VIDEO: Decolonising the University: A Struggle for Our Times – Mead Lecture 2019
In the Autumn of 2019, Decolonising SOAS Working Group Chair, Meera Sabaratnam, gave the Mead Lecture at Trinity College, Connecticut. The lecture was entitled “Decolonising the University: A Struggle for Our Times”. Below is a video of the lecture, as well as a description.
Campaigns to ‘decolonise the university’ have spread rapidly around the world over the past five years – a spread which shows no sign of slowing down. Alongside demands for institutions to offer more expansive and less Western-centric curriculums, students and staff have called for greater diversity in their faculty, engaged critical pedagogies, anti-racist training and effective complaints procedures, attention to institutional and structural racisms in student and staff experiences, greater equality with and accountability to communities and other research partners, reparative action for complicity in the enslavement of Africans, colonial exploitation and dispossession of indigenous peoples and the reversal of campus outsourcing and militarisation. Although a number of these demands are receiving some attention on campuses, these campaigns nonetheless find themselves in either friction or direct confrontation with other actors and forces within the university – conservative, liberal and neoliberal. In this lecture, we will develop a conceptual framework that enables us to make sense of what it means to decolonise the university, analyse the strategies and discourses that have proven most successful, look at the interplay with different actors and constituencies, examine the structural conditions under which change is being demanded and might be possible, and articulate a vision of how a decolonising ethos within universities can underpin wider social change.
Meera Sabaratnam is Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London, and Chair of the Decolonising SOAS Working Group. Her research interests are in the colonial and postcolonial dimensions of world politics, in theory, practice and methods. Her recent book Decolonising Intervention: International Statebuilding in Mozambique, which is available Open Access, has won a number of accolades from the International Studies Association (ISA). She has formerly held Editorial positions at Millennium: Journal of International Studies and the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, and she serves on the International Advisory Boards for International Studies Quarterly and Security Dialogue. She was the co-founder of the Colonial/Postcolonial/Decolonial Working Group of the British International Studies Association and co-edits the Rowman & Littlefield International Book Series Kilombo: Colonial Questions and International Relations.