Otto Haeckel / Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin
Otto Haeckel / Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

Decolonizing the academy has become a global debate. There are different views within PRIO about this particular approach, and what it means for scientific practice. As an institution, PRIO does not hold an official position, but remains committed to increased diversity in the academy as well as scientific excellence.

On Friday 8 June, PRIO held the widely attended event ‘Decolonizing the Academy’. (In case you missed the discussion – which was held in English – a sound recording of the event can be found here).

The initiators of this event, Research Professor Cindy Horst (PRIO) and Research Assistant Ida Roland Birkvad (PRIO), published an article calling for the decolonization of academia in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on the same day. An English translation is available at the PRIO blog.

In a reply to Horst and Birkvad, Senior Researcher Tore Wig (University of Oslo and PRIO) published an article ‘Avkolonisering på villspor’ [Decolonization Gone off the Rails] in the newspaper Klassekampen on 3 August 2018. An English translation is available at the PRIO blog.

Ida Roland Birkvad was also interviewed on the subject on 15 June by the Norwegian radio show Dagsnytt 18 for NRK Radio. You can listen to the interview (in Norwegian) here.

As the initiators intended, the event created a broad public debate in Norway over the course of the summer. The debate – within a series of interviews and opinion pieces – has largely played out in the Norwegian daily newspapers, Klassekampen and Aftenposten.

Some of the debate is behind paywalls, but here is a list (in Norwegian):

  1. Ønsker flere stemmer’ [More Voices Wanted], Klassekampen, 21 July 2018.
  2. Oser identitetspolitikk’ [This Reeks of Identity Politics], Klassekampen, 26 July 2018.
  3. Ikke bare representasjon’ [It’s Not Just Representation], Klassekampen, 28 July 2018.
  4. Den avgjørende praksisen’ [The Crucial Practice], Klassekampen, 30 July 2018.
  5. De forenkler debatten’ [They’re Simplifying the Debate], Klassekampen, 31 July 2018.
  6. ‘Om «vestlig» vitenskap’ [On «Western» Science], Klassekampen, 9 August 2018.
  7. ‘Alternativ kunnskap’ [Alternative Knowledge], Klassekampen, 9 August 2018.
  8. Avkoloniseringsideologien truer universitetene’ [The Ideology of Decolonization Threatens Universities], Aftenposten, 14 August 2018.
  9. Er kreftmedisiner virkelig et resultat av «mannlig, vestlig og hvit logikk»?’ [Are Cancer Medications Really a Product of «Male, Western Logic»?], Aftenposten, 16 August
  10. Slik kan naturvitenskapene avkoloniseres’ [This is how the natural sciences can be decolonized],, 22 August
  11. 'Avkolonisering vil kunne styrke forskningen' [Decolonization may strengthen research'], Aftenposten, 24 August

For related discussions on this topic, see the 11 May 2018 op-ed in Klassekampen – ‘Kolonistaten Norge’ [‘Norway – The Colonial Power’] – by Research Assistant Inga Marie Nymo Riseth (PRIO). An English translation can be found at the PRIO blog.

For a discussion of how decolonizing the academy might intersect with academic everyday practice, you can read this post by Research Professor Marta Bivand Erdal (PRIO) over at the PRIO blog: 'What Shapes Which Migration Flows We Study'?

PRIO puts great value on the freedom of our researchers to engage in the public debate and encourages them to do so. The debate continues.