Blog: Why it is time to turn the decolonial lens onto the institutional structures of Higher Education

Dr Lata Narayanaswamy has written a blog for Convivial Thinking about decolonising higher education (HE).

Dr Lata Narayanaswamy begins:

“Through the ‘colonial encounter’, existing power relations and imbalances have been shaped in ways that are geographically and temporally uneven yet politically enduring. Unsettling these tendencies through a more critical reflection on how the colonial encounter underpins these perceptions is key to the application of the ‘decolonial’ lens. Calls to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum are getting louder, and rightly so. Whilst this is a start, it does not, in my view, go far enough.”

She highlights the need to interrogate how language is employed, utilised and practiced suggesting that ‘we need to think more dynamically about the types of exclusions these practices embed and the power imbalances they uphold’.

The article sheds light on the universalisation of Western frameworks. It looks at the danger of ‘essentialising all ‘white’ men (who are not all the same) and replace them with white women or brown/black men or women (who are also all not the same)’, and how it’s important to ‘move beyond thinking its enough to simply change the race, gender or status of the messenger, and instead raise more fundamental questions about the constitution and relative power of different messages’.

Lata goes on to situate the challenge within the structures of higher education institutions, and asks the question: What effect does the structural power in/of HE have on ethics?

Read the blog post in full