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Neocolonialism Is Dead: Long Live Neocolonialism

Godfrey N. Uzoigwe


During the 1950s, in what is today called the Global South—to some, a misnomer—a new concept, neocolonialism, was added to the lexicon of political thought. By the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, it had become a controversial political phenomenon. Predictably, most politicians and scholars in the West rejected the concept. By the close of the twentieth century, neocolonialism no longer occupied center stage in nationalist and scholarly discourses about the problems developing nations faced. Perspectives on this inevitable historical phenomenon came to mirror opponents’ ideas on imperialism and colonialism. Those who regarded them as a bad thing were alarmed at their continued existence through the back door after independence and vociferously denounced them as predatory and nefarious, but those who regarded them as essentially a good thing equally stoutly denied the existence of neocolonialism, regarding the intentions of the industrialized West in the new nations as essentially Christian, benevolent, and beneficial. Because of the renewed scholarly interest in the subject since the 1980s, especially the widening perspectives on the concept, this article revisits the phenomenon of neocolonialism and discusses its enduring manifestations, concluding that because of its very nature, neocolonialism has all along been alive and well. The political leaders of both the developed nations and the Global South are urged, therefore, to confront the phenomenon, not as superior and inferior or as colonizer and colonized but as partners in the pursuit of global peace, security, and prosperity. The conclusions are drawn from a study of a complex array of relevant sources from the 1950s to contemporary times.


neocolonialism; geopolitics; Global South;

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Published by the University of Florida Press on behalf of the Association of Global South Studies.