Call for Papers – Decolonising the University

The point of departure of this special issue for the Dutch Journal of Gender Studies (Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies) is the University of Amsterdam’s student occupation in the spring of 2015 and the banner hanging from the front of its main administrative building, ‘het Maagdenhuis’, stating: ‘No Democratization without Decolonization’. This local call for a decolonisation of education, the curriculum, and the University system connected contemporary voices and struggles in the city of Amsterdam to other voices in the margins of academic institutions both in the Global South and in Europe and the US asking: ‘Why is my curriculum white? Why isn’t my professor black?’ These powerful questions also brought to renewed visibility the long-term social political struggles and intellectual traditions within and outside the Dutch University, which have been critically engaging with racism, discrimination, and exclusion (Loewenthal, 1984; Essed, 1991; Essed & Hoving, 2014, Wekker, 2015). In Belgium, student activism is steadily growing, but remains as yet low profile. Nevertheless, universities and university colleges increasingly underwrite the importance of ‘diversity’ by implementing diversity policies and employing ‘diversity officers’. It remains to be seen how such engagements translate into practice and relate to calls for a radical decolonisation of academic institutions.

For the editors of this special issue, these events not only point at the centrality of addressing colonial pasts of our academic institutions, but also present a broader invitation to ask how knowledge is produced and taught at universities and for whose benefits. This special issue seeks contributions that engage creatively with the various intellectual and/or activist traditions that are addressing these questions. Contributions can address the Dutch and Belgium context, but we also welcome articles from and about other countries and regions.

The question of decolonising the university speaks to debates and research on the politics of knowledge and the analysis of power relations, which have been profoundly shaped by critical feminist agendas. Black, Chicana, ‘First nations’/ Indigenous/communitarian, and decolonial feminisms have been at the forefront of the struggle to decolonise the university and the knowledge structures that remain complicit with intersectional forms of domination. To decolonise a modern/colonial institution such as the University and its curricula requires a politics of coalition building (Lugones, 2003, 2008), and a praxis of intersectionality (Bilge & Collins, 2016). While decolonial thought acknowledges gender as a key analytical category, it has also engaged with its coloniality and the need to develop new ways of embodied thought and praxis (Lugones, 2003, 2008; Icaza & Vázquez, 2016). This raises questions about the decolonisation of gender as an axial reflection for the transformation not only of women´s studies but of our practices of knowledge and the university as a whole. Furthermore, this encourages reflection on the invisible norms shaping universities as institutional spaces that assume certain bodies (white/male) as the norm, making the ‘others’ into ‘space invaders’, bodies out of place (Ahmed, 2012; Puwar, 2004).

This special issue seeks contributions that speak to one or more of the following agendas:

–        reflect on/with movements and initiatives both in the Global South and in the Global North that are seeking to decolonise the University

–        consider interventions across the world to decolonise learning and the University and their interconnections

–        examine the specificities of local autonomous practices to decolonise knowledge and learning

–        share pedagogical experiences with decolonising the curriculum, in gender studies and beyond

–        develop conceptual and ethical articulations of decolonisation of learning and the University

–        discuss the challenges of building political coalitions supporting the decolonisation of learning and the University

–        trace the historical precedents and  the local/national/international impulses moving these struggles forward

–        reflect on the relevance of the decolonisation of gender as a turning point for the transformation of the University

Research articles are subjected to a double blind peer review process. Articles can be submitted in English or in Dutch.

As well as research articles, the journal welcomes essays, columns (short topical and polemical articles), interviews, and visual essays.

The Dutch Journal of Gender Studies (Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies) is published by Amsterdam University Press:

Deadlines and timeline publication:

Deadline submission of abstracts: 15 December 2016

  • Notification of acceptance before: Christmas break
  • Deadline first version articles (max. 6000 words incl. references and bibliography): 15 April 2017

Author Guidelines in English:

Author Guidelines in Dutch:

  • Reviews from external reviewers received: 1 June 2017
  • Final version from authors (max. 6000 words): 1 July 2017
  • Publication: 21 Sept 2017


Rosalba Icaza:

Rolando Vazquez:

Sophie Withaeckx:

Sara de Jong:

Het Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies is een interdisciplinair tijdschrift. Het is primair een platform voor auteurs die onderzoek doen of werken in Nederland en Vlaanderen, maar bijdragen van elders zijn ook welkom. Artikelen mogen in het Engels of Nederlands worden geschreven. Zie voor meer informatie:

Categories: Diaspora, Diversity & Difference, Higher Education


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