The 2017 RGS-IBG chair’s theme: decolonising geographical knowledges, or reproducing coloniality?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • James Esson
  • Pat Noxolo
  • Richard Baxter
  • Patricia Daley
  • Margaret Byron

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Loughborough University
  • School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London
  • School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
  • University of Leicester


The theme for the chair’s plenaries at the 2017 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) (RGS-IBG) Annual Conference is ‘Decolonising geographical knowledges: opening geography out to the world’. This commentary explains why this pursuit of critical consciousness via decolonial thinking could do more harm than good. We show how the emphasis on decolonising geographical knowledges rather than structures, institutions and praxis reproduces coloniality, because it recentres non-Indigenous, white and otherwise privileged groups in the global architecture of knowledge production. It is argued that an effective decolonial movement within
geography must recognise the intersectionality of indigeneity and race, and necessitates that the terms on which the discipline starts debates about decolonisation and decoloniality are determined by those racialised as Indigenous and non-white by coloniality.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-388
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Early online date7 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • coloniality , decolonisation , geographical knowledges, indigeneity , racism , whiteness