Course code EDS341

EDS341 Decolonial Theory

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2021 - 2022 .

Course responsible: Esben Leifsen, Esben Leifsen
Teachers: Melanie Erin Sommerville
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: Annual. 
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. Much of the de-colonial writing we consider critically discuss different kinds of colonial histories and legacies, racism, processes of marginalization, the pressures of extractive economies, and exclusionary politics of recognition. We learn about 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). 

Students are introduced to research that challenges universal scientific assumptions and explanations, and which from different positions and contexts of experience argues that knowledge production is situated. We ask students to ponder on the power of universal knowledge production. What are the implications of universal claims to knowledge considered to have the capacity to explain the world as it is, while other kinds of knowledge are deemed partial and local? The aim is not to challenge the students to dismiss any academic traditions, but to increase awareness about hierarchies established between different epistemologies and ontologies. 

The course introduces the students to main currents within decolonial and post-colonial thinking; sub-altern studies, Latin American decolonial intellectual-activist currents, settler colonial studies and African neo-colonial and decolonial critique. We focus on the emergent academic debate on colonialism and coloniality of power in Sápmi, and address issues related to pluralism and more-than-human sociality. A main objective is to give the students a solid first impression of what decolonization entails, and challenge them to envision how decolonial theory could be put into practice within and beyond academia.  

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 an final groupwork and 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 must write two short reflection notes based on course readings and discussions and submit these on time. Students have to pass both written assignments to get the course approved. In the last part of the course the students carry out a group work and a presentation. Students will receive written and/or oral feedback to these assignments. The course has an interactive learning approach and students will be asked to prepare short presentations of texts and themes.  

Portfolio assessment

Two short written assignments (reflection notes), pass / fail. 

A final group work and presentation, followed by an oral exam. Graded A - F. 

The evaluation of the written assignments can be used to adjust the grade when needed. 

Nominal workload:

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

Individual studies and preparations for group presentations: 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: :