In recent decades, important trends in social and cultural analysis have been qualified with the prefix "post." Today social scientists, for instance, are expected to know something about poststructuralism, postmodernism, post-Fordism, and even something called post-Marxism. A situation once identified as "colonial" is said by some to have been supplanted by another, called "postcolonial." Whatever the virtues of these perspectives—for the challenges they present to conventional understandings, for generating new forms of critique—they are of little value for understanding contemporary historical developments; worse, they have introduced a vocabulary and form of presentation that obscure considerably more than they reveal.
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