Colonial Theology: John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charles Darwin and the Emergence of the Colonial-Capitalist World System, 1500-1900
Kolia, Zahir Yasser
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My dissertation examines the relationship between the theological political and temporality in the constitution of the colonial-capitalist world system from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth century. World systems and postcolonial approaches to colonial expansion have often reduced questions of theology to a discursive feature of producing difference through the binary frame of self/other in order to justify a will to power, territory, and capital accumulation. My dissertation argues that the theocentric epistemic tradition of commensurability and resemblances structured by theological temporal formations have played a large role in colonial expansion, and can be better understood by applying the decolonial concept of coloniality to illustrate how theology, political economy and philosophy form plural points of enunciation for the constitution of the colonial-capitalist world system. What is distinctive about this project is that I bring together world systems theory, postcolonial theory and theological political perspectives under a decolonial approach in order to highlight the importance of epistemology in the establishment of a global hierarchical system that produces and locates Western knowledge, cosmology and spirituality over non-Western forms. This dissertation, therefore, outlines a methodological trajectory that does not instrumentalize the theological to a materialist rendition of capitalist accumulation, colonial expansion and conquest. Rather, I will seek to characterize how capital, colonialism and theology were entwined, negotiated and expressed in often contradictory ways through the writings of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Charles Darwin. In doing so, I examine the material inscriptions and historical particularity regarding the entangled secular and theological forms of reasoning, knowledge traditions, and temporalities that emerged in relation to the contingencies of coloniality.