Decolonising economics and politics curricula in UK universities

Simon Choat, Christina Wolf, Siobhan O'Neill

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This article explores initiatives to decolonise the curriculum via two specific disciplines, namely Economics and Politics, both of which have tended to marginalise the study of race, empire, and colonialism and whose canonical thinkers are overwhelming white. By providing the first comparative analysis of decolonising initiatives in these disciplines, this article: investigates the extent to which Economics and Politics curricula in UK universities have been ‘decolonised’; explores the factors which affect support for or resistance to decolonisation; and analyses the extent to which these factors share common roots in both disciplines. Our comparative method allows us to shed light on drivers of resistance that affect all disciplines alike and those that are rooted within specific disciplines. Using an audit of UK undergraduate courses and a survey of academics, we show that neither Politics nor Economics can plausibly claim to have made much progress in decolonising curricula. However, more progress has been made in Politics, and Politics staff are more informed about and less hostile to decolonising initiatives than Economics staff. We locate one of the reasons for this difference in the epistemological and ideological idiosyncrasies of the dominant neoclassical paradigm in Economics. We therefore argue that initiatives to decolonise the curriculum must take into account potential discipline-specific obstacles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Early online date16 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Oct 2023


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