Want to Understand the Decolonisation Debate? Here's Your Reading List
In 2015 the decolonisation debate, epitomised by the #RhodesMustFall campaign, took centre stage in South Africa. The protests sought to remove all vestiges of racism and colonialism from university campuses. Below is my selection of the top five books that those interested in decolonisation might find helpful.
Want to Understand the Decolonisation Debate? Here's Your Reading List
By Shanade Bianca Barnabas / theconversation.com

1) Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving toward Africa by Jean and John Comaroff. The book subverts the hallowed notion that knowledge comes from the global North, while the global South only provides the data.

The Comaroffs argue that it is the global South, particularly Africa, that is at the vanguard of global trends. They highlight themes relating to personhood, porous national boundaries and individual versus cultural rights.

They also reflect on democratic one-party states and offer critical perspectives on history as well as economic changes and political activism. In all, African perspectives offer innovative theoretical “scaffolding” to address global issues including xenophobia, economic downturn, democracy and HIV/AIDS.

2) Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science by Raewyn Connell describes southern theory from places such as Australia, Latin America, and Asia. She argues that while theory from the global North is universally accepted, southern theory is labelled according to its geographical place of origin. It is thus made out to be applicable only in those spaces.

Connell also argues that the oligopolistic publishing industry relies on a few “celebrity” authors. Almost all of them come from the North and write in globally dominant languages. While this shows the cards stacked firmly against intellectuals from the so-called periphery, Connell asserts that such authors still have agency.

3) African Intellectuals and Decolonization is an anthology edited by Nicholas M. Creary. The essays explore themes relating to the struggle to decolonise African knowledge and the roles that African and Africanist intellectuals play in that struggle.

The first part unpicks representation and retrospection. It debunks commonly held perspectives that Africa’s decolonisation has failed or that it is all-encompassing. The second part explores perspectives on the struggle to decolonise African publics.

The third explores the decolonisation of knowledge. It reveals ways in which the tradition of Western metaphysical thought served to support colonialism and continues to impose Eurocentric values and norms onto African contexts.

Distinctly different African contexts are thus made to fit European models and are essentially misunderstood. The book’s abiding theme is the call from African scholars for African scholarship out of African contexts.

4) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples by Linda Tuhiwai Smith. This offers a passionate discussion of the ways in which Eurocentric research methodologies and theories have affected indigenous communities. These communities are often put under a microscope, not unlike flora and fauna.

The book maps the historical implications of research from the global North. The second part describes indigenous methodologies coming out of work done by indigenous researchers and their communities.

The last two chapters, added to the second edition, describe the implications of choosing this kind of research and what it means to link research to activist scholarship.

The book is written for indigenous researchers, but has also been well received by projects such as Rethinking Indigeneity which I’m working on.

The first book from the project, by Keyan Tomaselli, argues that the periphery is, in fact, the prism through which Northern methodological contradictions are best brought to the surface.

5) Then there is the great granddad from whence much of the above discussion derives: Ngugi’ wa Thiong’o’s Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature.

Many of the works published on decolonisation originate from Ngugi’s idea of decolonising the African mind. Imperialism, he writes, has left its mark on the minds of the previously colonised. They personalise what was once far off and different and become detached from their immediate surrounds and culture.

Africans are groomed for such thinking from childhood in colonial and missionary schools. They see Africa, its languages, cultures, traditions and practices as backward, dark, evil and generally disdainful.

The continent is carved up in terms of imperial markers and its peoples are identified in terms of their colonisers. Tragically, African leaders in the postcolony wish for the return to colonial rule, with themselves as the new masters.

Ngugi argues that African intellectuals bear responsibility for popularising the decolonisation struggle. The liberation of African minds is the ultimate goal.

The decolonisation struggle continues. The protests it has sparked in recent times should motivate us to take stock of its progress.

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 21,521 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 6,494 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure
Daniel Quinn · 2,377 views today · PART ONE A fable to start with Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations—packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and...
You Should Get Naked More Often. It's Good for You.
Joni Sweet · 1,063 views today · When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping...
Lawns Are for Suckers. Plant a Garden - for the Climate!
Nathanael Johnson · 990 views today · Ripping out your lawn and planting kale and peppers won’t just lead to great stir-fry — a new study finds it could make major contributions to fighting climate change...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 984 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 747 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 686 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 686 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 653 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 635 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
How Native Americans Managed "Wild" Land Long Before Settlers
Sami Grover · 627 views today · When European settlers first came to North America, they assumed they were looking at "untouched" nature. Sure, there were native peoples, but history tells us they didn't...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 614 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Solidarity Is About What You Do - Not Who You Are.
R.L. Stephens · 553 views today · I am Black. I capitalize Black and leave white lowercased. Sure, it’s the accepted spelling, but really I do it because it feels good. My family lived in Missouri, but my...
A New Story for Humanity (2016)
102 min · 519 views today · Inspired by the New Story Summit at the Findhorn Foundation: a sold-out multicultural, multigenerational inquiry into a new story for humanity, attended by change makers and...
Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma
Kali Holloway · 449 views today · We begin the damaging process of turning boys into men long before boyhood ends.
Bitter Lake (2015)
136 min · 431 views today · Adam Curtis: Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react...
Bioregional Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Place in Which You Live?
Rua Lupa · 416 views today · In the vast emptiness of space there are an unimaginable number of galaxies, each galaxy containing billions upon billions of stars. Looking at one galaxy we find an average...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 415 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Why You Should Take Your Kids Out of School
Ben Hewitt · 412 views today · We don't need no education. At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Want to Understand the Decolonisation Debate? Here's Your Reading List