Decolonising the social sciences curriculum in the university classroom: a pragmatic-realism approach

SOURCE: Alternation
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): S.Swartz, A.Nyamnjoh, A.Mahali
DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 12005
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/16035

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Debates about decolonisation in general and decolonising the curriculum in higher education are often focused on theoretical critiques including epistemicide, linguicide, historicide, alienation, and dismemberment. As important as these contributions are, they seldom offer integrated strategies for those who are tasked with decolonising the curriculum in the university context or those who must teach individual courses, and who would like to do so from a Southern, decolonised perspective. In this paper we adopt a pragmatic, critical, and realist approach and hover above many of these constituent debates to offer a consolidated approach to how the (social science) curriculum in higher education might be decolonised practically and pragmatically. Drawing on ideas from Freire, Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Mbembe, and Bhambra, we ask: 1) what are the stakes of the struggle towards decolonising the curriculum 2) what are the blind spots needed to be overcome in the journey and 3) what practicaland incremental steps can be taken, regardless of your own positionality, to achieve a decolonised curriculum. Practically, we outline a number of theses that we have adopted in our own teaching. These centre around input and expertise (who should be decolonising the curriculum, who should be teaching?); content and canon (what should be taught, what excluded, and whether material from the centre should be taught at all, and if so, when?); institutions and pedagogies of decolonised education (how should material be taught, how might the hidden curriculum of the institution in which it is taught be made explicit), and the role of theory in decolonised education (what is the aim of decolonised education?). It is envisioned that packaged together, these theses offer key considerations for those tasked with thinking about and teaching a decolonised curriculum.