The Guardian: Are Soas students right to ‘decolonise’ their minds from western philosophers?
19 February, 2017
by Kenan Malik
“‘They Kant be serious!’, spluttered the Daily Mail headline in its most McEnroe-ish tone. ‘PC students demand white philosophers including Plato and Descartes be dropped from university syllabus’. ‘Great thinkers too male and pale, students declare’, trumpeted the Times. The Telegraph, too, was outraged: “They are said to be the founding fathers of western philosophy, whose ideas underpin civilised society. But students at a prestigious London university are demanding that figures such as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant should be largely dropped from the curriculum because they are white.’
“The prestigious London University was the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas). It hit the headlines last month when journalists discovered that students, backed by many of their lecturers, have set up a campaign to ‘Decolonise Our Minds’ by transforming the curriculum. So shocking did the idea seem of a British university refusing to teach Plato, Locke or Kant that the story was picked up by newspapers across the globe. BBC2’s Newsnight debated whether ‘universities should eschew western philosophers’. This predictably generated more outraged headlines when one of the guests, sociologist Kehinde Andrews, denounced Soas as a ‘white institution’ and the Enlightenment as ‘racist’.”