Skip main navigation

Week two summary

A summary of the main ideas addressed in week two
© University of Bristol

Welcome to the end of week two!

Over the course of this week we have explored what it may look like to decolonise a range of social science disciplines. We started off by introducing where some colonial routes lay in the social sciences. For example, how social science scholars have understood what it means to be human through a ‘universal’ subject that was white, European, middle-class, heterosexual and male. The acceptance of this subject as the one worthy of knowledge production resulted in the suppression of other knowledges. Boaventura de Sousa Santos has called for the creation of an ‘ecology of knowledges’ to create a pluriversity that values a variety of knowledge systems.

To summarise just a few of the ideas that have been highlighted and covered:

In economics we saw how the routes of the discipline lay oppositional to slavery due to the influence of Smith’s influence on economic thinking. However, economics still developed in the colonial era and has been influenced by this context. In the classroom context, many teachers in economics are using the CORE approach. This is a practical way to integrate decolonial practice in economics teaching.

In law, we saw clearly how Euro-American law’s ideal subject is that of the white property-owning man. Key to decolonising law is not just questioning the content of the law, but challenging the nature of law and its codes that allow it to reproduce racialised ideal subjects.

Coloniality in education studies occupies a range of scales, from decolonising global education policies through to decolonising the curriculum in education studies in individual institutions. Dr Angeline Barrett and Dr Rafael Mitchell’s podcast on what it means to view education from the ‘Global South’ and how this challenges eurocentrism in the education curriculum.

In sociology, Professor Gurminder Bhambra introduced the idea of connected sociologies and in particular how colonialism is constitutive of the modern world and, therefore, key in how we come to understand the modern world. Yet sociology’s conception of the modern continues to lack a place for comprehensive consideration of the role of colonialism. Practical insights were provided by the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) department at Bristol who developed their own preliminary report, Decolonising the SPAIS Curriculum: Evaluating Mandatory Units, in an effort to decolonising the disciplines with the School.

Decolonising social science requires true collaboration. This collaboration must work towards interrogating current discriminatory and colonial assumptions that underlie education.

© University of Bristol
This article is from the free online

Decolonising Education: From Theory to Practice

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education