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Publisher Withdraws Essay Defending Colonialism, Citing Threat to Journal Editor

A controversial essay that offered a defense of colonialism and led to a revolt at Third World Quarterly has been withdrawn due to “serious and credible threats of personal violence” to the journal’s editor, according to a notice posted by the journal’s publisher, Taylor & Francis.

The essay, “The Case for Colonialism,” was withdrawn at the request of the journal’s editor, Shahid Qadir, and in agreement with the essay’s author, Bruce Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University, the notice said.

The publisher said that it had conducted a thorough investigation after receiving complaints about the essay and found that it had undergone double-blind peer review, in line with the journal’s editorial policy.

However, the publisher’s notice continued, the journal’s editor received “serious and credible threats of personal violence” linked to the publication of the essay. “As the publisher, we must take this seriously,” the withdrawal notice reads. “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.”

Backlash against Third World Quarterly  was swift after it published the colonialism essay last month. Fifteen people on the journal’s 34-member board resigned, and a petition seeking a retraction drew more than 10,000 signatures.

In the wake of the controversy, the author, Mr. Gilley, had asked that his essay be withdrawn. “I regret the pain and anger that it has caused for many people,” Mr. Gilley wrote last month on his website.

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