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A researcher-led project which aims at decolonising knowledge and practise at the EUI

Mission statement

The Decolonising Initiative aims to decolonise knowledge and practise at the European University Institute by creating a forum for dialogue and change which challenges colonial privilege, narratives, and assumptions. We invite our fellow researchers, faculty, and staff to consider how we produce and assign value to different types of knowledge. We also seek to examine and address the colonial legacies that shape the material structures of our institution. We want to facilitate self-reflection and a broad discussion on those structural imbalances that are rooted in colonial pasts. How we define our curriculum at the EUI can rule in or out what types of candidates qualify for professorial chairs or for researcher fellowships. Where do we look to invite visiting fellows or speakers for our workshops? To what extent do our practices unknowingly reproduce patterns of underrepresentation of people from certain European or non-European places? For us the efforts leading to such a decolonisation will constitute an ongoing process.

Our scholarly frames of understanding are all too often defined from positions of academic privilege anchored in colonial relations that continue to inform knowledge production. Our work is in danger of bias if it relies on existing status hierarchies that shape data collection and analysis. How we research and deal with migration and mobility offers a good example of the need to address both the production of knowledge and institutional structures. Movement is still largely seen as taking place from an allegedly poor south to a presumably rich north, although we know that patterns are far more complicated. Traditional frameworks miss mobility between Asian and Arab countries, substantial re-migration from Europe to Africa, and they ignore high levels of poverty within Europe. An effective engagement between bodies of knowledge originating both from the global South and from Europe could change the very terms of debate. Moreover, we need to pay attention to material matters like access to visas, funding, and recruitment as a part of altering the combination of voices that are heard and valued within scholarly settings.

The Decolonising Initiative is by definition anti-racist. It tackles raced-based discrimination while still considering other forms of marginalization grounded in hierarchies of gender, sexuality, class, age, religion, and ability. It also intends to interrogate the often unremarked (or presumed) cultural homogeneity of our institutional environment. As an international centre for doctoral and postdoctoral research, we believe that the EUI both bears a special responsibility and has unique possibilities, to promote new forms of knowledge production and new organisational practices within the institution and beyond.

Page last updated on 27/04/2022

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