What is holding Africa back in decolonising International Relations?

This event will be in Zoom

This event is part of a series of free events open to global scholars and interested parties from the global south made possible through sponsorship.

Our Africa Working Group presents a roundtable on the topical issues of decoloniality, epistemic justice and diversity in International Relations knowledge production. Much has been written about decolonising IR as a discipline. In 2007, Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan asked why there has not been non-western theory of International Relations? Since then until now, there has been a massive reawakening of the scholarly consciousness of non-western scholars who have responded to this epistemic challenge. These scholars have shown how European assumptions and understandings have influenced the way that International Relations is studied, researched and taught in Africa and elsewhere. Critical scholars, especially from the Global South, have taken the decolonisation of knowledge production seriously.

This roundtable asks what, exactly, is holding Africa back in decolonising International Relations? What postcolonial challenges seem to undermine the agency of African universities, research institutes and scholars? Acharya has suggested that his ‘prime suspect would be failure to comprehensively challenge Eurocentric accounts of Africa’s history of state and empire before colonialism, and applying 'presentist' concepts to understand African IR from a long-term perspective’. Although history is central to the decolonial project in IR, why are slogans of decolonisation of discipline often found outside of the African continent? Is South Africa an exception? How do Africa-based scholars and institutions relate to this decolonial project?


To do justice to these questions, Professor Timothy Shaw, a renowned scholar in the field who has also lectured and researched in African universities, will the chair the roundtable. We are also privileged to have Professor Toyin Falola, a distinguished historian and mentor of dozens of leading Africanist scholars in Politics and International Relations. He is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr Juliet Thondhlana is an Associate Professor in Education and Migration in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham (UK). Her teaching is in international education. She has researched internationalisation of higher education in the UK and Zimbabwe, and has co-led the development of a national internationalisation policy framework for Zimbabwe.

Dr Adaora Osondu-Oti is an Associate Professor of International Relations and the current Head of Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. She holds a PhD in International Relations from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Dr Osondu-Oti's research centers on China-Africa relations, Gender and Development, and Human Rights.

Dr Olukayode A Faleye is a Senior Lecturer in History and International Studies at Edo State University, Uzairue, Nigeria. He is the author of Africa and International Relations Theory: Acquiescence and ResponsesJGS (2014) and International Relations Theory: Comparative Reflections on EU-Africa Relations in the Routledge Handbook of EU-Africa Relations (2020).

Share this page