Decolonisation statement

The Department of Philosophy is committed to reflecting on how to expand the philosophical canon and incorporate perspectives into the curriculum that critically reflect on the ways that colonial histories have contributed to a distorted and unduly narrow ‘traditional canon’.

A group of Philosophy students sat in a lecture hall. One student is writing in a notebook. One student is working on a laptop.

We are taking steps towards making our current modules conceptually and demographically decolonised. Here are details of some of the ongoing work in our current modules:

  • Writing Philosophy: (out of a total of four topics), one topic on Al-Ghazali, an 11th-century Muslim Persian philosopher, and one topic on black anger as a reaction to slavery and racism featuring a debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley.
  • Philosophy of Sex: sexual racism; race, colonialism and pornography.
  • Ethics and Society: immigration, global justice and colonialism.
  • Feminism: black feminism, decolonising feminism, feminism and capitalism, feminism and climate crisis (including contributions of indigenous knowledge to addressing climate crisis).
  • Global Justice: colonialism and reparations.
  • Political Philosophy: features Mencius – a Chinese philosopher of the 4th century BC
  • Social philosophy: racial capitalism, transnational feminism.
  • Environmental Justice: environmental racism and indigenous peoples; whether wildlife conservation needs to be decolonized.
  • Philosophy of Psychology: content on how most psychology is conducted on only WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic) populations, and the problems we encounter when we try to generalise from findings on WEIRD populations to how the human mind develops and works in general.
  • Phenomenology: the work of Frantz Fanon, whose philosophy focuses centrally on questions of race and decolonisation.
  • Philosophy of Education: liberatory pedagogical methods, including from Malcolm X, bell hooks, W. E. B. Du Bois.

This work has been supported by a series of talks organised by graduate students, and our recently introduced annual Expanding the Canon lecture, as well as our annual Minorities and Philosophy lecture. The department also has a database of decolonising resources for use in teaching, recently compiled by one of our graduate students, which we will continue to develop. If you have feedback on this work or suggestions for future endeavours, please do contact us.

The work of decolonising is an ongoing process. The content of these and other modules evolves each year.