Panel B.03 — Decolonising Education, Schools, and Universities: time, spaces, subjectivities, and research practices

Convenors Emanuela Spanò (University of Cagliari); Marco Romito (University of Milan Bicocca); Marco Pitzalis (University of Cagliari)

Keywords Decolonial Epistemologies, Margins, Non-Extractive Methodologies, Public Sociology


The political and cultural debate about schooling and education is today increasingly dominated by national and transnational agencies and actors imposing in various ways and through various ‘policy instruments’ a hegemonic representation of the contents, methodologies, practices, and purpose of education at all levels framed by economic discourses on competitivity and performativity (Laval, Clement, Dreux 2012). In this ‘colonised’ framework, contemporary social sciences also tend to align themselves on objectives and epistemologies that are – at best – reformist, giving up listening to the voices of subjectivities that this system tends to silence and asking radical questions about the profound aims of education within a world facing multiple crises.

In this panel, we propose to open a collective space of reflection to decolonise education and our gaze upon it to break the wall of this symbolic domination (Bhambra et al. 2018). An operation that implies the need for a sociology capable of both making visible the ways by which dominant epistemologies produce specific knowledge, research, contexts, and methodologies as non-existent, radically inferior, or dangerous, and mapping emerging forms of anti-hegemonic experiences (Santos 2018).

To this end, the panel encourage empirical and theoretical contributions that propose an epistemological rupture around specific dimensions.

  • Time: We welcome contributions decolonising dominant conceptions of time and temporality in school, universities, and education. Conceptions which contract the present and expand the future by imposing a temporal regime based on acceleration and performance.
  • Space: We are interested in research that focus on the margins (symbolic, social, epistemological…), emphasising the situated dimension of educational processes and the spatial dimension through which subalternity and oppression, as well as emancipation are (re)produced.
  • Subjectivities: We encourage contributions that concentrate on subjectivities that dominant educational epistemologies and its instruments of evaluation construct in deficit terms if they do not correspond in social background, cultural and economic capital, migratory background and/or geographical location, sexual and gender identity, skills, and competencies to the hegemonic model.
  • Methodology: We look for research that tries to elaborate alternatives to an ‘extractive ‘ research model. This is the most common research model used in sociology and sociology of education and assumes a radical separation between scholars and phenomena studied while research subjects and communities are not involved in developing the scope of the research or in the evaluation of the validity of research findings. Alternatives can, for example, include research and action programmes that go beyond the merely deconstructive moment of criticism of the mechanisms of domination and exclusion aiming to build a symmetrical relationship with teachers, educators, and students who experience the violence of the dominant educational and scholastic model as a way to construct common knowledges to be mobilised in emancipatory social practices.


Bhambra G., Gebrial D., Nişancıoğlu K., Decolonising the University, London, Pluto Press.

De Sousa Santos B., The End of the Cognitive Empire: The Coming of Age of the Epistemologies of the South, Duke U.P., Durham NC 2018.

Laval, C., P. Clement, and G. Dreux, Le Nouvelle École Capitaliste, Paris, La Découverte.


Guidelines and abstracts submission