on post-colonial state formation could provide more insight into why African states continue in their use and promulgation of violence long after the end of colonization.