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Indigenous Philosophies and Critical Education

A Reader- Foreword by Akwasi Asabere-Ameyaw


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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The noted dynamism of Indigenous knowledges convey the realization that every knowledgemoves through time and space confronting and sorting out the tensions in tradition, change and so-called modernity. This is not some post-modern project of intellectual hybridity but one rooted in place, history, and politics. There needs to be explicit recognition that the project of reclaiming Indigeneity in contemporary times has both possibilities and pitfalls for the learner. Indigenous knowl- edges are explicitly political and, in being so, necessarily engage with other knowledges and the ten- sions that are revealed through this engagement. The conflict, tensions, contestations, and contentions of knowledge point to the value of close interrogation and searching for the relevance of Indigenous knowledge at any point in time. Indigenous knowledge is about everyday survival and moving for- ward for self, community, group, and nation. This is what social development is also about. What Indigenous knowledge helps us to do then is rethink the processes of social development and embrace the contradictions of human existence. For example, in re-thinking “development” and chal- lenging the imperial dance existent within it, the survival of Indigenous knowledge systems through time helps bring to the fore the tensions of globalization, transnationalism, and modernity, while still managing to ground this interrogation in history. We know that the local, cultural resource knowledge bases of Indigenous peoples have been the least analyzed for their contributions to the so-called development process. Starting development from what people already know and what they think ought to be an...

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