Despite sustained critical attention to the politics of knowledge, contemporary anthropology disproportionately engages with ideas produced by academics based in European and North American universities. The ‘decolonizing the curriculum’ movement speaks to core areas of anthropological interest while making a critical comment on the academic structures in which anthropologists produce their work. The articles in this collection interrogate the terms on which academic work engages with its own history, and ask how the production of knowledge relates to structures of race, gender and location. The collection considers the historical, political and institutional context of the ‘decolonizing the curriculum’ movement, the potential impact that the movement might make on education and research, and the major challenges facing it.
Decolonizing the Curriculum
This article explores what it means to decolonize feminism in the university today. Pushing against the idea that feminism in the university is disengaged from broader struggles, the article suggests a complex relationship between feminism as a knowledge project and as a political one. While feminism has had a long-standing decolonizing imperative within the university, equally challenging has been the decolonization of feminism. The #MeToo era has foregrounded the universalizing horizon of feminism, posing new challenges for this project. Arguing for a more complex understanding of generations and the politics of location in these debates, the article draws on a recent and not so recent feminist archive, such as the articulation of ideas of intersectionality and the ways in which multiple feminisms have been understood, in order to explore decolonizing feminism today.
Diasporic Epistemology and the Decolonized Curriculum
Jovan Scott Lewis
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.
The African Studies Centre has been a privileged institutional form in Britain for knowledge production on Africa since the end of colonialism. This article argues that the origin of these UK centres should be located in the colonial research institutes established in Africa, in particular the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute and the East African Institute of Social Research. Attention to the knowledge about Africa that was deemed authoritative by these institutes as well as to the institutions and structures underpinning that knowledge production can raise important questions about today’s centres that need to be addressed as part of a decolonization agenda.
Decolonizing the Jewish “Family” during the Algerian War
Almost all of Algeria's estimated 140,000 Jews had immigrated to France by the end of the Algerian War in 1962, many of them to the Paris region. Their arrival was a source of ambivalent hope for metropolitan Jewish religious and community leaders. This article demonstrates that the period of decolonization was one in which metropolitan Jewish leaders tried to simultaneously celebrate and efface Algerian Jewish difference. This struggle took place in local religious sites, where French and Algerian Jews were accustomed to a variety of liturgies, melodies, and behaviors. The tensions that erupted when Algerian Jews asserted their right to religious particularism should be read as evidence of the paradoxes of decolonization. While a near-century of colonial citizenship had made many Algerian Jews “French,” decolonization and migration to the metropole made them Arab in the eyes of many metropolitan Jews.
Indigenous Girls' Presencing as Decolonizing Force
Sandrina de Finney
This article calls for a reconceptualization of Indigenous girlhoods as they are shaped under a western neocolonial state and in the midst of overlapping forms of colonial violence targeting Indigenous girls. By disrupting the persistent construction of Indigenous girl bodies as insignificant and dispensable, I explore alternative conceptualizations of trauma, place, and girlhood that might enact a more critical, politicized girlhood studies. I link this analysis to Leanne Simpson's (2011) notion of “presence” as a form of decolonizing resurgence. Drawing from participatory research studies and community-change projects conducted with and by Indigenous girls between the ages of 12 and 19 years in western British Columbia, Canada, girls' everyday processes of resurgence and presencing are highlighted in the hope of expanding understandings of their cumulative effects as decolonizing forces.
This article analyzes how the fundamental challenge of decolonization has resonated in history textbooks published in France since the 1960s. It therefore contextualizes textbook knowledge within different areas of society and focuses on predominant discourses that influenced history textbooks' (post)colonial representations in the period examined. These discourses encompass the crisis of Western civilization, modernization, republican integration, and the postcolonial politics of memory. The author argues that history textbooks have thus become media, as well as objects of an emerging postcolonial politics of memory that involves intense conflicts over immigration and national identity and challenges France's (post)colonial legacy in general.
Reflections from Cambridge
Heidi Mogstad and Lee-Shan Tse
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.
Giuliana Chamedes and Elizabeth A. Foster
Scholarly attention to decolonization in the French Empire and beyond has largely focused on the political transitions from colonies to nation-states. This introduction, and the essays in this special issue, present new ways of looking at decolonization by examining how religious communities and institutions imagined and experienced the end of French Empire. This approach adds valuable perspectives obscured by historiographical emphasis on French republican secularism and on the workings of the colonial state. Bringing together histories of religion and decolonization sheds new light on the late colonial period and the early successor states of the French empire. It also points to the importance of international institutions and transnational religious communities in the transitions at the end of empire.
Keïta Fodéba and the Imagining of National Culture in Guinea
Andrew W. M. Smith
This article addresses the cultural activity of Keïta Fodéba, a popular musician, poet, dramatist, and ultimately prominent member of the independent Guinean government. His experiences during the 1950s refl ect emergent trends during this period of profound negotiation, in which the terms of the “postcolonial” world were established. Fodéba was a formative figure in the emergence of Guinean national culture but also played an important role in providing Guinea’s independence movement with a renewed impetus beyond Marxist ideology and demands for political equality. Using archival material that reveals French metropolitan fears about his activities, one gains insight into the networks of anticolonial activism with which he engaged. Following Fodéba, from his triumph on Broadway to his death at Camp Boiro, gives new perspectives on his challenging work and off ers greater insight into the transfers and negotiations between metropole, colony, and beyond that characterized the decolonization process.