Session 2

A2 Beyond the Discourse: Dynamics, Intricacies and Challenges of Knowledge Decolonization in the Global South

The session building on previous discussions and interchange especially at the 2023 SMUS Conference in India seeks to take the discourse of decolonization of knowledge beyond current perception as a fashionable theoretical construct or a criticism of historical postcolonial scholarship. It thus, aims at providing intellectual space for productive debates and exchange on how decolonization can transcend a theoretical critique of western scientific knowledge traditions to a dynamic process of radicalization and transformation of knowledge production in the global South. There is no doubt that debates around the decolonization of knowledge have emerged in the front burner of academic discourse especially in the global South. While a lot of the debate and concerns have revolved around perceived inadequacy of tertiary institutions and knowledge models espoused in them viz-a-viz the articulation and resolution of the development challenges of societies in that part of the globe, it has equally encompassed other major spheres of public life and governance including issues of language, sexuality, governance etc. In this sense, decolonization of knowledge with strong roots in higher education has been seen as also apt in discussing the various manifestations of development challenges especially in the hitherto colonised societies of the global South. But while the debates have been relatively robust and garnered impressive polemical arguments and intellectual positions, there has not been commensurate efforts towards taking the newfound concern with decolonization beyond the pages of theoretical and conference papers. In effect, there has not been an impressive amount of scholarship and even activism in terms of charting tangible courses for actualising decolonization or achieving the goals of decolonization in clearly discernible ways. Hence, there is need for the expenditure of energy towards actualising decolonization of knowledge and worldviews. Failure to do the above would certainly not only imperil whatever gains or tractions achieved by the debates so far but equally quickly consign decolonization of knowledge to another episodic dilemma in the strivings of the global South to achieve perceived total liberation from the agonies of a largely sordid colonial past. Therefore, the overriding goal of the session is to challenge us to envision knowledge decolonization beyond mere discourse and an extant theoretical fad. In other words, it seeks both theoretical and empirical insights on grappling with the challenges of decolonization of knowledge whether embedded in institutional or the civic social space. In effect, it calls attention to the need to take the decolonization struggle beyond polemical discourses and zones of alluring semantic isms. Thus, the session inter alia would seek to explore avenues for taking the discourse of decolonization of knowledge beyond the realms of debates and alluring narratives. Inclusive in this goal is to tease out strategies for taking decolonization beyond a fashionable counterhegemonic discourse as well as learning lessons from empirical experiences and attempts towards decolonization. It would also unfurl theoretical and methodological pathways for achieving the all-important decolonization of knowledge in the global South. From the foregoing the session is concerned with espousing theoretical and methodological pathways towards concrete decolonization of knowledge in the global South. Therefore, the following questions among others confront the session: (a) To what extent is the decolonization struggle resonant with North – South assymetricism? (b) What are the core challenges especially at the institutional levels to genuine decolonization? (c) How do we ensure that decolonization does not resonant with reinventing the wheels of scholarship? (d) Is decolonization a muffled and belated cry of the subjugated or a metaphor carefully crafted to veil the incapacity of local leadership? (e) What clear intellectual and practical trajectories are imperative to the quest to move decolonization from the realms of theoretical polemics to a tangible development discourse? (f) What are the structural and institutional impediments to decolonization? (g) Is there genuine decolonization of methodology without the radicalization of theoretical paradigms? (h) What specific challenges and constraints bedevil attempts at decolonization of knowledge in the global South? (i) What specific lessons can be learnt from experiences in practical or actual pursuit of the goals of decolonization in the global South? Apart from the above, the session would also be generally interested in theoretical and empirical papers that tackle the issue of decolonization of knowledge in the global South from any perspective. However, we would appreciate highly thought-out papers that aim at pushing the boundaries of what is already common knowledge regarding decolonization of knowledge or at least offer new perspectives or interpretations of the familiar dimensions of decolonization of knowledge.