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Indigenous Philosophies and Critical Education

A Reader- Foreword by Akwasi Asabere-Ameyaw

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Edited By George J. Sefa Dei

An important academic goal is to understand ongoing contestations in knowledge in the search to engage everyday social practice and experiences, as well as the social barriers and approaches to peaceful human coexistence. This reader pulls together ideas concerning Indigenous epistemologies (e.g., worldviews, paradigms, standpoints, and philosophies) as they manifest themselves in the mental lives of persons both from and outside the orbit of the usual Euro-American culture. The book engages Indigenous knowledges as far more than a «contest of the marginals», thereby challenging the way oppositional knowledges are positioned, particularly in the Western academy. Subsequently, this book is a call to recognize and acknowledge Indigenous knowledges as legitimate knowings in their own right, and not necessarily in competition with other sources or forms of knowledge. The project offers an opportunity for the critical thinker to continue on a de-colonial/anti-colonial intellectual journey in ways informed by Indigenous theorizing.

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1. Revisiting the Question of the ‘Indigenous’ George J. Sefa Dei 21

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Afew opening remarks about my background and how I have come to engage this topic; I seethe personal subject[ive] location as critical in terms of what brings me to the topic. The con- textualization of writer/self as a methodological and discursive feature of any textual discussion is significant. It helps the reader to understand the perspective from which one is conducting the analy- sis. And by perspective, I do not mean just ideology or analytical framework, but a personal account- ing of why I write about what I do. I am a social anthropologist by academic training who has bridged the disciplinary background with a focus on the sociology of education. I have been writing on the subject of Indigenous knowledges since the early 1980s. I also teach an advanced graduate course on “Indigenous Knowledges and Decolonization” at the University of Toronto. My long-term research interests lie in the areas of anti-colonial theory, Indigenous and anti-racism studies, minor- ity education in Canadian contexts, and issues of African education. I have been a committed pro- ponent of an Afrocentric school for children and youths of African descent in Canadian contexts. I find current schooling processes that depersonalize, disembody, and de-root young learners from their cultures, histories, and identities quite troubling to say the least. Of course, I am wary of race essentialism. But increasingly, I have also become skeptical of attempts to deny race as part of our identities and as consequential for knowledge production and education. I see a...

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