What is decolonisation?

We begin from the recognition that the institutions within which we work, study and live are rooted in historic violences, and that these violences were not erased at moments of independence, abolition or legal equality (and, in settler-colonial nations, continue to be the foundation of the state’s existence). We understand decolonisation movements as both recognizing, making visible and working to address the legacies that colonialism, empire, racism, and patriarchy continue to have, and envisioning a world beyond these repressive structures. Integral to decolonisation is the recognition that our lives are intimately connected to others’, and we are constantly learning from other radical movements (such as #RhodesMustFall), and work in solidarity with other social and environmental justice movements.

Why LSE?

As a self-described ‘global university’, LSE operates in the centre of empire, and its power, reputation and reach as an institution of higher education would not exist without the weight of colonial and racist legacies behind it. Many of LSE’s degree programmes and courses are not just based in or tacitly benefiting from these historic violences, but are preserving and perpetuating them. We believe that it is in and through places like the London School of Economics that global power asymmetries are reinforced and expanded, and therefore as students and staff we must push to transform the university. LSE’s vision for 2030 is to ‘shape the world’s future’; indeed, we want to use our platform – based as it is in empire – to push to de-centre colonial epistemologies and move towards a decolonial, anti-racist, inclusive, diverse and equitable future.

How do we decolonise?

We understand decolonisation in institutes of higher education to be about both (1) changing how we understand, study and act in the world, and (2) empowering diverse people and valuing diverse forms of knowledge and experience. These two changes are dependent on one another: we cannot solely diversify universities but must actively work to stop perpetuating inequalities, injustices and precarity – and we assert that through this our scholarship and educational practices will be stronger. We recognize this as an ongoing and often painful process: recognizing and confronting the causes of global inequalities is not easy, as these uneven power structures have shaped all of our lives. Decolonisation is simultaneously a collective project and a deeply personal one, which requires people to work together and to also work on ourselves, to recognize our own personal blind spots. This collective and personal process is transformative on many scales: it means both recognizing the past and working towards a radically different future based in solidarity with diverse struggles.