Reaching the least, the last, the lowest and the lost: Thoughts on Gandhi-ji and the spirit of Higher Education

by Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon

The words in the title of this blog are the formal goals of the Dayalbagh Educational Institute, a university founded by followers of the Radhaswami faith in the early 20th Century. We learned about the unique and inspiring work of the Dayalbagh University from Dr. Anand Mohan, the Registrar as part of this presentation during a two-day symposium on the implications of Ghandian thought to the issues facing Higher Education Institutions in the first quarter of the 21st Century.  The symposium was jointly organized and hosted by the UNESCO Chair for Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education in cooperation with the Association of Indian Universities, UNESCO New Delhi and the Asian Office of the International Development Research Centre September 18-20, 2019.

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‘Tipping’ in contemporary India: A colonial story

by Sayan Dey

A few years ago I was travelling by a sleeper class train from Kolkata to New Delhi. As the train was about to reach the final destination, one of the pantry car serviceman approached me for a tip. I was happy to give him a reasonable amount of money for his tireless services that he extended to me during the entire journey, but I was also curious to know that in spite of having a fixed salary why do they ask for a tip from the passengers? When did this cultural practice evolve in India? These questions pushed me towards a galactic socio-historical paradigm that unfurls the colonial roots of this practice.

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A Postcolonial Look On ‘New’ Donors

by Tomáš Profant

International relations are power relations. This banal argument is clearly visible in the current configuration of the North-South relation. One of the most apparent ways power operates is through the bond of gift. The powerful nations give and the not so powerful receive the so called development assistance. Both are represented as partners in development cooperation.

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Dealing with discomfort: how to move from theory to action in research ethics?

By Marketta Vuola and Aina Brias Guinart

How do we lift the words on a page that describe how we ought to conduct ourselves, to connect more directly with the intention of those ethical principles and practices in concrete, meaningful ways?”. Bannister (2018)

As PhD students in the early phase of our academic careers we are struggling to address this type of questions in our research projects. Seeking guidance we are reading formal codes of ethics such as the Code of Ethics of the International Society of Ethnobiology. Much has been written on this area particularly on the application of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (e.g. Medinaceli 2018). Even so, ethical research is much more than a set of rules and codes, and it not restricted to specific practices such as consent forms (Wilmé, at al., 2016). We believe that, if we aim to do research that truly breaks the colonial power dynamics, we need to do it from the earliest steps of the research process. We should carefully consider the power structures that we are producing and reproducing in the decisions we make about our approach, research questions and methods.

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Voicing Decoloniality

by Sayan Dey

As the physically visible empires of colonialism receded, the metaphysical, invisible empires of coloniality gradually came to the forefront and ideally replaced their predecessors. With the ‘official’ end of colonialism by the end of 20th century, across the Global South and Far East, the colonial subjects (mis)interpreted it as the ultimate end of Euro-centric (or widely West-centric) dominations and the appropriate moment for recuperating their degenerated systems of traditional knowledge production.

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[How Do We “Know” The World Series] The Problem of Postcolonial Historical Research within Colonial Epistemologies and Methodologies

by Rachel Huber

In postcolonial historical research conducted from a Eurocentric perspective, a contradiction has prevailed so far: the majority of research projects are conducted in colonial language and follow partial colonial logic.

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Decolonization: not just a buzzword…

by Budd L Hall

This is the name of a ‘headphone verbatim show’ capturing campus conversations at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.  It will be the third interaction with discourses of decolonisation and epistemic justice that I will have within two weeks. The first interaction was with Florence Piron, a scholar of epistemic justice at Laval University.  I spent three days with her and her colleagues in Quebec City, Quebec. She shared with me the special issue of the journal Sociologie et Societes on epistemic injustice edited by Baptise Godrie and Marie Dos Santos of the University of Montreal. In that journal she shares an article, Haitian Meditation where she recounts a visit to Haiti to teach about epistemic justice (2017). She reminds us of the words of Frantz Fanon written in 1992, speaking about the dominance of European thought in the colonial world, “my friends, the European game is definitely over…if we want to see humanity advance, for Africa and for the world, we need to invent and discover a new way of thinking”.

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