Decolonizing Anthropology

Reflections from Cambridge

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
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  • 1 University of Cambridge hm556@cam.ac.uk
  • 2 University of Cambridge lst35@cam.ac.uk
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Abstract

This article has grown out of ongoing conversations, critical reflections and practical attempts at decolonizing anthropology at Cambridge. We begin with a brief account of recent efforts to decolonize the curriculum in our department. We then consider a few key thematic debates relating to the project of decolonizing the curriculum. First, we interrogate some consequences of how the anthropological ‘canon’ is framed, taught and approached. Second, we ask how decolonizing the curriculum might subtend a broader project towards epistemic justice in the discipline and the university at large. Third, we reflect on the necessity of locating ethics and methodology at the heart of ongoing conversations about anthropology and decoloniality. We conclude by reflecting on the affective tensions that have precipitated out of debate about the ‘uncomfortable’ relationship between anthropologists as intellectual producers at the ‘cutting edge’ of the canon, and the discipline’s rife colonial residues.

Contributor Notes

Heidi Mogstad is a PhD student in the Social Anthropology Department at the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research explores volunteer-based humanitarianism and refugee advocacy in Norway and Greece. She has an MPhil in Justice and Transformation from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she also conducted research on structural poverty and gender-based violence in collaboration with Ndifuna Ukwazi and the Social Justice Coalition.

Lee-Shan Tse is a PhD student in the Social Anthropology Department at the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research investigates how Chinese mainland migrant families cope with the pressing housing crisis in contemporary Hong Kong. Her previous MPhil studies led her to work with stateless refugees, former political prisoners and activists in Thailand and Burma.

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