Diversity Project HPS

HPS Diversity Project

Decentering, Decolonizing, and Delinking

While this project is called the HPS “Diversity” project, the term itself–as well as the term “inclusivity”–was not part of the group’s thinking. Instead, the project focused on decentering, delinking, and decolonizing the classroom materials and experiences of the students.

This is not to say that our group avoided including other voices or diversifying subject matter. But any effort which focuses on the individual level alone cannot address the structure. Including voices without determining–or at least reconsidering–what sort of choir we should assemble is starting, in the view of the project, from the wrong end of the question.

Instead, we used decentering (meaning decentering the ‘standard’ or norm by making it one of many possibilities), delinking (meaning delinking individual value systems from more universalistic value systems), and decolonizing (meaning contextualizing the creation of the present in the colonial and neocolonial systems, particularly the post-Columbian global world). These definitions are communicable but blunt; there are nuances to these terms our definitions do not capture. Nonetheless, we hope they prove useful for those new to the topic.

The advantage of these approaches is that they address the structural issues. Some disadvantages are that (a) the “de-” approaches require articulation of alternative value systems, (b) they focus more heavily on economic, geopolitical, and racial imbalances stemming directly or indirectly from colonial projects and so focus less on women’s and LGBTQ+ issues (though there is significant overlap), and (c) they have the risk of articulating the alternatives but implicitly dismissing those alternatives.

Even with these caveats, we find the advantages of structural examination worth losing some freedom in what structural inequalities we can easily examine.