Beyond the Critique of Eurocentrism: Decolonization and its Problems
Syed Farid Alatas
National University of Singapore
May 16, 2019, 16h00
Room 1, CES | Alta


The effort to decolonise knowledge in the Asian context began in the nineteenth century with the thought of the Filipino thinker and activist, José Rizal (1861-1896). A tradition of counter-Eurocentric and anti-Orientalist thought subsequently developed in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and elsewhere in Asia. This paper defines Eurocentric and counter-Eurocentric knowledge and also details some problems faced by efforts to produce non-Eurocentric, decolonised knowledge, namely nativism, impersonation and silencing. The paper concludes with a discussion on exemplars for alternative, decolonial discourses from fifteenth century Tunisia, nineteenth century Philippines and Ottoman Turkey, and twentieth century Brazil and Malaysia. 

Bio note

Syed Farid Alatas is Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. He also headed the Department of Malay Studies at NUS from 2007 till 2013. He lectured at the University of Malaya in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies prior to joining NUS. In the early 1990s, he was a Research Associate at the Women and Human Resource Studies Unit, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Prof. Alatas has authored numerous books and articles, including Ibn Khaldun (Oxford University Press, 2013); Applying Ibn Khaldun: The Recovery of a Lost Tradition in Sociology (Routledge, 2014), and (with Vineeta Sinha) Sociological Theory Beyond the Canon (Palgrave, 2017) and "The State of Feminist Theory in Malaysia" in Maznah Mohamad & Wong Soak Koon, eds., Feminism: Malaysian Reflections and Experience (special issue of Kajian Malaysia: Journal of Malaysian Studies), 12, 1-2 (1994): 25-46. His areas of interest are the sociology of Islam, social theory, religion and reform, intra- and inter-religious dialogue, and the study of Orientalism.

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