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In January 2024, the new research priority area (RPA) Decolonial Futures begins at UvA, involving the faculties of Humanities, Law, and Social and Behavioural Sciences. The RPA will run for 5 years. It aims to create new research collaborations, methods, dialogues and networks for thinking about what the ‘decolonial’ means – in transhistorical and interdisciplinary ways.

Decolonial Futures will combine legal, social, political and cultural approaches to understand what decolonial futures could look like and how (competing) claims for reparative justice could be addressed to make these futures possible. With this aim, it will be working via marginalized or fragmented histories and archives of different decolonial justice movements, of the past and the present, and the bases of their claims for reparation and restitution.

‘While we hear the word "decolonial" appearing across the academic and museum worlds, with growing student interests and activist conversations, the moral charge of the word and the idea itself often overrides concrete methods of analyses’, says Sanjukta Sunderason, one of the coordinators of the RPA. ‘Yet this is what we need in academia if we truly want to decolonize knowledge. We want this RPA to create platforms for such methods to emerge in transdisciplinary constellations – via objects, imaginations, practices, and policies.’

Three key fields

Decolonial Futures identifies three key fields which have each been shaped by colonial histories and knowledge formations and require further interdisciplinary research towards their decolonial transformation: (1) museums, archives, and cultural practices; (2) migrations, mobility, and borders; (3) ecology, sustainability, and climate change. As the RPA progresses, it will encourage dialogue across these themes – through events, seed grants, research/dialogue forums, and visiting scholar programmes. 

The RPA aims to bring together UvA staff, PhD candidates, and students from the above-mentioned faculties and other faculties, as well as public and (para)institutional communities that are interested in or have been having similar conversations around the decolonial as method – academic as much as institutional and social.  

Decolonial Futures will be launched on 25 January, 15:30 – 18:00 at VOX-POP.