On Decentralizing: epistemic authority beyond the centers of knowledge production

28th September 2021 : 14:00 - 15:00

Category: Webinar

Speaker: Alis Oancea, University of Oxford (Chair); Leandro Rodgriguez Medina, Universidad de las Americas Puebla, Mexico

Location: Zoom webinar, registration required

Audience: Public

The centre/periphery model is not new, but its validity remains due to at least three interrelated phenomena. First, science is produced in specific places based on the concentration of different symbolic, human and material resources. Second, the emerging asymmetries produce reinforcement mechanisms that tend to make inequalities persist over time, some of which are structural in nature. Third, the circulation of knowledge, although it has opened up space for thinking dynamically about the link between institutions, regions and forms of knowledge, always takes place in the context of asymmetries.

From this perspective, the possibility of carrying out projects that seek greater epistemic justice requires, simultaneously and often contradictorily, that the peripheries develop their capacity to absorb and produce knowledge while the centres open up to the margins, both in terms of the content of their knowledge (decentering) and the production practices that sustain it (decentralising).


This is the seventh webinar in CGHE’s special series, ‘Racism and Coloniality in Global Higher Education’. You can find out more about the full series here.

This CGHE webinar series explores what global racial equity would mean for the future of higher education, and addresses the challenges of decolonising research systems and pedagogic cultures. The aim is to promote knowledge of, and commitment to, anti-racism within universities, and amongst researchers and policymakers. Contributors will reflect on colonial institutional legacies, racialised institutional cultures, and the power of ‘whiteness’, drawing on empirical research in a range of higher education contexts. Questions to address include:

  • Why are the legacies of colonialism often overlooked, or erased, in favour of a ‘colour blind’ analysis of global higher education’s hierarchies and inequalities?
  • Is the institutional racism of today’s universities a historical legacy or a resurgent cultural dynamic, intersected by the geopolitics of internationalisation.
  • What can we learn about the structural inequalities of the global knowledge system from critical geographers and scholars in Science and Technology Studies?
  • What forms of profound and transformational change would be needed to create racial equity in global higher education and research?
  • How are universities, faculties and students, addressing these colonial legacies? Can owning ‘whiteness’ and acknowledging white privilege – along with the JEDI agenda (justice, equality, diversity and inclusion) – help move these debates forward?

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).