Today I had a long conversation about the differences between and qualities of the prefixes post and neo. Obviously, on the simple root level one implies after and the other implies new. Unfortunately, the usage of the terms is hardly regulated, far from understandable, and often used for the same formation: post-colonial, neo-colonial, post-Fordist, neo-Fordist, et cetera.
Thus, the question turns to what they each imply, what are the particularities of the terms. Post-colonial implies after the colonial moment, there are no more empires or colonies, so the idea of post-colonial focuses on the temporal switch from one era/epoch/period/moment to the next. It highlights chronoogical time as hte basic structure of intelligibility.
In contrast, there are those who adamantly refuse to use the term post-colonialism on teh grounds that formations of domination and exploitation exist despite the lack of colonies perse (American imperialism of the mid/late 20th century and its relationship to Israel and Japan are the standard objections). This is generally resultant in the use of neo-colonialism, which highlights not the temporally specific formation of empire and colonies, but the structural paradicgm and its 20th century revision into a new, but related paradigm. Neo thus implies a progression and revision of structure and ideas.
To here, it is possible to understand the nomenculture as a matter of individual emphasis. The problem is that it goes beyond a simple linguistic turn. History is structured after the fact by discourse: the emphasis of political structure or ethical paradigm restructures the historical field of knowledge.
So, which is better, neo or post? Is time the best way to structure knowledge or is theme? And how do each of these translate between contexts?