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Decolonising Education from Theory to Praxis – Seminar four: Decolonising research

April 28 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

A BILT/CBH/UNESCO Global Chair/Bristol Conversations in Education Seminar series  

The seminar will argue the central importance of decolonising research as a means for realising sustainable futures but also as a means to transform the epistemic basis of the curriculum. Running from 1 – 2:30pm (the last 30 mins is for discussion)

This seminar will begin with a consideration of what we mean when we talk about research: what, that is, is contained under the term ‘research’? Which methods, frameworks and intellectual histories can extant or normative conceptions of research contain, and how can we ensure we are fully contextualising these within their own positionality?

The question of research is fundamentally tied up with the question of what constitutes knowledge, and in this chapter, we argue that much existing research is based on extractivist models that have their roots in coloniality. It will argue the case for generating new ecologies of knowledge required to support just transitions to more sustainable futures that are based on inter- and trans-disciplinary inquiry, on the one hand, and which admit a more expansive understanding of knowledge, method, and research, on the other.

This requires fundamentally transforming the role of the university from one of conducting research on communities to one of co-creating new knowledge with communities, recognising that the university is one participant amongst many in the larger project of intellectual production and knowledge generation, albeit one endowed with particular resources and visibility. It requires engaging in new forms of partnership working with researchers in the global South that can support Southern-led research. Equally, it required centring those voices and perspectives and decentring the research ‘expert’ as arbiter of knowledge production and valuation. In developing its arguments, the seminar will critically draw on examples of research projects/ programmes from across the university that have attempted to put into practice new ways of conducting research and partnership working, as well as wider discussions of the need to decentre and decolonise research methodology (see, for instance, the special section ‘Ethical?! Collaboration?! Keywords for our contradictory times’ in Journal of African Cultural Studies, 31.3 (2019); An Ansoms, Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka and Susan Thomson (eds), Field Research in Africa: The Ethics of Researcher Vulnerabilities, Boydell & Brewer, 2021; Shalini Puri and Debra A. Castillo (eds), Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities: Methods, Reflections, and Approaches to the Global South, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). The seminar will argue that if research is to be decolonised then this also requires engaging with the wider political economy of knowledge production including the hegemonic practices of Northern-based, English-speaking publishing houses and funding agencies, peer review as a practice and editorial policy.

The seminar will draw on examples of initiatives and interventions involving colleagues at Bristol and more widely that have sought such radical transformation. The seminar will conclude by reflecting on the barriers and affordances for realising decolonising approaches to research including discussions of decolonial research ethics.

Joining the seminar

You will be sent the joining link close to the date, the seminar will run from 1 – 2:30pm (last 30 mins is for discussion)