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What is the Role of Law Schools in the Project of Decolonisation? Some Reflections on Power and Possibility

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Introduction

Since 2015 and the #RhodesMustFall movement in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as its counterpart student movement at Oxford University in the UK, the question of the relevance of decolonisation to higher education has become quite prominent across Global North universities. Before this upsurge of interest, my academic work had been majorly concerned with the effects of incomplete decolonisation of African polities, for example, continued education dependency and humanitarian interventionism. However, with the increased focus on decolonisation in UK higher education, I became extremely frustrated with what I saw as the inadequacy, misunderstandings, and misuses of decolonisation as a practice and logic. I feel that these arose, not only from adamant refusal to engage with the questions thrown up by decolonisation, but also from the lack of a conceptual foundation to engage with those same questions.

Twitter Book Giveaway of “Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge” 15-17 May

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Enter this Twitter Book Giveaway competition to win a free signed copy of my book, Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility. It will run on Twitter from 12 noon on the 15th of May 2023 to 12 noon on the 17th of May 2023. The rules are simple and as follows:

  • Enter the competition by creating a tweet at any time between 12 noon on the 15th of May 2023 to 12 noon on the 17th of May 2023 (Central European Time),
  • You can either include the picture below in the tweet, or create your own graphic using a picture of the cover of Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge.
  • The tweet should say something about what you have gotten out of the book, hope to get out of the book, or hope people will get from the book.
  • It should also include the hashtag #PowerAndPossibilityBook.
  • Tag at least 3 friends who you think will benefit from the book in the picture.
  • Alert me to the tweet by tagging my handle @folukeifejola in the picture, or in the tweet, or tagging me in a reply to the tweet.
  • I will reply to the tweet with the words “seen and thank you!”
  • The tweet that has the most retweets by 12 noon on the 17th of May (Central European Time) wins the giveaway!
  • The winner will be announced immediately after.
  • The prize is a signed copy of the book, which I will send.
  • I will run similar giveaways on other platforms in due course.

Book Launch Recap: ‘Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge’

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On the 24th of March 2023, the official book launch was held for “Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility.” Full details here. If anyone is interested in getting the book, there is a 50% discount code: PODALK23. This discount is available till 30/04/2023. It can only be used on the BUP site. In this blog post I will summarise the launch event and reproduce my opening remarks.

Book Launch: ‘Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge’

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Join us on Friday 24 March, 4-6 pm, to celebrate the publication of ‘Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility’ (Bristol University Press, 2023)

The launch will include a panel discussion and will be followed by a drinks reception.

50% launch discount for in-person attendees, and book signings available on request.

50% discount for online attendees.

Activist or Academic or Both? The Quandary of Scholactivism for the Minoritised in the Ivory Tower

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So, this is a question that I have been turning over in my mind for a while now. Can/should academics be called activists? Can they be activists as part of their role as academics? In other words, “scholactivists?” Or must these spheres never intersect? In this essay, I want to explain the trajectory of my thought on these questions, and why I do not think that path of questioning is ended.

What is Decolonisation?

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As readers of this blog may know, I have just written a book on decolonisation. Available to pre-order. One of the things that I was trying to think through in writing the book was how to define decolonisation. I feel that a lot of the debate about decolonisation that we have seen over the last few years, while disguising itself as critique of decolonisation, actually reveals a misunderstanding of decolonisation. This stems from the fact that people are actually not engaging in debate on the same terms. However, there a couple of problems with defining decolonisation, especially in UK Higher Education. Firstly, decolonisation should always be understood from its historical political origins. A number of ways in which people engage with or critique decolonisation suggest that their understanding of decolonisation is divorced from those origins. Secondly, it must be understood that the contexts in which decolonisation has originated and continues to play out are varied. To a certain extent, one could suggest that a narrow definition of decolonisation is neither desirable nor possible.

Arrivederci Adieu Odabo 2022

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After the upheaval of the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the global movement for Black lives as well as the ensuing backlash, 2022 did feel like a bland sort of year in some senses. On the other hand, the easing of pandemic restrictions gave us space, it seems to feel deeply the other things happening in the world. Political uncertainty in Britain, rising inflation around the world, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, political change in South America, the World Cup in Qatar, among other things. It almost seems as if 2022 was trying to make up for the slowing of pace that COVID lockdowns occasioned.

Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Out Now!

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So, I spent most of the lockdown and post lockdown periods in a most “enjoyable” manner… writing a book! Looking back, I have no idea why I decided to write a book during a global plague. But I had started a lot of the research for it some years prior, so it seemed like a good idea for me to begin writing at that time. The book that came out of all this is titled, “Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility.” It is now available for pre-order from Bristol University Press. The e-book is being released at the same time as the hardcover. The paperback will be released sometime later. I would really appreciate it if you could recommend the hardcover to your university or other libraries that you use, and also pre-order a soft copy for personal use. [See info on recommendation in image below].

Africa is Missing from our Curricula and Even African Studies Has Failed To Locate Her

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This blog post is a reflection on both my personal academic journey, as well as a commentary on various strands of the state of the academic engagement with knowledge about Africa and of Africans. A number of years ago, I was at a crossroads in my career. As a school child, I had chosen to study law, despite at the time, the relative limited career paths it offered. Lawyer. Full stop. My aim was, and remains, to essentially do what I wanted with the discipline… among other things, engage in closer analysis of African pasts and presents, so as to consider what future paths we can take. However, in due course I noticed that the nature of law itself [mostly the dominance and expectations of positive law] was holding me back from these aims. In response, two options presented themselves. Either switch to career paths to African Studies or alternatively, investigate a closer critique of legal knowledge in this regard. This is not really a thriller tale I am writing here, many readers will know that I did not switch to African Studies. However, despite my continued misgivings about the field, you can still find references to African studies in some of my bios. In this blog post, I will explore some of reasons why I was tempted to go into African studies and why ultimately, the temptation fizzled to nothing. As such, the post is essentially divided into two sections. The first comments on the paucity of scholarship on Africa and why this is actually an indictment of the purposes and nature of knowledge cultivation and transmission, generally. Secondly, I explain why African Studies seems to actually exacerbate the horribleness of this paucity rather than mitigate it.

Are we Allies in the Struggle or Just Struggling with the Idea of Allyship?

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In this post I want to reflect on two main ways in which the concept of allyship against injustice is conceived… and then argue for a third way. I often get asked at talks on decolonisation/EDI how to be a good ally in the fight against racial injustice. I struggle with this question for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t really like telling people what to do, especially with reference to antiracist work. I don’t think there is a magic formula that solves all the problems. I am always happy to tell people what I think about things and let people decide what they want to do for themselves. Secondly, and probably more importantly, I think the word “ally” itself is not able to do the work that we are calling upon it to do – especially with reference to antiracist or decolonising work.