About this course

In this class we explore critical and postcolonial theory for the purpose of understanding the world around us a bit better. In this sense, concepts like power, hegemony and neoliberalism will be discussed in order to examine the basis of the system that shapes our everyday life.

Lesson 1

Welcome to day 1 of critical theory! We will get to know each other and slowly start unpacking what critical theory is about. In our first lesson, we will answer 2 questions: What is critical theory? What are its aims? To prepare for the class, please read this document, reading the short text and completing the task that is explained on p. 2. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Lesson 2

Day 2 will be dedicated to the concept that is important in critical theory, and that is power! Power lies at the heart of critical theory, as it tries to understand how are we (differently) affected by the existing power structures. 

Videos to watch: 



  1. Before watching the videos write down your own definition of power (no need to use google for this)
  2. Reflect shortly and share in class on the topic of: Power in my life (in school, family, friends, or something that you have witnessed). Who tells you to do things? Who do you need to listen to and why? Do you sometimes choose not to listen to them? Are there any consequences?
    * If you wish, you can bring in some materials (photo or alike) for your presentation. 

Lesson 3

Welcome to Day 3! In class we will be learning about ideology and capitalism, two rather big and complex notions that help us understand the world we live in (and the problems we are currently facing). As you already know, critical theory is all about discussing problems and solving them, so let’s continue our journey through the forest called critical theory.

Preparation materials

  1. Video:
  2. What is ideology (1.5 page text)
  3. Economic System Survey (2 min)
  4. Capitalism & Socialism (1 page text)
  5. Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems (2.5 pages)

Think about: 

  • How do you understand ideology? How ideology operates? What is the purpose of ideology? 
  • What are the main features of capitalism or its current phase called neoliberalism? Who is favored in capitalism and who is not?

Lesson 4

Class 4 will be dedicated to different axes of oppression (gender, class, race) that are inseparable from “the system” we talked about today.

Class preparation: 

  1. Watch this video (all students)
  2. I will be sending you an e-mail with detailed instructions, but in short: I will assign one text to two students (you can choose to swap the texts among yourselves, just as long as we have someone reading each of the texts). At the end, you will find some questions, some concepts that might require a bit of research and then we will discuss all this in class tomorrow. Feel free to read beyond the texts, to bring in some examples you know that are related to the class, gender and race inequalities in the world. 

Lesson 5

Class 5 will be dedicated to origins of the current “system” we talked about for the past 2 days. As we will see, colonialism is one of the important concepts when thinking about the world we live in and the existing hierarchies. 

Class preparation:

Lesson 6

Today’s class will be dedicated to the basic premises of postcolonial theory, understood as a theory that seeks to explain the consequences that European colonial rule has had on the world we live in today. We will be looking at the economic, historical, social and cultural impact of colonialism. 

Class preparation: 

  1. What is Postcolonial theory? (watch until min 11. From 11min -17min there is a good example, but it is not obligatory to watch until the end) 
  2. Coloniality vs. colonialism (8min)
  3.  Orientalism (2min 20 sec) 

Cast studies that we will be reading & discussing in pairs in class: 

  1. Women (“from the East”) representation in western media. Or, alternatively:
  2. Tamir Rice. Or, alternatively, the case of Black face in the Netherlands
  3. Diamonds aren’t forever (case study of economic exploitation)

Lesson 7

This is our last class that talks about how systems works! We will move from global inequalities and global oppressions to more regional ones. Here, we will first see how world-system theory explains the functioning of (imagined) global economy. Then, we will discuss nesting orientalism and auto-colonialism.

Class preparation: 

  • While watching this video, think about what the place of your country is in this system?
  • What are some of the countries that belong to core? 
  • Can you think of a semi-peripheral state?
  • Read the first 2 pages of this paper 
  • On Wikipedia, or some other websites, explore the notion of colonial mentality or the notion of auto-colonialism 

Lesson 8

F-E-M-I-N-I-S-T struggles! Today we turn to the third part of our course and that is emancipatory struggles. Emancipatory struggles aim to point out the existing injustices and to transform the conditions that lead to these injustices. There are many struggles taking place, and tomorrow, we will be looking at feminist struggles around the world (preferably from your own country).

Class preparation: 

  1. Video 1
  2. Video 2 (if the presenter speaks too fast, you can always turn on subtitles on YouTube)
  3. Bring one example of feminist struggle from your country (this can be from the world as well). Think about which injustices they point to? This can be a meme page, a protest, or any other kind of resistance to patriarchy. We will be making memes about these struggles, so bring them to class. 

Lesson 9

We continue to talk about emancipatory struggles. Our focus for today will be on ecological struggles (understood broadly, meaning: climate change, struggles for commons, struggles for greener cities, and last but not least, struggles against capitalist logic which is detrimental to the environment). 

Class preparation

  1. (2.33 min)
  2. (4.55 min) (How can we define the notion of commons? How could it relate to eco struggles?)
  3. (3.34)
  4. (from 12min – 16min. Žižek is wearing ideology glasses :))
  5. (2.33min)
  6. Please prepare one environmental struggle from your country/region to show to the class

Lesson 10

Faster than I expected, we’ve come to our final class. There is no preparatory material for this class, just come, we will do the quiz, talk a bit, reflect, and enjoy!


Marija Ivanović