Decolonising Methodologies, 20 years on: an interview with Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith

In October 2019, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Professor of indigenous education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand gave the Sociological Review Annual Lecture in London.  This marked twenty years since the publication of her book Decolonizing Methodologies. This pathbreaking volume presented a significant challenge to the ways in which imperialism was embedded in the production of knowledge through social science research.

In this interview, Michaela Benson, Editor-in-Chief of The Sociological Review, was joined by Sara Salem, editorial board member at The Sociological Review and Assistant Professor in Sociology at the London School of Economics, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith. In the discussion, they revisit Decolonising Methodologies, reflecting on what has changed since the initial publication of the book and challenges ahead given the continuing urgency of decolonizing social science curricula and social theory. 



I’m Dr Michaela Benson, Editor-in-Chief of the Sociological Review and Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. In October 2019, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Professor of indigenous education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand gave the Sociological Review Annual Lecture in London.  This marked twenty years since the publication of her book Decolonizing Methodologies. This pathbreaking volume presented a significant challenge to the ways in which imperialism was embedded in the production of knowledge through social science research.

I was joined by Sara Salem, editorial board member at the Sociological Review, and Assistant Professor in Sociology at the London School of Economics in this interview with Linda where we revisit Decolonising Methodologies, reflecting on what has changed since the initial publication of the book and challenges ahead given the continuing urgency of decolonizing social science curricula and social theory. 

MB:     It’s been 20 years since the publication of your book, Decolonising Methodologies, Linda, and I was wondering what you thought about the way in which this work has been received in the intervening years.  I realise 20 years is quite a long period of time, but do you have any reflections on how it has been received and how in this current moment, as you identified earlier, you were quite curious why all of a sudden in the UK there was suddenly this interest in your work again, what the continuing challenges might be in terms of thinking about decolonising methodologies.

LTS:    When I first wrote the book I didn’t imagine the kind of, how far it would go.  I had a specific audience in mind of indigenous people generally who I would reach through an academic kind of process.  So I didn’t see it going as far as it has and nor did I see myself talking about it 20 years later.  When the publishers suggested I do a revision I thought no, just leave it as it is, I am quite happy, it can just age gracefully and then they kept coming back “No you need to do a revision and do a second edition” and I think they talked to me for about three years before I thought “OK, alright, I have to get this round my head”.  I write other things, I publish other things, and I have got other research work that I do, so going back to a text that I wrote initially in 1997/98, those years, it is always hard to look at your own writing again and I want to revise it without completely re-writing it.  I had to resist that in the new edition and I sulked about doing it for months and then of course the deadline started to creep up and I thought “OK, I am going to have to do it, I am going to have to do it”.  So I sat down one day and looked at the work that I promised that I would do and just did it, knocked it out in about two months, all the little things that I had agreed to do.  And then I thought that is it, I don’t need to worry about it every again and now I am doing another edition.  So you don’t know that when you write a book, and I don’t even know what it means to be doing all these further editions and that is not what I imagined. 

MB:     And now you are preparing the third edition, I wonder if you are having the same feelings as you had when you did the second edition, kind of, well, because you hadn’t imagined that that was where you would be.  So what do you think the particular challenges are that you want to address in the third edition that perhaps update from the second and first editions?

LTS:    The definite areas where indigenous work, decolonising work, has moved because of other scholarship and I want to pick up on that.  One of those areas that I didn’t really address in the first edition at all was around LGBTQI communities, queer theory, queer indigenous theory.  There is a lot of indigenous environmental activism and research work.  So there are new areas that have opened up that I want to begin to weave in.  I have an ethic, if you like, of trying to make sure I quote and site as many indigenous scholars as I can and the scholarship in this area has really grown.  So I want to address that.  And then adding a whole new chapter on 25 new projects and thinking of, you know, in the next 20 years, what are the big areas of work that we will be engaged in, how do we think about that.  One of those areas is around food, food sovereignty, another one is around artificial intelligence.  There is a little piece I have been working on about humans going to another planet and what may be some of the issues that we could bring a decolonising analysis to that kind of scenario.  That is where I want to go.

MB:     So updating the 25 projects that were quite central to the previous book?

LTS:    Yes, and I am going to keep the old 25 projects, I will update those in terms of new references and citations and then there is like another 25 more projects. 

SS:      So I imagine it is a really interesting moment in the UK where there has been increasing mobilisation around this question of decolonisation, whether that is in terms of the curriculum, the university, but also we see it quite a lot in museums, for example, food, so it has become a really big word around which people organise.  What do you think of this moment of mobilisation and to what extent do you think when this happens within the social sciences and its institutions that there is a risk of embracing it, in a way (inaudible 9:18) being used as a metaphor that is a bit detached from questions of land or broader structures?

LTS:    I am curious about the moment here in the UK and why the moment is now.  You probably have better ideas than I do about what’s happening in Britain that would lead to institutions including the word decolonising and maybe some ideas that they have.  But having said that there is a basic principle at work, or there are several principles.  One is you don’t ask the thieves to write your financial plan for you.  So why would you think institutions can suddenly come up with a decolonising agenda themselves?  So if I were to order an institution around what they were doing I would want to know where that idea came from external to the university, who supports it, how that support is mobilised, how it is reflected in decisions, what the concrete projects and home lines are, what is the vision of change, how do people actually see a decolonising vision in every day practice in terms of who is in front of students, what kind of students, what kind of research, what kind of readership and administration structure.  I would have all those questions that I think have to be thought about before a unilateral declaration of decolonisation, because we know from the past that that approach doesn’t work very well.

SS:      Do you have any words for, it seems to me students especially are really grappling with the tensions that are embedded within trying to carry out a radical project within what ultimately are very conservative spaces and it seems like when students imagine what the university could be through this lens it is often a very exciting and radical project but then you see it slowly become co-opted by different forces.  But also this is something I think students really think about, in terms of how could we avoid that whilst still trying to create a university that is a more critical space for us.

LTS:    I don’t think you can do this work without the support of students.  That is the first thing.  So what they do is really important, how they express that, the protests, the sit-ins, the articulation from their perspective of what it means is really important but you need those people employed within the institution to be able to respond to their challenges with some intelligence.  That they actually have some strategies for how to respond and if they can’t respond how they might think about what they need to do in order to respond and not think about it as simply managing a crisis that gets wrapped up in marketing discourse and make a nice little plan and do some Key Performance Indicators and then in three years’ time the word moves out of the text and a new word replaces it.  So I do have some cynicism about how institutions manage what they perceive to be threats or perceive to be crises.  Having said that, you know, to me the fact that the message coming from students is very powerful, you know, and that it is coming from students across different institutions is also powerful, it can’t just be in one space.  But where it takes hold I haven’t got a sense of that myself.  But these ideas can take hold in the strangest of places and it’s partly a guess, it is partly the stars align, it’s partly some really courageous decision makers step up to the mark, it is partly that the community intuitively understands what it is about and can kick in some external support.  I don’t think it can just happen in the internal dynamics of a university.

MB:     I think it is really good to identify the different roles that different constituents within those institutions, the part that institutions might play there and how they might work together in particular ways to hopefully produce quite fruitful outcomes that are counter to what the neo-liberal universities might like to try and do through their anti-racism or through their decolonised curricula agenda where they brand and market their institution in those ways.  I think that really does point to the way that language gets co-opted and it doesn’t really become practice at all, decolonising isn’t practiced in that respect?

LTS:    No, but nor in our institutions, anti-racism as a commitment that institutions have made is 30 / 40 years old.  But it is still like a poster, it is in the women’s toilets in terms of “We are an anti-racist institution” and what that tells us is if you don’t built an infrastructure behind these ideas, then they are just posters and they kind of sit there as part of the paintwork and become wallpaper because there is nothing behind them which keeps them alive, there are no champions in the system, there is absolutely no accountability, there is no sense of striving for a vision that people can see.  It gets undermined very quickly and I think institutions are a place those ideas which are difficult and they can’t see that they can solve them neatly, they replace that idea with another idea.  So they start to water it down.  There are lots of strategies that institutions use so they employ a single person to do the decolonising work, how do they even think that is possible for a single person to decolonise an institution, or they appoint someone as their equity person who not only has to decolonise that institution but address the needs of multiple equity groups.  If we are fortunate they might create a little department of two people but it is the same thing, it’s a sticking plaster approach to something that is systemic and structural and needs a full institutional commitment and resourcing to realise it.

MB:     I think it speaks very much to the point you were making last night and I have heard you repeat today about there being no end point to decolonising, it’s a verb, it’s in process and if we lose sight of the fact there is no end point, then that’s what happens whereas institutions want there to be a firm end point to something like this.  And I took quite a lot of hope away actually from the idea of this being “in process”, moving and constantly reflecting on it and bringing it together.

SS:      I also loved what you said about how that is also something we are going through so there is no point where we decolonised ourselves and now we can start on an institution.  But it is always across us that is affecting everyone in that environment.  But I was also struck about what you said about the need for this infrastructure and I think because also the fact that students, for example, in the UK come in for a Masters programme that is just 8 months and then move on and you can see so much work gets done in that short period that again a new cohort comes in and you almost have to again start from scratch because universities are not creating those infrastructures or staff are not creating them and so I think there is a need also for an investment that goes beyond students.  Also because students come in and are very dynamic but also move on and you can see year after year, we need to start again because we haven’t built something from this energy.

LTS:    There is a sustainability issue in terms of a decolonising agenda.  We have to sustain it inter-generationally because there is no end point.  So that burst of enthusiasm in an 8 month period and then a break and then a new cohort and another burst of enthusiasm, over time it is kind of unsustainable and it becomes really predictable because you can say “Well this is the month it is going to happen and then these months nothing is going to happen”.  And I think when an institution things a crisis is predictable then the crisis is solved because they can manage it.  And I think these sort of intellectual crises that universities from to time face, it kind of has to shake them to their core.  My sense just in the two days I have been here is that it is not shaking them to the core of their own sense of purpose, who they are, what they are as institutions.  Until they get that I don’t think they will commit to transformation.

MB:     It is very clear that what is happening is a management of crises, as you so aptly described it, that is what I feel anyway, Sara, it feels very much that that is the case.  Obviously we have talked a little about decolonising universities because that is the hot topic, I think, particularly in the London universities I would say, and then some other universities around the UK.  But your original work was very much, as you said at the outset, focused on producing this book for this body, this audience of indigenous people who may be researchers or who have been on the receiving end of research to talk through and to think differently about some of the issues that they were facing as researchers.  Do you want to speak a little bit more about that, give a little bit more context?

LTS:    That is the big tension of the book and it is reflected in what I heard today with our early career researchers, where do you put our energy.  And so I deliberately, over the last few years put my energy into developing the research capacity and capability of my own communities and I have done that through the deliberate development of strong PhD programmes, mentoring programmes, working with our Iwi tribes and community organisations to have them engage in research, to have them employ researchers who are our students, to have them see that they have the power themselves, you don’t actually need a university to answer your questions for you.  And the greatest reward for me in this work is not when I go out and the community says “Yes we’d love to work with you” it is when they come to me and say “This is our research idea, can you help us develop it?” because then that power dynamic is switched and they’ve determined for themselves what their questions are and that they are going to do it and that they are going to mobilise resources.  So if you come to New Zealand you will find some excellent community based research institutes, I am on the Board of two of them where one is an independent charitable trust and the other one is owned by a tribe, they are staffed with people who are experienced researchers, they can compete very easily with university researchers but they are so engaged with their community and they do interesting work, the kind of work that many of us in the university would want to be able to do but are constrained from doing.  We have become so bureaucratic that some of the work with communities has become almost impossible for us to do because of all the rules that we have that govern our travel, how we might pay for food when we are in a community, whether the organisation we have worked with has a tax status, whether the university wants to deposit money in their account.  All those kinds of issues.  And when you are working with marginalised communities, by definition they don’t have great infrastructure so that is really where over time, over the 20 years, I have put more and more of my energy.  I think my communities deserve more of my time than what the institution deserves, even though it pays my salary, I think I have given the institution honest and fully engaged labour but I also think it is important that I do something equally honest and fully engaged with our community.

MB:     I know the book was never intended to be for non-indigenous researchers, it was not filling a gap, it was starting to fill a gap where things hadn’t been written and hadn’t been said.  But I wondered what you thought were the lessons that can be taken away for non-indigenous researchers that could cause them to reflect a little more on how they conduct their research, how they communicate their research, how they work with the communities and the people’s that they are working with?

LTS:    On that first page where I refer to research as a dirty word, I think that has been quite a powerful expression and people are shocked and even now I get people who say to me out of the blue “I read that book and it totally changed the way I thought about research” and it is often that single phrase, “Research is a dirty word” that has pulled people up and made them think more critically about research in this context.  I think you have to ask non-indigenous peoples how they have applied it, I haven’t really thought about how they have applied it.  The fact they are working with ideas is good, the fact it has given them a consciousness about empowering the students who come from these communities, that is really powerful.  And the fact that some have changed their approaches.  Ultimately that is what we would want to see that research is no longer exploitative of our peoples and of our communities, that research is something that is co-designed, it is collaborative, it works for the communities, that their consent is full and nuanced, they know what they are consenting to.  I think those are things that I would hope that non-indigenous researchers understood.

SS:      In the book you outlined 12 ways in which research has colonised indigenous people, I was wondering, given our current moment, do you see particular ways in which new technologies, for example, or new ideas around ownership of material or things like intellectual property rights issues that have come up that you see creating new ways, or new kinds of problems that research should have to navigate.  Especially around this question of technology and the way it allows also for colonisation to continue in deeper and more invasive ways but also that creates particular challenges for indigenous researchers.

LTS:    I think colonising processes are ongoing, they change form, they are delivered in different kinds of modes.  But anything you see or read that claims to be innovative, novel, life changing, world changing, driven by an idea of neutral data is ripe for a decolonising analysis because you just know intuitively it can’t feed all those things.  You can’t claim that algorithms are neutral, or that big data, metadata, gathered from institutions who have been gathering data for years.  You will know it will not have great data, it will be flawed, it would have raised identities, it would be inaccurate, if it is government for example it will be based on government agenda, government policies.  And to believe you can take a data set, those metadata sets and pretend they are neutral, that is wrong, and that they could generate transformative outcomes you know that is not going to happen either.  Embedded in them is inequality, iniquity, embedded in them is racism and sexism, and a denial of existence of multiple identities.  So to me one of the decolonising approaches is always to be alert in monitoring and be interested in these things, because actually indigenous communities love the ideas of artificial intelligence, we have cosmologies, that’s not a strange idea.  We think other entities are intelligent, so creating artificial intelligence is a fine idea.  The question is who’s creating it?  Who’s creating this intelligence?  How are they defining the intelligence?  What are they putting that intelligence to work for?  What problems is solving and you know, generally what I would say is most research in the West solves the problems of middle class and rich people’s lives.  That’s where the resources go, that is who cries the loudest, they may not be the neediest of communities but they are the communities that are most able to mobilise innovation to serve their needs.  And so understanding how inequity works and equality, colonialism work is really part and parcel of bringing to anything novel about the future that kind of frame of mind.  I don’t know if that is helpful, but you know.

MB:     I think one of the big discussions that has been ongoing in sociology for the past ten years is about what all of those changes to the way that data is being collected, not by researchers but by credit companies and things like that, what that means for the future of empirical research and that has been a really quite big debate, as they slowly try to say that this data can tell us everything we need to know, we don’t need you to go out and talk to the people that you work with or do this because we can tell you everything by looking at this huge dataset that compiles so much information that you would never be able to get and then we can press a button on the computer and it will do this.  So I think that though questions of inequality that are built into the data collection has been something that people have been alarmed by and then thinking with while at the same time trying to resist the onset of this big data as a way of understanding the social world and in solving problems I suppose that are then presented by that data.

LTS:    My cynical view sometimes is that certain disciplines of knowledge are really good at marketing their research in that they have got this research or funding this kind of research and new technologies will save, improve or transform people’s lives.  It is a big claim.  And social science research doesn’t generally make those big claims because it is built into social science research that you can’t claim those things.  So when you hear claims like that, you are immediately suspicious in thinking really?  So I read something two days ago about the future of the primary industries in New Zealand, farming, sheep farming, cattle, dairy, you know, and the future of food and so what that article was saying as these scientists in the US have determined in 20 years’ time we won’t need to be farming because our food can be produced in laboratories.  They won’t need cows, they won’t need chickens, they won’t need vegetables, it can all be synthetically produced and the article was saying we have got to get our heads around this because this is the future of food.  That is a good example of a massive claim and then you are thinking “Well how do you get to claim something like that as if the technology can do all these things therefore it will do all these things”, that it is the end of farming.  That is just marketing to me about research.  Yes there is food, we will be changing our food production systems and they need to change because they are so exploitative, they are industrial scale farming, not because of food per se but because of the huge environmental damage, it is an unsustainable mode of producing food.  So the energy that goes into creating synthetic food versus changing the mode of production of food, you know, already illustrates the mindset that you can just keep on using technology in the name of solving problems when in fact it simply creates more problems.  To me that is really unethical as research and it is also kind of reprehensible in the fact that it predetermines the future.  The first question you will ask is who gets to eat this food?  The world actually already produces a lot of food and we have got whole countries where starvation is an issue.  So who gets to eat, that is the question, who actually gets to eat food in a world that produces a lot of food but allocates it and distributes it unequally and what do those people look like?  They look brown, they look black, they look marginalised, you know, they speak different languages, they are out of sight.  They are the ones who don’t get access.

SS:      I am really struck also by the point that colonialism is something that is continuous and is just emerging in new forms.  I think there is a recognition also in anti-colonial and anti-racist movements, so something like algorithms and racial profiling using technology and things like that, I think there is this recognition that this is not new, this is something that the police have been doing and are still doing but is now just being done in a different way but the underlying structural issue of state violence or state criticism is still there and is just basically manifesting in different ways.  I think that has been an interesting point, that a lot that we see over generations is this acknowledgement that it continues but it just morphs over time.

LTS:    If you have a police culture or a law culture and you exercise surveillance over the poor and the marginalised, that is your culture, then whatever you do to improve crime rates, rates of crime or rates of recidivism will always been embedded with those fundamental values that you can surveil people, you just get better technologies for doing it.  Most poor communities can tell you where the criminals live, our ones can, they can name the individuals.  But they can also live with those people in their community for the most part, it is a very tender balance.  When the balance tips and something dreadful happens, often what happens in our communities is a big code of silence kicks in, everyone knows, but no one will say anything to the authorities because they kind of know that the authorities will make it worse, not make it better and that it will expose them to more violence, it will expose their children to violence.  We are developing a prime science institute at my university and while I want to work with Maori basically I think many of their technologies are about greater surveillance of our communities.

MB:     I think that has provided quite a good example of how people resist and unsettle those technologies in a way through their practices which is really really fundamentally important.  And I think you have also talked quite a lot about the different states and production of knowledge and where people are positioned in that.  Do you think at this point in time that, it seems to me that there are greater risks in producing knowledge at this point in time, or maybe it is more appropriate to say that because of the onset of some of those bigger technologies for producing knowledge or producing particular types of knowledge, there is also a greater tendency towards where other ways of producing knowledge have flourished or have a foothold that now because of the weight of those new technologies of producing knowledge that actually those are being crushed.  That is not cynical, that is kind of fatalistic. 

LTS:    And crushed is a very powerful word.  I think the hopeful side of that in my area, in the indigenous area, is there is this huge energy and revitalising all our knowledge and some of that uses technology, number of websites and different ways in which communities are trying to recuperate, store and use traditional forms of knowledge and new knowledge that they are creating.  So there is this energy there.  I think if you look globally you can get really depressed with the sort of knowledge that is held up as this is the knowledge that’s for the future.  But if you go down a level and look at the knowledge communities produce and the knowledge that they work with, especially our communities at the moment, it goes you a great deal of hope that actually at that level people draw on what they know and there is this big revitalisation movement in the indigenous world.  It excites us, it is what our people want to learn, it’s what we will give up our time to go and spend a weekend re-learning these practices, because we see in them our future, we don’t see our future in these big fancy claims to knowledge, we see it in bringing back into everyday practice the things that we knew sustained us for centuries.

SS:      We have a sociology question here as well.  There does seem to be also increased attention within sociology to the role that colonialism played in the formation of the discipline and the role the discipline also played in imperial projects and often historically that has been put on anthropology, this is was where the problematic stuff happened, whereas of course sociology is complicit.  I think especially globally we are seeing more and more critiques of the centrality of enlightenment thinking, modernity and so on, and how the discipline understands knowledge production.  So I was wondering where you see the role of decolonising methodologies in that project, the critique of enlightenment, particularly in the light of secular colonialism and its violence against also indigenous knowledge production and ways of knowing. 

LTS:    I think to come to know about the impact of colonialism on peoples and to know that complicity of your discipline in that impact forces an ethical Christian, do you live with that or do you attempt to change it.  And to me the ethical answer is you have to change it, it is as simple as that.  But the hard part is how and who and what, in what order, what sequence or where, but it is a kind of ethical response to an understanding of the impact and the complicit nature of the discipline.  Otherwise you just sustain it, you just carry on “Oh terrible, we won’t do that again” but if you can’t address it, because it is embedded in all the texts, then you can’t change it.

MB:     It is the big challenge, it is about actions and not words, or not just words.  And it has significance for all of those spaces within sociological work is being conducted, whether that is our journals, our institutions, our subject association, as a peer reviewer, as an author.  So it is probably bringing on board those people within the subject community who actually do want to see that change and push for it in various ways, even when it makes them uncomfortable and moves them out of their normal way of doing things.

SS:      I think it also raises questions that go beyond the curriculum because I think that’s where the discussion often centres, so it is this question of “Well we won’t only read Marcus Ander Klein & Webber we will add a more diverse kind of canon.  But I wonder also in terms of questions of language, in terms of what materials we use when we write or when we teach and those questions I think are also really important in this context of how we know something.  And even thinking back earlier to the workshop, you know, what does it mean to think about ghosts or ancestors that in the context of an academy that is still very resistant to that type of knowledge.  Thinking also, for example, Avery Gordon’s argument that that is also empirical material but that is still not sociological enough, or it is not the type of empirical material sociology……

LTS:    No, but sociology and other disciplines have lost of ghosts, you know.  They have names and they died a long time ago, some of them.

MB:     And they keep them alive today!

LTS:    They do and they keep appearing, they are kind of spectres that hover around and don’t leave and they are often a reference point for if you deviate too far from a discipline then these ghosts come back to haunt you.  So in a sense lots of communities like mine who believe, we don’t have the word ghost, is not a word in our language, but we believe in other entities and I am quite happy living with that notion.  But we don’t necessarily accept this cold rational denial of them means it doesn’t exist for others as well.  I think universities are good at training all of that out of you, it trains really not many of your senses, universities train your mind, they are not good at training your emotions, they are not good at training your social skills, they are not good at training your sense of wellbeing, they are not good at training you in terms of preparing you to think about your spirituality, or your identity, how you relate to others, how you relate to environment.  So if you think about it like that, universities are really limiting or the full human potential, it is good at training us in one thing and that means there are probably quite a few emotionally underdeveloped people running round inside universities. 

MB:     I can definitely sympathise with that, I can see that very clearly in my head.  I think as a kind of final point I wanted to draw out a little bit what kind of tools and resources we might need to mobilise right now to unsettle systems of power within which research, that dirty word, actually exists.  I think one of the things you were really clear about in talking with the ECRs and presenting the lecture yesterday, was that this is not a story about an individual, and I wondered the kind of ideas of Elisha collectives might offer some hope for the future of how we might resist, I suppose.

LTS:    I think it is all about building collectives and alliances.  Alliances are often awkward alliances but focused on particular goals.  A good alliance to me is one with mutual benefits and possibilities that both allies or multiple allies can envisage.  But the best alliances are ones where together you realise you have got more in common and that you are going to be more effective if you work together and see that collaborative work in itself as meaningful, like it is not just a means to an end in itself, it is meaningful work and mostly enjoyable.  I think a lot of it is about building trust, learning how to communicate with others who you might have been not so close to and in some cases a little bit sceptical about.  The more we work collectively, I think the more powerful we can be.  That is very hard for one individual to do all the work, it is unfair, and one of the issues with decolonising work is often you ask the least powerful person to do the work.  And it’s an impossibility, it’s cruel really, if you think about it in that way.  It is unethical and yet people choose to do it because of a number of things.  One is if they don’t do it there is no one to do it, and it is important to do it, so you are kind of caught in this sense of responsibility as an individual.  The second thing is while I will start it and someone else can carry it on, which is another responsibility.  The third one is I will, I have got some energy, I want to do it, I want to try it out and maybe it will go somewhere but it is all very, one of the reasons you choose the most powerless person to do the work is they don’t really know what the future looks like whereas more senior academics do, which is why they don’t do that work.  And so you choose someone with a lot of energy and a lot of youthfulness and the energy they have is good energy, so you want that to work, but on its own it is insufficient so people talk about being burnt out.  A lot of scholars in my area who I can tell instantly because their eyes don’t have sparkle.

MB:     No joy left.

LTS:    There is no joy, it bears down on them like a weight.  They can identify more problems than they can identify solutions, they feel and express a sense of being disconnected and alienated and of lacking support.  They are often ones who are stuck career-wise, doing all this work and not getting promoted.  So you can sort of feel it and the worst part is when you get ones who have simply given up hope.

MB:     I think you made very very clear today and yesterday that decolonising is a long long process and we are all in it for the long haul so there aren’t going to be quick results and quick solutions, it requires strategy and mapping out the process and thinking ahead of what might get thrown at you by the institutions you work with, by colleagues along the way so I think that is quite a useful note to end on.  So thank you very much, Linda.

LTS:    Thank you.

SS:      Thank you so much.

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