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“Free, Decolonised Education” – A Lesson from the South African Student Struggle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-334
Issue number3
Early online date7 Aug 2017
Accepted/In press16 Jun 2017
E-pub ahead of print7 Aug 2017
PublishedSep 2017


King's Authors


This commentary places British geography within transnational currents of student-focused decolonisation movements. In October 2015, the author travelled to South Africa for the first time, visiting Witwatersrand University (Johannesburg), University of Cape Town (UCT) and Rhodes University in Grahamstown. This paper draws on historical accounts of the British colonisation of what is now South Africa, contextualising both the domestic and global inequalities which it’s students are currently challenging. British imperial history also provides a basis for understanding the roots of British geography, offering the campaigns to decolonise the South African university as an opportunity to critically reflect on how our own discipline produces knowledge. The commentary asks this timely question: as geographers, particularly those based in the old centre of Empire, how can our work be used to dismantle the colonialism our discipline has been implicated in since its formal inception?

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