Students are demanding that Cambridge University “decolonise” subjects, warning that courses which “elevate” white writers “risk perpetuating institutional racism”.
After a successful campaign to “decolonise” English Literature at Cambridge, activists said they are pressing to “dismantle Eurocentricity” in the course material of a number of other subjects including history, philosophy, and history of art, according to The Telegraph.
The English faculty is considering a proposal to “ensure the presence” of black and ethnic minority writers on its courses after an open letter by student union women’s officer Lola Olufemi said that a curriculum centred around white writers “risks perpetuating institutional racism”.
“For too long, teaching English at Cambridge has encouraged a ‘traditional’ and ‘canonical’ approach that elevates white male authors at the expense of all others,” stated the letter, which was entitled, “Decolonising the English Faculty” and signed by more than 100 students.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 9, 2016
Students behind ‘Decolonise Cambridge’ stated on the campaign’s Facebook page that a number of “faculty working groups” are being built to pressure other departments, including History and Education, into changing course material.
The campaign has also gained support among some of the university’s lecturers, who have set up a “Decolonising the Curriculum Faculty Research Initiative”, which seeks to build a network of faculty members interested in “advancing debates and efforts around the decolonisation of the curriculum and curriculum justice”.
Run out of the University’s Centre for African Studies, the initiative hopes to “generate and support efforts to centre decolonisation, race, and the politics of knowledge” within curriculum reform, according to its website.
Cambridge University issued a statement of support for Olufemi after she attracted criticism on social media following media reports of moves to “de-centre” white men from the English Literature syllabus.
“Decolonising” English is about “expanding our notions of ‘good’ literature”, the student union officer told Cambridge student newspaper Varsity, describing “decolonisation” as “a long and meaningful process that requires thought and serious commitment to dismantling eurocentricity and studying works in their colonial contexts”.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 9, 2017
The president of Cambridge Black and Minority Ethnic campaign, Jason Osamede Okundaye — who has declared that all white people are racist, as Breitbart London previously reported — condemned the media coverage surrounding Olufemi’s campaign as “another attack on students of colour”.
Writing in The Guardian, the “race equality activist” also claimed that the preponderance of white men on course curricula is responsible for the “ethnic attainment gap” recorded at universities.
“It is no longer acceptable to present male, European authors as the gold standard of knowledge, and marginalised groups are shaking the academy from all angles,” writes the Cambridge student.