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Students denounce the absence of colonialism and imperialism in the PIR curriculum

Updated: May 27, 2022

Demonstrators criticised the lack of course material about imperialist and colonialist practices

By Mireia Jimenez

Picture of protesters in SDR. Courtesy of Mireia Jimenez.

On Monday 16 May, several students protested on campus to denounce the lack of material regarding colonialism and imperialism in the Politics & International Relations curriculum.

Protests took place in Edward Wright Building Block C (PIR department) and in front of Sir Duncan Rice Library, where protesters held signs and informed bystanders of their cause.

Leaflets were distributed displaying five main "Points of Concern" regarding the teaching of colonialism and imperialism in the academic curriculum of the degree.

These five points included (1) the absence of topics such as “slavery, colonialism, imperialism or the African continent in the course “Global politics: Equality and Inequality”; (2) the lack of teaching about neo-colonialism; (3) the absence of teaching regarding “how Britain underdeveloped its colonies”; (4) “omission and sanitation of the violence perpetrated by European colonisers”; (5) “perpetuation of colonialist values” due to the lack of content regarding imperialism in the degree.

The Gaudie spoke with one of the protest organisers. Stephanie, South African Politics & IR student commented:

“This stuff is extremely important. Britain is still exploiting Africa and extracting resources out of it. We need to start talking about that now. I don’t want to see the University of Aberdeen talking about it two hundred years later. We need to start now”

“We’ve spoken to some of the lecturers of the department (Politics & IR) and they are all very supportive.”

In a later email, she highlighted a quote from Nelson Mandela:

"Through its imperialist system, Britain brought about untold suffering of millions of people. And this is a historical fact. To be able to admit this would increase the respect you know we have for British institutions."

Afterwards, she added:

"The Politics and International Relations curriculum is still seriously lacking in contact about how Europe exploited, as is exploiting, Africa."

"Will the University of Aberdeen be one of the first British institutions to make Mandela proud?" she asked.

Another protester also highlighted how other degrees could benefit from addressing these topics and decolonising their academic curriculums.

The distributed leaflet can be found at the end of this article.

Leaflet 1
Download PDF • 646KB

Leaflet 2 (Sources)
Download PDF • 205KB


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