Decolonizing the Study of Religion: where to start?


‘Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools. The easy adoption of decolonizing discourse by educational advocacy and scholarship, evidenced by the increasing number of calls to “decolonize our schools,” or use “decolonizing methods,” or, “decolonize student thinking”, turns decolonization into a metaphor.’ (Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’, 2012)
‘To decolonize the university is… to reform it with the aim of creating a less provincial and more open critical cosmopolitan pluriversalism – a task that involves the radical refounding of our ways of thinking and a transcendence of our disciplinary divisions.’ (Achille Mbembe, ‘Decolonizing the University’, 2016)

There should be no doubt that religious studies needs to go through a process of decolonization. But what does this involve, and how can this process get started?

To get started, though, we need to realise that decolonisation is not the same as diversifying. The aim for diversity is to accommodate (‘find room’) for ‘alternatives’ and differences within an existing scheme which largely remains unchanged.

Decolonization is about change. It is about responding to changes that are taking place well beyond the classroom — and also changes that should be taking place. And it is about changing how people think, talk, and act through a radical engagement with a plurality of voices and perspectives that have been historically marginalised and silenced. Decolonization is not about ‘finding room’ at the table, it is about changing the room.

Decolonization is about remembering and recognizing the histories of European colonialism and racism that have structured the contemporary world — and here in particular the academy. Decolonization is about challenging the structural levels of racialization that frame not only who and how we teach, but many of the issues that scholars take for granted.

And so, as I have outlined in another discussion, decolonization is both about a political agenda that challenges power structures and global inequalities and it is also about a decolonization of knowledge.

Much of what I am addressing here is the latter — an attempt to explore the processes of decolonization of knowledge and education. But to explore such a decolonization of knowledge also requires an engagement in some form with the much larger and more difficult political challenges of decolonization.


Decolonizing knowledge and education

How can the study of religion (and of course a number of related academic fields of study) move further from its origins as a tool of European colonialism, to being a space in which contemporary power structures of inequality (including race, gender, sexualities, class, and ability) are challenged and disrupted?

For this to occur, there are a number of issues to establish.

First, the study of religion — like much of the humanities — is a disciplinary area with roots in the high period of European colonialism. The disciplinary formation of religious studies is a product of empire, and so the questions it asks, its key concepts, and its location within universities reflects this origin.

Of course, the world has changed considerably in the last century, and the end of formal empires in the mid-twentieth century led to a reformulation of academic disciplines such as religious studies. However, there has been only limited reflection within the discipline on how such colonial history initially shaped — and continues to shape — the main functions and outputs of the scholarship that it nurtures.

Second, the discipline of religious studies is embedded within highly racialized and gendered social contexts, that largely disadvantage and discriminate in both overt and covert ways. Again like much of the humanities and social sciences, the study of religion has a problem with race.

A significant part of this is the structural environment in which religious studies operates within both Britain and north America — where structural racism is very largely built into social institutions, values, and organisations such as universities. In short, racialized disadvantage (as well as gendered disadvantage) is hardwired into contemporary universities at every level.

As Heidi Safia Mirza comments:

‘Higher education in Britain still remains a “hideously white” place, rarely open to critical gaze. It is not a place in which you expect to find many black bodies. Being a black body “out of place” in white institutions has emotional and psychological costs to the bearer of that difference.’ (Ahmed 2012, 153).

This is at the institutional, structural level and thus impacts across disciplines.

In addition, alongside this there are a number of particular ways in which the study of religion constructs and perpetuates such racialization.

In part this is due to what is very usually a failure to acknowledge, explore, and analyse the history and political purpose of the discipline — both during colonial and postcolonial times. I will discuss some of these issues later on (as well as discussing it elsewhere), after a discussion of potential issues of decolonization at the institutional level.


Decolonizing institutions

Soon after I began writing this, I found a reference to a fairly recent initiative at SOAS, London (the School of Oriental and African Studies). Following a high profile public discussion of issues of curriculum and pedagogic change, in November 2017 the Academic Board of the School agreed a policy titled Decolonising SOAS Vision.

This policy commits the institution to address the need for decolonisation by:

> Supporting further recognition and debate about the wide, complex and varied impacts of colonialism, imperialism and racism in shaping our university,
> Embedding within our policies and practices a deeper understanding that these impacts produce and reproduce injustices and inequalities within education,
> A stronger commitment to actively make redress for such impacts through ongoing collective dialogue within the university and through our public obligations,
> The provision of institution-level support to embed this understanding in SOAS’s contribution as a public university in the service of the wider world.
Source: Decolonising SOAS Vision, https://www.soas.ac.uk/decolonising-soas/

Although this is a vague articulation, it does stand out at present as a unique attempt in Britain to address historical and contemporary issues deriving from ‘colonialism, imperialism, and racism’ with relation to the formation and current structures of universities.

In this respect, a good institutional starting point for the issues of decolonization would be the implementation of such a policy by all British universities.

However, it is worth considering the existence of the Athena SWAN equality charter scheme, which was formed and continues to develop as a means of supporting, promoting, and advancing women within universities across the sector. Although Athena SWAN now openly supports intersectionality, its remit is primarily focused on gender. This leaves the question — which will no doubt be addressed at some future date — of whether the scheme should be expanded, or otherwise to set up a parallel scheme focused specifically on racialization (again inclusive of intersectionality).

So on one level perhaps, the advancement of decolonization could be promoted by a sector-wide movement that addresses the historical and contemporary injustices and inequalities of race and colonialism in British higher education. If this was to happen, then it would need to be bottom-up and be based on an expectation of the implementation of radical intersectional changes.

As Athena SWAN has shown, however, a well-meaning initiative can easily become an managerial burden which serves in effect to compound the issues it is meant to be addressing. As a recent report based on a seminar (at Warwick University) reflecting on Athena SWAN pointed out:

‘Despite Athena SWAN’s benefit, the main topic of conversation during the event was the burden that equality accreditation schemes can place on departments and assessment teams, potentially leading to ‘charter mark fatigue’. Ironically, this burden is often felt most severely by the very academics that equality charters are meant to help. Many attendees described their experience of exhaustion in undertaking Athena SWAN work, as well as equality work more widely.’
Pearce, R. (2017) Certifying Equality? Critical Reflections on Athena SWAN and equality accreditation. Coventry: Centre for the Study of Women and Gender. (link is a pdf download)

It is easy to see how this happens. Academic environments (particularly in Britain) are heavily managerialised, often relying on crude structures of ‘measurement’ for implementation of performative neo-liberal policies such as ‘research excellence’, ‘teaching excellence’, and ‘knowledge exchange’. The aims of both gender and race equality can (and often are) used and abused ruthlessly within such a managerial approach. This happens within a framework that purports to show transparency and progress, whilst in practice works to reproduce a system that is the opposite of the intended outcome (as Sara Ahmed has shown).

Of course, much the same could happen with any programme for decolonization of universities. That is not to say it should not be attempted.


Decolonizing the white curriculum

And so, I am not considering decolonization as a new addition to the administrative burden of scholars and teachers. It is not simply about outlining new boxes to check and achieve.

Rather, what I have in mind for the decolonization of the study of religion is at the level of the classroom, in particular, and all that goes into preparing for the classroom experience (for both teachers and students). And indeed it is about what comes out from that experience. This is the most straightforward, and potentially achievable, form of decolonizing of knowledge.

And here I mean a number of different options and strategies, which together encourage us to look towards a bigger picture.

The first of these is the decolonization of the curriculum. The question, ‘why is my curriculum so white?’ is now commonly being asked at the student level. It has erupted into very public debates, such as at SOAS (as mentioned above), and also when a group of students lobbied for the addition of a more diverse range of readings on the English literature curriculum at the University of Cambridge.

But this question should not only be asked by students. It should be a basic starting point for any syllabus design, and also for any writing project.

On discussing the process at Cambridge, Priyamvada Gopal puts it as follows:

‘A decolonised curriculum would bring questions of class, caste, race, gender, ability and sexuality into dialogue with each other, instead of pretending that there is some kind of generic identity we all share.’

This is not about putting a token writer of colour on a syllabus (or in a bibliography) for the sake of meeting a diversity quota. It is a recognition that there are voices that can and should be heard — both by scholars in their research and students in their programmes. The white male voice — and indeed the female white voice — should not be privileged, it is one out of many.

Sara Ahmed has put this in a very direct way:

‘White men cite other white men: it is what they have always done; it is what they will do; what they teach each other to do when they teach each other. They cite; how bright he is; what a big theory he has. He’s the next such-and-such male philosopher: don’t you think; see him think. The relation is often paternal: the father brings up the son who will eventually take his place. Patriarchy: it’s quite a system. It works.
‘You come against a system when you point out a system. When there is a system those who benefit from the system do not want to recognise that system.’

And so for Ahmed there is a response to this, a challenge:

‘In the book I am writing Living a Feminist Life I thus have a strict and explicit citation policy. I will not and do not cite white men. And you know what: it has been really easy! You should try it! We can rebuild our houses with feminist tools; with de-colonial precision we can bring the house of whiteness down.’ (Sara Ahmed, ‘White Men’, 2014)

This is the challenge. Perhaps to write a paper, or a book, or a syllabus that has no white men (and, of course, yes I do understand that means the exclusion of my own work too). It so often happens the other way around, and that is so rarely challenged or even noticed — the exclusion of people of colour, particularly women of colour, is often invisible and unnoticed in academia.

As Ahmed has shown, it is possible to challenge this.

The decolonizing process of expanding the curriculum makes a difference in other ways. The hidden (and often unacknowledged) politics of citation and curriculum is clearly a means to protect and promote a white normativity, but it also potentially excludes the reader. Kehinde Andrews describes an experience that he shares with many other contemporary scholars of colour in Britain, “I’ve never been taught, ever, at any level — at school or university — by anyone that wasn’t white”. When this does still happen (as it does so often, still), the learning process should not be about white teachers using white authors in the teaching of students.

And this relates to further issue of not only what we encourage others to read, but also the questions that scholars ask — to themselves and also to students. In other words, if it is so difficult to make use of a person of colour in the curriculum, then should we be rethinking the questions we are asking? Are we missing out something (as well as some people) which has a significant bearing on the research and teaching being done?

Readings on a syllabus and citations in academic papers are conversation partners — the scholar engages with new ideas and questions through their reading of other people’s work. If the sources for our writing and teaching all share the common identity of whiteness (even if they have diverse opionions), then the academic conversation is likely also to be monochrome.

We do not have to agree with every person and perspective on a syllabus. A challenging perspective is often helpful for teaching and for students to engage with to form their own sense of critique. But we also need to make sure that adding such voices are not introduced to be set up as ‘others’ — voices which are portrayed as beyond and perhaps opposing the (white) mainstream.

So much of this comes down to challenging dominant assumptions and in particular challenge the dominance of white normativity — both in our syllabuses and in our thinking. Instead it is important to consider further who is encouraged to be part of the discussion

And this includes the students in the classroom. As Sara Ahmed noted above, the person of colour (student or teacher) very often feels like a ‘space invader’, a body which is ‘out of place’. One important aim of decolonization is to ensure that all students have a social, cultural and material place in the learning process and that this is not problematized, but is instead facilitated and supported.

This brings us back to the issue of questions in research and teaching. That is, who forms the questions? Or to put this another way, who are deemed to be fit and appropriate for asking the questions that are chosen to be answered.

And thus, it is an issue of what is studied.

In practice, I see this as a significant part of what I think is important within the study of religion. The discipline is not only looking at ‘religion as an object’ — the specifics of particular religious traditions. In fact, if religion is seen in this way, I argue that the study of religion is thus not about studying religion.

Instead, a very significant part of the study is the conditions and history that led the scholar and the student to view the specifics of (what they see as) religion in this way. It is about studying theory and approaches that contextualise such assumptions in a global context and a history of colonialism. Again, this is not a theory coming from white men, it is a range of approaches that Raewyn Connell calls ‘Southern Theory’.


Decolonization of (and in) the discipline of religious studies

In the previous section I have talked about the general structure of decolonizing at the level of teaching, without discussing the particularities of what this means in practice for the teaching of religion.

I have outlined elsewhere some of the issues that I consider important for the process of decolonization of the discipline. In particular, they require the following:

Engaging with each of these issues — and many more — and doing so from more than simply a white male standpoint is for me a very significant part of facing the challenges of decolonization with the discipline of religious studies. These may well not be the only issues of importance, but they are very important.

However, I do have a further range of issues, which largely reflect many of the points that I have mentioned above. That is, how does the process of diversifying and decolonizing happen, and how does this not somehow get clawed back into the white normativity that it is challenging?

I get very frustrated with the field of religious studies, in particular the slowness with which it engages (in general) with developments occurring elsewhere in the study of culture. I am responding to that frustration partly by writing of this paper. In doing so, what I am outlining here is a contribution to the change I would like to see happening.

I also have a foot in another camp, that is the field of social/cultural anthropology — which is where I was trained (as both an undergraduate and postgraduate). Sometimes I would like to get away from some of the frustrations of religious studies and lose myself in the depths of anthropology — whilst at others I find the interdisciplinarity of religious studies a welcome contrast to some of the confining structures of the anthropological discipline.

In the past few weeks, in the run up to my formulation of this discussion, certain areas of anthropology have been facing the trauma of revelations about the online journal HAU, which until summer 2018 had a largely excellent reputation for the publication of innovative new research in the field. As well as the particular details of the management of the journal, the scandal has been focused on revelations about the fault lines in the discipline of anthropology that go far beyond one particular journal or editor.

In a discussion of this, Zoe Todd suggests the need for a Decolonial Turn 2.0 to occur in the discipline of anthropology. That is, although recognizing there has been a process of reflection about the colonial roots of the field, this has largely been about white men reflecting on what their academic forebears, did but still avoiding any real structural (or even theoretical) changes within the curriculum and canon.

Thus, she repeats a comment she once hear, that:

‘Anthropology is a room full of white people sitting around talking about people of colour.’

I think much the same can be said about religious studies — although in studies of religion the focus (or seeming object) of study is not on people, but rather on ‘beliefs’, texts, and generic categories of ‘religion’. That is, it purports to focus on people’s cultural products rather than the people themselves. But nonetheless, it is white men that tend to dominate. So, we could perhaps adapt Todd’s comment to the particularities of how religious studies does its work:

‘The study of religion is a room full of white people sitting around talking about things that people of colour do.’

The lack of space for Indigineity, that Todd describes in anthropology, is similarly constructed — in its own particular ways — within the study of religion.


Decolonization and contexts

One of the most important points I would like to emphasise is that decolonization it is not a ‘solid state’ or a one-off event. Decolonization is an ongoing process. Decolonization does not simply happen with the inclusion of a new reading on a syllabus, or the holding of a seminar (or staff training event). Decolonization is a process that aims to create large scale transformation of all levels of the academy — including the classroom, the discipline, and the institution.

Thus decolonization is not the same as ‘inclusion’ or ‘diversification’ — it is not about a paternalistic offering of inclusion to outsiders. Decolonization is about challenging and changing the sense of white entitlement (and white supremacism) that sets up the structures of power that carefully ‘allow’ (and control) the inclusion of certain forms of diversity. As I mentioned in the introduction, the metaphor of the ‘seat at the table’ (or the space on the syllabus) for such diversity is part of such white paternalism — decolonization is a challenge to these assumptions of power and the structures that are formed to maintain them.

Decolonization is not about identifying and employing ‘measurables’ or metrics. It is not about tick boxes, that are checked with a ‘yep we’ve done that, now we get our medal to put on the website’. There is no managerial ‘reward’ for decolonization, other than the visceral engagement in a process of working to achieve the good scholarship, social justice, and positive global change that the university system is (apparently) in place to affect.

It is also important to recognize that the processes of decolonization vary considerably in different contexts. Much of the discussion of decolonization in recent years has been led from particular geographical places.

Thus in Africa, the discussion of decolonization of education— led by scholars such as Achille Mbembe and Ngugii wa Thiong’o — is concerned with the development of infrastructure and institutions that were initially formed by European colonial powers. This has manifest in most particular form in debates and protests at the University of Cape Town, and the Rhodes Must Fall movement. At the heart of this has been the issue of decolonization and Africanization, which relates back to some of the classic sources of decolonization theory, such as Frantz Fanon.

In contrast, debates in north America have revolved around two separate but related issues that are the products of European (particular British settler colonialism). That is both Indigenous and African American challenges and resistance to white supremacy in Canada and the US (in which there are in themselves considerable differences). In contrast to this, there are also the particular issues in central and Latin America, that have also been very influential in the formation of decolonization theory — such as the works of Walter Mignolo and Aníbal Quijano.

Thus, in writing this from the particular perspective of decolonization of British higher education, the political and colonial history of Britain does in itself create a context that is quite different. In Britain there is not an immediate issue of either Indigenization or Africanization. Britain was the metropolitan centre of a global empire, which largely kept its politically subject colonial populations at a geographic distance. Thus, in contrast to the US, British locations for enslavement (in particular the Caribbean) were outside of the immediate British ‘home’ boundaries of the islands of Britain. Although there was very considerable movement of people within and between British colonial territories (through indenture and through encouraged migrations from India to Africa and South East Asia), only a small (but significant) part of this was to the ‘mother country’.

It was through the overt decolonization of the mid-twentieth century (that is the end of formal empire, and the emergence of independent nations) that the populations of the empire became established in sizeable numbers within Britain itself. The most obvious and most celebrated example of this was the arrival in London in 1948 of the Empire Windrush, which was the first significant migration of (mostly) men from the Caribbean to work and live within Britain.

The Windrush is considered a representation of the time from 1948 to 1962 when all colonial ‘subjects’ had an equality of citizenship within the empire — and thus the ‘Windrush generation’ from the Caribbean, and a similar generation from India and Pakistan, arrived in the country as British citizens. Of course, their passports enabled them to find work and to settle, but they did not mitigate the racialized exclusion, dehumanization, and violence that was directed against them within Britain as a result of the white supremacism of British identity.

And so, decolonization of British higher education operates within this particular context — in universities that were built literally on stolen resources and labour, and which have been profoundly rooted in discourses of racialized white supremacism. Indeed, the elite long-established universities of Britain were themselves a central part of the knowledge economy of empire, that placed them at the peak of civilization. And although there has been the end of empire, decolonization, and the emergence of a diverse, multicultural British population, much of the paternalist ideology still remains — despite efforts to perform diversity and inclusion.

Across these various locations and contexts, decolonization of education is about challenging the systems, structures, and assumptions that have been baked into the academic worldview by colonialism based on white supremacism.


Conclusion/reflection

And so, to conclude, I would like to come back to the title of this paper — that is, where to start with decolonization?

In particular, for those who are racialized as white (that is, the dominating majority of academics in Britain and north America), where should the process of decolonization start?

The most obvious place — as noted above —is with the authors that we engage with in our research and teaching. If the question ‘why is my curriculum so white’ provokes a response (either of indignation or guilt), then the point is to address this. And as noted above, this is not about finding a particular author of colour to fit into an otherwise unchanged syllabus. It is about asking the questions of how that syllabus needs to be decolonized, decentred, and challenged as a whole. How does the syllabus reflect the gendered and racialized structures of power that are central to the university?

And this is an important point to recognise, that being a teacher and researcher within a university is a position that carries its own forms of privilege (including white privilege and power). This works in various ways, and much of that privilege is clustered at the top of the system, in tenure or permanent, promoted positions. But there is also the privilege held by those who are suffering from the precariousness of short term, partial and underfunded contracts, even though their position may not seem to have much privilege. Teaching and research is about mobilising the platform and its privileges as best we can.

What this may mean for the scholar who is racialized as white, and who has the certain privilege of security of position, is a response that involves the following:

  • Listening to the voices that do not have such levels of privilege — the untenured and precariat, people of colour, LGBTQ, disabled, the voices of all women within a patriarchal environment. The voices seeking to queer and decolonize education. Just listen to them, and hear what is being said.
  • Use your platform and privilege to amplify what you hear. It is not about what you have to say, and these voices may have their own platform. But amplifying the voices of those who are often marginalised is a duty for those who have the ability to do so.
  • Think about how this impacts on you and what you are doing. Explore the dynamics, of society and history — how do decolonizing and postcolonial critiques make you rethink and understand better the assumptions of what you are doing?
  • Make what changes you can. This is not only about changing syllabuses but also changing systems, procedures, and policies — and also changing your own understanding of what you are doing.

People who identify as white have a responsibility to make this happen. Decolonization is not solely for those who are identified as people of colour. In a population that is majority white, there is a necessity for both scholars of colour and white scholars to implement an agenda for change, that is decolonization.

And of course, beware that this agenda does not disappear into the dominant ideologies of whiteness (of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and neoliberalism etc). Decolonization is not another former of diversity, to be measured, quantified, and achieved. Decolonization is about changing scholarship and the system, not the other way around.


Note:

First, this is very much a work in progress. My understanding of the challenges of decolonization is going through a process of development that still has a long way to go. And I am not claiming that this is the main or only way for the processes of decolonization to occur. So I would welcome any comments, feedback, or criticisms of the above reflections. Please use the comments below — or otherwise contact me directly (e.g., by email or twitter).

Second, there are a number of issues that are relevant here that I have discussed elsewhere. And so, in order to keep this paper to a manageable size (!), I have had to condense or omit important detail and points of reference. Where possible I have cross-referenced, but I also thought it might be useful to put my other discussions around this topic together here, as sort of ‘further reading’. These are:


Also, here is an overview of readings around the topic of decolonization — a number of which have been referred to in this paper. (I have also added to this list the references from my first paper discussion of decolonization.)


Ahmed, Sara. 2012. On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Duke University Press.

— — — . 2014. “White Men.” Feministkilljoys. https://feministkilljoys.com/2014/11/04/white-men/.

— — — . 2017. Living a Feminist Life. Duke University Press.

Ahmed, Sara, and Elaine Swan. 2006. “Doing Diversity.” Policy Futures in Education 4 (2). SAGE PublicationsSage UK: London, England: 96–100. doi:10.2304/pfie.2006.4.2.96.

Bhambra, Gurminder K. “Decoloniality.” Global Social Theory Blog. March. http://globalsocialtheory.org/topics/decoloniality/.

— — — . 2014. “Postcolonial and Decolonial Dialogues.” Postcolonial Studies 17 (2). Taylor & Francis: 115–21. doi:10.1080/13688790.2014.966414.

Brodkin, Karen, Sandra Morgen, and Janis Hutchinson. 2011. “Anthropology as White Public Space?” American Anthropologist 113 (4): 545–56. doi:10.1111/j.1548–1433.2011.01368.x.

Connell, Raewyn. 2007. Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Cambridge: Polity. doi:10.1558/arsr.v25i2.102.

“Decolonizing the AHR.” 2018. The American Historical Review 123 (1). Oxford University Press: xiv–xvii. doi:10.1093/ahr/123.1.xiv.

Dees, Sarah E. 2015. ‘Religion on Display: Exploring Museums in the Study of Religion, Race, and Ethnicity’, Religion in American History Blog

Dees, Sarah E. 2016, ‘Adventures in Religious Materiality’, Religion in American History Blog

DiAngelo, Robin. 2011. “White Fragility.” The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy 3 (3). http://libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/view/249.

Gopal, Priyamvada. 2017. “Yes, We Must Decolonise: Our Teaching Has to Go beyond Elite White Men | Opinion.” The Guardian, October 27. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/27/decolonise-elite-white-men-decolonising-cambridge-university-english-curriculum-literature.

Joy, Morny. 2012, ‘Revisiting Postcolonialism and Religion’, Australian Religion Studies Review, Vol 25/2.

Legg, Stephen. 2017. “Decolonialism.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 42(3): 345–48. doi:10.1111/tran.12203.

Mbembe, Joseph Achille. 2016. “Decolonizing the University: New Directions.” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 15 (1): 29–45. doi:10.1177/1474022215618513.

Maldonado-Torres, Nelson. 2014. “Race, Religion, and Ethics in the Modern/Colonial World.” Journal of Religious Ethics 42 (4): 691–711. doi:10.1111/jore.12078.

Mignolo, Walter. 2007a. “Delinking: The Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality and the Grammar of de-Coloniality.” Cultural Studies 21 (2): 449–514. doi:10.1080/09502380601162647.

— — — . 2007b. “Introduction: Coloniality of Power and de-Colonial Thinking.” Cultural Studies 21 (2): 155–67. doi:10.1080/09502380601162498.

Mirza, Heidi Safia. 2015. “Decolonizing Higher Education: Black Feminism and the Intersectionality of Race and Gender.” Journal of Feminist Scholarship., no. 7/8. http://www.jfsonline.org/issue7-8/articles/mirza/.

Noxolo, Patricia. 2017. “Decolonial Theory in a Time of the Re-Colonisation of UK Research.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 42 (3): 342–44. doi:10.1111/tran.12202.

Ngugii wa Thiong’o. 1986. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Portsmouth, NH: J. Currey.

Pearce, Ruth. 2017. Certifying Equality? A Critical Reflection on Athena SWAN. Coventry: Centre for the Study of Women and Gender. https://ruthpearce.net/2017/07/03/report-certifying-equality-a-critical-reflection-on-athena-swan/.

Quijano, Aníbal. 2007. “Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality.” Cultural Studies 21 (2): 168–78. doi:10.1080/09502380601164353.

Rabaka, Reiland. 2009. “Frantz Fanon: Revolutionizing the Wretched of the Earth, Radicalizing the Discourse on Decolonization,” in Africana Critical Theory. Lexington Books.

Radcliffe, Sarah A. 2017. “Decolonising Geographical Knowledges.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 42 (3): 329–33. doi:10.1111/tran.12195.

Radebe, Zodwa. 2016. “On Decolonising Anthropology.” Savage Minds (Anthro{dendum}). https://savageminds.org/2016/05/23/on-decolonising-anthropology/.

Rizvi, Uzma. 2017. “Decolonization Is Political Action, Not an Act of Historical Circumstance.” Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology. https://savageminds.org/2017/06/30/decolonization-is-political-action-not-an-act-of-historical-circumstance/.

Sabaratnam, Meera. 2017. “Decolonising the Curriculum: What’s All the Fuss about? | Study at SOAS Blog.” Accessed October 10. https://www.soas.ac.uk/blogs/study/decolonising-curriculum-whats-the-fuss/.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies : Research and Indigenous Peoples. New York : Zed Books.

Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1 (1). University of Toronto. http://decolonization.org/index.php/des/article/view/18630.

Wolfe, Patrick. 2016. Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race. London: Verso Books.


Religion Bites is edited by Malory Nye, an academic and writer teaching at the University of Glasgow (until the end of June 2018). He can be found on Twitter (@malorynye) and on his website, malorynye.com.

He produces two podcasts: Religion Bites and History’s Ink.

Malory Nye is also the author of the books Religion the Basics (2008) and There Shall be an Independent Scotland (2015). He is currently working on a new edition of the Religion the Basics book, together with a new book on Race and Religion, which will be published by Bloomsbury Academic.

He is the editor of the Routledge journal Culture and Religion.


Main picture: Rhodes Must Fall campaigners protest in Oxford to demand the statute of Cecil Rhodes be removed from the front of Oriel College (October 2017).