The Salon is now in session: a reflection on UNISA’s decolonial reading

Khosi, Motlatsi and Vráblíková, Lenka. 2020. The Salon is now in session: a reflection on UNISA’s decolonial reading. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 21(7), pp. 23-36. ISSN 1539-8706 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

How can we – those who are involved in institutions of higher education as researchers, students, educators and administrators – contribute to the decolonial project? How can we dismantle colonial structures in ways that speak to and from our practices of teaching and learning? And how are we to engage with what has become known as ‘Decolonial Theory’ in our everyday practice inside the university? As follows from the work of thinkers and educators such as bell hooks, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Nelson Maldonado-Torres, the control of the means of producing and reproducing knowledge is key for sustaining coloniality but also the very reason which makes educational institutions fundamental sites of decolonial struggle. Speaking from the experience of the initiators and facilitators of the Decolonial Reading Salon at the University of South Africa (UNISA), the authors of this article critically engage these questions by teasing out the ways in which Decolonial Theory – or, as the authors insist, decolonial theories – can be used in the everyday practice that seek to enact teaching and learning as ‘the practices of freedom’ in the institutions of higher education. In the first section, the authors position themselves and the Decolonial Reading Salon, providing and insight into why they decided to set out the initiative. The second section reflects on how the Decolonial Reading Salon is organized, structured and enacted to contribute to the disruption of what Spivak calls ‘epistemic violence’. The third section focuses on strategies which the authors employ to resist – or at least postpone – their own ‘will to mastery’ that defines the mainstream educational practice in heteropatriarchal and capitalist coloniality. The fourth section reflects on decolonial reading as a struggle for epistemic liberation that is profoundly collective as well as ‘hard work’. The conclusions, drawing from Hélène Cixous, positions the Salon as a means of finding, through learning, ‘a way out’ from the heteropatriarchal and capitalist coloniality.

Item Type:



Reading as decolonial practice, decolonial theories, liberatory pedagogies, reading as resistance, collective learning

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures



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Date Deposited:

16 May 2023 11:15

Last Modified:

16 May 2023 11:15

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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