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LIAS PhD Seminar: Decolonisation in Academia


Admission requirements

In addition to LIAS PhD students, this course is open to students of the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research), the MA Asian Studies (research), and the MA Classical and Ancient Civilizations (research). Interested students from other relevant PhD and Research MA programmes are kindly advised to contact the course convener and the coordinator or studies before registering for this course.


How can we negotiate the ethical challenges of doing research in contexts regulated by power imbalances and the absences these perpetuate, from the colonial archive to contemporary food markets? How can we decolonise our very own relation to the topics we investigate and the knowledge we inherit and co-produce, in research, teaching, and curriculum development? And how can we bolster the community aspect of reflecting on our positionality, which can be a daunting task if undertaken on your own? After reviewing decolonisation as a historical process, we will focus on decolonisation theory as resistance to epistemic violence, dispossession, and discrimination, and explore decolonial ethics and anti-colonial methodologies.

We will draw on a wide variety of material, ranging from scholarly writing to cultural artifacts and to the emotions, relationships, and intuitions that are part and parcel of the research experience. Complementary to readings/viewings suggested by the instructor, course participants will address the above questions by reflecting on material that illustrates their individual research journeys. This may be an archive that says no, offering silence and problematic constructions of ‘the other’; or issues of representation in data sets; or the challenge of placing your work inside and across various communities and historical perspectives; and so on. You will benefit from sharing these struggles, regardless of your regional and disciplinary expertise and your theoretical and methodological orientation. It is precisely the interdisciplinary nature of the course that will allow us to come to grips with decolonisation in academia.

Course objectives


  • To understand the emergence of decolonisation movements.

  • Familiarity with decolonial ethics and anti-colonial methodologies.

  • To contextualise decolonial theory in concrete research practices.

  • To critically develop your own arguments as a response to decolonisation.

  • To critically approach the colonial legacies of our fields of study.

  • Academic engagement with the theory and praxis of non-academic contexts, and contributions to epistemic diversity and the humanisation of academia.


  • Reflect upon the conceptualisation of research and contextualise your individual experience.

  • Analyse academic literature pertaining to the themes discussed in the weekly seminars.

  • Formulate original arguments, in discussion with the group and with each other.

  • Communicating opinions in an academic manner.

  • Critically assess (constitutive bias in) academic and non-academic sources (including media) beyond the politics of institutionalising knowledge.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Mode of instruction: seminar

  • Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenor needs to be informed without delay of any classes missed because of illness or misadventure. In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

  • Assignments may include web posts, presentations, moderating the discussion etc, at the discretion of the convener.

  • Deadlines for paper submission (ResMA students only) are set by the convener, after consultation of the students. Papers must be submitted at a date that enables marking and administrative processing within maximally six weeks after the Seminar’s final session.

Assessment method

ResMA students take the course for credit and will write a paper worth about 70 hours of work. Information on the requirements for the paper will be provided by the convener at the start of the course.
Assessment consists of two components, each worth 50% of the end grade:

  • Contributions to in-class debate and any assignments (see above)

  • A paper (see above)

In order to pass the course, ResMA students need a pass mark (i.e. 5,50 or higher) for both components.

Reading list

Prior to the start of the course, the course convener will provide detailed information on the material to be reviewed and any other preparatory activities for each session.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the course convener.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office