In the Africa at LSE blog, PfAL 5 candidates Yossie Olaleye, Hope Kyarisiima, and Camilla Omollo reflect on the debates that took place at the Decolonising Education conference that took place at the University of Sussex on Monday 11th April.
The concept of decolonisation—or decoloniality—has existed for decades, particularly in use among postcolonial scholars and activists from the Global South. Fanon’s decolonisation theory, for example, posed philosophical questions about the colonial roots of global politics, education, law, and travel, all of which, in many ways, have a violent history at their core. It is against this violence, both material and symbolic, that movements of decoloniality fight. In recent times, the concept of decolonisation has mostly garnered global attention from the academic and institutional angle. Through social media and other digital technologies, we witnessed movements from #FeesMustFall to #RhodesMustFall (and #RhodesMustFallOxford), and we listened to Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s excellent lecture at LSE on South African universities as sites of struggle.
As LSE students who had become accustomed to a particular conference setting, we were a little taken aback by the setting of the #DecolonisingSussex conference. We had walked in expecting to see beautifully arranged tables with long, skinny mics and a lovely banner promoting the university. Instead, we walked into a room with chairs arranged in an open circle, no desks, and, even more alarming, no conference folder or leaflet. For us, then, being within that space demanded reflexivity, which, in some ways, is at the core of the struggle to decolonise education and academic institutions.