International Studies Keynote: Decolonizing the Social Sciences: Or Why the Haitian Revolution Matters

Tuesday, October 20 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Online - Zoom

Portrait of Jean-Jacques Dessalines

In recent years, there has been a coalescence of movements and campaigns under the broad term, ‘decolonizing the university’. These movements have a new intensity in the light of the global resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movements. In this talk, I will focus in particular on issues associated with decolonizing the social sciences curriculum, which arguably, is about transforming the ‘common-sense’ narratives we have about how the world we share in common was configured. In particular, Bhambra will ask how the social sciences could be differently conceptualized if we took seriously postcolonial and decolonial perspectives that bring to the fore global historical interconnections as the basis for our understandings of modernity. One of the key defining tropes of modernity, for example, is its association with the democratic revolutions of the US and France. But there was also another revolution around the same time that is consistently missed out in such accounts – the Haitian Revolution. In this talk, Bhambra asks: What difference does a consideration of the Haitian Revolution make to our understandings of social science?