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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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23. Revealing the Secular Fence of Knowledge: Towards Reimagining Spiritual Ways of Knowing and Being in the Academy Riyad Shahjahan & Kimberly Haverkos 367


WHAT IS A FENCE? Afence is a structure that directs movement by restricting and preventing passage across aboundary. It both excludes and contains, while simultaneously demarcating space. It is con- sidered a safety and security device for property owners as it prevents trespassers, wanderers, and predators from entering. It also limits the view from both inside and outside. In this chapter , the metaphor of the fence is used to illustrate the construction and maintenance of dominant forms of knowledge production in Western academia. In its quest to maintain control over the production of knowledge, the academy has erected a secular “fence of knowledge” which permits the entry of cer- tain epistemologies and ways of being while leaving others outside the “gates” of the academy. By the term “academy,” we are referring to universities and colleges and not to K-12 schools, because we want to situate our discussion in the context of the “highest” centers of learning locat- ed in the West—those spaces where the “fence” is strongly guarded. A secular epistemological vision does not simply insist that religious practice and belief be confined to a space where it cannot threat- en political stability or the liberties of “free-thinking” citizens, but it builds on a particular concep- tion of the world (“natural” and “social”) and of the problems generated by that world (Asad, 2003, p. 191). Within the academy, the secular fence of knowledge concentrates the effects of a secular epis- temology by privileging certain knowledge forms (e.g., empiricism, rationalism,...

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