As I understand it (from some distance), the story so far goes something like this: (1) The students’ union at the School of Oriental and African Studies urges that its philosophy-related courses should teach mostly African and Asian thinkers (not in itself startling given the name of the institution), and insofar as white philosophers must be taught this should be through a sociohistorically ‘critical’ lens (whether the African and Asian philosophers are to be taught uncritically is unclear). This forms part of its agenda of ‘decolonisation’. (2) The press picks up the story, linking it to topical debate about ‘student satisfaction’ in university rankings and funding. Since we were not actually told which philosophers’ work is surplus to decolonised requirements, the press speculatively drops in a few names from the list of greats. Some reports note that one of the minds behind the declaration is an admirer of Frantz Fanon, whose influences included, er, Karl Marx. (3) The SOAS union posts either a semi-clarification or a semi-backpedal, depending on your interpretation.
Goodness knows what they’d make of the Meirokusha.
Sadly, slapdash student manifestos about ‘decolonisation’, if they have any effect on the status of philosophy beyond the Western canon, might well have a counterproductive one, undoing work done by scholars to gain those schools of thought a wider hearing and get them taken more seriously in Anglophone philosophy. Such an approach hardly looks supportive of the kind of comparative philosophy which says, you know how our usual approaches haven’t solved this puzzle, well Nagarjuna said something interesting...
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