Challenges and Paradoxes in Decolonising HCI: A Critical Discussion
The preponderance of Western methods, practices, standards, and classifications in the manner in which new technology-related knowledge is created and globalised has led to calls for more inclusive approaches to design. A decolonisation project is concerned with how researchers might contribute to dismantling and re-envisioning existing power relations, resisting past biases, and balancing Western heavy influences in technology design by foregrounding the authentic voices of the indigenous people in the entire design process. We examine how the establishment of local Global South HCI communities (AfriCHI and ArabHCI) has led to the enactment of decolonisation practices. Specifically, we seek to uncover how decolonisation is perceived in the AfriCHI and ArabHCI communities as well as the extent to which both communities are engaged with the idea of decolonisation without necessarily using the term. We drew from the relevant literature, our own outsider/insider lived experiences, and the communities’ responses to an online anonymised survey to highlight three problematic but interrelated practical paradoxes: a terminology, an ethical, and a micro-colonisation paradox. We argue that these paradoxes expose the dilemmas faced by local non-Western researchers as they pursue decolonisation thinking. This article offers a blended perspective on the decolonisation debate in HCI, CSCW, and the practice-based CSCW scholarly communities and invites researchers to examine their research work using a decolonisation lens.