Decolonising the academy

October 23, 2014

Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman’s article (“How do you solve a very British problem like eugenics?”, Opinion, 9 October) and the event to which it draws attention are important contributions to the project of “decolonising” an academy that too often opts for whitewashing and erasure of its problematic historical past over a robust acknowledgement of the role that it – and the people it financed and continues to lionise – played in the construction, production and reproduction of racialised and other forms of oppression.

We must always be mindful of the fact that the racism that operates today in the UK and the countries it colonised is a product of the activities of men such as Francis Galton, and of the opportunities they were offered to formalise, legitimise and promote their views.

If, as academics, we’re concerned with the pursuit of truth, or at least an accurate contact with the facts, then acknowledgement of these facts and their relationship to our history as British scholars is crucial.

Full credit to University College London for taking this bold step towards acknowledging its historical role in these contemporary social structures, and to Coleman for facilitating and communicating this work.

Zara Bain
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

 

This is an important step. The issue is not necessarily about assigning blame (and therefore guilt), but it is about an acknowledgement of the past and how that past shapes our present.

The academy (both in the UK and in the US) is not a bastion of objectivity – research, like the findings in this article, like the many books written recently (Craig Wilder’s Ebony and Ivy springs to mind), proves this point. The academy (and yes, at that time it was a group of white men, not much has changed there) was complicit in structuring Western society to sustain itself in the midst of rising capitalism and increased anxieties.

At Brown University, the mentioned report started a conversation that continues on campus – it is not without its critics but I applaud the president at the time who took the initiative to support academic rigour and intellectual self-reflection.


Françoise Hamlin
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Viewed

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi