When Georges Balandier published “The Colonial Situation” in 1951, colonial
empires were at the heart of profound debates and struggles. By the
1970s, colonialism had been banished from the realm of legitimate forms of
political organization. What remained “colonial” in world politics passed
itself off as something else. The burst of scholarship on colonial societies in
the 1980s and 1990s thus appears paradoxical, and so too does the lack of
response and follow-up to Balandier’s brilliantly incisive article in the two
decades after its appearance.