On possibility

Exploring the connections between postcolonial feminism and community engagement in pursuit of university transformation



postcolonial feminism, community engagement, university decolonisation, epistemic justice, subjective experiences


Higher education institutions have historically enabled and aided epistemicide, or the marginalisation, annihilation and devaluing of the knowledge of those beyond university walls. Twenty-first century universities therefore face the important task of transforming teaching and research in ways that broaden epistemic access, incorporate various knowledge systems, and ensure local relevance. Here, academic feminism, especially postcolonial feminism, and community engagement may provide a way forward, as both projects serve to deconstruct the binary between ‘knower’ and ‘non-knower’, contributing to epistemic justice. In isolation, however, these projects have not yet made enough progress in pursuit of university transformation. This essay offers a preliminary exploration of the connections between community engagement and postcolonial feminism, and the ways in which a mutually beneficial relationship between the two may enhance each project's contribution to epistemic justice. It brings together literature on feminism and community engagement, linking this literature to the ideas of postcolonial feminism. Focus on postcolonial feminism specifically emerges from the recognition that universities do not only need to transform, but also decolonise. Ideas put forward in this writing are interspersed with my subjective memories and recollections of my lived experiences, spanning two universities and continents.

Author Biography

Claire McCann, University of Oxford

Claire McCann
DPhil candidate, Department of Education, University of Oxford, United Kingdom


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How to Cite

McCann, C. (2023). On possibility: Exploring the connections between postcolonial feminism and community engagement in pursuit of university transformation. African Journal of Higher Education Community Engagement, 1(1), 39–54. Retrieved from https://journal.ru.ac.za/index.php/AJHECE/article/view/2472