Between Criticality & Colonialism: Unsettling Perspectives on Literacy & Language Education in Scotland

Activity: Public Engagement and Other ActivitiesTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation


Language and literacy education in the decolonial project seeks to centralise indigenous knowledge systems in order to transform established colonial relations of power (Maldonado-Torres, 2012; Tuck & Yang, 2012), while critical pedagogies enable a ‘speaking-back’ to power (Freire & Macedo, 1987). Each perspective comes with its own vision of transformation, educational practice, and assumptions, especially where English still holds a position of cultural and linguistic power. Scotland, both as an instrument and beneficiary of colonialism as part of the British empire, as well as a victim of colonisation, represents the tenuous negotiations of identity with history, politics and power. While moves have been made in education to regain a Scottish identity through the inclusion of Scots language and the positioning of Scottish literature in the secondary English curriculum (McCall, 2002; Unger, 2010), questions about criticality and (de)colonisation still need further exploration (Millar, 2006; Akdag & Swanson, 2018).This has implications for the interpretation and implementation of the policy (Costa, 2015). Through a thematic content analysis, I explore how Scottish English language and literacy educational policy constructs criticality and notions of (de)coloniality, if at all. I then consider the potential for critical literacies to serve as a means for transformative social-semiotic action and interaction in the decolonisation of English language and literacy education.
Period17 Feb 2020
Event titleStrathclyde University Research Seminar Series
Event typeSeminar
LocationGlasgow, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • critical literacy
  • literacy
  • Scotland
  • Curriculum for Excellence
  • English
  • language
  • power
  • diversity
  • colonialism
  • decoloniality