Blessed Ngwenya
Keynote Abstracts

Performativity, inclusion and shaping the knowledge society for the 21 st Century: A decolonial turn

Educational curriculum, pedagogy and practice have invited critical questions in the
decolonisation discourse since they are viewed as central to the production and re-
production of marginalising systems of knowledge creation. Decolonising curriculum
is to diversify the curriculum to include perspectives and knowledges of the
excluded. The presentation drives the argument that there is no social justice without
cognitive justice (de Sousa Santos 2010). Two basic ideas gird this argument. First,
the understanding that without the decolonisation of the principally Eurocentric
curriculum, the attainment of cognitive justice for the colonised is unattainable. This
is done through tracing the historical and theoretical underpinnings of pedagogy in
the 21 st century through a historiographical reading of the emergence of the idea of
education from 1492 to today. Second, there is a need to uncover the
institutionalised systems that both sustain and authenticate the social and cognitive
foundations of a global South oriented curriculum. Therefore, this presentation calls
for a decolonial turn that moves away from the epistemological degradation of those
in the global South towards the development of pluriversal global South
epistemologies. It calls for the epistemic visibility of the colonised as an important
pre-condition for decolonising the curriculum. Owing to the pervasiveness and
asymmetrical power relations of the institutionalised cognitive inequalities, injustices
and successes, the paper argues, epistemic freedom will only be realised through an
epistemological break which interrogates form, content and culture of these
epistemological foundations that are built on the in-visibilisation and suppression of
other knowledges. This futures-oriented part of the presentation uses South African
based case studies to interrogate the potential for positive change. Two student
movements, Fees Must Fall and Rhodes Must Fall are used to demonstrate how
delocalisation of epistemologies can at once shape local histories and challenge
imperial global designs.

Blessed Ngwenya