Post-Colonial Cities by A.D. King


‘Post-colonialism’ as a theory is used by many authors to illustrate the urban phenomenon occurring in the cities around the world in the recent past. By King’s definition, the term post-colonial cities refers to those capitals or major cities of the one-time imperial metropoles, such as Paris, London, Birmingham, or Amsterdam. He also considered postcolonial a term used to describe the way a city is understood and represented.

King distinguishes between imperialism and colonialism as imperialism being the hegemony of one state on the other and colonialism being what happened in the colonies resulting from the economic, political and cultural control and domination. He discussed the dual city phenomenon in the cities with the colonial past and provides a distinct meaning to the ‘post-colonial’ by distinguishing it from the ‘post-imperial’ and associating it with the European cities which once were the centers of their empires.

Postcolonial Identity

There is an emphasis with regards to the distinctive impact which colonialism has had on the economy, society, culture, spatial form, and architecture of the city. The nature of what is post-colonial about the post-colonial city can be radically different in different places and at different times. [The post-colonial city] must always be elicited on the basis of the specific historical, cultural, and political circumstances in which each post-colonial city exists. The argument here is whether the cities will remain on the colonial past and its aftermath. As King says, the ‘postcolonial’ is an outsider’s rather than an insider’s label and ‘in this sense, the postcolonial can carry the meaning of the failure of decolonization’. The question here though is whether a once colonized city is destined to remain forever post-colonial or whether it is possible for cities like Hong Kong and Singapore to gradually transform into global city and get rid of the label ‘post-colonial’. For the Philippines, being occupied and a colony of Spain for more than three decades, we can site a few failures in terms of cultural influences and economic as the colonizers didn’t acted much in the development of the cities in the country. There might still be a chance for improvement economically but the brand of being a post-colonial country is difficult to take away.

Reference: King, A. D. (2009). Postcolonial cities. Retrieved from

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