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On the decolonisation of operational research: Foundations for further exploration

Anné Verhoef
Hennie Kruger


In the first part of the article we explore what decolonisation might entail and why it is needed. The focus here is specifically on decolonisation  within higher education and, more specifically, on the academic discipline of Operational Research (OR) and its curriculum. We explicate the specific challenge of decolonising operational research as part of the ‘pure’ sciences like mathematics. By investigating research in the decolonisation of  ‘pure’ science in an attempt to find some guidance for decolonisation of OR, we found ourselves in uncharted waters. In the last section we contribute to the scholarship of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) by analysing the war strategies of King Shaka Zulu. We worked out some possibilities for decolonisation of OR by linking the war strategies of King Shaka Zulu to classical OR applications. This layed the foundation for  decentring Western knowledge and for a more inclusive historical understanding of OR.

Keywords: Decolonisation, Operational Research, mathematical sciences, King Shaka Zulu, Higher Education, transformation, Africanisation,   indigenisation.