Climbing the coconut tree: three South Indians use their personal memories of colonial education to influence the decolonisation of education after independence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter addresses strategies in late colonial schooling through the lens of the autobiographical accounts of three different Southern Indian authors. It highlights the potential of autobiographical sources in recovering marginalised voices. The author shows how self-testimonies, beyond simplistic concepts of authenticity, can help to open a ‘ground-level’ dimension of liberation struggles and decolonisation. The analysis brings to light common traits as well as differences: the experience of late colonial schooling, including questions of discrimination, as well as the dichotomisation of time – between ‘those days’ and the present – all appear as resources used by the authors to strategically position their narratives in the post-colonial context. This proposes a double approach to these critical sources: accordingly, one should consider not only their referential value with regard to late colonial education. Rather, she convincingly argues that it is their character as carriers of meaning that defines their high strategic value as an indicator for educational discourses in a post-colonial context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDecolonization(s) and Education
Subtitle of host publicationNew Polities and New Men
EditorsDaniel Maul, Marcelo Caruso
Place of PublicationBerlin
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • India
  • autobiographies
  • narrative
  • liberation struggle
  • late colonial schooling

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