Students surround the bronze statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes, as it is removed from the campus of Cape Town University, South Africa on April 9, 2015 [File:AP/Schalk van Zuydam]

From Cape Town to Cairo, Bahia to Bombay, recent calls to “decolonise the university” have gained traction across the globe. These demands correctly challenge the legacies of colonialism and attempt to subvert them in institutional structures of higher learning.

But the problem with this 21st-century “scholarly decolonial turn” is that it remains largely detached from the day-to-day dilemmas of people in formerly colonised spaces and places. Many academics mistakenly maintain that by screaming “decolonise X” or “decolonise Y” ad nauseam, they will miraculously metamorphose into progressive agents of change.

Some tragically believe that

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