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Third World Thematics: Special Issue Call for Papers

Confronting the Complexities of Decolonising Curriculum and Pedagogy in Higher Education

Deadline: 17th May 2019

Recent critiques voiced by students in both the global south and north have turned attention to the ways in which higher education practices – at both the margins and the centres - have been informed by, and continue to perpetuate, a series of assumptions that favour particular epistemological perspectives. Through the discourses and movements of #Fallism, for example, based on the black radical tradition, anti-colonial and feminist works (such as Biko 1978, Fanon 2008, hooks 1994, Freire 1970) as well as Latin American decolonial theory (Moraña, Dussel & Jáuregui 2008, Mignolo & Escobar 2010, Mignolo 2011), student protests on university campuses have tabled radical challenges to institutional symbols, cultures and practices, including the call to ‘decolonize’ the curriculum and pedagogy (RhodesMustFall 2015). Across the world, students have criticized universities for the content of their curricula and for their institutional cultures and pedagogic practices that perpetuate the attainment gap and exclusion. In response, curriculum and pedagogic change is being debated and promoted on campuses (Morreira 2017, UCT 2018). However, as Badat (2017) argues, there remains serious theoretical, political and institutional work to be done to provide dialogical spaces where radical curriculum and pedagogic work can be undertaken.

Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal

Special Issue Guest Editors: Shannon Morreira (Humanities Education Development Unit – University of Cape Town); Kathy Luckett (Humanities Education Development Unit – University of Cape Town); Siseko Kumalo (Philosophy Department – University of Pretoria); Manjeet Ramgotra (Politics and International Studies – SOAS University of London)

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Submission details

Abstracts of 300 words or less should be sent to Shannon.morreira@uct.ac.za by 17 May 2019. Contributors will be informed of successful inclusion in early June 2019. Full papers will be expected by 31 July 2019. Final papers published in the special issue will be subject to the journal’s usual peer review process.

While there are rich funds of theory that we can draw on to problematize and disrupt the relation between knowledge, power and the continued (re)production of modernist disciplinary ‘canons’ (Gordon, 2014), these tend to remain at a level of high theory that does not gain easy traction at the levels of curriculum and classroom practice. Thus, the purpose of this special issue is to bring such abstract theory into concrete engagement with the structural, cultural, institutional, relational and personal logics of curriculum and pedagogic practice. This could include self-critiques of the subject formations and normative commitments that have led us to constitute ourselves and others as we have and how we disclose and work with this in the classroom.

We invite papers that think through creative and reflexive curriculum and pedagogic approaches and practices in higher education that seek to operationalize theoretical insights from theories that historicize and de-centre european/western theory, canons, languages and perspectives. This includes decolonial, anti-colonial, postcolonial, black radical, black feminist, southern and subaltern studies. We particularly encourage papers that discuss processes and approaches used for institutionalizing curriculum and pedagogic change, including participation by student and subaltern voices.

We offer the following set of questions on curriculum and pedagogic practice as a starting point for thinking through how we, as intellectuals and pedagogues, operationalize the ‘decolonial turn’ – particularly in the Human and Social Sciences:

  • What principles, norms, values and worldviews inform the selection of knowledge for our curriculum? (absences and presences, centres as well as margins)
  • For whom do we design our curriculum? Who is the ideal/ imagined student that we hold in mind and what assumptions do we make about them - their backgrounds, culture, languages and schooling?
  • How might our curriculum and assessment practice promote epistemic and social justice?
  • How might our curriculum and pedagogy historicize, relativize and deconstruct inherited curricula and dominant world-views?
  • Do we articulate clearly for students our own intellectual and social positions - from where we speak when teaching (loci of enunciation) as well as for the authors we prescribe?
  • How might our curriculum ‘level the playing fields’ by requiring advantaged students to acquire the intellectual and cultural resources to function effectively in a plural society?
  • To what extent does our pedagogy avoid compelling all students to assimilate into dominant practices, dispositions and western culture? What can we do in our classroom(s) to facilitate inclusion without assuming assimilation?
  • How might our curriculum and pedagogy recognize and affirm the agency of all students, legitimating and respecting their experiences, cultures and languages in the classroom?


Biko, S. 1978. I Write What I Like. Johannesburg: Picador.

Fanon, F (2008) Black Skin White Masks. Grove Press.

Freire, Paulo. 1970. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Transl. Myra Ramos. London, Penguin Books Ltd.

Gordon, L. 2014. Disciplinary Decadence and the Decolonisation of Knowledge. Africa Development 39 (1):81-92.

hooks, bell. 1994, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York, Routledge.

Moraña, M., Dussel, E. D., & Jáuregui, C. A. 2008. Coloniality at large: Latin America and the postcolonial debate: Duke University Press.

Mignolo, W. 2011. The Darker Side of Western Modernity. Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

Mignolo, W. & Escobar, A. (eds.) 2010. Globalization and the Decolonial Option. Abingdon: Routledge.

Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) Movement. 2015. UCT Rhodes Must Fall Mission Statement. The Salon 9 (6-8).