Colonialism and Debt

The global economy is shaped by a history of exploitation. Learn more about the links between colonialism and debt

Right now, 54 countries are in debt crisis. This is not an accident. For centuries, powerful governments, institutions and corporations have used debt to control and plunder the resources of countries in the global south for their own gain.

But this is often left out of discussions on global south debt. Instead, the issue is repeatedly presented as technical at best, or the fault of corrupt and inefficient global south governments at worst. 

Civil society, communities and organisers are exposing how debt has been used to exploit and extract over the last century. From colonial powers forcing countries into debt at the point of independence, to allowing corporations like BlackRock to continue to make huge profits from debt repayments today, we can’t fight today’s debt crisis without understanding its roots.

This is why we’ve worked with allies across the global south and north to put together a series of resources that delve into debt through the lens of power and colonialism.

You can explore these resources below in both English and Spanish, including a video, a short briefing and a report. We’ve also put together a discussion pack to use in a group to guide further exploration and conversation– whether that’s an activist group, reading group, community group, a faith group or with your family and friends.

And this is just the start – stay tuned for more to come soon!

If this work is of interest to you or your organisation, please get in touch with us: info@debtjustice.org.uk.

Advisory group 

We recognise this is not our story to tell, and that learning from the experiences and work of allies across the global south and north is a vital part of this work.  

We are delighted to be working with an amazing advisory group who will be helping us shape the project as we go.  

Members of the advisory group are: 

  • Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London
  • Mae Buenaventura, Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development 
  • Guppi Bola and Noni Makuyana, Decolonising Economics 
  • Tatiana Garavito, organiser and facilitator
  • Bhumika Muchhala, Political Economist
  • Dr Meera Sabaratnam, SOAS University of London
  • Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins, Head of Research at Breathe

Illustration by Monique Jackson www.stillillcoronadiary.com  

Campaign Resources

Exhibition: It's the debt that you owe: Colonialism, debt and resistance
Report: The colonial roots of global south debt
Briefing: Colonialism and debt
Briefing Spanish: Colonialismo y deuda
Discussion pack: Colonialism and debt
Discussion pack Spanish: Colonialismo y deuda
Video in Spanish: Colonialismo y deuda