Original Research - Special Collection: Marianne Dircksen Festschrift

Teaching Latin to law students in the midst of the decolonisation of the university curriculum

Allison J.N. Geduld
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 53, No 2 | a2456 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v53i2.2456 | © 2019 Allison J.N. Geduld | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 February 2019 | Published: 16 October 2019

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Allison J.N. Geduld, Faculty of Law, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

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Since 2015, the higher education sector in South Africa has been marked by protests and debates around inter alia tuition fees, language and the decolonisation of the university curriculum. Universities have increasingly been urged to present their efforts to decolonise their curricula. This begs the question whether it is possible to justify the teaching of a classic language, such as Latin, which is characterised by Eurocentrism, slavery and colonial conquests, within a climate where there is an urgency to move away from a colonised worldview. The teaching of Latin to law students particularly complicates this situation, as law is a discipline that emphasises rights, equality and social justice. The author sought to present an understanding of decolonisation that can be reconciled with critical teaching of Latin to law students. The methodology was twofold and consisted, firstly, of a literature review to present a description of the background to the decolonisation debate and the relevance of Latin to the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) curriculum. Secondly, the author elaborated on the use of texts from the Oxford Latin Course in a decolonised Latin classroom by reflecting on her own experience as a Latin student and a lecturer of law. This contribution found that Latin remains relevant for law students within a decolonised curriculum, where Latin lecturers are cognisant of social justice and contextualise the content of the module.


Decolonisation; Latin; Bachelor of Laws curriculum; LLB; social justice; legal education.


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