Theorizing Structural Racism and Eurocentrism in Higher Education


Brief description

This workshop provides a space for a shared theorization and diagnosis of structural racism in HEI with a particular focus on Eurocentrism and struggles that aim to decolonise education and HEI. This workshop brings the participants into conversation, by:

  1. opening a space for exchange
  2. working with theoretical frameworks
  3. by analysing on these grounds structural racism and Eurocentrism in HEI.

This theory workshop hereby aims to support the diagnosis of structural racism, diversity and inclusion in HEI with a particular focus on the national context of the participants. The aim of this course unit is to discuss current debates and diagnosis in the fields of structural racism and decolonial perspectives in HE.

The methodology of this workshop consists of putting personal/embodied experiences as well as institutional analysis of structural racism and Eurocentrism in HEI into dialogue as a theory building practice. Complementing the readings from the previous activity (see Block A, previous activity “Where do we think? A Critical Thinking World Map” and introduction to the theory workshop), participants will prepare three compulsory texts and a minimum of two additional texts for this session.

As a theory building practice, the participants should identify common elements of their individual diagnosis about structural racism and Eurocentrism in HEI in an interactive way. In a digital setting participants will discuss in break-out rooms issues of eurocentrism and structural racism departing from their personal experiences, the previous activity “Where do we think? A Critical Thinking World Map” in Block A “Diagnosis”, and the compulsory readings. The facilitators will assist this process by taking notes on the Miro board during the conversation in order to capture the results of the discussion. This is followed by a theoretical input by the facilitators of the BRIDGES tools/concepts on Neoliberal Compliance, Eurocentrism, and Migra*BPoC Resistance. The workshop ends with a concluding round of questions and answers.


The overall objective of the theory workshop is to support the theorization and diagnosis of structural racism in HEI with a particular focus on Eurocentrism and struggles that aim to decolonise education (institutions). Underlying objectives are:

  1. to learn through critical reading about existing theoretical concepts and diagnosis of structural racism, Eurocentrism and decolonizing struggles
  2. to develop new theoretical concepts and diagnosis through collective reflection as well as to complement or critique already existing theoretical concepts and diagnosis
  3. to propose alternative insights and diagnosis departing from the embodied experiences, institutional and national/citizenship backgrounds of the participants.

Procedure (steps, instructions and timing)

This session will start with a welcome and introduction round (5 minutes): since participants have already prepared an analysis of the institutions in which they are working or studying in previous activity “Where do we think? A Critical Thinking World Map”, they will introduce themselves and their institutional background very briefly (2-3 sentences). This will prepare the critical collective and individual reflection and analysis of each participant’s relationship to structural racism in higher education in the following step.

In step two, the theory building practice (40 minutes), participants will combine personal accounts on their relationship to higher education (institutions) with critical reflections on their experiences in HEI as educators and/or students in their home institutions based on the readings. In this step, facilitators and participants meet online for the whole session. Participants will be assigned randomly to breakout rooms of a maximum of 5 people per group for the time of 25 minutes. Each group will assign a speaker and a writer. The writer collects notes, concepts, findings, ideas, and doubts on the shared digital platform Miro while discussing. After 25 minutes, the whole course will meet again and the speakers from each group will present their findings to the bigger group (2 minutes per group; 15 minutes in total). Based on the notes from the writers and the speakers, the facilitators will compose those findings in an online mind-map on Miro. Students can amend this mind-map afterwards to foster further discussion.

During these 40 minutes, participants are able to share their observations, reflections and critique, based on class readings and life experiences related to a) forms of exclusions in Higher Education, b) mechanisms of in- and exclusion in public policies regarding Higher Education, or c) in- and exclusion mechanisms and strategies in their educational everyday environment, in particular the university.

To inspire the discussion, we suggest the following guiding questions regarding the compulsory and additional readings:

  • How do the texts analyse racism and eurocentrism in HEI? Do you see any differences between them?
  • What statistics/numbers regarding inclusion/exclusion in HEI impressed you the most? Share with your group/the fish bowl!
  • What forms of exclusion and inclusion are analysed in the readings? Did/do you make similar or different observations in your institution? What kind of different dynamics in your institutions can you observe? How do they differ?
  • What forms of resistance towards racism and eurocentrism in HEI are detailed in the texts? Is there something similar going on at your institution?

In the third part, the facilitators will give a theoretical input (10 minutes), connecting the results from the theory building practice (step 2) with concepts from the BRIDGES toolkit, particularly “Neoliberal Compliance”, “Eurocentrism”, and “Migra*BPoC Resistance”. We will support this theoretical input with a follow-up discussion in a break-out room for each tool for 20 more minutes.

This session will close with an open discussion with a focus on possible strategies of resisting structural racism and eurocentrism in HEI (15 minutes).


  • Introduction and Welcome (5 minutes)
  • Theory Building Practice (40 Minutes)
    • Break-out session (25 minutes)
    • Collection of findings and discussions (15 minutes)
  • Theory Input & Discussion (30 minutes): Neoliberal Compliance, Eurocentrism, and Migra*BPoC Resistance
    • Input by Facilitators (10 minutes)
    • Break-out sessions about each tool (20 minutes)
  • Open Discussion (15 minutes)

Necessary materials and resources for execution

  • Translation: If there will be persons without English skills, translators should be present to translate to the different languages.
  • Miro as digital mind map tool

Compulsory readings

Additional readings

Structural Racism

Decolonial Knowledge

Autar, L. (2017). “Decolonising the classroom Credibility-based strategies for inclusive classrooms”. Tijdschrift Voor Genderstudies, 20(3), 305–320

Gutiérrez, E. (2016) “Sensing dispossession: Women and gender studies between institutional racism and migration control policies in the neoliberal university.” Women’s Studies International Forum 54: 167-177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2015.06.013

Bhambra, G. K., D. Gebrial and K. Nişancıoğlu. (2019) “Introduction: Decolonising the University?” In: Bhambra, G. K., Gebrial, D., & Nişancıoğlu, K. (ed.) Decolonising the university. Pluto Press.

Icaza Garza, R., & Vázquez, R. (2017). “Intersectionality and Diversity in Higher Education”. Tijdschrift voor Orthopedagogiek, 7, 349-357.

Tate, Shirley Anne & Bagguley, Paul (2017). “Building the anti-racist university: next steps.” Race Ethnicity and Education, 20(3), 289-299. DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2016.1260227

Thompson, V. E., & Zablotsky, V. (2016). “Rethinking Diversity in Academic Institutions.” Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women’s & Gender Studies, 16: 75-93

Expected results

Participants have an overview of the different dimensions, mechanisms and strategies to perpetuate and overcome structural racism and other exclusions in Higher Education. They also have an idea of how these mechanisms and strategies adapt to specific contexts differently (e.g. differences of racialization strategies and mechanisms of othering).

In the shared discussion, participants and facilitators will collectively elaborate a digital or physical mind map about ways to theorise and diagnose structural racism and eurocentrism in HEI.

Derived materials from the activity

A mind map (picture or on Miro) about ways to theorise and diagnose structural racism and eurocentrism in HEI.

Curators + Collaborators during the Test Course:

Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez, Sebastian Garbe, María Cárdenas