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Academic Freedom and the Decolonization of Knowledge: Conflicts and Dilemmas in Higher Education

Decolonization may be taken as a phase in the history of colonized people that is represented by a movement towards a critique of colonial effects during both colonialism and postcolonialism. While decolonization may have many aims, its general intention is to expose the ills of colonialism in an attempt to undo their long-standing effects. The overarching problem of this interdisciplinary project, situated in the STIAS University and Society theme, can be stated as follows: how can South African universities secure their legitimacy and utility in the eyes of the local population without succumbing to radical measures that may in the end be counterproductive and even jeopardize their academic integrity and international reputation? Specifically, the purpose is to investigate to what extent various conceptions and implementations of the decolonizing of knowledge are compatible with academic freedom, whereby the latter is understood in accordance with the international standard provided by the UNESCO Recommendations for the Status of Higher-education Teaching Personnel (1997). The research will be carried out in the context of an interdisciplinary network of mostly South African-based researchers in Philosophy, Education Science, and Law.


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