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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X


HLATSHWAYO, Mlamuli Nkosingphile  and  ALEXANDER, Innocentia. "We've been taught to understand that we don't have anything to contribute towards knowledge": Exploring academics' understanding of decolonising curricula in higher education. Journal of Education [online]. 2021, n.82, pp.44-59. ISSN 2520-9868.

Universities in the Global South continue to grapple with the ethical demands of decolonising and transforming the public university and its episteme orientations. In this paper, we contribute to the emerging body of work in the Global South that attempts to make sense of the transformation and decolonisation discourses by exploring academics' understanding of decolonising curricula in South African higher education. Using purposive sampling, we interviewed eight academics from the school of education who teach in a research-intensive university in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. We relied on the field theory of Pierre Bourdieu to think through the notion of a research-intensive university being a contested and structuring field constituted of various actors and agents who are struggling to make sense of, and understand the calls for, decolonising and transforming curricula. The findings suggest that, largely, academics understand the decolonising of curricula as a response to the need to tackle and theorise the Eurocentric thought in curricula and to re-centre African epistemic traditions and as well as navigate what they refer to as the confusion, ambiguity, and discomfort of decolonisation. We end this paper with some empirical and theoretical reflections on how exploring academics' understanding of decolonizing curricula is central to the broader project of achieving social justice in the Global South.

Keywords : decolonisation; transformation; education; academics; Global South; curricula; higher education.

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