KARACHI: World renowned educationists, while speaking on historical and educational challenges of the postcolonial world, stressed the need to ‘decolonize’ higher education. The thoughts were expressed during Habib University’s third Conference on Postcolonial Higher Education under the theme, ‘The inheritance of injustice’, held Saturday. The conference was attended by academics from South Asia, Africa, United States and United Kingdom, including economist Dr Mwangi wa Githinji, from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Professor Githinji, while delivering his speech, highlighted how the transmission of injustice and the structure of the economy led to the “failure to improve the well-being of the vast majority of the population.” “Inherited economic, social, language and ecological structures transmitted colonial injustice into the present”, he stated. He said development today was still understood in a deficit model based on dualities with the aim to move countries to be more like the ‘modern’ and ‘industrialized’ world and called for “development as constantly expanding along multiple vectors that requires radical inclusion”. He said education systems also need to break out of their postcolonial inheritance to indigenizing systems in which “language is a library of ideas that allows us to create our own histories”. During the panel discussion on ‘Imagining a postcolonial politics’ University of the Western Cape Professor Dr Suren Pillay, while sharing his experience in South Africa, offered an alternate, less Eurocentric way, of the genealogy of the modern state in Africa. “Intellectuals must struggle to decolonize knowledge, by not taking progress and civilization at face value, but by telling more multiple and messy stories that co-constitute the story of the modern state”, Dr Pillay stressed. Another panel titled ‘Confronting a fractured past’ brought two well-known academic-novelists, Dr Minoli Salgado and Dr Sabyn Javeri, in conversation with Dr Asif Aslam Farrukhi to speak of their creative work as a symbol of political resistance. Dr Salgado’s novel ‘A little dust on the eyes’ reflected the conditions of civil war and the traces left of terror and trauma on people of Sri Lanka. “Writing is a way of bearing witness of the past […] Self-censorship destroys from within”, Salgado said. Dr. Javeri’s novel, ‘Nobody Killed Her’, addressed varied struggles of women’s empowerment within patriarchal and class-based societal structures. She stressed upon the issues of teaching feminist fiction in a postcolonial context. The third panel ‘Revisiting emancipatory futures’ highlighted alternate economic visions needed to improve life of economically marginalized people. Habib University interim Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Dr Craig Phelan explored the role of trade unions in the struggle for labour rights. “Unless African trade unions are prepared to shed their European notions of what the working class is and adopt a postcolonial vision that more accurately reflects economic circumstances, one of the most progressive forces on the continent will soon wither and disappear”, Dr Phelan added. Expanding the dialogue further, well-known academic-activists, Dr Shahram Azhar and Dr Ammar Ali Jan challenged dominant discourse of labelling Marxism as a ‘Eurocentric’ ideology. The conference concluded with the great Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s message of universal love. Renowned national performers Fakir Juman Shah and choir took the audience on a soulful journey, by performing Shah Jo Raag. Published in Daily Times, October 15th 2017.