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Decolonise Your Degree

The content below, put forward originally by the AEM Toolbox, University of the Arts London, is designed to help you reflect on your reading lists.

Although reading lists do not necessarily mean ‘learning’, they often offer ideas and language that shape how course discourse is created, forming perceptions of the types of knowledge that are valued or given most prominence. Sometimes, reading lists included in course handbooks reflect white male western-centric perspectives.

Decolonising reading lists is an important part of the work of decolonising the curriculum and enables us to explore and reference different cultural histories and narratives in our work. As libraries prioritise the purchase of resources from reading lists, more diverse reading lists will result in more diverse library collections overall too. 

Decolonising texts may seem easier in some disciplines than others, depending on the disciplinary traditions. However, it can always be helpful to acknowledge the geographical and historical context of knowledge production as a useful starting point for discussion!

What are the

dominant narratives in your areas of study?

What voices and narratives are excluded? How can they be identified?

Who is talking about whose experience and/or culture?

What is the place of publication and geographic coverage of the text?

What is the language? Is it a translation or in its original language?

What kinds of sources do we perceive to be of most academic value and why? 

What's the relevance

of the author’s identity in this context?

Who is the

author of the work? Are

the majority of the authors the same gender and


Can discourse affect the way that we look at groups of people?

Are the texts Western-centric or Eurocentric?

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