Decolonising academia

These are preliminary thoughts on the subject and I shall be exploring this in detail in the future. The trigger of this idea was around two excellent posts.

First:

Patanjali Kambhampati: My ‘lived experience’ tells me that diversity, inclusion and equity is antithetical to human liberty | National Post

As a recent example of common practices in science funding in North America, I was denied funding opportunities twice by Canada’s federal science foundations, both of which were detailed in these pages, purely because I said I would hire research assistants based on merit, regardless of their gender or ethnic or cultural backgrounds.

Over the past year, the encroachment of the cult of DIE into academia has only grown. There are now many positions that are simply off limits to straight white men who are not handicapped. One must pledge allegiance to these illiberal principles in order to be a practising scientist in 2022.

Liberalism has become illiberal, and the ideas of “diversity and inclusion” have gone too far. I am not against them – they work in specific social constructs. However, meritocracy is being given a quiet burial.

The author concludes this by saying:

The means of progress should be derived from humbly examining and advancing the principles of human liberty, rather than holding and defending beliefs in social justice. The only way to proceed is through the free exchange of ideas, which is currently impossible due to the religious-like behaviour of those who aim to shame others into silence. I hope that my experiences can play a role in enabling others to speak and think freely and add value to the never-ending drive for human progress and freedom.

Academia can be bewitching. It can give profound halos to those who seek it. Individuals are motivated by ideas of “leaving a legacy” rather than an institutional ethos that leads to team growth. I am aware of two contrasting departments in a local “academic centre of excellence”. One centre kneecapped its individuals and stalled progress for many clinicians. Other allowed for pursuit of individual and academic excellence and has made several strides in the region; especially for niche procedures. The power of the “heads of department” or their relevance comes from power-plays and gatekeeping (even networking to get published in “journals”) and burnish credentials, rather than genuine advance through curiosity and seek knowledge. This leads to the downfall in “academic excellence” and standards.

Here’s another one on almost similar lines:

Colonial Education, Cultural Amnesia and Pathologies of the Raj – Dhīti

The lingering impacts of colonization on the psyche of once-colonized people get visible when many among the commentariat class feel a need to validate themselves in relation to the West, echoing Macaulay and his contemporaries who saw Western values and achievements as a gold standard to which the rest of the world must aspire. The British tried to transform the collective psyche of Indians through the education system they introduced, and conceived education as an ideological apparatus that could be used to dominate the natives in all spheres of their lives.

A country with a civilisational ethos was ransacked and looted beyond recognition. While it is too early to regain the “lost glory”, the best ideas around expanding institutional capacity can come from within. While we are dealing with the ideas of affirmative action and artificial meritorious claims of individuals “cracking the exams” to pole vault themselves in social-security networks, there is a lot of churning left to be done. Technology will possibly fan these flames for many intellectual churning, and hopefully question the same “meritorious claims” of “international organisations” with a “global-focus”. Relevance can be built after a peek within and strong self-belief.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.