The Darker Side of Higher Education: The Atlantic Economy, Epistemic Imperialism, and the Decolonial Option (a research project)

This blog has been dormant for a while, waiting for me to re-imagine my social media profile.  But I have been encouraged by a range of new readers to revive the blog, even if only temporarily.  I am in process of moving to Roskilde University to work with Eva Bendix Petersen.  This is an exciting opportunity for me.  Roskilde will be my academic domicile and it is because of this imminent move that I have been lax in keeping up with social media. For this post, I have chosen to share a substantial intellectual project that I am beginning.  This project builds on previous explorations presented at the Sociological Association of Ireland conference in 2017.  The broad project is to imagine higher education otherwise. The text below will be developed further over the coming months.


The Darker Side of Higher Education – a project

Everywhere around us we hear of the ‘crisis’ of higher education.  The fact that the ‘crisis’ is articulated through a generalised object: higher education and global university rankings are tabulated in terms of atomised institutions rather than national systems, provides a glimpse into an underlying logic of higher education.  The underlying logic is that the global system of higher education which, in its heartlands of Europe and America, is experiencing a crisis of purpose, is typical of the long history of higher education rather than a contemporary aberration. The underlying logic of the current moment of heightened competition and accelerated academic labour is an imperial and colonial one.  The ‘crisis’ discourse is a crisis of purpose within this logic rather than against it.  If we seek to resolve the contemporary crisis without critiquing it through a transnational history that demonstrates the intimate relationship between empire, colonisation, epistemic dominance, and institutions of higher education then we are in grave danger of re-inscribing an imperial and colonising logic.

What kind of crisis is the ‘crisis’ of higher education?

The core features of the emerging political economy of a global higher education system can be defined by the tension between two political rationalities – economic competition (demands that higher education produce discernible economic benefits for national economies ) and status competition (global university rankings and publication metrics ) and how these are translated into models of governance and funding priorities (systemic level); performance management, recruitment and progression systems (institutional level); and individual strategies to negotiate between personal and institutional objectives and work-life balance (subjective level).  A number of key critiques of this political economy have been mounted by various scholars such as Stefan Collini, drawing out what makes it a ‘crisis’, particularly in relation to various articulations of higher education and the outcomes of scientific endeavour as ‘public goods’.  This ‘crisis’ discourse, however, can be interrogated from the perspective of the global south, specifically the trenchant critiques offered by scholars/activists working with the coloniality of power perspectives such as Maria Lugones, Walter Mignolo, Ramón Grosfoguel, and Anibal Quijano. This perspective makes it possible to highlight the a-historical nature of the ‘crisis’ discourse and how it fails to engage with the conterminous history of empire, colonial expansion, violence, expropriation, and slavery and that of the emergence of the modern university, and that colonial structures of power infuse both the ‘crisis’ and its alternatives.  A transnational history of modern (Westernised) higher education is therefore required.  My work is arguing that an empirical focus on Britain, Ireland and the USA is justified in relation to the thesis put forward by Walter Mignolo that the Enlightenment, upon which the idea of the modern university is founded, is an integral part of European colonial expansion westwards into the Caribbean and Americas.  This analysis argues that in a similar fashion to the Iberian expansion west in the sixteenth century, Britain’s colonial expansion west and later eastwards has imprinted itself on contemporary higher education.  Two illustrative examples of how the emergence of higher education in Britain was co-constitutive of colonialism can be used here:  an account of how the rise of a mercantile class based on wealth from slavery in the Atlantic economy financed the growth of some of England’s leading universities and provides the economic basis for their position as leading global institutions; the second example focuses on the relationship between Scottish universities and development of medical education in the American colonies, referring to the use of the bodies of slaves to build medical knowledge and aid the establishment of modern medical education.

Britain’s western empire, specifically Ireland and America constitute a necessary empirical locus for a transnational history of the ‘crisis’ of higher education.  Ireland is examined in terms of how it was constituted as a semi-peripheral zone in the expanding British Empire and how higher education was constitutive of imperial knowledge entwined with domination and subjection domestically and across the Empire. It is proposed that the semi-peripheral nature of Ireland in the Empire continues to frame the development of higher education in the Republic of Ireland.  American hegemony of higher education is examined in terms of how the dominant imaginaries of higher education are based on slavery, racial science, and violence against Native Americans.

Thinking through the darker side of higher education

The Decolonial Option: Coloniality of power and its challenge to dominant studies of higher education

The main elements of the thesis are that the Atlantic economy is the foundation of capitalism; that the Atlantic economy, particularly the expropriation of resources and enslavement, generated the wealth that enabled the Renaissance and Enlightenment and thus the development of European universities; the intellectual elites in the dominant European powers represented certain strands of European thought as the pinnacle of human achievement; these ways of conceiving the world, organising knowledge, and evaluating knowledge became instruments of colonialism, that it is the close relation between modernity and colonialism that transformed local knowledge (Renaissance and Enlightenment) into universal knowledge, and that these ways of knowing and the associated global power relations persist in the modern world.  The terms of the debates in higher education studies and the ‘crisis’ of higher education present themselves as not being rooted geopolitically (in modernity/coloniality) or bio-graphically (the gender and racial structure of this knowledge).  Consequently, responses to the ‘crisis’ of higher education maintain the global hierarchy of knowledge.  The decolonial option is presented as advocating not an alternative universality but an ecology of knowledge or pluriversity.

Ireland: Settler Colonialism, Imperial Knowledge, and Platform Economy

Ireland’s integration into Britain’s Atlantic economy from the sixteenth century onwards transformed Ireland’s economic and social structures.  The Irish economy became dominated by and subjugated to the demands of the Atlantic economy – the restructuring of agriculture to feed Britain’s colonial expansion west; the organisation of Ireland’s key ports to service the westward expansion; the organisation of industry a) to service British colonial expansion and b) not compete with British industries.  Ireland’s social structure was transformed in relation to these economic and cultural processes.

The long emergence of higher education in Ireland, from the founding of Trinity College Dublin (1592) to the Queen’s Colleges (1845).  Two perspectives can be used to explain how a higher education system emerged in Ireland from the sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century.  The establishment of Trinity College Dublin (1592) can be interpreted through the perspective of settler colonialism and the role of TCD in the establishment of a colonial elite.  The move towards establishing the Queen’s Colleges (1845) in Belfast, Cork, Dublin, and Galway is explained in terms of incorporating two denominational classes into Britain’s Imperial project, particularly as Britain sought to develop its eastern Empire.  It can be argued that the founding of the Queen’s Colleges aimed to incorporate a dissenting Protestant tradition in the North East of Ireland who had been attracted to republican ideologies, particularly in the United Irishmen movement in 1789. An emerging Catholic Middle class that had been mobilised around demands for Catholic Emancipation were also a focus for incorporation within the British Imperial project.  The non-denominational basis of the Queen’s Colleges was a deliberate strategy to attract support from these denominational groups.

The Irish universities came to play a central role in the development and dissemination of Imperial knowledge.  The Geological Surveys of Ireland and then India demonstrate how scientific knowledge related to the mapping of Ireland and India were instrumental in normalising Imperial control, as cartographies of power and legitimation. The surveys also provided an infrastructure for military and mercantile control.

Human capital theory and models of inward foreign investment came to frame the development of Irish higher education policy in the 20th and into the 21st centuries.  Participation in American policy discussions led senior Irish civil servants to advance an economic and education strategy of human capital development from the 1950s onwards. The concept of the ’platform economy’ sheds light on the contemporary economic rationale for Irish higher education policy.  The economic subordination of Ireland to the USA post-1945 mirrors its subordination to British interests in the Atlantic economy.  Post-1945 is seen as the recreation of the Atlantic economy for American interests.

United States: American exceptionalism, slavery and genocide 

America’s Ivy League colleges demonstrate the intimate connection between settler colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade, and the establishment of institutions of higher education.  Burgeoning contemporary research into the relationship between higher education and slavery describe how the early colonial period established this relationship, with the emergent colleges being financed by slavery and providing a professional class for the British colonies in the Caribbean and the slave economy in the south of the American colonies.  This relationship continued into the post-independence period.  The elite nature of the Ivy League colleges and their vast endowments, premised in large part on the slave trade, have provided the material basis upon which these institutions have established their world reputation, and status in global rankings.

The historic expansion of American higher education is based on the expropriation of Native American lands and their violent expulsion from those lands.  The systematic violence against Native Americans was an aspect of the early colonial period, with the eastern seaboard being colonised through consecutive wars.  The expansion west of the United States following the Civil War also relied upon slavery.  However, the westward expansion that created the conditions for the Land Grant universities relied upon the systematic expulsion of Native Americans from their lands, leading to a catastrophic destruction of their social order.  The founding of the Land Grant universities, therefore, constitutes an act of aggression, further underlining the intimate relationship between enslavement, violence and American higher education.  America’s higher education system would provide a necessary basis for the emergence of the United States as the dominant economic force in the new Atlantic economy.

Post-1945 American academia came to dominate intellectual thought globally.  At least two case studies could be used to illustrate this: the impact of American anthropology on South America, on how South America was represented to the world through this, and how it was represented back to South American intellectuals; and how American sociology came to dominate the emerging discipline.  These cases provide the means to demonstrate how epistemological imperialism (and so the coloniality of power) operates in the modern period.

Global Rankings and Human Capital as Continuities in the Coloniality of Power

This project puts forward the argument that the contemporary transformation of global higher education through the two political rationalities of economic and status competition are strategic moves to secure economic and political domination of North America and Britain against the rise of emerging economies and higher education systems, for instance in China.  Global rankings, publication metrics, research finance, and control of academic publishing concentrates epistemological power in a few countries and élite institutions.  I argue that what we see here is not the diminishing of coloniality but what Mignolo and others term the imperial divide – the contestation over domination between competing empires.  Discourses of the ‘crisis’ of higher education are insufficient if they operate within the logic of the coloniality of power and that they inadvertently reinforce epistemological hierarchies. The ‘crisis’ of higher education discourses may, indeed, be acts of epistemic violence.

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Sociology of Irish Higher Education or An Irish Sociology of Higher Education? The Challenge of Southern Theory. #SAIConf2017

The second paper I gave at the Sociological Association of Ireland conference in Belfast recently is an offshoot of my work on the impact of research performance measure on academic practice and identity.  The abstract is as below:

What would happen if we viewed Irish higher education through the lens of southern theory. Southern theory argues that dominant epistemologies appear as if from no particular geohistorical location, so pertaining to be universal. Yet, these epistemologies are reflections of and inherent in the imperialism and colonialism of the metropolitan centres of Western Europe and North America. Universal knowledge is, in fact, the imperialism of Europe’s parochialism1&2 and universities have been implicit in epistemic violence as a basis for colonial power3. We need to ask whether, in interpreting Irish higher education, we have simply imported the thematic concerns of the metropole, accepted a subaltern position, and so neglected to develop a unique perspective that takes seriously Ireland as a post-colony4.

What might an Irish sociology of Higher Education look like?

  • This sociology would acknowledge that it speaks from somewhere, emerges from a particular geohistorical experience of colonialism, settler colonialism, nationalist nation-building, and globalization;
  • It would seek to re-story the history and dynamics of higher education in Ireland from that perspective, working with, beyond, and against the dominant concepts of the metropole;
  • It would speak between epistemologies5, critiquing both the continuing coloniality of power and nationalist ideology – an ecology of knowledge6.

1Mignolo, D. (2000) The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference, South Atlantic Quarterly 101(1): 57–96.

2Quijano, A. (2007) Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality, Cultural Studies 21(2): 168–78.

3Grosfoguel, R. (2013) The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities: Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 11(1): 73-90.

4Connell, R. (2007) Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Cambridge: Polity Press.

5Khatibi, A. (1990) Love in Two Languages. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

6Santos, S. (2014) Epistemologies of the South. Justice against Epistemicide. London: Paradigm.

The paper was presented as a sociological story,

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  1. A BOOK

I open the newly arrived book, running my hand across its cover. I am conscious about how opportune its publication is, arriving when my mind is turned again to considering the political economy of higher education. I am working on a research proposal – how research performance management impacts on academic practice and identity in the more peripheral zones of Europe. Poland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Iceland, Slovenia, Croatia…Ireland, all buffeted by similar forces of the knowledge economy and globalisation, pushing us to reconsider the purposes and practices of knowledge production and dissemination, of knowledge work itself. These are well-worn tropes, and Simon Marginson is a well-known articulator of how higher education is becoming globalised, how it is being wrenched from its national moorings.  As a scholar, I am committed to a notion of knowledge work as a common good. So, the title of Marginson’s new book “Higher Education and the Common Good” is obviously attractive. I know his work, have followed its development over time, informed by his key concepts I have been able to look beyond the immediate actions of managers, beyond the demands I place upon myself to be productive in specific ways, and can see the more general dynamic forces at play in the intimate lifeworlds of my colleagues and friends.

But my reading is disrupted. My assuredness in my epistemological position has ben challenged, has been questioned. I have always been uncertain about the way these texts, these sociologies of higher education, are empty of life, empty of the passions and pain endured by flesh and blood people. I have never been properly able to connect the misery, the excited anticipation of my own heartfelt life as an academic in their people-less words. But this is a different disruption. I read Marginson’s book as if two people. One scans the words, the familiarity of the conceptual framing, and familiarity of the argumentative flow. It describes my world as I have come to experience it. But the other reader focuses in on core words and raises a hand, telling me to pause and consider, consider what perhaps is also being said here, something fundamental.

Although he seeks to provide a long historical and broad geographical view of higher education and its relation to the common good, he admits that the animating model of a globalised higher education is that of the United States. Here he proposes that the idea of mass higher education itself is specifically given by the American history of higher education expansion, noting its beginning in the ‘land grant’ colleges initiated under Lincoln and the subsequent expansion following WW2, and the institutionalisation of America as a global power in part through its universities and colleges.

Although this is the kind of historical narrative I am familiar with, and have been comfortable with, it now disturbs and upsets. In this narrative of America’s internal expansion of higher education there is a complete absence of how America itself and so its system of higher education was founded upon processes of appropriation, dispossession, enslavement and violence.

 

  1. SEMIOTICS

Each morning I pass the original buildings of the university – the quadrangle. Everyone here knows its image, used in all marketing materials, often alongside the newest biotechnology labs. Old and modern in equal measure.

The front cover of the university’s strategic report, Vision 2020, depicts the ‘quadrangle’, a semiotic reminder of Galway’s origins as one of the “Queen’s Colleges”. Without any sense of reflexive pause Vision 2020 notes that the institution was established in the context of the Irish Famine. The running of this statement alongside its corporate text of excellence and achievements should, I feel, cause a pause, a moment of reflection.

In 1845 the foundation stones of Queen’s College Galway were being laid at the edge of the city. From the new Quadrangle building, in 1849, the first intake of 68 students looked out across empty fields and a city ravaged by fear. But, the text reads, the University founders did not allow those challenges to limit their ambitions. Continuing with this heroic narrative the document proclaims that their work began a tradition of scholarship and discovery that would confront the problems of the day, and empower their city and region to prosper. Prosperity on top of misery.

The historic tragedy of the famine becomes, in this institutional document, no more than a marker of heritage. It hides the way imperial epistemologies work. The famine was unique in 19th century Europe and occurred in the centre of the largest empire on earth, amongst those, following the Act of Union, who were UK subjects like those in London, Birmingham, Cardiff or Glasgow. The historical development of Ireland, integrated as it was in the Imperial economy, made it a net exporter of goods, specifically foodstuffs. Consequently, the famine happened in the midst of an expansion of Irish food exports.

 

  1. INTERLUDE

Voices cluster around my ears – Mignolo, Bhambra, Grosfoguel, Anzaldua, Santos, Quijano. These are not the names I am used to in reading and thinking a sociology of higher education.

They plant troubling questions in my mind, make my reading treacherous, unsettling. Their arguments are unfamiliar but potent, persuasive, touching.

Once familiar concepts and frameworks are reworked, rendered fresh by conversation with the liberating vocabulary of my new interlocutors – coloniality of power, empires of the mind, epistemic fundamentalism, border thinking. It is dizzying, fundamental, exciting.

 

  1. ANOTHER BOOK

A different book cover, but a similar set of omissions. Patrick Clancy’s comparative study of Irish higher education is certainly ambitious in its attempt to map the development and expansion of contemporary Irish higher education. He notes how the sector has become a focus for sustained attention following the economic and financial crises. The thesis is now predictable – higher education is being reformed in face of the knowledge economy and globalisation, both economic globalisation and the integration of national economies into global markets, including that of higher education.

Clancy’s narrative is curiously ahistorical. Admitting to a form of methodological nationalism, Irish higher education begins in 1921. The idea of universities being constitutive elements of empire and colonialism, let alone settler colonialism, is absent from the account:

“While universities and other higher education institutions are creatures of the nation state, increasingly analysts feel that a single-country perspective fails to provide an adequate frame of reference for understanding the dynamic of higher education in contemporary societies”

Was it ever the case that higher education in Ireland was not coterminous with a globalisation of power and economy?

Was it ever the case that what might be considered Irish higher education was primarily a construct of the nation state?

ANSWERS?

A) IRELAND AS PART OF A GLOBALISED ECONOMY

There is a specific history of empire that makes sense of the awful condition of famine when a university was founded in Galway, when rampant want and death coexisted with the export of foodstuffs, and the legislated neglect of imperial subjects. It is a history of Ireland’s integration into a British imperial economy as England expanded west, Ireland incorporated into England’s Atlantic Economy that would include the trade in human souls whose surplus value would make possible the American dream of mass higher education. The transformation of a potential independent Irish economy into the producer of foodstuffs specifically to feed imperial expansion, dispossession, and terror. By 1845 the Irish economy could not feed its own people and feed imperial expansion.

 

B) IRELAND AND IMPERIAL KNOWLEDGE

As well as foodstuffs for Empire, Ireland became the locale for the production of imperial epistemologies, Ireland as part of what Andrew Porter calls EMPIRES OF THE MIND.

– Ireland, simultaneously a partner in the Union and subject nation, supplied large numbers of imperial administrators.

Between 1855-1863 24% of all Indian civil service recruits were from Ireland because the Queen’s Colleges of Belfast, Cork and Galway had a particular role in supplying administrators to the Indian Civil Service.

Archives can be wonderful places, revealing treasures. One such treasure, presaging the current obsession with performativity, was the 1901 Royal Commission on University Education in Ireland. We see the President of University College Galway defending the performance of the college against sever criticism on the basis of its contribution to the Indian Civil Service

“Galway graduates, for example, were prominent in the Indian medical and engineering services as well as filling various imperial and quasi-imperial positions…”

We can hear these words echoing through the centuries, repeated now in university league tables and parliamentary committees.

 

  1. A PROPOSAL

The construction of an Irish sociology of higher education, as distinct from a sociology of Irish higher education, is not the articulation of a new national(ist) history. While I argue that it is important to understand contemporary political economy of higher education through the lens of Ireland as a post-colony, I do so in order to locate it in broader global networks, and thus not to reify and homogenise the idea of Ireland.

In proposing that we ‘speak from somewhere’, from the condition of Ireland, I speak from the particularity of the West of Ireland. This is not a purely geographical location. The West is a creation of the coloniality of power, a first colony in European Atlantic expansion, caught up in the hegemonic contestation between ascendant Spanish and Portuguese empires. The West is a consequence of Elizabethan and especially Cromwellian dispossession, expulsion and violence that subalternised Ireland and particularly the West – a process continued in numerous ways in the context of a post-colony.

Ramon Grosfoguel notes that,

“The Western/masculinist idea that we can produce knowledges that are unpositioned, unlocated, neutral, and universalistic is one of the most pervasive mythologies in the modern/colonial world”

Instead, we need to account for the geopolitics of our knowledge production. Inherent in this proposition is the suggestion that thinking Irish higher education otherwise is a project of epistemic decolonisation.

Bibliography

Ballantyne, T. (2005) ‘The Sinews of Empire: Ireland, India and the construction of British colonial knowledge’, in Terence McDonagh (Ed) Was Ireland a Colony? Economics, politics and culture in nineteenth-century Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.

Clancy, P. (2015) Irish Higher Education: A Comparative Perspective. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration.

Connell, R. (2007) Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Grosfoguel, R. (2013) The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities: Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 11(1): 73-90.

Khatibi, A. (1990) Love in Two Languages. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Marginson, S. (2016) Higher Education and the Common Good. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Mignolo, D. (2000) The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference, South Atlantic Quarterly 101(1): 57–96.

Mignolo, W., D. and Tlostanova, V. (2006) Theorizing from the Borders: Shifting the geo-and body politics of knowledge. European Journal of Social Theory, 9(2): 205-221.

O’Hearn, D. (2005) ‘Ireland in the Atlantic Economy’, in Terence McDonagh (Ed) Was Ireland a Colony? Economics, politics and culture in nineteenth-century Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.

Quijano, A. (2007) Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality, Cultural Studies 21(2): 168–78.

Santos, S. (2014) Epistemologies of the South. Justice against Epistemicide. London: Paradigm.

 

Táim ag dul go Béal Feirste – I’m off to Belfast

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The library of El Escorial Photo by Xauxa Håkan Svensson  CC BY-SA 3.0     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Escorial

I am off to Belfast/Béal Feirste soon for the Sociological Association of Ireland Annual Conference.  I will write more about the papers and the conference later.

I will be giving two papers this year:

‘Biographies of Internationalisation’: Methodological reflections on using the Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) to capture international student’s discourses and policy narratives – Speaking to Policy Speaking to Institutions (written with my colleague Lisa Moran)

How, as sociologists, do we speak to policy makers, and in this case to institutional leaders in higher education? And how do we do this in a way that troubles dominant discourses? This paper focuses upon a qualitative, Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) study of ‘knowledge cultures’ (Tsouvalis et al. 2000), and narratives of internationalisation that are embedded within international students’ biographies. Drawing upon qualitative materials from a biographical research study of 6 students categorised as ‘international’ in one Irish university, the paper illustrates areas of confluence and convergence in international student narratives about internationalisation and ‘storylines’ that appear in Irish policy on internationalisation. The argument in this paper is threefold; firstly, that the BNIM approach (Wengraf 2001) which elicits participants’ memories, knowledge and everyday ‘life worlds’ goes farther than some ‘conventional’ approaches to interviewing in capturing how international students recreate international identities, ‘negotiate’ insider/outsider distinctions and processes of stereotyping and labelling. Secondly, it is argued that how international students interpret internationalisation as a ‘lived experience’ and express these understandings through narrative is intricately bound to how they negotiate international identities. Thirdly, we argue that the kinds of narrative generated by the BNIM approach enables us to ‘trouble’ dominant discourses of internationalisation by inviting an ethic of openness to the ‘other’ and learn from rather than just learn about the experience of internationalisation students. Such an approach helps us to think higher education ‘otherwise’.

Tsouvalis, J., Seymour, S. and Watkins, C. (2000) ‘Exploring knowledge cultures: Precision Farming, Yield Mapping, and the Expert/Farmer Interface’ Environment and Planning A 32(5): 909-924

Wengraf, T. (2001) Qualitative Research Interviewing Biographic, Narrative and Semi-Structured Approaches London: Sage

 

Sociology of Irish Higher Education or An Irish Sociology of Higher Education? The Challenge of Southern Theory.

What would happen if we viewed Irish higher education through the lens of southern theory? Southern theory argues that dominant epistemologies appear as if from no particular geohistorical location, so pertaining to be universal. Yet, these epistemologies are reflections of and inherent in the imperialism and colonialism of the metropolitan centres of Western Europe and North America. Universal knowledge is, in fact, the imperialism of Europe’s parochialism1&2 and universities have been implicit in epistemic violence as a basis for colonial power3. We need to ask whether, in interpreting Irish higher education, we have simply imported the thematic concerns of the metropole, accepted a subaltern position, and so neglected to develop a unique perspective that takes seriously Ireland as a post-colony4.

What might an Irish sociology of Higher Education look like?

  • This sociology would acknowledge that it speaks from somewhere, emerges from a particular geohistorical experience of colonialism, settler colonialism, nationalist nation-building, and globalization;
  • It would seek to re-story the history and dynamics of higher education in Ireland from that perspective, working with, beyond, and against the dominant concepts of the metropole;
  • It would speak between epistemologies5, critiquing both the continuing coloniality of power and nationalist ideology – an ecology of knowledge6.

1Mignolo, D. (2000) The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference, South Atlantic Quarterly 101(1): 57–96.

2Quijano, A. (2007) Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality, Cultural Studies 21(2): 168–78.

3Grosfoguel, R. (2013) The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities: Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 11(1): 73-90.

4Connell, R. (2007) Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Cambridge: Polity Press.

5Khatibi, A. (1990) Love in Two Languages. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

6Santos, S. (2014) Epistemologies of the South. Justice against Epistemicide. London: Paradigm.