Course code EDS341

EDS341 Decolonial Theory

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2022 - 2023 .

Course responsible: Esben Leifsen
ECTS credits: 5
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
January block.
Course frequency: Every second year, next time given January 2024
First time: Study year 2020-2021
Preferential right:
M-GDS, M-IES, M-IR and M-GLA.. Other interested students must contact the course responsible. 
Course contents:

In this course we explore positions in the world of academic writing associated with the South, with First Nations, and indigenous, subaltern, feminist and more-than-human scholarship. We introduce students to research that attempts to decolonize theory by challenging universal explanations of human reality, and by creating awareness about other forms of knowing and being. Much of the de-colonial writing we consider respond critically to different kinds of colonial legacies, processes of invisibilization and marginalization, the pressure from extractive economies, and exclusionary politics of recognition.

A growing and diverse academic literature questions dominant accounts about the human condition, human improvement and the world order. Theory from other positions in the world of academic writing reconsiders foundations of knowledge production that are granted a privileged position. This literature variably associated with the South, with First Nations, and indigenous, subaltern and feminist scholarship, aims at decentering and destabilizing universal understandings of reality. This kind of scholarship develops alternative lines of thought based on the understanding that colonial practices "constituted the modern world and the Eurocentric forms of knowledge production that marginalize other forms of knowing and being" (Asher 2017:516).

EDS 341 introduces the students to research that challenge universal assumptions and explanations, and which from different positions and contexts of experience argues that all knowledge production is situated. Students will be asked to ponder on the power of universal knowledge production. What are the implications of universal claims to knowledge with the capacity to explain the world as it is, while other kinds of knowledge are deemed partial and local? We read and discuss a series of texts written from different ‘world positions’ and based on different post-, de-, anti- and settler colonial perspectives that address issues of elimination, marginalization, recognition, history writing, epistemological and ontological pluralism, and more-than-human relationality. The aim is not to challenge the students to dismiss any academic traditions, but to increase awareness about knowledge practices’ limited epistemological and ontological reach. The students are encouraged to think through the implications of increasing awareness of this kind.

Learning outcome:
  • Students will gain a good understanding of perspectives within the post-development literature that questions universal claims to knowledge about the human condition, human improvement and the world order.
  • Students will be familiar with central theoretical debates on decolonization, pluralism and human - non-human interrelations.
  • Students will be able to identify power mechanisms in dominant knowledge production and use this insight to capture the meaning and purpose of decolonial critique.
  • Students will through interactive learning be able to reflect on the implications of applying situated knowledge as a research strategy.
Learning activities:
This is a 5 credits January block course with an intensive learning approach - based on the reading of texts, lectures and brief introductions by the educators, and an emphasis on discussion and interactive learning in the classroom and in smaller groups. Short writing exercises and a final  presentation form part of the organized learning activites. Visual media will be used as an additional source to stimulate reflection and discussions. Contributions from guest lecturers. 
Teaching support:
Educators will convey course content and support students in the learning process.They will give feed-back to the class in plenary sessions and discussions in smaller groups, and to groups of and individual students working on assignments. Outside class hours, educators can be contacted by e-mail or by appointment.
A literature list with selected book chapters and articles will be available to the students in due time before course start.
Recommended prerequisites:
Bachelor-degree or similar. 
Mandatory activity:
The students should assist all days of teaching and must assist 2/3 of the time in order to pass. The students will be given several short writing exercises which should be based on the reading of course literature and discussions in class, and they prepare and give a final presentation. The students have to pass the writing exercises and final presentation in order to get the course approved. They will receive written and/or oral feedback to these assignments. The course has an interactive learning approach and students will be asked also to prepare short presentations of texts and themes during the weeks of teaching.  

Portfolio assessment

The students create a logbook where they include at least one reflection note for each of the three weeks of teaching. 

The relfection notes serve as a basis for a final presentation in a plennary session. The students can prepare for the presentation inidvidually or in groups, and are free to choose presentation form (e.g. a digital story, a podcast, an oral presentation with or without interactive elements, or other modes).  

Reflection notes and final presentation are evaluated pass / fail. 

Nominal workload:

Organised activities: 32 hours of lectures, discussions in class and smaller groups, 12 hours of student presentations, and 2 hours guidance in written assignments. Total: 44 hours.

Individual studies and preparations: 81 hours.

Total: 125 hours.

Entrance requirements:
Type of course:
10 days of structured education.
An external examiner will participate in evaluating the form of the examination.
Examination details: Combined assessment: Passed / Not Passed