In “On Being Truly Educated” (2015) Noam Chomsky argues that “it is not important what we cover in the class, but what we discover in the class to be truly educated”. Etymologically, the word ‘education’ has originated from the Latin word ‘educare’, which can be interpreted as ‘to bring up’, ‘to rear’, and ‘to lead’. In other words, one of the major purposes of education is to nurture and create able leaders in a society, who would be able to contribute holistically, de-hierarchically, and diversely towards sustainability of life. But, as we look into the general scenario of education systems across the globe we see a highly contradictory and disappointing picture.
Editors: Wits Centre for Diversity Studies and the Convivial Thinking Editorial Collective
The Oxfam Inequality Report is a yearly reminder of the pervasiveness and depth of embedded injustices and inequalities in our daily lives. Colonial trajectories continue to shape contemporary tendencies to universalise the constitutive elements of a ‘good life’, encapsulated in global goals such as the SDGs. The resultant erasure denies other social and political imaginaries, other ways of knowing and understanding the world; as the Zapatista say, ‘a world of many worlds’, wherein we collectively create pluriversal spaces to flourish.
As part of a workshop that I recently attended in London, we were asked to bring an object that reflects our teaching or practice. I found it quite hard to just pick one object because almost every object that I have, has a story.
Recently I read about the “Anthropocene”, which describes a new stage in human history where the driving force for environmental changes is understood to be human activity. Climate change is explained in human and social interference with nature – more specifically in the human and social appropriation of, and intervention in, nature and natural reproduction cycles.
When thinking about international solidarity from a perspective in the Global North, contemporary struggles or revolutionary movements in the Global South of stateless groups like the ones of the Zapatistas, the Kurds, or the Palestinians come to our mind. Going back to the 20th century, we might connect international solidarity with socialist and national liberation movements of the Tricont from Cuba and Nicaragua, over Algeria and Angola, to Vietnam. But the historical struggle of the Indigenous Mapuche for autonomy, self-determination and territory in today’s Chile and Argentina do not play a major role as a frame of reference.
This is the transcript of Lata’s spoken word contribution. You can listen to it, or read on.
Tackling the question of whose ideas count is central to efforts to decolonise knowledge. Participatory methodologies then are, at least in theory, one way to address concerns that some ideas and the people with whom they are associated, might matter more than others. So widening participation to include more diverse people and views makes intuitive sense. The hope is that this will lead, at least partially, to counting the knowledge and ideas of more people. Surely, this is a good thing. In my short piece here, I’d like to unpack a participatory research process to consider not just which ideas count, but who gets to express them and how they need to express those ideas in order for them to be counted.
Any traditional wisdom, be it Vedic, Aztec, Buddhist, Sufi, etc., while withstanding their key differences, seem to converge in a message, i.e., all of us are different from each other and from mother nature; yet one with each other and with her in the same instance. By definition, a paradox is a a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory. The paradox is at full play around us. In our own little worlds, we want to support climate change while enjoying the “luxuries” of a comfortable life that comes at the expense of injustice done to the environment. We detest war but trade with those waging them even when we know that territorial claims of the past century produced nothing but unprecedented scale of violence, and we witness yet another unfolding of war on the horizons. Though the current injustice received justified media coverage, we see many such wars happening in many parts of the world that go unnoticed as they don’t produce the click bits of a scale of the current crisis happening in Ukraine.
Before I share some observations on how I feel ‘decolonising’ is coopted in academia, I want to start by situating the position from which I am arguing. I am a white, well-educated, middle-class, able-bodied woman living in Germany and working in a Western university. Inevitably, my approach to decolonisation is shaped by this positionality. Also, when I talk of ‘we’, I think of people holding similar privileges like myself, living and working in similar spaces, especially in institutions of Higher Education (HE) in the global North.