The Lamps in our House: Reflections on Postcolonial Pedagogy

by Arudra Burra

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I teach philosophy at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi. My teaching reflects my training, which is in the Western philosophical tradition: I teach PhD seminars on Plato and Rawls, while Bentham and Mill often figure in my undergraduate courses.

What does it mean to teach these canonical figures of the Western philosophical tradition to students in India? I have often asked myself this question. Similar questions are now being asked by philosophers situated in the West: Anglophone philosophy, at least in the analytic tradition, seems to have arrived at a late moment of post-colonial reckoning.

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Decolonial Praxis, Education and COVID-19: Perspectives from India

An Interview with Sayan Dey

by Hadje Cresencio Sadje

Background: Since the global outbreak of COVID-19 on December 2019, there have been 271.963.258 confirmed cases, including 5.331.019 deaths, reported to World Health Organisation (WHO, 2021). To address the ongoing challenges of the global pandemic, various governments and non-governmental organisations agreed to continue and strengthen cooperation to address the devastating ripple effects of the COVID-19 (Amaya, 2021). Despite these efforts, the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic have posed unprecedented challenges, especially to the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalized groups. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected racial, ethnic minority, and marginalized groups (Tai et. Al, 2020). According to recent studies, the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalized groups are left far behind (IFRC, 2021; Economic Policy Institute, 2020).

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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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Decoloniality and the Activist Intellectual

by Ompha Tshikhudo Malima

The most important questions in decolonial studies are: “what do we decolonise?” and “how do we decolonise?” Continue reading “Decoloniality and the Activist Intellectual”

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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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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[How do We “Know” the World Series] Encounters with Theory: (Un)Learning Ways of Knowing

by Zeynep Gülşah Çapan

The manner in which knowledge systems are organized and disciplinary formations are delimited work to delineate who can ‘speak’, who can ‘think’ and who is worthy of being ‘read’ and ‘listened’. It is not that ‘other ways’ of thinking are not present, there is a wide archive of knowledge available if one sheds the self-imposed limitations of what counts as ‘legitimate’ knowledge. The courses I have been teaching at the University of Erfurt have been an exploration into how to ‘unlearn’ ways of knowing and how to discuss issues (whether it is race, colonialism, notion of history) through other vocabularies that are already present but ignored. Over the last two years I have been trying to write syllabuses and design courses that reflect these concerns. As part of this effort, I have taught various courses such as ‘Race and Racism’, ‘Fantasizing International Relations’ and ‘Anticolonial Connectivities’.

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[How Do We “Know” The World Series] To what extent does a colonial present pervade Higher Education and serve to reproduce structural hierarchies?

by Su-ming Khoo and  Paul Prinsloo

How does the concept and pursuit of ‘quality’ in Higer Education (HE) bind to, or unbind HE from, stubborn inequalities? To what extent does a colonial present pervade HE and serve to reproduce structural hierarchies? We believe that it is essential to examine historical-structural roots of inequities and understand how these bound and bind HE values, identities and approaches to generating ‘expert’ knowledge. This process is crucial if we are to make it possible for HE to become sustainable in the sense of social and ecological survivability and justice, rather than resigning ourselves to a HE that sacrifices both in the name of economic expansion and competitiveness.

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