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Switzerland and 'Colonialism without Colonies'. Reflections on the Status of Colonial Outsiders

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2016
Author Purtschert Patricia, Falk Francesca, Lüthi Barbara,
Project Kolonialismus ohne Kolonien? Eine kulturwissenschaftliche Analyse der postkoloniale Schweiz
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Interventions. International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
Volume (Issue) 18(2)
Page(s) 286 - 302
Title of proceedings Interventions. International Journal of Postcolonial Studies

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


In this essay the theoretical focus of postcolonial theory has been shifted from the cultures and societies of former formal colonies to those countries that have an explicit self-understanding as an outsider within the European colonial power constellation. Using the example of Switzerland, it analyses the presence and perseverance of colonial structures and power relations in a country that has never been regarded as or understood itself as an official colonial power. In a first step, we compare present debates on colonialism in Switzerland with those in neighbouring countries, i.e. France, Germany, Italy and Austria. In a second step, we trace previous research that postulates a link between Switzerland and colonialism, and apply the concept of ‘colonialism without colonies’, which, in contrast, engages with methods and themes that have emerged from postcolonial studies. Finally, we present a specific case study on ‘Swiss commodity racism’ in order to elucidate the concept ‘colonialism without colonies’.