Is Decolonization Africanization? Seeking conceptual clarity post RMF.

Anye Nyamnjoh is a PhD candidate, Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Is Decolonization  Africanization? Seeking conceptual clarity post RMF.

In this discussion, I talk about my PhD research where I engage with the discourses on and around the decolonization of the university that received renewed intensity from the vibrancy of student movements like Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) and Fees Must Fall (FMF) in the South African higher education landscape.  I reflect on conceptual problems relating to the mobilization of ‘decolonization’ as a conceptual and pragmatic framework, both for understanding notions of epistemic domination and pursuing epistemic freedom.  The critique of the ‘colonial university’ as an institutional form that has been entrenched and reproduced by colonial and imperial histories often comes with conceptual vocabularies used interchangeably, precisely because the epistemic demands associated with decolonization have historical precedence. One such historical register is Africanization, understood in the intuitive sense of making X more African. It may be tempting to see Africanization and Decolonization as synonymous or mutually co-constitutive. In other words, it may appear that to Decolonize is to Africanize and to Africanize is to Decolonize. But might there be elements in the current construction of decolonization that go well beyond a discourse of Africanization? To the extent that in this historical moment, the meaning of decolonization is in the state of becoming rather than already existing, is the intellectual project of decolonization exhausted by Africanization? When we look at (a) the rich archive of published and grey literature, including a social media trail (b) on-going institutional responses and experimentations to demands for decolonization and (c) the current views on students and academic staff; what emerges as the conceptual relation between decolonization and Africanization? Such questions do not only provide conceptual clarity, elucidating points of convergence and divergence. They also allow one to describe and evaluate the analytical tools we employ in projects of epistemic emancipation.

Anye Nyamnjoh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. He supports Manchester United with indefatigable enthusiasm



Tue, 05 Nov 2019 -
12:50 to 14:00

CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus

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