Releasing a Tradition

Diasporic Epistemology and the Decolonized Curriculum

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Jovan Scott Lewis University of California, Berkeley

Search for other papers by Jovan Scott Lewis in
Current site
Google Scholar
Restricted access


With educational campaigns that ask ‘Why isn’t my professor Black?’ and ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ there is a push directed towards institutions to provide an education that is diverse, inclusive and representative of the liberal ideals that many promote. This is being done primarily through a discourse of decolonization. In this article, I consider the formulation for a truly decolonized curriculum by first assessing what constitutes a ‘colonial’ education, especially one that is deserving of decolonization. I then discuss the parameters of educational decolonization, by thinking with decolonial and anti-colonial thinkers, to assess the tenability of a decolonized curriculum. Ultimately, I suggest what forms a decolonized curriculum might take by drawing on diaspora theory and by describing broader programmatic requirements within the framework of the Black Radical Tradition that offers decolonial epistemologies as a broad praxis for education.

Contributor Notes

Jovan Scott Lewis is Assistant Professor of Geography and African-American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also co-chair of the Economic Disparities Research Cluster at the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. Jovan received his PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics.

  • Collapse
  • Expand
  • Allen, J. S. and R. C. Jobson. 2016. ‘The Decolonizing Generation: (Race and) Theory in Anthropology since the Eighties’. Current Anthropology 57 (2): 129148.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clark, V. 2009. ‘Developing Diaspora Literacy and Marasa Consciousness’. Theatre Survey 50 (1): 918.

  • Comaroff, J. and J. L. Comaroff. 2012. Theory from the South. London: Paradigm Publishers.

  • Fanon, F. 1963. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press.

  • Foucault, M. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge. New York: Pantheon.

  • Freire, P. 1970. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.

  • Hall, S. 2017. Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Henry, P. 2000. Caliban’s Reason: Introducing Afro-Caribbean Philosophy. New York: Routledge.

  • James, C. L. R. 2013. Beyond a Boundary. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • James, C. L. R. and M. Anthony. 1969. ‘Discovering Literature in Trinidad: Two Experiences’. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 4 (1): 7387.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, M. S. 2010. ‘The 1850s: The First Renaissance of Black Letters’. In G. A. Jarrett (ed.), A Companion to African American Literature. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 103118.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lorde, A. 2007. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press.

  • McKittrick, K. 2014. ‘Mathematics Black Life’. The Black Scholar 44 (2): 1628.

  • McKittrick, K. 2016. ‘Diachronic Loops/Deadweight Tonnage/Bad Made Measure’. Cultural Geographies 23 (1): 318.

  • Mignolo, W. 2010. ‘Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and Decolonial Freedom’. Theory, Culture & Society 26 (7–8): 159181.

  • Mignolo, W. 2011. The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Mott, C. and D. Cockayne. 2017. ‘Citation Matters: Mobilizing the Politics of Citation toward a Practice of “Conscientious Engagement”’. Gender, Place & Culture 24 (7): 954973.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robinson, C. J. 1983, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. London: Zed Books.

  • Scott, D. 1995. ‘Colonial Governmentality’. Social Text 43: 191220.

  • Scott, D. 2013. ‘On the Very Idea of a Black Radical Tradition’. Small Axe 40: 16.

  • Tuck, E. and K. W. Yang. 2012. ‘Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor’. Decolonization: Indigeneity Education & Society 1: 140.

  • Tuhiwai Smith, L. 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books.

  • Walsh, C. E. 2015. ‘Decolonial Pedagogies Walking and Asking’. International Journal of Lifelong Education 34 (1): 921.

  • Woods, C. A. 2017. Development Arrested: The Blues and Plantation Power in the Mississippi Delta. New York: Verso.

  • Woodson, C. G. 1990. The Mis-Education of the Negro. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1304 654 43
Full Text Views 171 19 0
PDF Downloads 188 26 2