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Decolonizing Academia: Poverty, Oppression and Pain

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Refreshing and radical, Decolonizing Academia speaks to those who have been taught to doubt themselves because of the politics of censorship, violence and silence that sustain the Ivory Tower. Clelia O. Rodriguez illustrates how academia is a racialized structure that erases the voices of people of colour, particularly women, and their potential. She offers readers a gleam ...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published December 3rd 2018 by Fernwood Publishing
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May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
An open, scathing critique of academia and the pain it inflicts upon people of color, women of color in particular. Clelia Rodríguez hits on so many important points in this book, ranging from discrimination against non-white and non-male academics, to how academics take the resources and the struggles of marginalized groups without disrupting the systems that marginalize them, and much more. Rodríguez's writing style, from her experimental prose to her poetry to how she calls in other POC write ...more
Olga Akdogan
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why are the humanities failing humans? This is the main issue that is being addressed in this essay. I do not agree with most of the reviewers. I think this book touches something very important and I hope this is the first of many more to come! This essay is very useful for any discipline that exercises field work. I had a lot of fun while reading it. The style of the book is the perfect mixture between experimental Latin American literature (magical realism) and contemporary or prospective ...more
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Thank you to NetGalley and Fernwood Publishing for giving me this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

I am very interested in how academia has been colonized by Euro-centric thought, standards, hiring practices, structure and more, but unfortunately Rodríguez does not explain any of these issues on a macro level with any research or investigation. Instead she focuses on her first-hand experiences. Even that would have been an interesting and illuminating read had it not been in a style unsui
Thank you to Fernwood Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Out now!

Rodriguez is a powerful writer who transforms her essays and nonfiction prose into poetry. What does it mean to decolonize? How do we go about this? First and foremost, this is not something we can define as white people. Academia is inherently a colonial institution. In social justice communities, it's often en vogue to say we're going to "decolonize" something with
Sharad Pandian
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: culture-critique
I received a copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book brings up a lot of really important questions that academics in the West, who conceive of themselves as self-aware about themselves and their place in the world, need to confront rather than hide from. Some of the threads the author tries to bring up include:

1. How academia functions by fitting the diverse voices and cultures into certain theoretical frameworks, and expects its students, even those fr
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Positionally: I am white, I am a cis woman, I am an academic, a student, able bodied, I am femme, I am queer, I am from the global north from a white nuclear middle class family.

This novel was recommended through my academic networks.

Obviously, as my position, I have very little critique because it is not our position to; we should be listening, PAYING and supporting Women of Colour writers and artists. I am here to tell other white people, not only academic but those that have a love for learn
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I was really excited to get this book, and really wanted to like it. All the ideas are solid, but let's call it what it is: hella gimmicky (HIS/story, we get it already). It was like reading a 200-page rant; and while the writing was able to name the ways in which academic structures are neocolonial (which, at this point, seems pretty uncontested), the book fails to present much content on what could have been a far more unique and thoughtful perspective - namely, what a decolonized academia cou ...more
Hamlyn Rose
May 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was very disappointed with this book. I had read a few things other people had wrote about it. Sounded intriguing. However, as I read the book it became clear that this was the work of a very bitter person. It is hard to categorize this book. A How-To Manual for mediocre scholars?
Amelia Morgenstern
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Being a white educator for students of color, I was super compelled to read Dr. Rodriguez' book and learn about her perspective on how academia is a racialized structure that diminishes the voices of people of color. One part in particular, "Academic spaces are neither precisely adorned by safety, nor are they where freedom of speech is truly welcome. Not all of us have the luxury to speak freely without getting penalized by being called too radical, too emotional, too angry, or even not scholar ...more
Aquib Yacoob
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Decolonizing Academia" disrupts the mold of formal academic writing, breaking down through its form and content the rigidity that kept (and continues to keep) my mother and my grandmother from telling and owning their own narratives. Through form and content, "Decolonizing Academia" forces the reader on a journey towards unlearning the systems of oppression academia perpetuates. Its painful and uncomfortable truth telling and rawness points the gaze of the reader inward – encouraging self-refle ...more
Naomi Tsegaye
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Decolonizing Academia forces us to interrogate one of the most important questions in academia/education; why are we here? Without unpacking our own lived experiences we are not able to express our true intentions behind our research. Consequently, we are merely perpetuating white supremacy when participating in these spaces. Decolonizing Academia is a guide to maintaining such politicized thought and actively embracing the lived experiences we take for granted and take advantage of.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful book that graduate students in the masters’ level Intro to Latinx Studies course I am teaching said should be required reading for everyone. I agree with my students. Rodríguez writes about trauma: her own, her family’s, her community’s, her students’ and colleagues’, and her natal country’s (she grew up in El Salvador during the US funded counter-insurgency campaign that visited unspeakable violence on the Salvadoran people). She also writes from a place of radical love, prop ...more
Elaine Laberge
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a sociologist who focuses on poverty and higher education. I could not wait for the book to come out. Finally, I would have proof I was on the right track with my work. I have a lot to "unlearn," as Rodriguez writes. "Decolonizing Academia" is not an easy read; it is profoundly sociological. Rodriguez makes visible the structural reasons why universities continue to perpetuate privilege—and, in particular, the privilege of white people who have never had to experience the pain and oppressio ...more
Maeve Williams
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The personal is political, and in her book Decolonizing Academia, Dr. Clelia Rodríguez does a formidable job of weaving together deeply reflective, personal experiences with an analysis of the problematic structures that scaffold academia. She does not make excuses or shy away from aptly critiquing the systemic “isms” that embed academic institutions – rather, she leans into the subject. Her words force us to consider the very active and intentional oppression that undergirds and highlights the ...more
Summer Sullivan
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In her book "Decolonizing Academia: Poverty, Oppression, and Pain," Dr. Clelia O. Rodríguez calls out the inherently neocolonial and neoliberal nature of the academy in its quest for “knowledge” of the “other” for “research.” She draws on critical questions from an Indigenous Mapuche leader, Ñana Raquel, to both invoke and challenge the idea of de-colonization within academic spaces, which in itself, has become yet another mode of academic accumulation; who profits from the pain of people, often ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: canada, el-salvador
I very strongly agree with all the points Prof Rodriguez makes in her book, but I did not particularly like her artistic method of addressing the issue. To me, impenetrable text is part of the problem of academia, which further instills a class divide, and while Rodriguez's take on that is more poetic and abstract, I think that here it presents the narrative as an undercooked one, that eschews serious dialogue. I was hoping for an interesting discussion of the problem, but instead found a series ...more
Jennifer Andrews
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a deeply compelling and thoughtful book that explores in persuasive detail the ways in which academia sustains a racist, sexist, and classist agenda that marginalizes and alienates those who do not fit the white, privileged, cisgendered model of scholarship that still pervades universities in Canada and the US. Clelia Rodriguez demands action from her readers by sharing in elegant prose and poetry the experiences that she and others have had and calling out the ways in which academic str ...more
Norma Gonzalez
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m a recent law school graduate who felt isolated, exploited, and continually shut out in law school classrooms as a first generation radical Xicana. I survived because I found others like me and was prepared to survive by others who came before me. If it wasn’t for other students and academics of color who became my community, I would have dropped out. I haven’t read another book that can prepare students of color in academia like this one. Professor Rodriguez is doing something radical and br ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
The letters section is brilliant and calls out the racism in academia that so many of us have experienced. I was literally scribbling the names of white people I worked with in the margins that did the things she writes about. Too many of us know this pain first hand. It hurts to read this book and re-live and feel all she’s had to endure, but it’s also a gift to tell others coming up behind us what academia is really like, especially for Latinas considering this profession and life. This book i ...more
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In “Decolonizing Academia,” Dr. Clelia Rodríguez both shares her experiences and forces the reader to look inward at the systems one is upholding and benefiting from. The style and structure of this book encourages the reader to consider what colonization means with the literal form of the text as well as in Rodríguez’s words. Some questions the book highlights: what does colonization look like within academia? what is empathy? how do we value diversity in our institutions? what space are you ta ...more
Katie Joh
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is short, but packs a punch. Much of it is written in an unconventional style, so it is an entirely different reading experience.

I am not in academia, but this I appreciate so much the perspective that this book offers. Rather than laying out and methodically stating thesis-and-argument, Clelia takes you inside the lived moments of her experience in (and out of) academia. Part catharsis of a Brown woman in academia, part love letter to other POC going through it, and part call-out/cal
Sep 17, 2021 rated it did not like it
I mean according to the logic of this book, I shouldn't be critiquing it (especially not from an academic perspective) so it becomes a bit beside the point to write what I think about the book.

But I will say that this is a book in dire need of an editor, and the all-Caps-lock rants and full pages of a single word being repeated aren't innovative. I agree with the author that racism and Eurocentrism are built into the structures of academia, but an all caps rant isn't a decolonizing challenge to
Keisha Wagle
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book helped me made sense of my own experience in grad school in the most beautiful and poetic way. The author challenges the oppressive notions of what is to be an academic in a place not made for racialized peoples. I decided to read it after a friend shared an excerpt from the footnotes about deadlines. I am no longer in academia but I am recommending this gem to friends who are going to appreciate this writing as much as I did.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is incredibly disruptive and thought-provoking work that adds new insight and voice to existing texts on academia. Rodriguez implores readers to “unlearn” and think critically about the academic system, through writing that is both sharp and poetic.
Halli Villegas
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing - if you are an POC academic, professor, student, or wannabe you must read this book. It lights a fire under you and suddenly you want to change the system, the status quo. I finished it and started to read it again. I hope she writes more as her voice is one we need to hear.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ync-library
Thank you for writing this book.
Sonia Lopez
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This author's writing is unique and powerful! I wish I had read this when I was in graduate school. It's deeply felt and some of my students are also loving it. ...more
Natalia Cou
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book! Wish I had this book when I was a grad student !!!!!
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
So, so important.
Sep 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Clearly a bitter person who was unable to get a tenured position. I was very excited to read this book but found it very dissapointing.
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