Skip to main content

Decolonizing the Academy - Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Jivraj, Suhraiya (2020) Decolonizing the Academy - Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Interventions, 22 (4). pp. 552-573. ISSN 1369-801X. E-ISSN 1469-929X. (doi:10.1080/1369801X.2020.1753559) (KAR id:80687)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English
Download (651kB) Preview
[thumbnail of RIIJ-2019-0174_SJedits_30_March_2020.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
XML Word Processing Document (DOCX) Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of RIIJ-2019-0174_SJedits_30_March_2020.docx]
Official URL


I draw on my own experience facilitating a student-led ‘decolonizing the curriculum’ project within an English university critical law school. I reflect upon how such initiatives - predicated on collaboration between staff and students in particular - can constitute ‘liberatory’ spaces from which to resist different structural forms of coloniality and racism or racialization within the western academy. I draw on the work of scholars of colour who expose the coloniality and racialization underpinning the current trend within higher education institutions (HEIs) equalities initiatives that ‘gaze’ upon bodies of colour through the phenomenon of the ‘BME attainment gap’. This same scholarship also facilitates scholars and students of colour to theorize the possibilities for (re-)existing within the academy by calling for a re-focusing of attention and ‘gaze’ back onto institutional racism within HEIs. The process is rife with pitfalls, navigating continued racialization or erasure on the one hand, to co-optation - in the current increasingly marketized UK HE environment - on the other. Finding oneself in this situation - between a rock and a hard place - is also particularly fraught for academics of colour who are effectively rendered complicit through their wage relation with universities reproducing knowledge systems, that emerged from and continue to be marked by coloniality and racialization. What then is the allure for us to engage in university decolonizing movements? I argue that doing the work of confronting these tensions is an urgent task that must be done alongside finding spaces - albeit cracks and fissures - from which to do crucial anti-racist work of ‘decolonizing the western academy’. This is not an end-goal in and of itself - not least perhaps because of its impossibility - but rather as part of a self-liberatory process facilitating the re-existence of people of colour within the academy.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/1369801X.2020.1753559
Uncontrolled keywords: Decolonizing the University, Anti-racism, Institutional Racism/Whiteness, Student-Staff Collaboration, Relationality, Re-existence
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Sian Robertson
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2020 09:53 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2021 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year