LONG READ: An immanent critique of decolonisation projects

by Sunny Dhillon

The contemporary neoliberal university in the UK is necessarily unable to enact decolonisation. What the university may do, however, is cultivate an intellectual environment ripe to discuss the ongoing pervasiveness of colonialism. In other words, instead of ten point plans or toolkits to award ‘decoloniality’ scores to be highlighted in ‘inclusive’ marketing campaigns to attract historically underrepresented groups, staff and students ought to undertake a relentless critique of the contemporary university apparatus. Such a critique of existing social issues must be immanent, as opposed to transcendent. I argue that an immanent critique can be helpfully guided by the negative dialectics of the late Critical Theorist, Theodor W. Adorno.

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The What and the How of Teaching Global Development

by Anke Schwittay

A little over two years ago, this Convivial Thinking blog started with a collective conversation about decolonizing teaching pedagogies. Since then a number of posts have further added to the discussion, and especially its decolonial dimension. Since John Cameron wrote in 2013 about the ‘broader failure in the academy to subject our teaching to serious critical reflection and to consider it worthy of serious writing and publication,’ things are slowly changing in Development Studies, not in small part due to efforts to decolonize the development curriculum. This is both encouraging and important, for as bell hooks has argued, ‘the classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.’ Many of these contributions have focused on what we are teaching development students, often looking to diversify reading lists. That is not enough, however – how we teach is just as important as what we teach.

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News from the Convivial Thinking Writing Collective: Engagements with the (de)coloniality of development research and teaching

The latest issue of Acta Academica contains the Special Focus: How do we know the world? Collective engagements with the (de)coloniality of development research and teaching.

The Special Focus was guest edited by the Convivial Thinking Writing Collective. Our collaborative engagements with the topic have evolved from a workshop in early 2019 and a consecutive blog series. Convivial Thinking is a collective platform seeking to surpass boundaries of origin, ethnicity, professional affiliation and academic disciplines in order to give space to inclusive, interdisciplinary and alternative approaches to mainstream methods of knowledge production, especially in the context of “development”. The articles in the Special Focus reflect these concerns.

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Re-enchanting Education Beyond the Crisis: On Care in Knowledge Re-Creation

by Adrian Schlegel

The COVID-19 pandemic, its political responses as well as their devastating social consequences have left me unsettled and weary. As for many students, this moment of total uncertainty has pushed my heart off a cliff while tying my head to the desk attempting to focus on classwork. Continue reading “Re-enchanting Education Beyond the Crisis: On Care in Knowledge Re-Creation”

The LONG READ on DECOLONISING KNOWLEDGE: How western Euro-centrism is systemically preserved and what we can do to subvert it

by Romina Istratii

Recently, I participated in a panel that was convened at LSE dedicated to the topic of decolonising African knowledge systems. The panel members, who included also Prof Akosua Adomako Ampofo from the University of Ghana and Dr Wangui wa Goro, were invited to trace the progress made to-date in decolonising Africa’s knowledge systems and to explore how these systems may be rethought, re-framed and reconstructed to rid them of the hegemony of western Euro-centrism. I’d like to share some of the key points of my presentation with the network of Convivial Thinking to call for a more organised effort toward decentring the current epistemology.

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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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Why it is time to turn the decolonial lens onto the institutional structures of Higher Education

by Lata Narayanaswamy

Through the ‘colonial encounter’, existing power relations and imbalances have been shaped in ways that are geographically and temporally uneven yet politically enduring. Unsettling these tendencies through a more critical reflection on how the colonial encounter underpins these perceptions is key to the application of the ‘decolonial’ lens. Calls to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum are getting louder, and rightly so. Whilst this is a start, it does not, in my view, go far enough. There is a need, I would argue, for us to turn the decolonial lens onto the institutional structures and processes that shape the function and delivery of research and teaching in Higher Education (HE).

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[How do we “know” the World Series] Does the Co-Production of Knowledge Work? Experiences from a Cross-Site Teaching Project between the Universities of Pretoria and Düsseldorf

by Witold Mucha and Christina Pesch

Knowledge (re-)production, especially in the field of the social sciences, is a social process of discourse and debate, of speech and response. However, 500 years of (Western) colonial expansion have made a lasting impact. Today’s debate is both epistemically and ontologically shaped by Anglo-American and European perspectives (Ndlovu-Gatshenis 2018; Spivak 2004; Ziai 2015). Though, concepts of epistemic violence and injustice relate existing (power) asymmetries in knowledge (re-)production not solely to prevailing (Western) perspectives, concepts, and terminologies but to blind spots where existing knowledge is ignored, neglected, or even destroyed (Brunner 2018; Mignolo 2009). This applies not only to what is categorised, constructed, and perceived as knowledge (thinking) but also to the distinct ways how knowledge is disseminated (talking).

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What is Wrong with the Foundations of Education in a Pluriverse? A Personal Account

by Victor Nweke

The call to decolonize institutions of learning both in terms of the composition of the curricula and the facilitators (teachers) is now an issue even in Europe, the United Kingdom, North-America, and Australia. Prior to the 21st century, the call was predominantly made by intellectuals and students from colonized nations, of which Africa is part. But, what is wrong with the foundations of education? What is sustaining it? Why is it difficult to undo? These questions can be and have been coughed and approached in different ways by different scholars. I choose to address them from my intersubjective experiences as a human being, an interconnected individual member of the Igbo nation, a citizen of a country known as Nigeria.

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[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Shifting from Research-led Teaching to Liberal Arts Education – Some Critical Reflections from a Non-white Academic Scholar

by Sam Wong

I divide my reflections into two parts: the first part focuses on my changing teaching styles from research-led teaching in the UK to liberal arts teaching in the Netherlands. The second part touches on the post-colonial dilemmas of my identities and research profiles.

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