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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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21. Endarkened Feminism and Sacred Praxis: Troubling (Auto) Ethnography through Critical Engagements with African Indigenous Knowledges Cynthia B. Dillard & Charlotte Bell 337

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JOURNEYING BACK TO GO FORWARD This chapter focuses on the centrality of spirituality in African-centered Indigenous knowledges.More particularly, this work is about the ways that engagements with Indigenous knowledges is deeply sacred work, often troubling the very Western discourses, cultural frameworks, and methodologies that we have used to think ourselves in our research and academic lives as teachers and scholars (Dillard, 2006; Dillard & Okpalaoka, in press; Smith, 1999). Many African ascendant1 scholars (Asante, 1988; Cruse, 1967; Dillard & Okpalaoka, in press; Hilliard, 1995; hooks & West, 1991; King, 2005) suggest that there is fundamental crisis that goes far beyond the biographical sit- uatedness of the researcher and the research project for African ascendant scholars. The crisis we speak of here is the difficulty of working within and against the hegemonic structures that have tra- ditionally and historically negated and impeded the intellectual, social, and cultural contributions of African (and African feminist) knowledge. These are structures that have also negated the spiritu- al contributions of African ascendant people, Indigenous knowledges that would not only contribute to our cultural and intellectual understandings, but that might ultimately save our lives (Alexander, 2005; Dillard, 2008; Nnaemeka, 1998; Walker, 2006). As African American women from the United States, a Western standpoint would posit that our orientation to the world began when our ancestors were sold into slavery, physically isolated us from our place of belonging in the world. The prevailing discourses have situated African American per- sonhood historically as freed slave, a personhood that began on this...

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