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Decolonising Europe

What is Europe’s place in the world in 2020? | Online Lecture Series

What is Europe’s place in the world in 2020? Both societal and academic debates have brought up this question. Increasingly, scholars have turned to decolonial studies to rethink Europe’s place and to answer this important question.

Increasingly, scholars have turned to decolonial studies to rethink Europe’s place and to answer this important question. The call for decolonisation has opened up diverse reactions and debates from various academic disciplines.

This online series provides an opportunity for engaging with scholars and academic debates in decolonialism, and to reflect and learn more about a variety of approaches and topics. During the online seminars we will address questions such as:  What does ‘decolonising Europe’ mean? Why and how did the decolonialising research agenda emerge? What new research avenues do decolonial approaches bring? In what ways does decolonial thinking make visible academic and societal issues and topics that have not received adequate attention so far? How can we work with decolonial methodologies and theories in our daily research activities?

The series will cover interventions by academics from institutions around the world to critically engage with our understanding of Europe. There is opportunity to engage with established scholars in this field, explore decolonial literature and research, and to reflect on the broader societal and political stakes of rethinking Europe’s place in the world.

The Decolonising Europe Lecture Series is convened by: Beste İşleyen and Tasniem Anwar

  • Decolonising Europe 1 | Eurocentrism

    The online series 'Decolonising Europe' starts with a session exploring what 'Eurocentrism' means. How did the term emerge and why was it necessary? In this session the origins and implications of ‘Eurocentric’ views on international politics will be discussed, and possible avenues of thinking differently and what it entails to do research from non-European perspective will be explored. With Gurminder Bhambra (University of Sussex) and Darshan Vigneswaran (University of Amsterdam)

    Moderator: Beste İşleyen

  • Decolonising Europe 2 | Who gets to speak? The exclusion of voices in academia and society

    This is the second session of the ACES online lecture series Decolonising Europe in International Politics. In this session the focus will be on the erasure and silencing of voices that point to the traces of colonialism and racism in academia. How can we understand institutional racism that exists in academia? And how does it inform our knowledge production? And what are the broader societal consequences of racism, and particularly anti-black sentiments in science?

    Robbie Shilliam is Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University. He researches the political and intellectual complicities of colonialism and race in the global order. He is co-editor of the Rowman & Littlefield book series, Kilombo: International Relations and Colonial Question and was a co-founder of the Colonial/Postcolonial/Decolonial working group of the British International Studies Association.

    Nivi Manchanda is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London. Her research interests include post- and de-colonial theoretical approaches to the study of world politics. She is especially interested in the ways in which knowledge is produced and the raced, classed and gendered nature of both ‘expertise’ and ‘common-sense’. She blogs at and is the Co-Convener of the BISA Colonial Postcolonial and Decolonial Working Group.

  • Decolonising Europe 3 | Rethinking European-Ottoman Encounters

    This is the third session of the ACES online lecture series Decolonising Europe in International Politics. In this third session the history of Euro-Ottoman relations will be revisited to understand and analyse perceptions, attitudes and interactions in topics of Islam, democracy and capitalism.

    The speakers will discuss European reactions to the abolishment of the Caliphate, reflect on discursive continuities between the past and the present, the Arab Uprisings and debate the origins of capitalism.

    Senem Aydın-Düzgit is Professor of International Relations at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of Sabancı University and Senior Scholar and Research and Academic Affairs Coordinator at the Istanbul Policy Center. Her main research interests include European foreign policy, Turkish foreign policy, EU-Turkey relations, discourse studies and identity in international relations and particularly in European foreign policy.

    Cemal Burak Tansel is Lecturer in International Politics in the Department of Politics & International Relations of the University of Sheffield. His research focuses on the historical sociology of state formation and capitalist development in the Middle East and the political economy of development. 

  • Decolonising Europe 4 | Europe and Colonial ‘Lives’ in North Africa

    This is the fourth session of the ACES online lecture series Decolonising Europe in International Politics. The fourth session is the special book edition of the online series. We speak with Sara Salem about her new book “Anticolonial Afterlives in Egypt: The Politics of Hegemony”. The book analyses the afterlives of Egypt’s moment of decolonisation through an imagined conversation between Gramsci and Fanon around questions of anticolonialism, resistance, revolution and liberation.

    Sara Salem is Assistant Professor at the London School of Economics and an editor at the journals Sociological Review and Historical Materialism. Her work explores the connections between postcolonial theory and Marxism, with special attention to the context of Egypt and the period of decolonisation in the mid-twentieth century.


  • Decolonising Europe 5 | Decolonising the curriculum

    This is the fifth and last session before the summer break of the ACES online lecture series Decolonising Europe in International Politics. In this final session the discussion will focus on the practical applications of decolonial theories. The panel will discuss how to decolonize the curriculum in practice, and how to apply a decolonial approach to our teaching and researching.

    About the speakers Rosalba Icaza is based at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) in the Netherlands. Rosalba is interested in the application of action-research methodologies in teaching-research practices and committed to facilitating spaces for mutual learning and reflection within and outside academia. She acted as senior researcher at UvA Diversity Commission. Her work focusses on decolonial and feminist studies and methodologies.

    Michael Onyebuchi Eze is a lecturer at the department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests reflect an interdisciplinarity of history, philosophy, IR and transitional justice. He has published and lectured widely on African philosophy, decolonial theory and methods and critical race theory.

  • Decolonising Europe 6 | Decolonising Indonesia - Extraction, property and race

    This is the sixth session of the lecture series 'Decolonising Europe''. With a particular focus on Indonesia, the speakers adopt a historical colonial perspective on issues of economic expropriation and ecological destruction. They will trace the colonial ties of current economic conditions and practices in Indonesia, along with the country’s position in the world market. They highlight how past interventions by the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch colonial state have set the conditions for extraction, land grabbing and cultivation of indigenous knowledge, whose effects are still shaping realities on the ground. The speakers will also critically investigate the apparently affirmative labels, such as the ‘emerging market’, and their connections with colonial activities and relations.

    Speakers: Lisa Tilley, Lecturer in Politics, Birkbeck University London Her research interests are largely anchored in critical approaches to political ecology and political economy but also cross over into critical geography and urban studies. She draws on various theoretical approaches to ‘the colonial question’ in material analyses of environmental harm and expropriation with a special focus on frontiers of capital in Indonesia. She has analysed key sites of colonial/capitalist expansion – the plantation, the mine, and the city – adding detail to our knowledge of social and ecological formations, technologies and logics produced through those locations.

    Tamara Soukotta, PhD researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam. Tamara Soukotta is interested in conflict studies, divided society, contact hypothesis, politics of identity, decolonial options, post- development critiques, and other knowledges. The working title of her current research is "From Living Together Apart to Peaceful Co-existence: Discursive Practices of Peace and Conflict in Ambon, Indonesia".

  • Decolonising Europe 7 | Decolonising the museum & art: Collections, colonialism & curators

    During this panel conversation we will delve into the question of how to decolonize the museum and art spaces. Museums and displays of art are important spaces where narratives of histories and peoples are constructed and maintained.

    There has been a continuous debate in several European countries on which artefacts are included in exhibitions, why certain histories on colonialism and slavery are made invisible and how museums can renegotiate their position in contemporary societies. In this panel we reflect on how museums can or should deal with their own colonial pasts or attachments, and how they attempt to design exhibitions in a way that challenges or disrupts a Eurocentric view on the world. 

     Quinsy Gario, independent artist 

    Quinsy Gario is a visual and performance artist from the Caribbean islands that have Dutch colonization in common. He focuses on decolonial remembering and the actions that that remembering can engender. He received the Royal Academy Master Thesis Prize 2017, the Black Excellence Award 2016, the Amsterdam Fringe Festival Silver Award 2015, the Dutch Caribbean Pearls Community Pearl Award 2014 and the Hollandse Nieuwe 12 Theatermakers Prize 2011. In 2017 he received a Humanity in Action Detroit Fellowship and in 2017/2018 he was a BAK Fellow. Gario is a board member of De Appel, a member of Family Connection and of the pan-African artist collective State of L3. 

     Chiara de Cesari, associate professor, University of Amsterdam

    Trained in socio-cultural anthropology (Ph.D. Stanford 2009), Chiara is an internationally significant voice in debates over the geopolitical trajectories of contemporary culture. Her wide-ranging research explores how institutional manifestations of memory, heritage, art, and cultural politics are shifting under conditions of globalization and ongoing transformations of the nation-state. In particular, it concerns the ways in which colonial legacies live on today, especially in museums. Against that backdrop, Chiara’s work shows how countercultures, arts practices, and decolonial struggles can drive change within public institutions and cultural discourses around heritage and identity more generally.

     Wayne Modest

    Wayne Modest is the head of the Research Center of Material Culture. He is also professor of Material Culture and Critical Heritage Studies (by special appointment) in the faculty of humanities at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam (VU). Modest was previously, head of the curatorial department at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam; Keeper of Anthropology at the Horniman Museum in London, and Director of the Museums of History and Ethnography in Kingston, Jamaica.  His research interests include issues of belonging and displacement; material mobilities; histories of (ethnographic) collecting and exhibitionary practices; difficult/contested heritage (with a special focus on slavery, colonialism and post-colonialism); Caribbean Thought. More recently Modest has been researching and publishing on heritage and citizenship in Europe with special attention for urban life, and on ethnographic museums and questions of redress/repair.

  • Decolonising Europe 8 | Provincialising Europe

    In this session, we host Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty - a leading scholar in postcolonial thought and subaltern studies. Prof. Chakrabarty’s book Provincializing Europe has been ground-breaking in the social sciences regarding Eurocentric accounts of the origins of modernity.

    This week’s session focuses on Prof. Chakrabarty’s ongoing work on the phenomenon of global warming. We discuss how certain narratives of human history, which center Europe in scientific and popular discussions, have conditioned the way global warming, its causes and solutions have been understood, framed and debated.  In particular, we ask what it means to provincialize Europe in relation to the Anthropocene debate and discuss ways for a rethinking of the global warming discourse with regard to, for example, scales of time, human-centered versus planet-centered thinking and moral questions of culpability and responsibility.

  • Decolonising Europe 9 | Sovereignty and political authority

    This session invites us to rethink the concept of sovereignty and Europe. While the notion of sovereignty has come up multiple times in previous sessions, we are now joined by two speakers who will discuss in-depth why and how the study of sovereignty has largely been Euro-centric in the mainstream International Relations literature.

    Ayse Zarakol 

    Ayşe Zarakol is Reader in International Relations in the POLIS Department and a Fellow at Emmanuel College. Dr. Zarakol's primary research interests are in international security (with an emphasis on approaches rooted in social theory and historical sociology). More specifically, she works on the evolution of East and West relations in the international order, declining and rising powers, and politics of non-Western regional powers. She is the author of After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West (Cambridge Studies in International Relations, no.118, Cambridge University Press, 2011; published with a new introduction in Turkish as Yenilgiden Sonra: Doğu Batı ile Yaşamayı Nasıl Öğrendi (Koç Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2012).

    Xavier Mathieu

    Xavier Mathieu joined the University of Liverpool in September 2019. He holds an MA from the University of Bordeaux (Sciences Po) and a PhD from the University of Sheffield, both in International Relations. His research interests include Sovereignty, International Interventions (the Responsibility to Protect, Peacebuilding), Civilisation and Eurocentrism, and Identity/Difference in International Encounters. In the past, he has used post-structuralist theories (Performativity and Post-colonial approaches) in order to study these topics.

  • Decolonising Europe 10 | Decolonising Migration

    In the 10th session of Decolonising Europe, Polly Pallister Wilkins will interview Nadine El-Enany. They will discuss her book: (B)ordering Britain: Law, Race and Empire.

    (B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. In announcing itself as postcolonial through immigration and nationality laws passed in the 60s, 70s and 80s, Britain cut itself off symbolically and physically from its colonies and the Commonwealth, taking with it what it had plundered. This imperial vanishing act cast Britain's colonial history into the shadows. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out. In fact, immigration laws are acts of colonial seizure and violence. They obstruct the vast majority of racialised people from accessing colonial wealth amassed in the course of colonial conquest. Regardless of what the law, media and political discourse dictate, people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.


    Nadine El-Enany is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck School of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Law (@CentreRaceLaw). Nadine teaches and researches in the fields of migration and refugee law, European Union law, protest and criminal justice. She has published widely in the field of EU asylum and immigration law. Her current research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, focuses on questions of race and criminal and social justice in death in custody cases. Nadine has written for the Guardian, the LRB Blog, Pluto Blog, Verso Blog, Open Democracy, Media Diversified, Left Foot Forward and Critical Legal Thinking.