(Colonial Alienation) is like separating the mind from the body so that they are occupying two unrelated linguistic spheres in the same person. On a larger scale it is like producing a society of bodiless heads and headless bodies.
The current patterns of inequalities in the production of knowledge which legitimizes knowledge produced in the global north, the politics of citation which makes reference to Western authors and research conducted by these authors on Africa, and the misrepresentation of African women and men point to the continued effects of Western hegemony on gender studies which fails to take into account knowledge outside its context. It also points to the reach of the colonial library and the extent to which research in the global north continue to be unaffected by research from Africa and indeed the global south. This suggests an urgent need for an approach to gender studies research that reflects the complexities of African gender research and the necessity for a decolonized gender studies curriculum both within and outside Africa. This chapter draws on extant literature on gender research in Africa and research on curriculum decolonization to understand what it means to decolonize the curriculum on African women and gender studies. It addresses questions of hegemonic knowledge production, representation, power and normalization within gender studies research, and curriculum while recognizing the nuances of identity, positionality, culture, and ethnicity in the quest to decolonize the discipline. It then advocates a historical, intersectional, and contextually diverse approach to teaching and research that enables gender and women studies to be a site for the realization of epistemic and cognitive justice in Africa. In so doing, it addresses a gap in the literature on the role played by gender studies in the decolonization process and the process of decolonizing the gender studies curriculum.
Decolonization is a matter of the utmost urgency. Just as civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama demands in the quote cited above, more and more researchers and people all around the world strive to decolonize their minds, and urge us to do the same.
The Thanksgiving story is just one example of the multiple ways colonialism is embedded in our society and our minds. It shows that colonialism did not end with the independence of individual peoples and countries, instead it is still anchored in the stories we tell and the ones we do not tell, in the ways we act and think. This struck me deeply and led me into reading more about decolonization and decoloniality.
As a white Westerner, I am aware that I myself have benefited from the system in place and want to acknowledge my privileged position from which I write this post. Therefore, I do not wish to prescribe what decoloniality is or should be, and neither make a claim to completeness. This blog post is merely meant to serve as an attempt to give an overview of the nature of the problem, in order to help in the understanding of what decoloniality means and what we are actually decolonizing from.
To explain Eurocentrism, let us take a look at the world map again. The maps shown before are all centering Europe. Nevertheless, depending on where you live, you might have a different map in mind when you picture the globe. It might look like one of these:
As is shown in the figure, the three levels of colonial remnant in global health form a hierarchy based on how discrete they are. While the colonial remnant in daily practices can be easily noticed by examining the numbers of publication by origin, flow of capital and human resources, representation of leadership positions in international organizations, etc., colonial remnant in organizational structures might not be that obvious. One would need to study the decision-making process, trace down the source of funding, and identify the true constituency to notice that the setup of many organizations operating in global health today follows the same colonial structure. Last but not least, the colonial mindset is deeply embedded in how people as global health workers, advocates, researchers and decision makers think and assume that have subconsciously made us less sensitive to the colonial remnant in daily practices and in the organizational setup.
Decolonizing global health requires coordinated efforts from multiple sectors in which health becomes a central consideration. When forming an alliance is not feasible, global health programs and projects should at least pave ways or provide insights for the future economic and social development of the communities they serve. The decolonizing global health movement can, and ought to, join all movements that call for equity in other walks of life, especially equity in socioeconomic ownership of our own world. We all need to do the work to make global health truly global. 2b1af7f3a8