The Battles of Ideas in Contemporary Politics of Knowledge

Reflections from Decolonial Perspective[1]


The knowledge domain is in turmoil as the existing dominant ways of knowledge are questioned and challenged, within a context of resurgent and insurgent decolonization of the 21st century also known as decoloniality. The dominant ways of knowing in place since the dawn of the transcendental model of power (global coloniality) delivered through colonial conquest of the world from the 15th century, are said to be Eurocentric, limited, exhausted, and excluding epistemologies of the South. At the same time, the resurgent and insurgent decolonization has itself ignited various critiques beginning with a sense that it lacks precision and has become a buzzword, a metaphor, a slogan, a catch all phrase, and even a wrong-headed intervention. It is this reality that provoked me to turn my attention to the subject of the battles of ideas and contemporary politics of knowledge from a decolonial perspective.  Therefore, this keynote address performs five tasks. (1) introduce the key aspects of the contemporary epistemic crisis, which has provoked new battles of ideas; (2) mapping the contours of the contemporary battles of ideas; (3) examine the content of the contemporary politics of knowledge and its implications for education; (4) explain the challenges imposed by the cognitive empire and its coloniality of knowledge; and (5) conclude by reflections on the new meanings of decolonization and its necessity today.     

[1] Abstract of Keynote Address Delivered at the 19th International Network of Philosophers of Education Conference: Postcolonialism: Forging a Knowledge of Belonging, Edge Hill University, Lancashire, United Kingdom, United Kingdom, 7-10 August 2024.

Professor Ndlovu-Gatsheni is a prolific scholar with a hundred publications including more than 20 books to his name. His latest publications include:

  • Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization (Routledge, 2018)
  • Decolonization, Development and Knowledge in Africa: Turning Over A New Leaf (Routledge, 2020)
  • Marxism and Decolonization in the 21st Century: Living Theories and True Ideas (Routledge, 2022) co-edited with Morgan Ndlovu
  • Beyond Coloniality of Internationalism: Reworlding the World from the Global South (CODESRIA Book Series-in press).