Reimagining Curriculum and Environmentality in Post-Colonial Contexts: A Case of Zambia

Year: 2021

Author: Musindo, Mutinta Sifelani

Type of paper: Individual Paper

The curriculum is more than a neutral assemblage of knowledge that appears in the education system of a country: it is a selective tradition that values and validates knowledge rooted in how human subjects are conceptualised. Zambia’s education has been accused of both lacking relevance and being unresponsive to local environmental degradation. This paper argues that Zambia’s higher education system was founded on an image of human subjectivity which has enacted a politics of exclusion from its colonial inception to the post-colonial present, continuing to adopt and adapt to global neoliberal practices. Higher Education in Zambia remains dependent on epistemological paradigms introduced by former colonisers. Colonial images of human subjects inform (a) what and whose knowledge is considered valuable and (b) the production of desired subjectivities. This poses the danger of perpetuating the invisibilisation of Indigenous ecological knowledges and ways of knowing-subjectivity in both curriculum policies and practices. To reimagine curricula and environmentality in an increasingly urgent climate catastrophe, I propose a concept of decolonial environmentality which allows me to examine the curriculum and its effects. This conceptual device of decolonial environmentality pushes us to rethink and re-construct curricula. Starting from Wynter’s (2003) concept of Man as a Western bourgeois that “over represents itself as if it were the human itself” (p.260), I develop a conceptual framework that also draws on key work from Santos, Paraskeva, Foucault and Popkewitz to examine the University of Zambia Environmental Education (UNZAEE) curriculum and how it produces both an epistemicide and a mode of government that reproduces particular environmentalities. First, I address what is at stake: the (in)visibility of local knowledges. The analysis then examines the epistemic absences and presences in environmental course modules by looking at the prescribed and recommended readings (who authored and published? From which geopolitical space?); bodies (who is) involved in the curriculum making process; and knowledges that inform the UNZAEE curriculum. I further examine the UNZAEE curriculum as a mode of governance that regulates and disciplines our ontological understanding of the self and the other, thus making it a space to shape oneself and the making of ‘desired’ environmental subjects embedded in the conceptualisation of Man. The paper concludes by suggesting that a curriculum informed by decolonial environmentality both challenges and displaces the effects of epistemicide by invoking the concept of an ecological human. Wynter, S. 2003, Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom. New Centennial Review (3) 3: 257-337