Progress: its visionaries and its malcontents

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The introduction to this special issue on Progress: its visionaries and its malcontents sketches the background to contemporary debates about the concept of progress. It focuses particularly on the notion of political progress, or, in other words, a belief in the possibility of deliberate, concerted, collective action to change the world for the better. It traces how the notion of progress received a significant boost at the time of the European Enlightenment and then goes on to discuss some of the key fault-lines in this thinking, most notably as it relates to imperialism and colonialism. In the face of a number of other recent critiques of progress, the importance of certain key historical periods, when progress was viewed in a more positive light and deemed to be a real, achievable goal, provides the rationale for the selection of texts chosen for this issue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-608
Number of pages8
JournalInterventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
Issue number5
Early online date10 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Progress
  • Enlightenment
  • modernity
  • imperialism
  • the long Sixties
  • decolonization


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