Third World Project, or How Poco Failed

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A contribution to the genealogical elaboration of the Third World as a political project, this essay examines how decolonization constituted a new culture that defined the decolonized as new subjects of history. Previously thought to be without history and culture, the people of the Third World imagined a decolonizing world system, which allowed them to rethink culture and humanity as historical categories. To describe the nature of the world system of decolonization, I consider three foundational works that saw print following the historic Bandung Conference in 1955: Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Jose Maria Sison’s Struggle for National Democracy, and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In the first half of the essay, I discuss how these intellectuals, particularly Sison, not only constitute a world system of decolonizing thought that is simultaneously local and planetary but also reconstitute culture and humanity as a whole. In the second and final part, I explore what their critical reception in American higher education reveals about the failures of postcolonial studies in the age of globalization.