Young Arts teachers ‘decolonise the classroom’

The Young Arts Network started a series of workshops on decolonisation. In the workshops UG-teachers can learn to make their classrooms more equitable. ‘It gets to the heart of colonialism in academia: tackling the epistemic violence.’

Assistant professor of media studies Rachel van der Merwe teaches decolonial and intersectional media theories to bachelor students. Merely doing research on the matter won’t make the decolonial turn, she says. ‘Decoloniality is not a theory, it’s a political movement, so it should be practiced.’

That also means she wants to critically examine her own place in academia. And colonialism in the social sciences. ‘After all, those were developed because of the colonies and slavery,’ she says.


Via YARN, a network of early career academic staff at the Faculty of Arts, she met colleagues who were also interested in rethinking their teaching from a decolonial perspective. Together with assistant professors Léonie de Jonge, Flávio Eiró and Iva Pesa, Van Der Merwe created the workshop series Decolonising the classroom.

Van der Merwe sees the workshop series as a fundamental movement, ‘because it gets to the heart of colonialism in academia: tackling the epistemic violence.’

In the first workshop, Van der Merwe intoduced the thirty participants to key writers like Gloria Wekker, Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. Participants could also indicate what they themselves wanted to learn. From those responses, new workshops are put together. The next one, by Margriet van der Waal, associate professor of Euroculture, is on December 13.



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