This thesis concerns itself with the university as an institution of and for society – utilising academic history’s relationship with critical theories of postcolonialism and decolonialism as a case study to analyse the impact of global discourses of power on processes of (historical) knowledge production and dissemination. Within the context of increased hyper-globalisation, the university, as a scientific institution whose mission is to discover the truth, is currently experiencing a friction in its existential purpose. Understanding the current global order to be a product of the 500-year-old world-system in which the university emerged as a Euro-Western centre of knowledge production and in which contemporary history developed its academic standards, the main research question therefore is: How does academia, as a centre of knowledge production of and for the Euro-Western world, impact critical theories? More specifically, how does history, as an academic discipline of the Humanities within the university, interact with theories of postcolonialism and decolonialism since their advent in scholarly literature in the 1970s? Informed by a poststructuralist approach to literary and discourse analysis, this thesis examines the works of Edward Said, Homi K. Bhabha, and Dipesh Chakrabarty as well as Fratnz Fanon, Enrique Dussel, and Anibal Quijano to understand postcolonial and decolonial criticism within the creation of academic history. This literary and discourse analysis is thereafter focused on at least one critical review for each of the work of the respective authors above. The reviews examined the legitimacy and validity of postcolonial and decolonial scholarship through the lens of empiricism expressed as an hermeneutical historical interpretation based in rational realism, which ultimately limits and defines historical “truth” according to global discourses of power emanating from the 500-year-old world-system: Eurocentrism. This Eurocentrism expands beyond academic history and the university, permeating through the global order in its institutions and structure – as seen with the United Nation’s framework for human rights. Albeit an honourable and necessary concept, human rights are influenced by the Euro-Western experience, conceptualisation, and epistemology of global matters thereby inevitably enshrouding the value of human rights within Eurocentrism. All in all, I argue that history, academia, and the university more broadly impose a Eurocentric framework on knowledge production and its unending search for the “truth”. Despite being based on empirical scientific processes, the search for truth – in the historical sense – through the use of rational realism in hermeneutic interpretation leads to a narrow-minded approach to historical enquiry, limiting our knowledge, potential, and humanity to a homogenous (Euro-Western) unit. Demonstrative of a lack of inter-epistemological dialogue within inter(-)national relations, it necessary that history, academia, and the university begin to understanding the plurality of humanity and its multiple ways of being within its conceptualisation and framing of the truth.

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Delea, M.
Global History and International Relations
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Presber, Marie-Eve. (2022, February 28). (Re)Framing History: An Historical Examination of Postcolonialism, Decolonialism, and the Philosophy of History. Global History and International Relations. Retrieved from