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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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9. Identity, Representation, and Knowledge Production Patience Elabor-Idemudia 142

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Knowledge is power that begins with the self and in interaction with others. The fact remains, how- ever, that knowledge production processes traditionally and in contemporary times, have been dom- inated by Western philosophical thought and worldviews that undermine or devalue indigenous philosophical thoughts that are equally relevant. The dynamics of identity and social dif ference (race/ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality) that significantly mediate how knowledge creation experts and practitioners come to produce and validate the use of “knowledge” about marginalized communities and groups have been left highly unaddressed. The result of this practice is a colonial education system that denies peoples’ identity and negates their knowledge of self through shifts in focus to only prestigious functions. The problems with this practice is the asymmetrical power rela- tions between educators and the subjects of education, and in the difering frames of reference adopt- ed in the knowledge production process. For example, the failure to recognize the epistemic saliency of the subject of subjective knowing has contributed to maintaining relations of domination in edu- cational practices. It should be noted that hegemonic knowledge that promotes the interest of powerful, elite groups often obscures its value premises by masquerading as totally objective. Despite occupying positions of considerable status, power, privilege, and authority in the eyes of local peoples, the roles of (Western) experts “. . .may seem of dubious value” to marginalized communities (Heron, 1996, p. 4). Dei (2004) warns that the threat of Western dominance over what constitutes valid knowledge in schools, in...

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