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Decolonising quantitative research methods pedagogy: Teaching contemporary politics to challenge hierarchies from data

Nadine Zwiener-Collins, Juvaria Jafri, Rima Saini, Tabitha Poulter

2021 United Kingdom

Decolonisation of the curriculum in higher education is a radical, transformative process of change that interrogates the enduring Eurocentric and racist narratives surrounding the production of academic ‘knowledge’. Our key argument is that it is essential for students of politics to understand the authorities and hierarchies exerted through quantitative data. In this article, we show that (1) quantitative methods and data literacy can be an explicit tool in the endeavour to challenge structures of oppression, and (2) there is a need to apply decolonial principles to the teaching of quantitative methods, prioritising the historical contextualisation and anti-racist critique of the ways in which statistics amplify existing micro and macro power relations. To explain how this can be done, we begin with a commentary on the ‘state of decolonisation’ in higher education, its relevance to the subdisciplines of politics, and its application to quantitative teaching in the United Kingdom. We then suggest some guiding principles for a decolonial approach to quantitative methods teaching and present substantive examples from political sociology, international political economy, and international development. These suggestions and examples show how a decolonial lens advances critical and emancipatory thinking in undergraduate students of politics when it is used with quantitative methods.

decolonisation, diversity and inclusion, pedagogy, quantitative methods, teaching and learning