Decolonizing Knowledge: German Studies and Beyond (Roundtable)


German / American/Diaspora

Maya Nitis (Johns Hopkins University)

Katrin Pahl (Johns Hopkins University)

The 21st century can be characterized by efforts to address systemic racism, increasingly taken up in academic scholarship and praxis. Nevertheless, systems of secondary education continue to be a major participant in the reproduction of privilege, specifically vis-à-vis race. Literature on critical pedagogy tends to focus on certain fields, and in particular, on the study of education. Contemporary scholars of decolonization argue that most university classrooms today remain mired in hierarchical models of education, which, largely inadvertently, privilege those students already privileged in terms of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and more.

In a recent article, Achille Mbembe argues that universities must decolonize their practices through removal of colonial leftovers on campuses and inside classrooms. While Mbembe has worked extensively in European and American contexts, his discussion is situated in South Africa. What would/does the practice of decolonizing knowledge look like in your institutions and classrooms? What would it mean to decolonize epistemology in languages, literatures, philosophy, media and other fields across the humanities? Does this require an interdisciplinary or a transdisciplinary approach?

This roundtable will build on ongoing discussions on the topic of decolonization to which networks and events such as "Diversity, Decolonization and the German Curriculum," "Research Network in Queer Studies, Decolonial Feminisms and Cultural Transformations," and a recent roundtable at Johns Hopkins University have contributed.






What would/does the practice of decolonizing knowledge look like in your institutions and classrooms? What would it mean to decolonize epistemology in languages, literatures, philosophy, media, and other fields across the humanities? Does this require an interdisciplinary or a transdisciplinary approach?