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Decolonising the Library

Area Studies

If you have an interest in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, or their constituent countries, please consult the Library subject guide for Area Studies.

This contains links to numerous resources from and about these areas, mostly of a general nature. For subject specific resources relating to particular regions & countries, see the relevant Library subject guides 

The Library holds particularly strong collections of Latin American material in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. It also has good collections relating to South Africa and Zimbabwe, and supports the acquisition of works from & about other countries of the Global South that Essex students & staff are interested in.

The websites & catalogues of specialist area studies libraries like SOAS (for African, Asian & Middle East research) in the UK are also good starting points.

Open access research repositories can be another fruitful avenue to explore, and you can find lists of these arranged by country on the JISC Open DOAR directory of repositories

Many countries now have portals that provide open access to digitised dissertations & theses, usually at PhD level. Some of these national portals are listed on the library subject guides, and more extensive lists are available elsewhere

Economic Development. Inequalities

Economic inequalities between societies have always existed, but the Industrial Revolution and Imperialism hugely increased them, and the decolonial period under aggressive capitalism has reinforced this.

On the Economics subject guide there are plenty of links to resources that explore aspects of development economics, and related issues of trade and income inequalities. Some of the international agencies involved are largely funded by the West & have been accused by of perpetuating neocolonialism through the maintenance of the international economic & financial system. Many, such as Eldis, are making genuine efforts to include voices & materials from the countries under consideration. For alternative voices & resources take a look at:

D-Econ network of economists
Rethinking Economics network

Similarly on the Sociology subject guide are resources looking at stratification & inequalities in societies, migration & refugees, that are intrinsically connected to issues of decolonisation.


Gender. Women

Gender is an important area which intersects with Decolonisation, and is an area in which the library has historically strong & diverse holdings. The relevant sections of the subject guides for History, Politics, and Sociology all point to a number of potentially useful Web resources in this area

Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous communities often bore the impact of colonialism in many negative ways, and in postcolonial times continue to be marginalised in many instances. There is long established interest in Indigenous communities from researchers at Essex across departments using perspectives from  anthropology, law and human rights and other disciplines.

The Library collections are particularly strong in the Americas with good coverage of Native American and Inuit cultures and similarly from South America. The library classification system of the X̱wi7x̱wa Library for Indigenous scholarship at the University of British Columbia is particularly interesting as it's based on Indigenous knowledge systems

Some general starting points to resources for research on Indigenous peoples can be found on the Sociology subject guide.

Language. Linguistics

The Area Studies Subject Guide contains links to many resources in foreign languages.

The Library is able to purchase foreign language material in print or electronic format, please get in touch with us about this. The library has particularly strong printed collections of Spanish and Portuguese language material relating to all aspects of Latin America.

It may be worth checking out the websites of major foreign language suppliers such as Amalivre (French language especially), Casalini Torrossa (Italian & Spanish mostly), DeGruyter (mostly German, some Spanish & French), Digitalia Hispanica covers Iberia and Latin America (mostly Spanish language, but some French, Portuguese, Arabic, Catalan).

L'Harmattan is a major French publisher with branches in many Francophone African countries, and this is reflected in a more diverse list than many. Also in French studies, H-France Salon has produced ran interesting  series on Race, Racism & the Study of France and the Francophone World Today

Respected publisher Garnier has assembled an amazing Corpus of French-Speaking Literature from Black Africa. This ambitious project aimed to gather together all the French-speaking literature from sub-Saharan Africa it was possible to collect: oral and written literature from the c. 1800-1960. In all, more than 11 000 texts from some twenty countries and more than a hundred ethnic groups. Note that the Library has not currently purchased this resource.

In 2022 the Library purchased access to the Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online

Multilingual Matters is a specialist publisher focusing on language learning that includes a diversified range of titles, many by authors from the Global South.

Race and Ethnicity

Colonialism, slavery, & decolonisation are directly linked to the representation & position of racial & ethnic minorities in many countries, especially former colonial powers. In the words of Rinaldo Walcott, Ian Patel (and others) - "I'm here because you were there" 

University of Minnesota has detailed guide to conducting research through an anti-racism lens

Specific resources relating to research on race & ethnicity can mostly be found on the Sociology subject guide and, in a more historical context, on the History subject guide

For Sociology more generally, see the Connected Sociologies website (project director is Gurminder Bhambra, University of Sussex), which takes a decolonial approach to a number of topics - including British Citizenship, Race & Rights since 1948. Doing Sociology is a useful website with blog posts and other resources from an Indian perspective

Social Sciences. Social Theory. Sociology

The textbooks published by Polity are a good place to start and we have access to:

Decolonizing Politics

Decolonizing Sociology

In Psychoanalysis & psychosocial studies the Routledge book series Psychoanalysis in a new key has tended to publish most around issues that intersect with decolonisation

Resources not held by the Library

A multitude of resources are becoming available that relate to various aspects of Decolonisation. Many of these are open access and freely available as the links elsewhere on this guide demonstrate. Others are available through purchase or subscription, often in the form of primary source or newspaper collections, from companies like those linked to below

If you come across such resources that are of interest to your teaching or research please contact the library. Even if we are not in a position to purchase or subscribe, we may be able to arrange a free trial of the resource you are interested in.

Alexander Street Press

Adam Matthew Digital

British Online Archives

Gale Primary Sources

Proquest Primary Sources


Taylor & Francis Primary Source Collections