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Journal Withdraws ‘The Case For Colonialism’ Essay After Editor Receives Threats


An academic journal has removed an essay that made “The Case for Colonialism” after the journal editor allegedly received “credible threats of personal violence.”

“The Case for Colonialism,” written by Portland State University political science professor Bruce Gilley and published in Third World Quarterly, made the case that “countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it.”

Since supporting Western colonialism is a taboo — as Gilley points out in his abstract — the essay was immediately met with pushback. More than 10,000 people signed a petition calling for the editor of Third World Quarterly and the journal publisher to retract the article.

After the petition was sent, 15 members of the Third World Quarterly’s board issued their resignations.

The summary of the “The Case for Colonialism” piece on the Taylor & Francis website (which publishes Third World Quarterly) now shows a “WITHDRAWAL NOTICE.” The withdrawal notice mentions that while the essay went through double-blind peer review, it was being taken down due to threats of violence:

This Viewpoint essay has been withdrawn at the request of the academic journal editor, and in agreement with the author of the essay. Following a number of complaints, Taylor & Francis conducted a thorough investigation into the peer review process on this article. Whilst this clearly demonstrated the essay had undergone double-blind peer review, in line with the journal's editorial policy, the journal editor has subsequently received serious and credible threats of personal violence. These threats are linked to the publication of this essay. As the publisher, we must take this seriously. Taylor & Francis has a strong and supportive duty of care to all our academic editorial teams, and this is why we are withdrawing this essay.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports Gilley wrote on his own website, “I regret the pain and anger that it has caused for many people.” However, Minding the Campus claims Gilley now regrets the decision to have the article pulled.

Despite the outrage the article created, academics have been standing against the publisher’s decision to pull the piece:


It should be noted that while many of the supporters of academic freedom point to liberals who have created the threats against Gilley and the journal editor, Gilley has been public about how he believes the American Political Science Association has become “barely distinguishable from the Democratic Party and its far-left wing.”

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