Academics at Oxford University have hit out at a colleague for allegedly “attempting to sanitise empire and justify ‘recolonialisation’”.
The Oxford University African Society (OUAS) accused Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, of leading a wave of academics who promote “colonial apologism”.
In an article last month for The Times, Professor Biggar said the British should “moderate [their] post-imperial guilt”, calling the legacy of empire and colonialism “morally mixed”.
The group of Africa specialists say Professor Biggar’s article echoes pro-colonial arguments made previously by another academic, Portland University’s Bruce Gilley, whose recent “case for recolonisation” has attracted criticism.
The OUAS says it “will continue to challenge these grave distortions that eulogise colonial societies and promote myths of Africa and other colonial contexts as lawless places that were beneficiaries of Western saviourism”.
Professor Biggar has defended his views on Twitter:
If you doubt the importance of political order to human flourishing ask a Syrian, an Eritrean, a Somalian, or, closer to home, a survivor of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. https://t.co/NJEMVK8HgQ
— nigel biggar (@NigelBiggar) December 19, 2017