SOAS students demand white philosophers be dropped from syllabus
Down with Descartes!
SOAS’ SU is calling for a reduction in the number of white philosophers taught on the syllabus, as part of a new campaign.
The campaign, ‘Decolonising SOAS: Confronting the White Institution’, is part of a wider movement to Decolonise SOAS by interrogating ‘the colonial history of the university…[and shaping] the academic decisions within the school.’
In a statement, the Student Union argued that the philosophers taught on SOAS courses should be from the Global South or it’s diaspora. If white philosophers need to be included, that it should be done purely from a ‘critical standpoint’ and would need to recognise the ‘colonial context in which so called “Enlightenment” philosophers wrote within’.
Last year marked the centenary for the founding of SOAS, originally as an institution to train students in the languages and cultures of indigenous people under British rule. The SU argues that these reforms would allow SOAS’ syllabi to reflect the specialisation the university has in Asian and African studies.
In response to the SU’s proposals, the Head of SOAS’ Religions and Philosophies Department, Erica Hunter, has commented that she would ‘firmly resist from dropping philosophers or historians just because it was fashionable.’
The ‘Decolonising SOAS’ campaign was first proposed as part of the Student Union’s ‘Educational Priorities’ for 2014/15. Other campaigns for this year include the creation of a ‘Decolonising Our Minds’ Society.
The Democracy and Education Union officer, Ali Habib has yet to comment.