Decolonising academic texts in South African higher education : publishing and editing strategies
The continued prioritisation of Western knowledge and perspectives in South African higher education gave rise for the decolonisation of education in 2015/2016, which sought to challenge the hegemony of Western knowledge and promote more inclusive and diverse ways of knowing. Decolonisation involves various strategies, such as developing curricula that reflect local knowledge and perspectives and that incorporate indigenous languages and cultures, while promoting critical thinking and reflexivity among students and educators. The MustFall movements in South Africa led to increased reflection on decolonisation and decolonisation of curricula but there has been very little work on the processes in which the learning materials used in these curricula are decolonised and, specifically, on the editing practices for decolonising academic texts. The aim of this study was to explore the publishing and editing strategies, approaches and methodologies used in the production of academic texts for use in decolonised curricula in higher education institutions (HEIs). The research design employed an interpretive perspective and drew on a primarily qualitative approach. The theoretical framework was grounded in the decolonial theory that originated from three foundational thinkers, such as Frantz Fanon, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Stephen Bantu Biko. The data collection methods included a literature review of foundational and contemporary discourse on decolonisation (of the curriculum), in-depth, semi-structured interviews with various role players in different sectors of the higher education industry and a textual analysis of academic texts which exemplified the strategies, approaches and methods being used in the production of academic texts for decolonised curricula. Interviewees included various stakeholders from universities, government departments and academic publishers, as well as curriculum developers, publishers, editors and authors. The findings of the study highlight that there are many role players involved in the decolonisation of higher education curricula, each of whom plays a significant role. The study revealed several hindrances to decolonisation, such as insufficient awareness and understanding of decolonisation among stakeholders, resistance to change, unclear guidelines and policies and limited resources. The study emphasises an inclusive approach with diverse perspectives and knowledge systems. Developing clear policies and guidelines for the curriculum decolonisation process should receive increased attention. Effective leadership and accountability are essential in addressing knowledge gaps and translating outcomes into actionable measures. The study recommends continuous communication and collaboration among various stakeholders involved in the decolonisation process, including government agencies, universities, local communities, industry, scholars, publishers, editors, authors and students. The study contributes to the expanding literature on decolonisation in higher education, emphasising the crucial involvement of publishers and editors in advancing the decolonisation agenda. The identified strategies and practices for publishing decolonised academic texts provide opportunities to challenge established epistemologies and encourage more inclusive and diverse forms of knowledge. The commitment of publishers and editors to the decolonisation process is found to be a positive development. The study's strategies for decolonising academic texts also provide a foundation for further research and development of decolonisation approaches.
- Humanities