© 2017 Alice Feldman

The Decolonising the Curriculum Platform at UCD

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In step with a long tradition of intellectuals, activists and scholars, Raewyn Connell makes the argument that the very structures of the academy reproduce the same centre-periphery power relations that underpin global inequalities: ‘raw’ data collected in the periphery feeds the generation of theory in the metropole, to be reapplied and 

recirculated as ‘knowledge’ back in the periphery. The work of scholars in the Global South, she argues, is marginalised further through a variety of institutional strategies that discredit, appropriate, ignore, or exclude it.  In this context, it can be shocking yet unsurprising that, ‘Despite being an institution that specialises in Africa and Asia, the curricula at SOAS are not adequately representative of thinkers that emerge from the Global South’ (www.soasunion.org).

Thus, moves to decolonise curricula are centred on notions of pluriversality and polycentricity – multiple knowledges from a multitude of centres – rather than the universalising of particular worldviews. As Ngũgĩ  wa Thiong’o observed many years ago, ‘there could never be only one centre from which to view the world but that different people in the world had their culture and environment at the centre. The relevant question [is] therefore how one centre relate[s] to other centres...’

The goals that underpin decolonising the curriculum are, therefore, not about simplified notions of the inclusion or replacement of sources and material. They involve developing ways of un-thinking and re-thinking ‘received’ knowledges, through critical, collaborative, reflexive encounters with - to use Escobar's words - knowledges and worlds ‘otherwise’. Nor do they constitute a project solely about ‘race’, but the intersections and juxtapositions, the affinities and incongruences across the landscapes of possible standpoints and positionalities, experiences and embodiments, circumstances and practices, powers and agencies that we inhabit together. Decolonising the curriculum is about expanding the foundations of what we study, the ways we teach, learn and interact with one another, and the reach of the understandings we cultivate in ways that reflect and engage what we all bring with us to university life at UCD. In these ways, it’s about ‘doing diversity’ in a different way.

The aim of the Decolonising the Curriculum Platform at UCD is to provide a space for staff and students to cultivate a community of practice in which to collectively and collaboratively discuss, support and develop ideas, activities, projects and practices that realise and make manifest the transformative and mutually edifying potentials of our different ways of being, thinking and doing.  We will soon be making available various on-line spaces to support this work.

For more information contact: Dyuti (dyuti.chakravarty@ucdconnect.ie) or Emma (penneye@tcd.ie)

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