Imperialism Within: Can the Master’s Tools Bring Down Empire?


  • Sara Koopman University of British Columbia



White, middle class, women, Self, empire, power, helper role, domination, decolonize, School of the Americas, imperialism


Imperialism affects “here” as well as “there”. White middle class women have historically gotten out of the home and gained more of a Self by being good helpers, classically as teachers and missionaries. In this role they consolidated empire’s power, often unintentionally. Today the good helper role is being widely used, not only by white women, to work against empire. Yet this master’s tool is toxic. It may appear to take tiles off the master’s house, but it reinforces the systems of domination that prop up empire. Those of us who struggle against empire must also struggle against the imperialism within ourselves. This analysis of ways to decolonize solidarity work is grounded in the movement to close the School of the Americas [a U.S. army training camp] and a collaborative theorizing process with white middle class women prisoners of conscience. This work engages in alter-geopolitics, working to build another world.


How to Cite

Koopman, S. (2015). Imperialism Within: Can the Master’s Tools Bring Down Empire?. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 7(2), 283–307.