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COMM Colloquium Series: Dr. Patricia Parker & Dr. Sarah Dempsey
March 2 @ 12:15 pm - 1:45 pm
UNC-CH Department of Communication
DECOLONIZING THE CLASSROOM
A Panel Discussion with
Professors Patricia Parker, Jean Dennison, Sara Smith,
Sarah Dempsey, and Florence Babb
Friday, March 2, 2018
Pleasants Family Room
In this panel, we draw from our experiences in designing and teaching a graduate-level course on
‘Decolonizing Methodologies’ at a research university in the southern United States. Recognizing
the university as a colonized space, the course aspires both to question received methodologies in
the social sciences and humanities and to make the classroom itself a site to model and engage
with the unending work of decolonizing knowledge production. Waves of scholarship have called
for the decolonization of the histories and knowledges that shored up colonization—for the
empire to ‘write back.’ Yet when women and men of color, indigenous peoples, majority women,
or people from the Global South enter the academy as graduate students or junior faculty, that
implicit otherness is often reinscribed upon their bodies and used to discount their lived
experience, words, and research. We offer an analysis of the classroom as an important site for
decolonizing work, discuss the participative process used to plan and structure the decolonizing
methodologies course we developed, and trace three commitments that are crucial for
decolonizing the classroom: (a) practicing radical openness in which the teachers are guided by
the students’ experiences in the academy; (b) interrogating research norms as critical sites of
entrenched colonizing practices; (c) creating spaces that foster the co-production of knowledge.
We invite the audience to dialogue with us about the possibilities, as well as the limitations, for
decolonizing the classroom.
Patricia S. Parker is chair of the Department of Communication at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH)
Jean Dennison is a citizen of the Osage Nation and an Associate Professor of anthropology at the
University of Washington.
Sara Smith is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel
Sarah E. Dempsey is Associate Professor of Organizational Communication at the University of
North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Florence Babb is a cultural anthropologist specializing in gender and sexuality as well as race
and class in changing contexts in Latin America.
Contact: Michael Palm, firstname.lastname@example.org