Public lecture – Professor Toyin Falola (University of Texas)

The Academy and the Idea of Decolonisation

Date: 10 December 2018
Time: 14:00-17:00, followed by drinks
Venue: Amsterdam, University Library (Doelenzaal), Singel 425
Open to: general public
Registration
The Doelenzaal has a limited number of seats, so we kindly ask you to register if you wish to attend the lecture.

It has been argued that the academic system of knowledge production—as we have known it since the Age of Imperialism/the Enlightenment—is fundamentally Western, wherein the west assumes the status of the “universal”. Although many former colonies around the world (Asia, Africa and Latin America) received political freedom in the second half of the twentieth century, the dominant mode of knowledge production and critical thinking within the academy was, and  still is, largely determined by a western white male perception. Although universities worldwide are able to flourish to some extent, it remains difficult to truly escape from a normative western hegemony on the system of knowledge production and academic research.

The dominance of these thought-patterns originating in the west was never completely unchallenged and gained momentum from the second half of the twentieth century onwards through anticolonial and postcolonial critique, feminist discourse and the emergence of global intellectual history. The new tide of such critical thinking questioned Eurocentric approaches in history, philosophy and anthropology, among others, and argued in favour of a decolonisation of (academic) knowledge production. As a result the humanities have been enriched by crucial debates regarding the place of ‘Europe’ within Academic research as a whole.

This lecture will reflect on the state of the (historical) academy regarding the ‘Idea of Decolonisation’ and raise the question what it means to attempt a ‘Decolonisation of Knowledge’. Is there one Decolonisation or multiple Decolonisations? Is Decolonisation within the academy a monolithic concept or are there multiple layers within this broader academic issue? Most importantly, has knowledge been decolonised at all or is a culture of recolonisation replacing older thought patterns? Through the lecture and the input by local respondents we hope to be able to create an atmosphere in which there will be space for both conceptual in-depth questions and more practical concerns regarding the ‘Idea of Decolonisation’.

With remarks by Karwan Fatah-Black (Leiden University) and Marieke Bloembergen (KITLV).

Toyin Falola

Prof. Falola (1953) is a Nigerian historian of Africa who currently holds the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair Professor in the Humanities and a Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Falola, who took his PhD-degree at the university of Ile-Ife in Nigeria, is a prolific scholar on African history from the 19th century onwards. He has written both local histories, focusing on Yoruba history in Nigeria, and more globally oriented accounts on the histories of Africa as a whole. Moreover, he has taught and written extensively on African intellectual history and the emergence of the field of African and Black studies, focusing on its pedagogies, methodologies and epistemologies.