Epistemological freedom: activating co-learning and co-production to decolonise knowledge production

Maheen Khan, Hanna A. Ruszczyk*, Mohammad Feisal Rahman*, Saleemul Huq*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

1 Citation (Web of Science)


Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to challenge and address the limitations of the traditional system of knowledge production that is embedded in disaster and climate change research studies, and research studies in general. It argues that knowledge production in research processes conforms to colonialist thinking or west-inspired approaches. Such a system often results in the omission of crucial information due to a lack of participation, inclusion and diversity in knowledge production.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper proposes practices and recommendations to decolonise knowledge production in disaster and climate change research studies, and research studies in general. It provides a brief literature review on the concepts of decolonisation of knowledge and epistemological freedom, and its origins; assesses the need for knowledge decolonisation, emphasising on the integration of local knowledge from grassroots women-led initiatives in instances where disasters and crises are being investigated in vulnerable communities, especially in the Global South; and finally the paper proposes to decolonise knowledge production through activating co-learning and co-production. The practices have been developed from the work of relevant authors in the field and case studies.

Findings – Through a brief literature review on previous discourses on the topic of knowledge decolonisation and analysis of recent case studies on disaster and crisis management and community resilience, the paper finds that there exists a lack of pluralism and inclusion in epistemology which limits the pursuit to obtain the whole truth in the production of knowledge in research studies.

Originality/value – This paper adds to the discussion of decolonisation of knowledge in the field of disaster and climate change research studies, and research processes in general. It provides in-depth analyses of recent case studies of emerging community resilience and local practices that were crucial in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-192
Number of pages11
JournalDisaster Prevention and Management
Issue number3
Early online date14 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2022


  • Decolonisation of knowledge
  • Co-learning
  • Co-production
  • Epistemological freedom
  • Women-led initiatives
  • Western hegemony

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