DECOLONISE YOUR DEGREE

Decolonise Your Degree

Contemporary attempts to decolonise education have their roots in anti-colonial struggles over many centuries in the Global South. Decolonising education involves liberating academic and student minds from exclusionary ways of thinking and being and ultimately, addressing broader social issues of injustice. 

Disciplines across the social sciences and law, STEM subjects and the arts and humanities have been profoundly shaped through their relationship with colonialism, imperialism and racism. Decolonisation within education is about recognising and including different epistemologies and ways of knowing the world as the basis for enriching the curriculum and preparing students with the understanding required to tackle real world challenges.

Given the deeply entrenched nature of the issues involved, decolonisation is best conceived as an ongoing process rather than as something that can be addressed through quick fix solutions such as diversifying reading lists in the short term. It needs to be seen in relation to all anti-racist initiatives including efforts to diversify faculty and the student body and to close the attainment gap.

 

Developing a shared vision for decolonising the university across staff, students and the wider community is necessary if change is to become embedded.

#DecoloniseYourDegree aims to start conversations and create spaces to reflect on these experiences within third-level education in Ireland.
 

KEY TERMINOLOGY

Colonial matrix of power

A term coined by Aníbal Quijano to describe the legacies of colonialism in structures of power and control, as well as in systems of knowledge. The colonial matrix of power emphasises that many institutional, social, and cultural power relations today can be traced back to structures and cultures implemented during the colonial period.

Coloniality

This is similar to the colonial matrix of power. It describes the social, cultural and epistemic impacts of colonialism. Coloniality refers to the ways in which colonial legacies impact cultural and social systems as well as knowledge and its production.

Decoloniality

A movement which identifies the ways in which Western modes of thought and systems of knowledge have become the ‘norm’. Decoloniality seeks to untangle the production of knowledge away from Eurocentrism by focusing on recovering ‘alternative’ or non-Eurocentric ways of knowing.

Epistemic injustice

This is the idea that we can be unfairly discriminated against in our knowledge based on race, gender, sexuality, culture, social background and other similar factors. It invalidates people’s ability to be seen as having knowledge or systems of knowledge of their own.

Epistemology

This is the study of knowledge. The study aims to explore the ways individuals come to know, understand and perceive the world. We are all socialised to experience and view the world through certain prescribed lenses.

Global South

A phrase that usually refers to Asia, Africa, and South America. The term has become prevalent in recent years as a replacement for terms like ‘Third World’, ‘periphery’ or ‘developing world’.

Global North

A phrase that usually refers to Europe, North America and Australia. The term has become prevalent in recent years as a replacement for terms such as ‘First World’, ‘core’ or ‘developed world’.

Monoculturalism

This is a form of supporting, advocating, or allowing the expression of the culture of a single social or ethnic group in a specific area over all others. It can sometimes led to assimilation, in which members outside of the dominant group are expected to conform to it’s behaviours and practises.

Reparative justice

Reparations are broadly understood as compensation given for an abuse or violation. Reparative justice is a process which may include restitution, rehabilitation, acknowledgement, monetary payments or other initiatives to offset injustices.