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Decolonization of Institutions

Colonialism has been a significant challenge facing several communities all over the world. Colonialism dates back to ancient times and has been ongoing globally. The problem with this art of colonization is the general dependence on other individuals for prosperity. This dependence challenges us to recognize our strengths and how we are constantly part of communities. With these networks and systems, it is when we rise to question ourselves how we know what we know. And with a good understanding of this idea will help us identify the capacities that will help us go on with our operations ethically in the communities and systems of which we are part and which support us. The role of decolonization belongs to us as a whole, which will help us think about our relationship and help us understand the colonial challenges we face. Decolonization always aims to achieve indigenous sovereignty, involving individuals determining their culture, political system, land, economic systems, and social rights. Therefore, elaborating on decolonization will serve as a leeway to creating transparent and justifiable designs to address inequality through dialogue, education, action, and communication. This paper covers the various approaches that have been used in addressing decolonization. Four video analyses have been used to convey this message fully, and other relevant examples have also been included.

Nikki Sanchez, in his presentation, focuses mainly on decolonization as seen in North America and Canada, though in her presentation, she expands far beyond the national borders of these countries. Nikki Sanchez is an indigenous media maker, an academician, and an educator in the environmental sector. In her presentation, she invites us to think about our territories, specifically the non-inherited, never-surrendered, and occupied land. Sanchez gives a flashback to the colonial times when the settlers mass killed the local inhabitants. She synthesizes the indigenous people’s efforts with their resilience towards oppression, erasure, and extraction. In addressing the role of individuals in fighting colonialism, Sanchez says, “this history is not your fault. But it is your responsibility” (Sanchez, 00:07:03). As part of her introduction, she brainstorms the audience by asking them if they know the ancestral owners of the land they currently inhabit upon which she provides them with the crowd-sourced map. The map gives them a way to understand what the ancient land looked like and helps them draw the significant changes happening on the ground.

Sanchez, in her presentation, gives a list of the vast countries ranging from Australia to Hawaii, to the Philippines to Standing Rock to Wet’suwet’en that are all faced with decolonization. She points to COVID as one factor that has deprived individuals of their rights. She says, “What does that tell us about the systems we participate? They’re the result of global capitalism and colonialism, which has robbed not just Indigenous people, but all of humanity, of their birthright”. The struggle to get to reality with this colonialism is taking time. She relates it to the situation of the Canada movement shutdown, where the Canadian media helped push propaganda that led to the denial to tell a multifaceted account of the story. At that point, they used secret language like “anti-pipeline” to change the tales and pit Indigenous people against the Canadian economy. She highlights the importance of history in understanding where we came from and acknowledging the land we live in since everybody has an ancestry that one belongs. But unfortunately, several individuals still need to remember where they came from, and they don’t care too much about their origin. “When you start to unpack your personal history and the history of decolonization, regardless of what part of the world you’re living in or you come from, there’s a rich story that can teach you about who you are, as well as your points of power and accountability”(Sanchez, 00:09:13). The process of unpacking is what allows us to move forward towards more significant social equity and environmental sustainability. It shows us that there is no shame in understanding your history. It is, therefore, essential to think about the power dynamic that happens if you are handling a lowly-placed community. For every challenge, a solution must be found to curb it.

Jules Orcullo is a Philippine founder of the Joy Offensive, an educator, and a theater maker. In her presentation, she looks at how most individuals get stuck at the tokenism level in Arnstein’s ladder of participation. Her main subject is decolonization and self-determination. She explains determination as the act of freely creating and determining your future. She says she walks around in a colonized and is a victim of racism. She says she has undergone so many challenges in her growth. It led to her urge to get a way to get out of colonization without raising herself. She further explains how Asians have been oppressed for a long time. Even in public participation, in her example of the play staged in west London using the ancient Chinese culture that, out of her expectation, was using Chinese culture, leaving history. In the end, the theatre defended the play terming any allusion related to ancient china as invoking the abstract of the universe. In her analysis of the ladder of participation used to measure diversity of initiative, she looks at the lowest level comprising the most tokenism group. This level involves engaging a group to manipulate them for personal benefit. In the middle is the consolidation, which entirely consists of an individual having a group that he can share with the diverse world. At the top lies delegated power and citizen control which is all about a group or community working out their ideas.

Arnstein’s ladder of participation gives us an overview of what happens in our community. Tokenism must be part of us as much as we try to address it. The networks have become limited, and those at the top look at those below them as strangers. And so, the systems of production we have set up for ourselves cannot meet our expectations. But we are capable of changing the plans. Most of the time, it doesn’t look easy, but we must work towards normalizing it. In an attempt to curb colonization, Orcullo, in her presentation, gives several strategies to do so. The first of these strategies is investing in and creating new spaces where you are not the author. It will enable an individual to value the spirit of togetherness. “These spaces can be haemophous and spontaneous” (Orcullo, 00:12:37). These spaces can ignite our developmental spirit by interacting with other groups. Secondly, you need to place power in the process. It helps us celebrate our discoveries rather than the targets we achieved. Thirdly, have positive solidarity. Having a mind that shows up for different groups will motivate an individual to work out a foreign idea to help her grow. The presentation is about learning to value yourself and where you came from while loving others.

Chip Colwell, in his talk, brings out the reality of the dark past of museums. He explains how museums have committed the terrible crime of cultural violence. In his speech, he looks at the number of injustices channeled to the Native Americans by museums. Colwell, in his talk, refers to War Gods that have been taken from shrines of the Zuni tribe and are widespread around the globe. He says, “For Zunis, the War God is not a piece of art, it is not even a thing. It is a being” (Colwell, 00:11:31). A realistic analysis of this act seems to be more painful than intended. Because what museums are using as artistic evidence of religion in the Zuni culture is taken differently from the localities. The living, current group of people, feels like their gods have been stolen from them and disrespected. In his attempts to reveal a side of the collection of artifacts, he says that many people try to underrate and that Western culture buries under attempts to praise the universal aspect of museums. The brief talk by Colwell presented in a very sobering way challenges people’s view of museums and artifacts taken from their native culture.

Wanda Nanibush presents the platform talk on decolonizing museums; the moderator of the discussion, Curator of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, features independent and institutional curators from Canada and the USA. The other participants are Julie Crooks, Associate Curator, Photography, Art Gallery of Ontario; Julie Nagam, Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media and Associate Professor, University of Winnipeg; Larry Ossei-Mensah, Independent Curator and Co-Founder of ARTNOIR, and Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Director and CEO, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The talk elaborates on the ongoing attempt to decolonize collections and shift the space of institutions to achieve more significant equity. The conversation is entirely based on the shots put in place to curb the growing challenge of colonialism in museums. Most Western museums are adopting a new art. As from the talk, the growth factors have triggered the ever-increasing shift towards a decolonial approach to their acquisition practices. Nagam, in the discussion, elaborates that the Independences of these nations is the main factor, but the globalization phenomenon has brought about imbalances and therefore called for non-Eurocentric policies. Their main concern is knowing how to succeed decolonization of museums and their collections. Dumont says, “The problem of colonization cannot be reduced until the theoretical quest of a remedy that could be applied to any museum is reached” (Dumont, 00:16:43). It implies that each museum has its history, which means every individual working towards this should look for its approach. The purchase of artworks alone cannot rectify these tales. In her arguments, Crooks insists that the fight against the colonialism of museums is probably not be won until museums become spaces of knowledge without power. It is, therefore, the responsibility of an individual to take full responsibility for their role in the construction of influential tales. These tales will be vital in shaping the history of art and, more broadly, the history of our world in our collective memories.

The four presentation shares several common ideas. Decolonizing environments are mainly considered comparative teaching and learning. They both share the importance of history in fighting colonialism. History is at the center of every presentation. Understanding history will be the root of fighting any colonial aspect in any setting. The other element that shows the similarity is that decolonizing was actualized by time-to-time critiquing and exploring the place of knowledge in educational spaces. It also indicates that decolonizing was all about constructing a curriculum beyond the standard knowledge system.

The presentations, however, showed some differences. These differences were shown in strategies and words used. In the analysis of the Northern American context and Canada, Sanchez uses the language of Indigenization to define decolonization. But for Orcullo, in describing Australian decolonization, she approaches it by making room for Indigeneity within educational institutions and government policy. In this context, decolonization was the responsibility of all Indigenous and non-Indigenous identified people in the region. For the African part, the fight against colonialism was predominantly inward-facing. While addressing decolonization, academic dependency and secular knowledge systems within higher education institutions were relevant in describing decolonization, predominant only in this region. It is evident in Colwell’s presentation on the colonization of museums.

In conclusion, there is a significant possibility of fighting colonialism in the modern context. Establishing an approach with relevant programs of study would ensure an environment where academicians can think together about these vital tales across disciplines. It should be noted that it will not be an idea of a day. Individuals have to put in more effort to realize this process’s success. A solid engagement of decolonial studies as a field and other practices need to move beyond academics and open the area more. With all these ideas in practice, these reflections and directions can help hammer out solidarity and assess decolonizing strategies and methodologies. It will help address colonialism across geographical environments and disciplines.


shahjahan, riyad, estera, anabelle, & surla, kristen. (n.d.). “decolonizing” curriculum and pedagogy: A comparative review across … Retrieved December 11, 2022, from

TEDxTalks. (2017, November 30). What’s left of you? performance, decolonisation & self-determination | Jules Orcullo | tedxuclwomen. YouTube. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from

TEDxTalks. (2019, March 12). Decolonization is for everyone | Nikki Sanchez | tedxsfu. YouTube. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from


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