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Decolonising your reading list: Why decolonise your reading lists?

Decolonising your reading list

Why decolonise your reading list?

Reading lists are an important learning tool and shape how students view and interact with the knowledge, perspectives, histories and cultures in their academic discipline. Research has shown that resources included in UK university reading lists are often predominately authored by white, male and Eurocentric authors (Schucan Bird, K. and Pitman, L, 2020Wilson, K, 2020). 

Questioning your module reading lists is an important part of decolonising the curriculum. By actively seeking out inclusive resources, or by bringing different perspectives into your curriculum all students are able to explore different cultural histories and narratives as part of their learning. This work is not about removing all of the white, male authors from your reading lists. It's an opportunity to question where we assign epistemic authority and ensure diverse voices are heard.

This guide has been created to help you question the materials you select for your reading lists to encourage diversity and representation. You will find guidance and checklists to help you review your reading lists and advice for seeking out underrepresented voices. 

The University of Exeter Academic Development team have produced a helpful guide to decolonising the curriculum, with links to helpful resources and checklists.

University of Exeter students share why this process is important to them

To me, diverse reading lists promote a certain level of authentic allyship that goes beyond simple statements of solidarity by academic institutions due to the widespread underrepresentation of marginalised groups in academia and publishing.   Including authors from diverse backgrounds can help reduce feelings of alienation and othering in students who may already feel othered in institutional settings.

References and attribution

Content is this guide has been adapted from AEM Toolbox, University of the Arts London, under a Creative Commons Licence: CC BY-NC 4.0 Attribution. 

Schucan Bird, K. & Pitman, L. 2020. How diverse is your reading list? Exploring issues of representation and decolonisation in the UK. Higher Education, 79, 903-920.

Wilson, K. (2020) 'Decolonising LSE Collections' [PowerPoint presentation]. Available at:https://decolonisethelibrary.wordpress.com/decolonising-lse-collections-kevin-wilsonlondon-school-of-economics/ (Accessed: 15/04/2020).

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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