The course aims to inspire PhD candidates to explore and engage with decolonial, anti-colonial and postcolonial approaches in their current research. The course is open to Netherlands-based students at higher education institutions affiliated with the SENSE network. It targets students of engineering, natural and social sciences who are engaged with research on environmental issues – involving sectors such as water, forests, agriculture, and more. We especially encourage Netherlands-based women candidates and students from post-colonial countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America to apply. The course is divided into three segments, each engaging with critical aspects of doctoral research: theory, methodology, and fieldwork (see schedule). The course also includes screenings of films and documentaries that showcase how colonialism shaped scientific knowledge traditions and how to reclaim and celebrate diverse knowledge systems and practices.
Context and background
How scientific knowledge is produced is still strongly affected by colonial structures of power. The dominance of Anglo-Eurocentric knowledge and the marginalization of other knowledge traditions in the formerly colonised world have set the stage for a global knowledge hierarchy. This is evident in how economic and environmental ‘problems’ in the former colonies – mostly in the Global South – are often framed by rich-country researchers, who also develop corresponding ‘solutions’. The Global South has become a site where researchers from rich countries collect data and test and validate theories, models, and products.
Such colonial legacies deepen North-South knowledge inequality and produce socio-ecological harm. For example, the application of colonial river engineering approaches to exploiting rivers through dams and embankments for economic growth has devastated the lives of indigenous communities through forced eviction and displacement. It has also impaired riverine ecology and livelihoods, and marginalised knowledge traditions related to labour and practice.
Scientists are increasingly being called to reflect on how their research replicates colonial attitudes towards people and landscapes, and actively undo them. Undoing colonial legacies requires scientists to cultivate a decolonial approach to their research, including the recognition that knowledge sits in different places with different people and that scientific research cannot be impervious to concerns of justice.
Mon 27 Nov 08:45 – 17:00 Decolonising Knowledge: Approaches and Contemporary Debates
Tue 28 Nov 08:45 – 16:00 Decolonising Research Methodologies
Wed 29 Nov 09:00 – 17:30 Field Trip and Movie
Thu 30 Nov 08:45 – 18:00 Decolonising Fieldwork and Practice
Fri 1 Dec 09:15 – 16:00 Keynotes and Wrap-Up