Decolonial Subversions
Special Issue 2023

Special Issue: Decolonising university and the role of linguistic diversity


This Special Issue of Decolonial Subversions on the theme of decolonising the university and the role of linguistic diversity is motivated by a desire to expand critical conversations on the potential of linguistic inclusion in higher education. The Special Issue is multi-/trans-disciplinary, multilingual and multimodal with contributions from authors living and working in Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Contributors are teachers, comedy writers, poets, and university researchers. This diversity enriches the Special Issue as a whole, as authors address the issue of decolonising the university and the role of language in the diversification of knowledge in ways that are sensitive to their own histories, contexts and positionality.

An editorial: Introducing the Special Issue of Decolonial Subversions


This Special Issue of Decolonial Subversions on the theme of decolonising the university and the role of linguistic diversity is motivated by a desire to expand critical conversations on the potential of linguistic inclusion in higher education. The Special Issue is multi-/trans-disciplinary, multilingual and multimodal with contributions from authors living and working in Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Contributors are teachers, comedy writers, poets, and university researchers. This diversity enriches the Special Issue as a whole, as authors address the issue of decolonising the university and the role of language in the diversification of knowledge in ways that are sensitive to their own histories, contexts and positionality.

prayer doa in which di mano: english inggris, baso minang and dan bahasa indonesia fight berseteru

Voice, orality and academic literacy in the light of indigenous presence in Brazilian universities


When writing this paper, I had as a main objective to bring to light the importance of exercising language in a free, poetic and radical way, understanding such an exercise as absolutely necessary to challenge dominant discourses and practices. In this sense, writing in any of the discourse genres – and maybe mostly in the academic genre, where we have to struggle and fight inside the colonizer’s territory - can be seen as an ability that needs a lot of exercise out of the combat arena and before entering it. Our language needs to be strong; it needs to acquire a force of language that only poetic and free exercise can provide. This paper presents results of ten-year research involving three indigenous students at the Federal University of São Carlos. In what concerns theory, it highlights the necessary interaction between Poetics, Ethics and Politics as the main issue we must take into consideration when decolonization is at stake. My research highlights that there is a role for orality as well as voice in the academy.

Keywords: academic literacy, Balatiponé, Decolonising, Guarani, indigenous, Poetics, Higher Education, orality, Xavante

Creative Nonfiction and Stand-up Comedy as Alternative Forms of Decolonial Scholarship


The following article discusses the potential of creative writing as an alternative form of writing in academia. I ground the importance of such a form of writing in my experience of writing comedic and creative nonfictional accounts during my doctoral research. Influenced mainly by Feminist and Decolonial thought, I attempt to lay bare the subversive nature of such personal forms of writing in what may seem a rigidly defined academia. Ergo, the article holds a rather unconventional structure, as the discussion moves between my experience and the analysis of relevant theoretical literature in what may seem a personal style of writing. I ground my argument in the unfolding of truth from the Other’s standpoint, the linguistic and the cultural richness that the stories present us with and the diverse stylistic discourses that such creative forms of writing bring into the rigid scholarly discourse that we are used to. This enables linguistic diversity to take place and to provide counter storytelling to colonial power situations that we encounter. Stand-up comedy in particular creates a space for honest critique that also develops our counter narratives. These creative forms of writings are not simply a biographical documentation of the Self, but can be a rich site for delivering critical, cultural, and linguistics analysis of complex narratives.

Keywords: academia, Algeria, autoethnography, decoloniality, feminism, humour, Othering, stand-up comedy, stereotypes, the Self, Western/indigenous knowledge.


تناقش المقالة التالية إمكانات الكتابة اإلبداعية كشكل بديل للكتابة في األوساط األكاديمية. أؤكد أهمية هذا النوع من الكتابة إستنادا على تجربتي في كتابة نصوص كوميدية وإبداعية واقعية خالل إعداد رسالة الدكتوراه. متأثرة بشكل ً أساسي بالفكر النسوي والديكلونيالي، أحاول الكشف عن الطبيعة التحررية لمثل هذه األنواع من الكتابات الشخصية في ما قد يبدو وسطا أكاديميا جد صارم. لهذا تحمل المقالة بنية غير تقليدية إلى حد ما، حيث ينتقل النقاش بين تجربتي وتحليل أعمال أدبية ونظريات ذات الصلة فيما قد يبدو أسلوًبا شخصًيا في الكتابة. أقوم بتأسيس حجتي في استعمال هذا المنظور في كشف الحقيقة من وجهة نظر اآلخر، في الثراء اللغوي والثقافي الذي تقدمه لنا القصص، والخطابات األسلوبية المتنوعة التي تجلبها مثل هذه األشكال اإلبداعية للكتابة في الخطاب األكاديمي الصارم الذي اعتدنا عليه. هذا النوع من الكتابات يبرز التنوع اللغوي يمنح مجال للرواية المضادة والمستنكرة لحاالت القوة االستعمارية التي نواجهها. تخلق الكوميديا االرتجالية على وجه الخصوص مساحة للنقد الصادق الذي يطور أي ًضا من سرد الرواية المضادة. هذه األشكال اإلبداعية من الكتابات ليست مجرد توثيق للسيرة الذاتية، ولكن يمكنها أن تكون منظورا غنًيا لتقديم التحليل النقدي ً والثقافي واللغوي للروايات المعقدة.

الكلمات المفتاحية: األكاديميا ، الجزائر ، علم الكتابة الذاتية ، إزالة االستعمار )الديكلونيالي(، النسوية ، الفكاهة ، اآلخر ، كوميديا االرتجالية ، الصور النمطية ، الذات ، المعرفة الغربية / األصلية.

Translanguaging as Decolonial Pedagogy: Investigating its efficacy in the teaching of a trans-Atlantic Julius Caesar


In a multilingual country like South Africa, institutions of higher education are characterised by predominantly monolingual practices which perpetuate colonial objectives of linguistic monopoly and cultural assimilation. As a South African from an historically advantaged background, I believe that it is imperative to find, and implement, pedagogies to subvert such colonial trajectories. This article discusses my case study of the efficacy of translanguaging as decolonial pedagogy. The investigation incorporated linguistic ethnographical methodologies and was conducted during the teaching of a trans-Atlantic Julius Caesar with students from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and the University of Texas in the United States of America. It required the students to interpret any aspect of the play through their own linguistic and cultural lenses using video media. The study found that translanguaging failed to subvert colonial ideas about language and power, but succeeded in subverting the exclusive use of English, as well as aspects of cultural assimilation. Based on these findings, I concluded that while translanguaging is insufficient on its own as decolonial pedagogy, it is valuable for raising students’ awareness of linguistic and cultural plurality. To further the decolonial process, I proposed that translanguaging be followed by pedagogies of “(un)learning” – to use Laininen’s (2019) term – that encourage students to reflect on their own language practices and the views embedded therein, to interrogate the origins and validity of such views, and to empower them to provide their own linguistic and cultural interpretations of texts.

Keywords: translanguaging, decolonial pedagogy, South Africa, Shakespeare, higher education, unlearning.

Isizulu ukuhumusha

Izindawo zemfundo ephakeme eNingizimu Afrika, zibukwa njengezithuthukisa ulimi olulodwa olugqugquzela izindlela nemfundo yabokufika abangabacindezeli, nendlela yabo yokuphila. ENingizimu Afrika entsha kubalulekile ukwethula izindlela zokufunda ezizovikela ziqede indlela yokufundisa ngolimi olungelona olwasekhaya. Kumbiko otholakele olanda ucubungulo ngabafundi befunda ngoShakespeare’s Julius Ceaser abafundi beNyuvesi yaseWitwatersrand eNingizimu Afrika kanye neNyuvesi yaseTexas e-Amelika.Locwaningo luveza ukuthi abafundi kundingeka ukuthi bahumushe izigaba zomdlalo ngolimi lwabo kanye nendlela yekuphila besebenzisa nomkhakha wokubonwayo (video media). Ucwaningo luthole ukuthi ukusetshenziswa kolimi lokuhunyushwa aluphumelelanga ukuphebeza nokugudluza imibono namandla ngolimi lwabacindezeli kodwa konke lokhu kuphumelelise ukudlondlobala ngolimi lwesiNgisi nenqubo nenqubo yezokuphila kwabo. Ucwaningo lukhuthaza ukundiswa kwezilimi ezinye nendlela yokufundisa “(un)unlearning” (Laininen, 2019) lokhu kukhuthaza abafundi ekubukeni ulimi lwabo nezindlela olusetshenziswa ngayo nokubapha amandlato ekuhumusheni kwalo ulimi nokuqukethwe yilo.

My Encounters with the English Language and My Anti-colonial Praxis


In this paper, as my anti-colonial praxis, I reflect on my experiences with the English language. My accounts demonstrate that although I was aware of the colonizing effect of the English language and the education systems of the West, the academic and socio-economic contexts of Bangladesh that value competence in English and higher degrees from North America led me to pursue an MA and Ph.D. in Canada. While Canada claims itself as a racially democratic and multicultural country, my experiences at universities and workplaces represent how the lack of linguistic diversity and tolerance results in the marginalisation of other speakers, while fostering social difference and inequality and causing their self-doubt, trauma and damage. I call on English and multilingual speakers to work together to rupture the dominance of the English language in Canada and elsewhere in the world.

Keywords: The English language, colonization, suffering, autobiography, anti-colonial praxis.


Dans cet article, qui s'inscrit dans ma praxis anticoloniale, je réfléchis sur mes expériences de la langue anglaise. Les résultats de mes recherches démontrent que bien que je sois consciente de l'effet colonisateur de la langue anglaise et des systèmes éducatifs de l'Occident, les contextes académiques et sociaux du Bangladesh qui valorisent les compétences en anglais et les diplômes d’enseignement supérieur en Amérique du Nord m'ont poussée à poursuivre une maîtrise (MA) et un doctorat (Ph.D.) au Canada. Bien que le Canada se présente comme un pays démocratique et multiculturel sur le plan racial, mes expériences dans les universités et les lieux de travail illustrent comment le manque de diversité linguistique et de tolérance conduit à la marginalisation d'autres locuteurs, tout en entretenant la différence sociale, l’inégalité, et causant le doute de soi, des traumatismes et des dommages. J'appelle les locuteurs anglophones et multilingues à travailler ensemble pour rompre la domination de la langue anglaise au Canada et ailleurs dans le monde.

Mots clés: La langue Anglaise, colonisation, souffrance, autobiographie, pratique anticoloniale.


এই লে খাটিতে আমি উপনি বে শবি র োধী চর্চার অংশ হি সে বে ইংরে জি ভাষা নি য়ে আমার অভি জ্ঞতা তুলে ধরে ছি । যদি ও আমি ইংরে জি ভাষা এবং পাশ্চাত্য শি ক্ষাপদ্ধতি র ঔপনি বে শি ক দি কগুল ো নি য়ে স োচ্চার, বাংলাদে শে র শি ক্ষাজগত ও আর্থ-সামাজি ক প্রে ক্ষি তে — যা কি না ইংরে জি ভাষাদক্ষতা এবং উত্তর আমে রি কায় ডি গ্রি অর্জনকে অধি ক মলূ্যায়ন করে — আমি এম এ এবং পি এইচ ডি ডি গ্রী অর্জন করতে কানাডায় অভি গমন করি । কানাডা বহুসাংস্কৃতি ক দে শ হি সে বে পরি চি ত, কি ন্তু বি শ্ববি দ্যালয়ে এবং কর্মক্ষের্মক্ষেত্রে আমি দে খে ছি এখানে ভাষা বৈ চি ত্রতা চর্চার সংকট রয়ে ছে , যা সাধারণত অন্য ভাষাভাষীদে র প্রান্তি ক করে এবং তাদে র মাঝে হীনমন্যতা ও দ্বি ধা তৈ রি করে । তাই কানাডা এবং অন্যত্র ইংরে জি ভাষার আধি পত্য ও ভাষার ভি ত্তি তে তৈ রি সামাজি ক দরূত্ব, বি ভাজন, এবং বৈ ষম্য নি র্মূলর্মূ করতে আমি ইংরে জি এবং অন্যান্য ভাষাভাষীদে র একসাথে কাজ করার আহ্বান জানাই।

মলূ শব: ইংরে জি ভাষা, ঔপনি বে শি কীকরণ, ভ োগান্তি , আত্মজীবনী, উপনি বে শবি র োধী চর্চ

The role of language in diversifying knowledge production: Reflecting on the experience of Decolonial Subversions as a multilingual publishing platform


Decolonial Subversions was envisioned as a platform for the dissemination of decolonial perspectives by implementing a model that subverts current practices of knowledge production, validation and dissemination—both within and outside of academia. It does so by departing from mainstream standards of communication (which privilege English as language, text as format and intellect as the locus of knowing) and implementing a multilingual and multi-format publication model. This is based on the understanding that epistemic violence is perpetuated linguistically in significant ways, such as when converting multidimensional and embodied knowledge into rigidly mono-dimensional scholarly articles. Authors whose first language is not English are often forced to write in English in order to reach a wider audience and for their knowledge to be accepted as intelligible and valid. In response to this dynamic, Decolonial Subversions enables authors to submit their manuscripts in their first and working languages, as well as in an English version they can produce with the support of a translator, assistant or co-author, in addition to accepting visual and acoustic formats. This strategy aims to minimise the epistemic violence inflicted via linguistic requirements, maintain the text’s original nuance, and simultaneously ensure that the work reaches and can inform Anglophone scholarship and thinking. In this essay, we discuss this approach in detail, how our contributors have engaged with the multilingual option we provide, and some of the challenges we have faced in moving towards a multilingual publishing model. The essay provides a publisher’s perspective as a way of complementing the growing dissemination of multilingual articles reflecting authors’ vantage points.

Keywords: Decolonial Subversions, publishing, English, linguistic violence, multilingualism, publisher perspective, paradigm shift


Decolonial Subversions è una piattaforma per la diffusione di perspettive decoloniali tramite l’implementazione di un modello di pubblicazione che sovverte le attuali pratiche di produzione, legittimazione e diffusione della conoscenza—sia all’interno che all’esterno dell’ambito accademico. Per raggiungere questo obbiettivo, Decolonial Subversions abbandona standard di comunicazione tradizionali (che privilegiano l'inglese come lingua, il testo come formato e l'intelletto come luogo del sapere) a favore di un modello di pubblicazione multilinguistico e multimodale. Questo si basa sulla convinzione che la violenza epistemica si protrae linguisticamente in vari modi, come ad esempio quando conoscenze sensoriali e multidimensionali vengono convertite in articoli accademici rigidi e unidimensionali. Autorə la cui prima lingua non é inglese sono spesso forzatə a scrivere in inglese per poter raggiungere un pubblico più ampio e per far sì che la loro conoscenza venga considerata valida e accessibile. Per contrastare questa dinamica, Decolonial Subversions permette ad autorə di inviare i loro manoscritti nella loro prima lingua—o nella lingua in cui si trovano maggiormente a proprio agio—in aggiunta ad una versione in inglese, che possono produrre con il supporto di traduttorə, assistantə o co-autorə; per lo stesso fine, Decolonial Subversions accetta anche contribuzioni audio e visive. Questa strategia ha lo scopo di minimizzare la violenza epistemica che viene inflitta tramite prerequisiti linguistici, mantenere le sfumature del testo originale, e garantire che il lavoro possa informare culture e pensieri anglofoni. In questo articolo illustriamo in dettaglio questo approccio, come autorə hanno interagito con l’opzione multilinguistica che offriamo, ed alcune delle difficoltà che abbiamo incontrato nel promuovere un modello di pubblicazione multilinguistico. Questo articolo presenta una prospettiva dal punto di vista editoriale, in modo da complementare la crescente diffusione di articoli multilinguistici che invece riflettono i punti di vista di autorə.

Parole chiave: Decolonial Subversions, pubblicazione, inglese, violenza linguistica, multilinguismo, prospettiva editoriale, cambio paradigmatico

Strategizing Decolonial Subversion: A Dialogue


Suresh: I am glad we can have this conversation on the complex issues behind your special topic issue in Decolonial Subversions, Victoria and Gillian. My life experiences comment relevantly on your thematic concerns. I first came to United States for graduate studies from the small South Asian island of Sri Lanka. After my doctorate in Applied Linguistics, I went back to my regional university in the north of the island, University of Jaffna, as I was interested in contributing educationally to my local community. However, the ethnic conflict and civil war there drove me away to seek refuge for my young family. Though I have been working in the United States since 1994, I have been shuttling between diverse communities in the Global South and my American academic home to develop more inclusive scholarly exchanges. Among the countries I have visited to teach, speak, or mentor are Kenya, Rwanda, India, Iran, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Turkey, Lebanon, and Cyprus. These engagements have educated me richly on the challenges in global knowledge production.