Anti-Colonialism and Education : The Politics of Resistance 9077874186, 9789077874189

There is a rich intellectual history to the development of anti-colonial thought and practice. In discussing the politic

351 92 3MB

English Pages 328 [326] Year 2006

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Anti-Colonialism and Education : The Politics of Resistance
 9077874186, 9789077874189

Table of contents :
Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance
Introduction: Mapping the Terrain – Towards a New Politics of Resistance
1. A Tool of Massive Erosion: Scientific Knowledge in the Neo-Colonial Enterprise
2. On Silence and Dominant Accountability: A Critical Anticolonial Investigation of the Antiracism Classroom
3. Implicit Racism and the Brain: How Neurobiology Can Inform an Anti-Colonial, Anti-Racist Pedagogy
4. Is Decolonization Possible?
5. Spiritual Politics: Politicizing the Black Church Tradition in Anti-Colonial Praxis
6. Anti-Colonial Historiography: Interrogating Colonial Education
7. From Post-Colonial to Anti-Colonial Politics: Difference, Knowledge and R. v. R.D.S.
8. The Power of Oral Tradition: Critically Resisting the Colonial Footprint
9. Indigenous Knowledge in Jamaica: A Tool of Ideology in a Neo-Colonial Context
10. Development Unmoored
11. An Anti-Colonial Critique of Research Methodology
12. Remembering, Resisting: Casting an Anti-Colonial Gaze upon the Education of Diverse Students in Social Work Education
13. Invisible Violence and Spiritual Injury within Post-Secondary Institutions: An Anti-colonial Interrogation and Response
14. Engendering Indigenous Knowledge
Conclusion: Looking Forward – The Pedagogical Implications of Anti-Colonialism

Citation preview

Anti-Colonialism and Education The Politics of Resistance

BOLD VISIONS IN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH Volume 7 Series Editors Kenneth Tobin The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA Joe Kincheloe McGill University, Montreal, Canada Editorial Board Heinz Sunker, Universität Wuppertal, Germany Peter McLaren, University of California at Los Angeles, USA Kiwan Sung, Woosong University, South Korea Angela Calabrese Barton, Teachers College, New York, USA Margery Osborne, Centre for Research on Pedagogy and Practice Nanyang Technical University, Singapore W.-M. Roth, University of Victoria, Canada

Scope Bold Visions in Educational Research is international in scope and includes books from two areas: teaching and learning to teach and research methods in education. Each area contains multi-authored handbooks of approximately 200,000 words and monographs (authored and edited collections) of approximately 130,000 words. All books are scholarly, written to engage specified readers and catalyze changes in policies and practices. Defining characteristics of books in the series are their explicit uses of theory and associated methodologies to address important problems. We invite books from across a theoretical and methodological spectrum from scholars employing quantitative, statistical, experimental, ethnographic, semiotic, hermeneutic, historical, ethnomethodological, phenomenological, case studies, action, cultural studies, content analysis, rhetorical, deconstructive, critical, literary, aesthetic and other research methods. Books on teaching and learning to teach focus on any of the curriculum areas (e.g., literacy, science, mathematics, social science), in and out of school settings, and points along the age continuum (pre K to adult). The purpose of books on research methods in education is not to present generalized and abstract procedures but to show how research is undertaken, highlighting the particulars that pertain to a study. Each book brings to the foreground those details that must be considered at every step on the way to doing a good study. The goal is not to show how generalizable methods are but to present rich descriptions to show how research is enacted. The books focus on methodology, within a context of substantive results so that methods, theory, and the processes leading to empirical analyses and outcomes are juxtaposed. In this way method is not reified, but is explored within well-described contexts and the emergent research outcomes. Three illustrative examples of books are those that allow proponents of particular perspectives to interact and debate, comprehensive handbooks where leading scholars explore particular genres of inquiry in detail, and introductory texts to particular educational research methods/issues of interest. to novice researchers.

Anti-Colonialism and Education The Politics of Resistance

Edited by

George J. Sefa Dei and Arlo Kempf Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada


A C.I.P. record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

ISBN 90-77874-18-6

Published by: Sense Publishers, P.O. Box 21858, 3001 AW Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Printed on acid-free paper

All rights reserved © 2006 Sense Publishers No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the Publisher, with the exception of any material supplied specifically for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use by the purchaser of the work.

To all those who have lost their lives to violence in our city – and to all those with the clarity to distinguish between injury and pathology. We hope these deaths will spur collective action to address the systemic neglect which plagues so many of our communities.


Foreword by Molefi Kete Asante




Introduction: Mapping the Terrain – Towards a New Politics of Resistance George J. Sefa Dei


1. A Tool of Massive Erosion: Scientific Knowledge in the Neo-Colonial Enterprise Gina Thésée


2. On Silence and Dominant Accountability: A Critical Anticolonial Investigation of the Antiracism Classroom Philip S.S. Howard


3. Implicit Racism and the Brain: How Neurobiology Can Inform an Anti-Colonial, Anti-Racist Pedagogy Serhat Unsal


4. Is Decolonization Possible? Njoki Nathani Wane


5. Spiritual Politics: Politicizing the Black Church Tradition in Anti-Colonial Praxis Elaine A. Brown Spencer 6. Anti-Colonial Historiography: Interrogating Colonial Education Arlo Kempf 7. From Post-Colonial to Anti-Colonial Politics: Difference, Knowledge and R. v. R.D.S. Leila Angod






8. The Power of Oral Tradition: Critically Resisting the Colonial Footprint Maryam Navabi


9. Indigenous Knowledge in Jamaica: A Tool of Ideology in a Neo-Colonial Context Mark V. Campbell


10. Development Unmoored Catherine Moffatt


11. An Anti-Colonial Critique of Research Methodology Jennifer Hales


12. Remembering, Resisting: Casting an Anti-Colonial Gaze upon the Education of Diverse Students in Social Work Education Billie Allan


13. Invisible Violence and Spiritual Injury within Post-Secondary Institutions: An Anti-colonial Interrogation and Response Marlene Ruck-Simmons


14. Engendering Indigenous Knowledge Lindsay Kerr Conclusion: Looking Forward – The Pedagogical Implications of Anti-Colonialism George J. Sefa Dei and Arlo Kempf





In Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, George J. Sefa Dei and Arlo Kempf have given us a stimulating intellectual account of the issues surrounding the active attempt for educational liberation. The authors who have contributed to the volume have been well chosen to present creative approaches to this abiding problem in most of the world. As we engage the legacies of colonialism we are more certain today that the nonmaterial legacies are as important in our thinking as the material ones when we engage questions of resistance and recovery. The colonizer did not only seize land, but also minds. If colonialism’s influence had been merely the control of land that would have required only one form of resistance, but when information is also colonized, it is essential that the resistance must interrogate issues related to education, information and intellectual transformations. Colonialism seeks to impose the will of one people on another and to use the resources of the imposed people for the benefit of the imposer. Nothing is sacred in such a system as it powers its way toward the extinction of the wills of the imposed upon with one objective in mind: the ultimate subjection of the will to resist. An effective system of colonialism reduces the imposed upon to a shell of a human who is incapable of thinking in a subjective way of his or her own interest. In everything the person becomes like the imposer; thus in desires, wishes, visions, purposes, styles, structures, values, and especially the values of education, the person operates against his or her own interest. Colonialism does not engender creativity; it stifles it, suppresses it under the cloak of assistance when in fact it is creating conditions that make it impossible for humans to effectively resist. And yet there has always been resistance and there are new methods of resistance gaining ground each day. The intricacies of engaging colonialism are as numerous as the ways colonialism has impacted upon the world. Indeed, the political-economic, socialbehavioral, and cultural-aesthetic legacies of the colonizing process have left human beings with a variety of ways to confront the impact of those legacies. What we see in Anti-Colonialism and Education is a profound attempt to capture for the reader the possibilities inherent in educational transformation through the politics of resistance. Professors Dei and Kempf have exercised a judicious imagination in selecting the authors for the chapters in this book. Each author is an expert in the area of the topic, skilled in presentation of the facts based upon current theories, and articulate in the expression of a need for educators to understand the pressures



both for and against colonialism. However, they all take the position that it is necessary to explore all formulations that might achieve a liberated sphere of education. Since education normally follows the dominant political lines in a country where you have colonial political principles you will find colonial education. If you have the vestiges of past colonial practices, you will see those practices reflected in the educational system. I remember a colleague from Algeria saying to me that when the French ruled the country the students learned that their ancestors were the Gauls. When independence came to Algeria, he said, the people were taught that their ancestors were Arabs. The fact that this was only true for those individuals who had Arab origins, and thirty percent did not have such ancestry, was uninteresting to the political agenda. And so it has been in every nation where you have a political intention to mold a country on the basis of domination you will also have resistance. One seems to go with the other regardless to how long the process seems to take to commence. This is not just an exciting work intellectually; it is a beautiful book edited with intelligence and executed with the kind of research and scholarship that will bring us back to its pages many times. Each author seems to feel the same desire to teach us to be truly human; that is enough for us to inaugurate our own anti-colonialism campaign in our schools and colleges. I shall gladly join the fray to make the world better. Molefi Kete Asante Elkins Park, PA 19027 USA



This book could not have been completed without the political interest and will of the many people who shared their knowledge in this joint undertaking. While the task of re-visioning schooling and education for the contemporary learner and teacher may be daunting at times, we believe strongly that it is by no means insurmountable. In fact, we have a wealth of knowledge with which to help transform education into a process and practice that serves the needs of the collective. We hope this book will contribute to the debate and discussion of how to address not only the imperialization of knowledge but also the various forms of intellectual colonization that mask themselves as everyday academic truth and valid knowledge. George Dei would like to thank the students of his graduate level course, SES 3914S: “Anti-Colonial Thought and Pedagogical Challenges” in the fall of 2004 whose insights and discussions helped propel the vision for this collection. Arlo Kempf would like to thank Lola Douglas, Meghan Mckee and Randy Kempf for their support and loveliness. He would also like to thank George Dei and the contributors for their ideas and hard work over the duration of this project. We both owe a great deal of intellectual depth to our colleagues, peers and friends who constantly challenge us to think more deeply and avoid academic closure. It is in the actions and resistance of the people that theory is born and takes life – to all who struggle against colonialism without the privilege of a pen in hand, we thank and salute you. Our academic objective for the book was also shaped by a desire to let our community politics inform intellectual pursuits at all times. We want to thank Geoff Rytell, who initially helped proofread sections of the book, as well as Cheryl Williams for her ongoing support. Finally we say “thank you” to Joe Kincheloe, Shirley Steinberg and Peter de Liefde who made this book a reality. George Dei Arlo Kempf




I begin this chapter with a question germane as to why and how we articulate anticolonial thought. Informed by Steven Biko’s (1978) earlier work, I ask: “Why is it necessary for us as colonized peoples to think and reflect collectively about a problem not of our creation i.e., the problem of colonialism?” This question is central since colonialism has not ended and we see around us today various examples of colonial and neo-colonial relations produced within our schools, colleges, universities, homes, families, workplaces and other institutional settings. It is often said that globalization is the new word for imperialism. History and context are crucial for anti-colonial undertakings. Understanding our collective past is significant for pursuing political resistance. Haunani-Kay Trask (1991) writes about the importance of the past to Indigenous peoples as a way to challenge the dominant’s call to amputate the past and its histories. For the people of Hawaiia, Trask notes that “we do not need, nor do we want [to be] liberated from our past because it is source of our understanding . . . [We] . . . stand firmly in the present, with [our] back to the future, and [our] eyes fixed upon the past, seeking historical answers for present-day dilemmas” (p. 164). In order to understand the knowledge and resistance of the past as it relates to contemporary politics of resistance, one has to know and learn about this past. As noted elsewhere (Dei, 2000, p. 11), for colonized peoples decolonization involves a reclamation of the past, previously excluded in the history of the colonial and colonized nations. They must identify the colonial historical period from the perspectives of their places and their peoples. Knowledge of the past is also relevant in so far as we as people must use that knowledge “responsibly”. But our situatedness as knowledge producers and how we perform “the gaze” on subjects, at times accord power and privilege to some bodies and not others. Therefore, an anti-colonial struggle must identify and define a political project and show its connections to the academic engagement. Franz Fanon and Karl Marx have both cautioned us that “what matters is not to know the world but to change it”. This assertion calls for a recognition of the multiple points/places of responsibility and accountability. For example, what does it mean to talk of accountability as far as identity and subjectivity, however complex? It may well mean taking the stance that in political work for change, certain issues are not negotiable. In other words, we need to see there are limits and possibilities of “negotiating” in anti-colonial struggles and politics. As Howard (2004) asks: How much can be G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 1–23. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


accomplished if we decide to “negotiate” around domination or oppression? Are we negotiating as part of a democratic exercise? Rabaka (2003) has argued that “one of the most important tasks of a critical anti-colonial theory . . . is to capture and critique the continuities and discontinuities of the colonial and neocolonial in order to make sense of our currently . . . colonized life and . . . worlds” (p. 7). Therefore as we begin to flesh out anti-colonial theory and practice, it is fitting to ask some critical questions (see also Butler, 2002): Is there still a colonized South? What about a colonized North? Do we think of neo-colonialism/colonialism/post-colonialism as bridges, as new articulations, or as a continuation with no marked differentiation? What is “post” about/in the “post-colonial”? Is the theoretical distinction between neo-colonialism and colonialism spurious at best? What are the purposes and underlying intentions of making such distinctions? What are the convergences and the divergences in post-colonial and anti-colonial thoughts? Does “neo” in neo-colonial mean “new”, or “transformed”? What is neo-colonialism? What are its antecedents and its marked practices? What are the mechanisms and institutions that constitute neo-colonialism? Why do we speak of neo-colonialism and not anti-colonialism? Are the structures, practices and ideas which enable colonialism really that different from those of neo-colonialism? Are the differences between neo-colonialism and colonialism more than theoretical? Whose interests are advanced in speaking of neo-colonialism/post-colonialism? What are the [dis]junctures and [dis]continuities between colonialism and neo-colonialism? How do discursive forces and material aspects interact to further our understanding of colonial? How do we speak of power, coercion, subjectivity, agency and resistance in anti-colonial discursive practice? What are the relations between neo-colonialism and White supremacy? The book does not presume to offer full answers to all these questions. But it is hoped the discussions that follow offer some entry points into a new politics of engagement towards the formulation of a critical anti-colonial lens. The power of the anti-colonial prism lies in its offering of new philosophical insights to challenge Eurocentric discourses, in order to pave the way for Southern/indigenous intellectual and political emancipation. In this discussion, anti-colonial is defined as an approach to theorizing colonial and re-colonial relations and the implications of imperial structures on the processes of knowledge production and validation, the understanding of indigeneity, and the pursuit of agency, resistance and subjective politics (see also Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). Colonialism, read as imposition and domination, did not end with the return of political sovereignty to colonized peoples or nation states. Colonialism is not dead. Indeed, colonialism and re-colonizing projects today manifest themselves in variegated ways (e.g. the different ways knowledges get produced and receive validation within schools, the particular experiences of students that get counted as [in]valid and the identities that receive recognition and response from school authorities. The anti-colonial prism theorizes the nature and extent of social domination and particularly the multiple places that power, and the relations of power, work to establish dominant-subordinate connections. This prism also scrutinizes 2


and deconstructs dominant discourses and epistemologies, while raising questions of and about its own practice. It highlights and analyzes contexts, and explores alternatives to colonial relations. Loomba (1998) sees colonialism as signifying “territorial ownership” of a place/space by an imperial power, while imperialism on the other hand is the governing ideology for such occupation. Anti-colonial thought works with these two themes/projects – colonialism and imperialism as never ending. The colonial in anti-colonial however, invokes much more. It refers to anything imposed and dominating rather than that which is simply foreign and alien. Colonialism reinforces exclusive notions of belonging, difference and superiority (Principe, 2004). It pursues a politics of domination which informs and constructs dominant images of both the colonizer and the colonized (Memmi, 1969). Colonialism is not simply complicit in how we come to know ourselves and its politics. It also establishes sustainable hierarchies and systems of power. Colonial images continually uphold the colonizers’ sense of reason, authority and control. It scripts and violates the colonized as the violent “other”, while, in contrast, the colonizer is pitted as an innocent, benevolent and [imperial] saviour (see also Principe, 2004). This historical relationship of the colonizer and colonized continues to inform contemporary subject identity formation and knowledge production. It shapes and informs identities by recreating colonial ideologies and mythologies (Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999). In theorizing the anti-colonial discursive framework, I would highlight some key salient points. All knowledge can be located in the particular social contexts from which it emerges. Such location shapes the ways of knowing and understanding the social and political relations at play in constructing social realities. The anti-colonial prism takes the position that all knowledges are socially situated and politically contested. The anti-colonial discourse is situated in colonial relations of power that are contested through resistant practices against domination and oppression. In working with resistant knowledges, the liberating influence of critical anti-colonial discourse becomes clear. The anti-colonial discourse works with the idea of the epistemological power of the colonized subjects. The colonial knowing is situated and informed within particular social contexts (see also Harding, 1996). Such “situated knowledges” (hooks, 1991; Collins, 1990) also point to the importance of subjectivity, positionality, location and history. In this regard, the anti-colonial referent is to the epistemologies about, and of, marginalized, colonized subjects. Particular and different interests are served by knowledge systems, and the anti-colonial aim is to subvert dominant thinking that re-inscribes colonial and colonizing relations. The ability and strength of the anti-colonial prism to draw upon different discursive traditions to explain social and political phenomena is an important strength for multiple knowings. But anti-colonial thought, while borrowing from other theoretical frameworks, is not constrained by dominant epistemologies. It calls for a critical awareness of the social relations and power issues embedded in the ways of organizing the production, interrogation, validation and dissemination of knowledge in order to challenge social oppression and 3


consequently subvert domination. It also calls for acknowledging accountability and power. Since the burden of oppression is not shared equally among groups, and that even among the oppressed we are not all affected the same way (see also Larbalestier, 1990), we must all be able to address questions of accountability and responsibility of knowledge. It is within such a context that one must evaluate the politics of anti-colonial thought, in its call for a radical transformation of the analytical and conceptual frames of reference, used both in the academy and in mainstream public discourse so that the minoritized, subjugated voice, experience and history can be powerfully evoked, acknowledged and responded to. Unless we are able to articulate the grounds on which we share a dialogue and challenge the power relations of knowledge production, we will be shirking the responsibility of acting on our knowledge. The academic project of anti-colonial thinking and practice is to challenge and resist Eurocentric theorizing of the colonial encounter. Such Eurocentric theorizing is best captured in representations of minoritized/colonized bodies and their knowledges, and through the power of colonial imageries. The anticolonial critique also deals with interrogations of colonial representations and imaginaries examining processes and representations of legitimacy and degeneracy through the mutually constitutive relations of power. Colonialisms were/are practised differently; they differ in their representations and consequently have myriad influences, impacts and implications for different communities. Colonial practices can be refracted around race, gender, class, age, disability, culture and nation as sites of difference. In many ways the “anti-colonial thought” is the emergence of a new political, cultural and intellectual movement reflecting the values and aspirations of colonized and resisting peoples/subjects. The Western academy cannot continue to deny the intellectual agency of colonized peoples. As resisting subjects, we will all have to confront and deal with the historic inferiorization of colonial subjects, and the devaluation of rich histories and cultures. What is required is critical educational praxis that is anchored in anti-colonial thought to challenge and subvert the “Western cultural and capital overkill”, and shed the insulting idea that others know and understand us [as colonized subjects] better than we understand ourselves (see also Prah, 1997, pp. 19–23). Colonized peoples require an anti-colonial prism that is useful in helping to disabuse our minds of the lies and falsehoods told about our peoples, our pasts and our histories (see also Rodney, 1982). We need to present anti-colonial discourse as a way to challenge Eurocentric culture as the tacit norm everyone references and on which so many of us cast our gaze (Kincheloe and Steinberg, 1998, p. 11). This approach to anti-colonial discursive thought and practice is also informed by the academic and political project calling for knowledge that colonised groups can use to find authentic and viable solutions to our own problems. In this struggle we can point to some positive developments. For example everywhere today, we (as colonized peoples) are reclaiming and reinvigorating our marginalised, and in some cases, lost voices and are speaking for ourselves. Within educational academies in North America and in the South, there 4


is an invisible but fierce struggle to negotiate power relations in the production, transmission and application of knowledge about the human condition of colonized subjects. In fact, some anti-colonial scholars and community workers are producing insightful readings on Southern peoples, interesting at a time when externally-concocted economic measures are reaping untold hardships on the poor and disadvantaged. There is also a reclamation of the cultural histories of Southern peoples, to learn from past indigenous solutions to basic human problems. It is no secret that the cultural resource base of Southern peoples has been the least analysed for its contributions to the development process. As noted elsewhere (Dei, 1994) the discourse within the South itself is changing. Some scholars have been pioneering new analytical systems based on indigenous concepts and their interrelationships. In producing new knowledges, we are drawing on the interfaces of society, culture and nature. There is also an emerging poignant critique of the over-emphasis on the cases of failure and disaster in the South, while the successes at local levels of rural communities are overlooked. The current discourse of “African Renaissance” (Mbeki, 1998) represents a rethinking of the way forward for African peoples. African Renaissance is a rebirth and a revival of African culture. It is a return to historical traditions and a new paradigm for the future which looks to the past to chart the future. The charting involves interrogating and scrutinising culture and cultural values, history and tradition for a change in attitudes, self-dependence and self-pride. Also here is a return to the African roots for self-definition; and taking African cultural perspectives seriously to explore new ways of doing things. There is a call for a “New Humanism” inspiring Southern minds with a new faith and new hopes and helping to rediscover the potentials of colonized peoples. There is a consciousness emerging among Southern intellectuals, and working peoples, that emphasizes the role of ideas and social forces in development that is speaking [in the case of Africa] “. . . to the capacity of the continent to resuscitate itself from terminal collapse” (Ragwanja, 1997, p. 5; see also Kankwenda, 1994). The anti-colonial challenges any form of economic, cultural, political and spiritual dominance. It is about identifying and countering all forms of colonial domination as manifested in everyday practice, including individual and collective social practices, as well as global interactions. An anti-colonial perspective is about developing an awareness/consciousness of the varied conditions under which domination and oppression operate. Such a perspective seeks to subvert the dominant relations of knowledge production that sustain hierarchies and systems of power. It challenges the colonizer’s sense of reason, authority and control. As noted elsewhere (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001), along with “casting our gaze on race and racialization, the anti-colonial approach encourages us to interrogate the interlocking systems of power and dominance, . . . [in order to understand] . . . how dominance is reproduced and maintained, and how the disempowered are subjugated and kept under constant control” (p. 317). The anti-colonial perspective is also deeply anchored in Indigenous ways of knowing and an understanding of the spiritual sense of self and the collective. This knowing situates the philosophy of holism as a key idiom of anti-colonial 5


practice. Evoked in this context, spirituality is an understanding of the personhood, a synergy of the body, mind, and soul and an accompanying awareness and respect for the wholeness of being, the interconnectedness of all things and a belief in a Greater Power that is beyond the capacities of the human senses to comprehend. Spirituality is the connection to all that exists. It comes from within the self, and from the world outside the self. By placing spiritual knowings in an anti-colonial discourse and practice, we affirm the symbolic, conscious and unconscious processes that inform our political work, to address domination and social oppression as they initially flow from the inner self/environment. In other words, the spiritual grounds the political. The anti-colonial knowledge that is brought to everyday politics is thus determined by our spiritual worldviews or cosmovision (see also Shahjahan, 2004; Wane, 2002; Zine, 2004).


The importance of becoming politically engaged while at the same time remaining “scholarly” is itself an acknowledgement that our academic discourse must inform one’s political project and vice versa. As we pursue our intellectual and academic projects, perhaps it will best serve an anti-colonial cause if we deal more with the substantive issues at hand than with the “purity of [our] projects” (Bell, 1990, p. 164). This discussion of anti-colonial thought is informed by a political project to ensure that current educational practice provides a central focus to address colonial and re-colonial relations in the school system. I share a philosophy that a school system, and particularly the classroom, must provide the space for each learner to understand both her privileges and oppression, and to develop effective oppositional resistance to domination. In this context, I am aware that anti-colonial education continually meets with open resistance, such as the denial of difference that provides the context for power and domination in our society. For example, the all-too-frequent attempts to replace race with something else, even in the liberal discourse of pluralism, is a clear example. Within the academy (i.e., schools, colleges and universities) structural racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and other forms of oppression, revolve around ontological, epistemological and axiological foundations. For example, at the ontological level, our institutions are widely perceived as operating on the basis of fairness and as value free and objective. At the epistemic level, in order to know about objectivity and fairness, we are told continually to work with powerful notions of “merit” and “excellence”, and to utilise the prism of “thinking in hierarchies” rather than “thinking in circles”. As an important axiological foundation guiding moral conduct and ethics, there is an overriding belief in what can be called the “right” and the “wrong” things to do. Hence, treating everybody the same is believed to be the “right” thing to do. Similarly, we must all strive for universal social justice. The problem is that in such discourses about “right” and “wrong” there is a tendency to discount the qualitative value of justice. “Equal opportunity” and “colour blindness” are often heralded in ways that complicate 6


racism by masking its real material and political effects, and consequences for certain groups in our society. A great part of the problem confronting Euro-American/Canadian education is the incessant scripting of Western civilization, the fabrication of whiteness and the racial boundary policing that come with these practices. The dominance of Western civilization and the accompanying racial supremacy is anchored in a fabrication of whiteness. Historically, this fabrication required immense psychological, physical and intellectual energies to maintain the alleged purity of Europe and the West (e.g., one needs only to look at the attempts by so-called enlightened European scholars to deny Egyptian and Nubian influence on European history, and Western [Greek] civilization). Eurocentric knowledge masquerades as universal knowings. Today, this fabrication continues to exact a heavy material, physical, psychological and emotional toll on those segments of our communities racialized as different. Their bodies bear scars of intellectual combat.


Loomba (1998) long observed that European colonialism is both historically and geographically a complex rather than monolithic phenomenon. So the question is: How can we “be attentive to these nuances, and at the same time find shared attributes and features of power and resistance? Such a task requires an expanded vocabulary, and current debates on colonial discourse deal precisely with the nature of that expansion” (Loomba, 1998, p. 57). In many respects this is what the anti-colonial discourse is about. Elsewhere (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001), we have argued that anti-colonial thought is “epistemology of the colonised, anchored in the indigenous sense of collective and common colonial consciousness” (p. 300). Colonial education has been a powerful mechanism in colonising minds and cultural politics. Micro-physical power relations have worked effectively by re-ordering material space in exact dimensions and acquiring a continuous bodily hold upon subjects, thus making disciplined forms of education possible. The metaphysical power relations work by creating some semblance of order and structure as almost a non-material and non-consequential realm. Today, the colonial and re-colonial tools of subjugation extend beyond formal schooling to include the way in which imperial forces of global markets (through the overglorification of market economy, modern communication methods and networks of information) are meeting the stated and unstated objectives and goals of formal education (see also Ahmad, 2004). There are some key philosophical tenets of anti-colonial theory. Foremost is the concept of “colonial” as defined not simply as “foreign” or “alien” but more broadly as anything which is “imposed” and “dominating”. The subversion of colonial and colonizing relations lie at the heart of anti-colonial resistance. In order to uncover what such relations of the “colonizer and the colonized” imply, we must interrogate the connections between the “self” and the “other”. In arguing that the concept of “relations/relational” and “connectedness” are relevant 7


to anti-colonial theorizing, I am alluding to a discursive framework that situates the “self” as meaningful when tied to the other, as the individual connects to the group/community, and the inner to the outer. As many have noted there is an “other” within each self” (see Trinh Minh-ha, 2000). Anti-colonial thought works with difference and identity at the same time. An examination of difference implies seeing difference and sameness between self and other, the individual and the community, as well as also within the self. The self and group are important sites of the affirmation of identities. Within the identities of the colonized and the colonizer, there is a relation suggesting that the idea of identity cannot be dismissed. Individual and collective identities each constitute a critical core of who one is and who we are. Identity exists and is needed if we are to understand our essence as spiritual beings. But it is difference that separates one identity from the another at one level, while also ensuring the difference can co-exist with sameness. In other words, differences not only exist between entities but within subjectivities as well. As Trinh Minh-ha (2000) notes, while we argue for subjectivity we must simultaneously acknowledge the “inappropriate other within every ‘I’. Thus saying ‘I am like you’ to indicate sameness is at the same time a maintenance of one’s difference, as in saying ‘I am different”’ (p. 1214). Difference must be seen as between the colonized and the colonizer as well as a relation between the two. This means a discussion of the subject as at once a colonizer and the colonized. The idea of a unitary self does not mean opposition between self/other, insider/outsider; subjectivity/objectivity or the colonizer/colonized. Power is unequally distributed in every sphere of human social life. The greater the power inequality (whether racial or sexual, between classes or nations), the higher social power stands as an obstacle to peace and human liberation. Arguably the dominant/colonizer has power over the subordinated/colonized because of the differential positions inherited through history and social politics. The colonizer is inclined to perpetuate the cycle of abuse and coercion at the micro and macro levels in order to sustain the power base. In effect, dominating and oppressive relationships that emerge from structures of power and privilege are inherent and embedded in our contemporary everyday social relations (see also Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). What is key to theorizing the connections between self/other/group/community and that of the colonized-colonizer relations is a critical perspective that interrogates the nature of asymmetrical power relations, as well as the rationality of the power of dominance in society. In the relations of the self/other, individual/community, inner/outer relations there is usually an enactment of power relations (see also Trinh Minh-ha, 2000, p. 1211). In Foucaultian sense of micro-politics power is diffused, power is relational and circulates among groups (Foucault, 1980, 1989). At the macro level, there are differences in how power is accorded so as to render meaningful discussion of a/the colonizer and the colonized. It is the discretionary use of power that allows one group to posit boundaries around social positionalities and sites of difference. But as Shohat (1995) cautions us, the subordinate should also be able to strategically and politically evoke a collective sense of belonging in order not



to risk “sanctifying the fait accompli of colonial violence, or dismiss the idea of communal identities” (p. 177) (see also Spivak, 1988, 1990).


Anti-colonial thought is about discoursing on difference, power, racial and social oppressions as well as the silences. As Larbalestier (1990) long ago pointed out “difference is both a conceptual, cultural and material problem. It is embedded in a politics of identity which are , in turn, embedded in relations of power” (p. 155). The anti-colonial thought offers a political, cultural and ideological critique of colonial relations, as well as a political discourse of resistance grounded in a politics of identity. But one must exercise caution so that our anti-colonial disputations do not simply privilege race as a site of oppression or operate within a “racial cringe” (Bell, 1990, p. 158). In articulating the anti-colonial prism, I foreground the question of race and difference. The power of “race talk” resides in the making and experiencing of the “Other” and the creation of Othered subjects. Anticolonial thinker Albert Memmi (1969) long ago informed us about the process of Othering, which is about the construction of imaginary differences as real. This was followed by assigning social values to these differences (e.g., one can be perceived as being lazy, inferior, unintelligent, uncivilized for being “different”). These differences then provided a justification for denying rewards and benefits, justifying the differential and unequal treatment of the “Other”/othered subjects. In the same vein the Martinique anti-colonial theorist, Aime Cesaire (1972) spoke of the equation of colonization with “thingification”. We see this when some racialized bodies (e.g., Blacks and Aboriginals) are objectified through the continual denial of their basic humanity. While not everyone is guilty of this, there is nonetheless constant blaming and pathologizing of racialized subjects for our perceived lack of certain basic qualities, for not understanding our own problems, for lacking the ability to think through our own solutions to problems and for neither fitting in nor are being capable of doing our jobs. If we are not lazy, then we are unintelligent. Education is racialized and we see this with the bodies that are disproportionately disengaged from the school system. We can also tell in terms of whose and what knowledge and experiences are validated and delegitimized. All these provide convenient grounds for failing to critically look at the ways in which systems marginalize and inferiorize groups and individuals. The propensity to blame the victim is unquestioned. We often fail to look at structures and how institutions function to create marginality for racialized subjects. Of course racialized bodies resist and challenge these perceptions, but this is beside the point. We must ask: resistance at what cost? Today the concept of racialization is often referred to in discussing race and racism. Robert Miles (1989, 1993) and others refer to the process through which groups come to be designated as different, and on that basis are subjected to differential and unequal treatment (see also Li, 1990). Earlier references to “racialization” were to political economic processes that ensured a labour supply 9


for society and immigrant workers being racialized for work. We can speak of this in relation to ethnicity, language, economics, religion, culture and politics, etc. It is important to acknowledge that racialization entails the notion of biological determinism, that is to say, the concept that particular human traits are biologically determined and thus (these traits) are consistent both for individuals and for the group to which those individuals may belong. For example, the idea that the working class is dirty, lazy, violent, of inferior intelligence, has low moral standards, etc., has been based on biological determinism. These same discursive practices have fixed people of colour in exactly the same settled “natural” position. The most important point here is that racialization is a historical construction, one that allows for white supremacist systems of power to suppress racial minority resistance. By way of understanding the “project of racialization” we look to those historical processes and trajectories that have allowed dominant groups to call upon culture, gender, ethnicity, language, religion, sexuality, and race (as skin colour) as a way of distinguishing groups for differential and unequal treatment. As a historical construct, the process of racialization allows for white supremacist systems of power to suppress racial minorities as unequal and different in order to justify their suppression and domination. Closely aligned with the processes of racialization is the production of racialized subjects. As Lawson (2004) notes, we must take “racialized” as a verb, i.e., the act of doing something to the body based on its phenotypical features. In the broader sense, the making of racialized subjects points to the ways in which bodies are read or scripted according to skin colour and other phenotypical features as an epidemically correct casting. Black skin is associated with deviance, dishonesty; while brown is associated with terrorism, etc. the subject becomes racialized through such casting. In framing the issue as “racialization” the gaze is placed more appropriately on the one “racializing” the subject. In other words we uphold and counter the view that the person remains embodied, and therefore is not intrinsically “bad” because of her/his race. The process of racializing the subject is at fault and it is this process with which we must deal. So the process of racializing is external and strategic, and is not the responsibility of the person who is targeted. This distinction is crucial because of the tendency for some to argue that those who do anti-racist work by working with race actually create the problem. Anti-racist workers speak of race not to create racism but rather to shed light on it, and avoid its denial. In looking at racialization processes and the making of racialized subjects, we see how these same biologically determined and thus racist ideas of behaviour, values, beliefs, cultural practices, etc., are grafted onto particular social relations and issues such as immigration, education, and crime in our communities. Dominant systems of racialized power construct ideas of criminality through particular bodies (see also Lawson, 2004)s. We begin to see how crime and “gang violence” are viewed largely through (and in terms of) black and brown bodies and communities because it is they who have been invested with a biological propensity towards violence and crime. Discussions about terrorism and terrorists in public discourse is a case in point. We know particular bodies are now invested with 10


terrorism, they are viewed as a group to be possessed of certain biological traits that lead to the nurturing of suicide bombers, fanatical hatred of the West, sexist oppression, and so forth. Consequently, it can be argued that the whole process of racialization and the making of racialized subjects is indicative of larger cultural and social forces. People are not however, innately encoded with such negative images and messages. We need to ask, for example, why do Canadian families of diverse European heritage, largely consider themselves to be White? What does this practice tell us about race and racism in Canadian history and contemporary politics and culture? There is a currency (political, material/economic) to claiming white(ness). There is a “two-sidedness” to any critical study of domination and oppression: the privileged and the subordinate position. Dismantling colonial relations and practices has as much to do with studying whiteness and oppression as the study of marginalized positions of resistance (see also Howard, 2004). It is important to acknowledge that colonized peoples and minoritized scholars have spearheaded the study of the colonial encounter and resistance which and that this is often unacknowledged. In many ways developing an anti-colonial prism is about having a critical gaze on the dominance of white supremacy. Given the possibility of the colonizer and colonized, particularly the colonizer, remaining oblivious to the sites of oppression/domination and (thereby showing limitations in knowledge and knowing) there is an “epistemic saliency” of the subordinate voice The site from which we oppress is the site on which we least cast our gaze. It is significant in an anti-colonial practice to engage the question whether the dominant/colonizer should know and critique colonialism, imperialism and oppression without the input of those who have received, and continue to receive the brunt of the colonial encounter and its violence? Anti-colonial thought is about a “decolonizing of the mind” working with resistant knowledge and claiming the power of local subjects’ intellectual agency. Resistance in this context is about fighting for survival and beyond. It is about resistance to domination of the past, contamination of the present and the stealing of a people’s future. The dominated/colonized subject survives despite attempts to deny her existence. Decolonization is also an interrogation of the age old dilemmas about authenticity, originality, indigeneity and autonomy of cultural, scientific, literary values and aesthetic creations. Western knowledges are deeply embedded in the indigenous historiographies of colonized peoples. While the Indigenous is located in the past it does not remain stuck in the there. The Indigenous precedes and survives colonial contact and its forces of domination. Language is a powerful tool for decolonization. The power to name issues for what they are demonstrates an ability to use language as resistance, and to claim cultural and political capital that is necessary to challenge domination. The power of anti-colonial thinking lies in its ability to name the domination and imposition of colonial relations. Language can be used to challenge the negations, omissions and devaluations of a peoples’ social reality, experience and history. For example, David Theo Golberg (1990) in his seminal work “Racist Culture” makes the critical point that today race is irrelevant yet everything is about race. 11


This is a useful lesson for the pursuit of the anti-colonial politics of race. This is particularly poignant when Goldberg (1990) further asserts that “resistance must oppose the language of oppression, including the categories in terms of which the oppressor represents the forms in which resistance is expressed” (p. 314). The use of language in anti-colonial politics is important to the extent that discursive practices can mask the real material effects of power, privilege and oppression. It is crucial in anti-colonial politics to maintain an important distinction between individual white identity and whiteness as a system of domination and structure of privilege. White identity is an individual racial marker/signifier. Whiteness is a system of privilege and oppression. In other words, whiteness is about dominance. Whiteness is embedded in domination and systemic privilege. One can be marked for white privilege (as in a racial identity) and still take a stance opposed to white racism. As Howard (2004) also opines, these are not mutually exclusive positions.


To be precise, contemporary anti-colonial thought has roots in the decolonizing movements of colonial states that fought for independence from European countries at the end of the Second World War. The revolutionary ideas of Frantz Fanon, Mohandas Gandhi, Mao-Tse-Tung, Albert Memmi, Aime Cesaire, Kwame Nkrumah, and Che Guevara, to name a few, were instrumental in fomenting anti-colonial struggles. Most of these scholars were avowed nationalists who sought political liberation for all colonized peoples and communities using the power of knowledge (see Nkrumah, 1965). In particular, Franz Fanon’s (1967) and Mohandas Gandhi’s (1967) writings on the violence of colonialism and the necessity for open resistance, Albert Memmi’s (1969) discursive on the relations between the colonized and the colonizer helped instil in the minds of colonized peoples the importance of engaging in acts of resistance to resist the violence of colonialism. In later years, particularly in African contexts, other scholars including Aime Cesaire (1972), Leopald Senghor (1996) and Cabral (1970a, b) introduced questions of language, identity and national culture into anti-colonial debates for political and intellectual liberation. After independence, a new body of “anti-colonial” discourse emerged. This discourse appropriately labelled within the post-colonial discursive framework (see Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1995; Said, 1978; Bhabha, 1990, 1995; Young, 1995; Leila Gandhi, 1998), undeniably illustrates powerful links to the ideas of earlier thinkers such as Fanon, Memmi and Cabral. Current anti-colonial theory reclaims ideas of early anti-colonial theorizing. Furthermore, today, the adoption of an anti-colonial discursive gaze, while borrowing from the postmodern view of colonialism as espoused in the works of Young (1995, 2001), Said (1978, 1993), Bhabha (1990), and Loomba (1998), represents an important intellectual contribution that departs significantly from post-colonial theory. The ideas of post-colonial theorists largely focussed on the interconnections between imperial/colonial cultures and the colonized cultural practices and the 12


constructions of hybridity and alterity (see also Suleri, 1992; Shohat, 1992; Slemon, 1995; Bhabha, 1990; Spivak, 1988, 1990, 1999). The strength of postcolonial theory lies in pointing to the complexities and the disjunctures of the colonial experiences in the aftermath of the colonial encounter. In fact, Bhabha (1990) has shown that the colonial encounter and discourse cannot be assumed to be unified or unidirectional. Spivak (1988) also emphasizes the possibility of counter knowledges that emerge or are constructed from marginal spaces and the power of such voices for the pursuit of resistance. As Shahjahan (2003) has also argued, postcolonial theorizing in a more general sense, demonstrates the shift of anti-colonial thought from the focus on agency and nationalist/liberatory practice towards a discursive analysis and approach that directs our attention to the intersection between “Western knowledge production and the ‘Other’ and Western colonial power” (p. 5). Today politics and economics cannot be separated from history and culture. In fact, Benita Parry (1995) and Ahmad (1995) have both criticized the discursive analysis of postcolonial theorists for their heavy reliance on textuality and idealism at the expense of deep historical enquiry and materialist interpretations. In offering a bridge between these stances, contemporary anti-colonial thought argues that colonial constructions affect knowledge production with profound material consequences.


In re-theorizing the “anti-colonial” through context-specific examples, grounded discussions of local struggles of resistance (and how these struggles connect the colonial encounter to the Indigenous experience) emerge. These discussions offer significant lessons for social change. At the global level, there is the on-going struggle for Indigenous peoples to retain their identities in the face of global sameness. Among Indigenous peoples in Canada, for example, there is a decolonizing project calling for abolishing existing relations with the Canadian government and forming new relations based on a “. . . recognition of the inherent rights of Aboriginal peoples to follow their traditional ways of governance” (Sunseri, 2000, p. 146). Although there are questions about how such projects can be sustained and at what cost to Indigenous peoples, the anti-colonial prism maintains that Aboriginal peoples are bearing huge costs for their contemporary relations with the state to the extent that a way forward lies more in a sort of “delinking” (see Amin, 1976). This would mean engagement by local peoples on their own terms while controlling their economic, political, cultural and land rights for self determination. Similarly, in the African context the political marginalization and resistance of indigenous cultures/groups such as the Ogoni struggle with the Shell Oil Company in the Niger Delta, is an example of how local peoples are re-asserting their rights in the face of overwhelming odds and a gluttonous corporate desire to design the futures of African peoples. Other examples include the Indigenous People of the Southern Mexican Highlands fighting neoliberalism, the Ogiek 13


of Kenya fighting for land rights, the Quechua community rebellions in Bolivia against international farming regulations, the Nisga’a people’s struggle for selfdetermination on Canada’s West Coast, the Palawa people and there fight for land rights in Tasmania and many others too numerous to name. In these struggles “indigenization” is being redefined as the interplay of both “urban-African perspectives” and “traditional/indigenous/local perspectives”. Indigenization is not only about empowering local subjects to wrest control from external colonizers/globalizers. It is also about affirming the rights of a people to retain their “indigeneity” in the face of so-called modernity and modernization. The pitfalls of the modernist project demand a careful rethinking of political and social engagements with local subjects in resisting global/Western domination. Thus, the current anti-colonial struggle in Africa links the political call for “Africanization” with the re-culturation of African political, social, and economic institutions. More fundamentally, such anti-colonial struggles seek to connect the cultural “counter-hegemonic” activism (through, for example, the re-indigenization of African education) with the Gramscian counter-hegemonic politics aimed at proletarian control over the means of production and material politics as a necessary exercise in counter-hegemonic politics. There are important links between these struggles. There is the question of how the formal institutional spaces of African schools can be transformed into counter-hegemonic spaces. The limited transformational possibilities of such formal institutional spaces have been well noted by theories of social reproduction. The emphasis on the cultural/material of historical and current neo-colonial inequalities and schooling, points clearly to both the possibilities and challenges of social change. Any contemporary anti-colonial struggle in Africa must find ways to reconcile the primacy of “re-culturation” for social change through “re-Indigenization of African education” with the primary goal of regaining material control over political-economy to effect change. In South Africa, despite its emergence from apartheid in 1994, social development policies reflect the tenets of modernisation – a re-colonizing force for the second half of the twentieth century. The primacy of the market has, in the last ten years, had a particularly damaging effect on the country’s education policy in particular. As Weber (2002) notes, despite early gains for social justice under the ANC Government, the past decade has seen an overall shift to the right in social policy. With regard to the unequal relations of power in the production of knowledge, and the role of culture in current struggles over political decolonization and rights of sovereignty, it is important to acknowledge that in the long run if nothing is done to change the political and economic structures of domination, these struggles will fail. Anti-colonial struggles cannot take place exclusively within cultural spheres of action. These struggles must actively engage domination and exploitation in the economic and political realms. As Tucker (1999) notes in another context, the “economic, political and cultural spheres are intimately intertwined. These different spheres do have a degree of autonomy from each other, and it is for this reason that change in the cultural sphere . . . is central to and an important dimension of the change in the economic and political spheres” (p. 24). 14


Anti-colonial thought calls for agency and resistance. Within colonial relations there lie the individual and collective agency to resist subordination and domination. Agency emerges from the power of knowing and knowledge, and its this that gives meaning to social and political action. The resistance that is embedded in every power relation is possible through an affirmation of individual and collective subjectivities, and the knowledge that comes with understanding one’s social condition and context. Through the power and politics of resistance, the colonized are able to understand their social reality and work to change their condition. As already noted, indigenity and local indigenous knowledge, and specifically the relevance of the mind, soul and body interface in the construction of knowledge and pursuit of political practice and have been significant factors in anti-colonial theory today. Anti-colonialism calls for connecting discussions among the local, marginalised and the Indigenous experiences. The broad questions of [Indigenous] history and culture are fundamentally important in that anti-colonial discourses go back well beyond the experiences [conditions] faced by Southern intellectuals in the Western academy when resisting Eurocentric mimicking of intellectual procedures of the West. For example, we see this in the referent of the “post” and its dependence on Western philosophies, frames of reference, modes of thought; intellectuals seeking validation in Eurocentric standards, need to refer to works in West/Europe and America to validate and legitimise discourse. Local agency resides in how the anti-colonial project uncovers colonizing practices as deeply embedded in everyday relations, and how local/indigenous knowings become powerful sources of knowledge that allow for daily resistance and the pursuit of effective political practice to subvert all forms of dominance. An anti-colonial framework must raise questions about the colonial encounter and its aftermath. Ahmad (2000) has asked us to think critically. We must take risks and be prepared to expose and challenge the hidden narratives which surround discourses of nation building and nationhood when difference is denied. Who is part of the nation? Who can claim citizenship? On what grounds do we make such claims? How are different subjects positioned? How does a certain language become dominant? The normative claims of shared identity inherent in discourse of nation building must be interrogated to unravel how certain hegemonic interests can be served when differences are erased in dominant talk. We must expose dominant practices that negate the power of spirituality and local indigenousness as the entry points for engaging in subjective resistance and agency. On the question of language, Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1986) in his “Decolonizing the Mind” speaks strongly to the question of maintaining and developing proficiencies in African languages. As he puts it: . . . the biggest weapon wielded and actually daily unleashed by imperialism against that collective defiance is the cultural bomb. The effect of a cultural 15


bomb is to annihilate a people’s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland. It makes them want to identify with that which is furthest removed from themselves; for instance, with other peoples’ languages rather than their own. (1986, p. ii) Language is very important not only in the process of identity formation, but also in processes of learning and for the psychological, spiritual, mental and cognitive development of the self. Language is also very central when it comes to notions of exclusion, Othering, stigmatization and the resistance politics that are called for when challenging such practices. Through language we can re-read voice and subjectivity and comprehend the intellectual agency of the colonized. An anticolonial politics unravels the ways in which language operates to concretize racial and colonial exclusions, particularly in official discourses of and about the nation and citizenship that fail to critically engage questions of power, resources, equity and difference. Language is the substantive technology through which social exclusion is built around power and hegemony. It operates to silence and deny certain experiences, histories and identities. Language is the unsaid discourse. In other words, language is not only what is overtly said but what is also left unsaid. Anti-colonial politics brings a complex reading to language both in terms of the “poetics of anti-colonialism” and the emphasis on the discourse subject agency and exclusion. Anti-colonialist practice challenges exclusions of Indigenous languages in most “post-colonial” contexts. For example, the way in which colonial languages, through globalism and transnational practices, as well as through linguistic racism, and the symbolic capital of language serve to discriminate and disadvantage the colonized. Perhaps one of the important contributions of language to anti-colonial discourse is helping to articulate and critique the “post-colonial” overemphasis on the “subject”. We cannot underestimate the concrete and material problems of the everyday world or the tangible effects of broader macro-political forces. As Dirlik (1997, 2000) notes, there is a world outside of the subject. However, we must also agree that the subject and the material world cannot be separated. The real question, as Loomba (1999) asserts, concerns the manner in which structural material forces determine or script the subject’s agency and the subsequent impact on her or his ability to resist. Anti-colonial struggles see local subjects as makers of their own history. In other words, local subjects hold discursive power and their intellectual agency can be traced through history, not modernity. While the anti-colonial project notes that the subaltern can and do in fact speak, and have consequently become agents of their own history, it simultaneously recognizes that the limits of class, ethnicity, culture, gender and difference define how, when and why the subaltern speaks (see also Spivak, 1998; Shohat, 1995; Trinh Minh-ha, 2000; Prakash, 1992).



How far can we celebrate our fragmented identities and what are the limits in terms of pursuing a broader political project? As many others have pointed out, at a time when marginalised peoples are finding a more powerful collective voice it is crucial that this project is not derailed by unnecessarily preoccupation with “split/fragmented subjectivity”. We must ask whether “this notion of decentred subject is the latest strategy of Western colonialism” (Loomba, 1999, p. 248)? The idea for this book emerged from discussions in my graduate level course, SES3914S: “Anti-Colonial Thought and Pedagogical Challenges” in the fall of 2004. It was a very challenging course with class discussions informed by a desire to reclaim the power of oppositional discourse and theory for educational transformation. In fact, when Arlo Kempf and I decided to put this collection together, the feeling was that there was very little current theorizing on anti-colonial practices. We began working with some of the critical ideas held by class participants on anti-colonial thought and its pedagogical implications. In moving ahead on the project, we have extended the terrain of the discussion to include scholars working in this area whose ideas offer penetrating insights into anti-colonialism today. Our focus has been on the production of such knowledge and the implications of “science” and embodied knowing for rethinking educational theory and practice. Most of the papers deal with the body as an important site of knowledge, weaving through the complex terrain of education defined broadly as “coming to know and pursuing political practice for social transformation”. In this last section of this introductory chapter, I have provided a summary of each chapter, leaving it to the reader to connect important dots which make up this work. This may seem unnatural in an edited collection but the choice is strategic. When we edit rather than author books, the understanding is that others have something to say. Let us hear it. In Chapter 1, “A Tool of Massive Erosion: Scientific Knowledge in the NeoColonial Enterprise”, Gina Thésée argues that science, namely physical science or natural science has been, and continues to be, a powerful instrument employed to control not only matter and energy, inert and living, but also people and nations. As a result, the world of science reproduces an uncontested power that leads to the transparent exclusion of diverse marginalized groups in terms of their perspectives, values, beliefs, identity and knowledge. The post-colonial period has continued the tradition of using science as a tool of disenfranchisement. Chapter 2, “On Silence and Dominant Accountability: A Critical Anticolonial Investigation of the Antiracism Classroom”, by Philip S.S. Howard, uses the critical anti-colonial discursive framework to examine relationships and processes in the mixed race antiracism classroom. The meanings that are routinely, often unconsciously, created regarding the presence of certain bodies in the critical classroom, can work to alienate the racially oppressed and undermine the mounting of a sufficiently critical challenge to the racialized status quo. This chapter considers the ways in which racist/colonial dynamics might manifest in the mixed-race antiracism classroom, and posits approaches that might encourage more equitable relations.



Chapter 3, “Implicit Racism and the Brain: How Neurobiology Can Inform an Anti-Colonial, Anti-Racist Pedagogy”, by Serhat Unsal, argues that Racism exists in the institutional and cultural milieus established by the dominant historical social order which forms a wide and ever-present external field of socially mediated cultural memory. The human brain is a social organ that develops through experience, and certain aspects of social reality are reflected and gain expression there. This chapter presents the latest scientific data from neurobiological and neuropsychological studies linking racism and brain activity, highlighting two newly emerging bodies of research. It then links this research to the continuing legacies of colonial and racist violence on mental structures. In Chapter 4, “Is Decolonization Possible?”, Njoki Nathani Wane investigates the role of spirituality within anti-colonial thought and practise, through the imagining of the pre-colonial, the colonial encounter, and the colonial eras; as well as through discussion of the impact of colonialism on colonized subjects. Her aim as a woman who grew up in rural Kenya is to examine her fragmented past and make sense of experiences, stories, proverbs, and idioms imparted to her by elders while growing up. Chapter 5, “Spiritual Politics: Politicizing the Black Church Tradition in AntiColonial Praxis”, by Elaine A. Brown Spencer, argues the Black Church has an enduring historical and contemporary relevance in a pluralistic Afro-Christian religious culture. A paradox lies in its complicity in colonization while having also created religious forms of resistance to colonialism. The Black Church has helped Blacks sustain their sanity amidst colonial conditions by inculcating a philosophy of hope which has become fundamental to Black identity formation in anticolonial struggles. Generally, the Black church has been an all-encompassing part of Black culture and identity; however, it remains vastly ignored, misunderstood, and even disdained. Chapter 6, “Anti-Colonial Historiography: Interrogating Colonial Education”, by Arlo Kempf, argues there is strategic importance in the who, why, where and how of knowledge production and attempts to begin, inspire and facilitate an interrogation of dominant history. This chapter begins with an explication of the author’s theoretical framework for anti-colonial historiography. It goes on to provide an analytical case study of the history textbooks used in Ontario, Canada, from 1866 to the present. It closes with a case specific example of curricular synthesis, demonstrating one way in which dominant education can be subverted. Chapter 7, “From Postcolonial to Anti-Colonial Politics: Difference, Knowledge and R. v. R.D.S.”, by Leila Angod, tells the story of a personal metamorphosis from a postcolonial framework to an anti-colonial one, and the growing pains that this process entailed. The convergences and divergences of the two theories are delineated by examining how each theory treats difference and knowledge. A postcolonial telling of the now famous R. v. R.D.S. is compared to an anticolonial conception of the same case, in order to illustrate how each lens produces a different kind of knowledge. Chapter 8, “The Power of Oral Tradition: Critically Resisting the Colonial Footprint”, by Maryam Nabavi, argues oral tradition has been used as both a 18


mode of cultural survival and expression of resistance in anti-colonial movements. Global challenges in the modern era increasingly confront diverse ideologies and worldviews. A site of such struggle is the divide between the modern and Indigenous, where the ownership of knowledges are negated and possible room negotiation is denied. Drawing on the use of oral tradition in Indigenous cultures as it is used in reclaiming knowledge, cultural identity, spirituality and traditional practices, as denied during colonial intervention, this chapter explores how agency and critical consciousness subsequently ensue. Chapter 9, “Indigenous Knowledge in Jamaica: A Tool of Ideological AntiNeo-Colonial Resistance”, by Mark V. Campbell, attempts to activate local indigenous Afro-Jamaican knowledge as a tool through which to tackle the neocolonial hold of the Monroe Doctrine and dislodge the ideological supremacy of the United States in Jamaica. The author operates upon the premise that Afro-Jamaican indigenous knowledge(s) are essential “cognitive resources” in the anti-colonial struggle. The chapter utilizes an anti-colonial discursive framework as an approach that helps us theorize the re-/neo-colonial relations and the implications of imperial structures of knowledge production. Chapter 10, “Benevolent Dictators: Colonizing Encounters in Spaces of the South”, by Catherine Moffat, is a critical interrogation of the international development industry from within. It asks why is it that “international development” persists, even thrives, despite the failures of Northern-driven international? Once contemporary development practitioners realise that we are practising newer, more subtle and insidious forms of colonialism, we are necessarily led to the question, what might an anti-colonial “development” practice look like? The author brings a critical gaze to the international development enterprise (in both practise and theory), showing how it is rooted in racial domination and imperialism. Chapter 11, “An Anti-Colonial Critique of Research Methodology”, by Jennifer Hales, critiques the author’s own research methodology from an anticolonial standpoint, unearthing, revealing and challenging that which is often perceived or understood as neutral and/or objective. The chapter addresses issues of epistemological racism and white privilege, particularly with respect to white Northern/Western researchers conducting research in Southern contexts: can white, Euro-American researchers conduct research on or with people from other cultures? In Chapter 12, “Remembering, Resisting: Casting an Anti-Colonial Gaze upon the Education of Diverse Students in Social Work Education”, Billie Allan reflects upon her own experiences as an Anishnaabe woman in social work education and applies the anti-colonial discursive framework to problematize the concept of diversity, and to reconceptualize the education of diverse students within the historical and contemporary context of colonization. The author examines the concept of diversity in social work education and its subsequent impact on diverse social work students. Chapter 13, “Invisible Violence and Spiritual Injury within Post-Secondary Institutions: An Anti-Colonial Interrogation and Response”, by Marlene RuckSimmons, argues that colonialism as a materialized practice of hegemonic own19


ership, continues to violently affront identifiable bodies through the discourses of settlement and advancement. Within spaces of higher educational settings, these mythologies are replicated through epistemological, organizational and practice-based situatedness that invisibly perpetuate spiritual violence against those affirming othered historicities, knowledges and lived positionalities. Offering her voice amidst the hush of post-colonialists, the author uses personal narratives and conversations with anti-colonialist literature, to expose the spiritual violence that is often brutally executed against minoritized bodies within post-secondary institutions. In Chapter 14, “Engendering Indigenous Knowledge”, Lindsay Kerr examines the convergences and divergences between indigenous knowledges and feminism, and addresses the contested terrain within and between them, with particular reference to African writers. The purpose of engendering indigenous knowledge is to explicate women’s contribution to indigenous knowledge systems and to identify how women are differentially affected by colonialism and its aftermath; that is to make women visible in this field of knowledge. In the Conclusion, “Looking Forward: Pedagogical Implications of AntiColonialism”, Arlo Kempf and I discuss the implications for learning and teaching raised by anti-colonial theory and practise. The broad pedagogical implications of this emerging theory are examined alongside the specific ideas raised by the chapters herein. Our long term goal is to help re-theorize anti-colonialism and to move it forward into the realm of current critical, pedagogical and political practice.


I would like to thank my co-editor, Arlo Kempf of the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for reading through and commenting on an earlier version of this paper. I would also like to acknowledge the students in my graduate class: “Anti-Colonial Thought: Pedagogical Challenges”, in the fall of 2003 for their ideas, comments and critical insights that have contributed to strengthen the paper.

REFERENCES Abu-Lughod, L. (1990). The romance of resistance: Tracing transformations of power through Bedouin women. American Ethnologist, 17(1), 41–55. Ahmad, E. (2000). Think critically and take risks. In Confronting empire: Interviews with David Barsamian. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, pp. 1–69. Ahmad, I. (1995). The politics of literary postcoloniality. Race and Class, 36(3), 1–20. Ahmad, S. (2004). MA Thesis proposal. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). Amin, S. (1976). Unequal development. Hassocks: Harvester Press. Amin, S. (1989). Eurocentrism: Critique of an ideology. New York: Monthly Review Press. Bell, D. (1990). A reply from Diane Bell. Anthropological Forum, 6, 158–165. Bhabha, H. (1990). Nation and narration. London: Routledge.


INTRODUCTION Bhabha, H. (1995). Signs taken for wonders. In B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Thiophene (Eds.), The post-colonial studies reader. New York: Routledge, pp. 29–35. Biko, S. (1978). I write what I like: Selected writings. San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row. Butler, P. (2002). Draft notes on Ph.D. research. Department of Sociology and Equity Studies, OISE/UT. Cabral, A. (1970a). National liberation and culture. The 1970 Eduardo Mondlane lecture, Program of Eastern African studies of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, February 20. Cabral, A. (1970b). National liberation and culture. New York: Syracuse University Press. Cesaire, A. (1972). Discourse on colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Collins, P.H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge consciousness and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge. Dei, G.J.S. (1994). The challenges of anti-racist education research in the African context. African Development, 19(3), 5–25. Dei, G.J.S. (2004). Schooling and education in Africa: The case of Ghana. Trenton, NJ: Africa World. Dei, G.J.S. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: Towards an anti-colonial discursive framework, Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3), 297–323. Dirlik, A. (1994). The postcolonial aura: Third World criticism in the age of global capitalism. Critical Inquiry, 20, 328–356. Dirlik, A. (1997). The post colonial aura: Third World criticism in the age of global capitalism. Oxford: Westview Press, pp. 1–23; 52–84. Dirlik, A. (2000). Post modernity’s histories: Past legacy and project. Oxford: Row and Littlefield Publishers, pp. 173–203. Fanon, F. (1963). The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove Weidenfeld. Fanon, F. (1952, translated 1967). Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Press. Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews, 1972–77. Edited by C. Gordon. Brighton: Harvester Press. Foucault, M. (1983). The subject and power. In H. Dreyfus and P. Rabinow (Eds.), Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, pp. 208–226. Foucault, M. (1989). Politics, philosophy and culture. New York: Routledge. Gandhi, M. (1967). Political and national life and affairs. Ahmedabad: Navijivan Press. Gandhi, L. (1998). Postcolonial theory: A critical introduction. New York and Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press. Goldberg, D.T. (1990). Racist culture. London: Blackwell. Guevara, C. (1997). The essence of guerrilla struggle. In D. Deutchmann (Ed.), Che Guevara reader. New York: Ocean Press, pp. 66–72. Hall, S. (1991). Old and new identities: Old and new ethnicities. In A. King (Ed.), Culture, globalization and world system. New York: State University Press, pp. 41–68. Hall, S. (1992). Cultural studies and its theoretical legacies. In L. Grossberg et al. (Eds.), Cultural studies. New York: Routledge, pp. 277–294. Harding, S. (1996). Gendered ways of knowing and the epistemological crisis of the West. In N. Goldenberger, J. Tarule, B. Clinchy and M. Belenky (Eds.), Knowledge, difference and power. New York: Basic Books, pp. 431–454. hooks, b. (1991). Feminist theory: From margin to center. Boston, MA: South End Press. Howard, P. (2004). Reflections on a reading course: Interrogating whiteness in critical/anti-racist and other ostensibly equitable spaces. Unpublished paper, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Kankwenda, M. (1994). Marabouts’ and merchants of development in Africa. CODESRIA Bulletin, 3, 9–15. Kincheloe. J. and Steinberg, S.R. (1998). Addressing the crisis of whiteness: Reconfiguring white identity in a pedagogy of whiteness. In J.L. Kincheloe, S.R. Steinberg, N.M. Rodriguez and R.E. Chennault (Eds.), White reign: Deploying whiteness in America. New York: St Martin’s Press, pp. 1–29. Larbalestier, J. (1990). The politics of representation: Australian aboriginal women and feminism. Anthropological Forum, 6, 143–157.


DEI Lattas, A. (1993). Essentialism, memory and resistance: Aboriginality and the politics of authenticity. Oceania, 62, 240–267. Lawson, E. (2004). Notes on racialization and racialized subjects. Department of Sociology and Equity Studies, Ontario Institute for Studies in education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). Li, P. (1990). Race and ethnicity. In P. Li (Ed.), Race and ethnic relations in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press. Loomba, A. (1998). Colonialism/postcolonialism. New York: Routlkedge. Mbeki, T. (1998). The African renaissance, South Africa and the world. Speech given at the United Nations University, April 9, 1998. Memmi, A. (1969). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Miles, R. (1989). Racism. London: Tavistock. Miles, R. (1993). Racism after ‘race relations’. London: Routledge. Mohanty, C. (1991a). Cartographies of struggle: Third World Women and the politics of feminism. In C. Mohanty, A. Russo and L. Torres (Eds.), Third World women and the politics of feminism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, pp. 1–47. Mohanty, C.T. (1991b). Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. In C.T. Mohanty, A. Russo and L. Torres (Eds.), Third World women and the politics of feminism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, pp. 51–80. Nkrumah, K. (1965). Neocolonialism: The last stage of imperialism. New York: International Publishers. Parry, B. (1994). Resistance theory/theorising resistance, or two cheers for nativism. In F. Barker, P. Hulme and M. Iversen (Eds.), Colonial discourse/postcolonial theory. Manchester University Press, pp. 172–196. Parry, B. (1995). Problems in current theories of colonial discourse. In B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Thiophene (Eds.), The post-colonial studies reader. New York: Routledge, pp. 36–44. Prah, K. (1997). Accusing the victims – In my father’s house. A review of Kwame Anthony Appiah, In my father’s house. CODESRIA Bulletin, 1, 14–22. Prakash, G. (1992). Can the subaltern ride?: A reply to O’Hanlon and Washbrook. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 34(1), 168–184. Principe, T. (2004). Research essay. Unpublished paper, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Rabaka, R. (2003). Deliberately using the word “colonial” in a much broader sense. W.E.B. Du Bois’s concept of “semi-colonialsim” as critque of and contribution to postcolonialsm. Electronic version, Ragwanja, P.M. (1997). Post-industrialism and knowledge production: African intellectuals in the new intellectual division of labour, CODESRIA Bulletin, 3, 5–11. Rodney, W. (1982). How Europe underdeveloped Africa. Washington, DC: Howard University Press. Said, E. (1978/1985). Orientalism: Western representations of the Orient. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Said, E. (1993). Culture and imperialism. New York: Vintage Books. Scheurich J. and Young, M. (1997). Coloring epistemologies: Are our research epistemologies racially biased? Educational Researcher, 26(4), 4–16. Senghor, L.S. (1996). African socialism. In Molefe Kete Asante and Abu S. Abarry (Eds.), African intellectual heritage. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, pp. 342–354. Shahjahan, R. (2003). Mapping the field of anti-colonial discourse to understand issues of indigenous knowledges. Paper presented at the congress meeting of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association, Dalhousie University, Halifax, May 28–30. Shahjahan, R. (2004). Spirituality in the Academy: Reclaiming from the margins and evoking a transformative way of knowing the world. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18(6). Shohat, E. (1992). Notes on the post-colonial. Social Text, 31/32, 99–113. Shohat, E. (1995). The struggle over representation: Casting, coalitions and the politics of identification. In R. De La Campa, E.A. Kaplan and M. Sprinkler (Eds.), Late imperial culture. London and New York: Verso, pp. 166–178. Slemon, S. (1995). The scramble for post-colonialism. In B. Ashcroft et al. (Eds.), The post-colonial studies reader. New York: Routledge.


INTRODUCTION Spivak, G.C. (1988). Can the subaltern speak? In C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (Eds.), Marxism and the interpretation of culture. Basingstoke: Macmillan Education. Spivak, G.C. (1990). The post-colonial critic: Interviews, strategies, dialogues. Edited by Sarah Harasym. New York and London: Routledge. Spivak, G.C. (1999). A critique of postcolonial reason: Toward a history of the vanishing present. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Suleri, S. (1992). The rhetoric of English India. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press. Sunseri, L. (2000). Moving beyond the feminism versus nationalism dichotomy: An anti-colonial feminist perspective on aboriginal liberation struggles. Canadian Woman Studies, 20(2), 143–148. Trask, H.K. (1991). Natives and anthropologists: The colonial struggle. The Contemporary Pacific, 3(1), 159–167. Trinh, Minh-ha, T. (2000). Not you/like you: Postcolonial women and the interlocking questions of identity and difference. In D. Brydon (Ed.), Postcolonialism: Critical concepts in literary and cultural studies, Volume III. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1210–1215. Tucker, V. (1999). The myth of development: A critique of Eurocentric discourse. In R. Munck and D. O’Hearn (Eds.), Critical development theory: Contributions to the new paradigm. London: Zed Books, pp. 1–26. Tuhiwai-Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. London: Zed Publishers. Wane, N. (2002). African women and spirituality: Connections between thought and action. In E. O’Sullivan, A. Morrell and M.A. O’Connor (Eds.), Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning: Essays on theory and praxis. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 135–150. Wa Thiong’o, N. (1986). Decolonising the mind. Heinemann. Weber, E. (2002). Shifting to the right: The evolution of equity in the South African government’s developmental and education policies, 1990–1999. Comparative Education Review, 46(3), 261– 290. Young, I.M. (1990). The ideal of community and the politics of difference. In L. Nicholson (Ed.), Feminism/postmodernism. New York: Routledge, pp. 300–323. Young, R. (1995). Colonial desire: Hybridity in theory, culture and race. New York: Routledge. Young, R. (2001). Postcolonialism: An historical introduction. Oxford and Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. Zine, J. (2004). Staying on the “straight path”: A critical ethnography of Islamic schooling in Ontario. Unpublished Ph.D dissertation, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.




The physical sciences have played a leadership role in the systematic establishment of European supremacy over nations which have been dominated through colonization for the past several centuries. The colonial enterprise and the natural sciences, mutually, have shaped and controlled the deployment of one another. Although new forms – more subtle, global and diffuse – of this dynamic have taken place, they cannot over-shadow the on-going oppression and exclusion of the same nations plagued by the neo-colonization enterprise. This is neither accidental, nor coincidental. While the old colonial power advanced unheeded, the neo-colonial power proceeds more cautiously, hidden under polymorphic masks. The most powerful of these masks frames an epistemological figure which implies knowledge. Today, education serves as the garden in which the seeds of the neocolonial process are sowed in the minds of girls and boys, thereby assuring future Western domination and exclusion of marginalized nations. Scientific knowledge is an epistemological tool, or weapon, used to develop, dominate, and shape minds. What has been the global impact of scientific knowledge on the different expressions of cultural knowledge? This chapter examines what I characterize as a massive erosion of cultural knowledges resulting from the quasi-military global effect of scientific knowledge. The metaphor of erosion symbolizes the neo-colonialism drama being played out to this day. The most important question is, is it possible to transform and reverse the impact of scientific knowledge into a framework that contributes to anti-colonial thought, and what are the suitable ways to develop a new politics of engagement and resistance toward scientific knowledge? SCIENCE AND SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE

Western modern science reflects the empiricism formulated by Francis Bacon (1561–1626), as well as the positivism conceptualized by Auguste Comte (1798– 1857), and the neo-positivism proposed by the School of Vienna early in the twentieth century. Each of these epistemological perspectives contributed to the building of science. Empiricism stressed the reality and foundation of the experimental process, which underpins the scaffolding of theoretical knowledge. With Comte, positivism placed facts at its centre, invalidating the quest for primary causal relations, final causes and significant meaning. Later, neo-positivism required that any assumption must ensue logically from facts. G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 25–42. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


The most important feature in science is seen to be the development of a scientific mind. According to Bachelard (1989, p. 17), the scientific mind can only emerge after the non-scientific mind is destroyed. This necessary conversion faces some important epistemological barriers, namely that the non-scientific mind must learn to reconcile the historic development of knowledge construction and the process of science learning. The author underscores that these epistemological barriers cause stagnation, regression, and inertia, which serve to diminish and contort the mind. The scientific mind, or rational mind, acts essentially to put reality in order (to approach The Truth) by using the rational process, which is intended to be operational. The scientific mind avoids the study of any phenomenon which is not clearly formulated, questioned, problematized, operationalized and/or understandable. Strict steps governed by precise rules which guarantee the validity of the entire scientific process are, therefore, required. At the beginning is the conceptual construction of scientific facts. A scientific fact is not simply a piece of information; it has been constructed according to very strict requirements. For instance, to be considered legitimate as scientific facts, the various factors of a situation being studied must show that they are observable, regular, repeatable, measurable, predictable and controllable. To validate these characteristics, the scientific mind seeks only efficient operations suitable to the mathematical equations used in the effort to liberate mind from reality (Ullmo, 1969, p. 25). This methodology-based epistemology leads, ultimately, to a reference knowledge, designated as Science, and characterized by the four fundamental, rigorous characteristics needed for any quest: objectivity, neutrality, verity and universality. Those science criteria are couched in the process of denial: denial of socio-construction of science for objectivity; denial of ideology and values for neutrality; denial of historical development of theories for verity; and denial of the other knowledges for universality. Hiding behind these four labels are, in a certain sense, four myths according to different theories which emerged during the later half of the twentieth century. From the rationalist posture defended by Popper and Lakatos, to the anarchist posture of Feyerabend, traversing the relativist posture adopted by Kuhn, science is presented in a broad spectrum of fundamental aims, basic principles and specific methodologies (Chalmers, 1987). Each of these visions presents a certain aspect of science constituted either as a systematized domain of knowledge, as a community of scientists maintaining and developing this domain, or as a socio-economic enterprise aiming to apply scientific knowledge, regardless of the impact or implications. The rationalist vision, which largely disseminated a cult of science, particularly in science education, presents science as something of value and cognitively superior because it is de-contextualized, neutral, asocial, a-historical and universal. The relativist vision emphasizes the social dimension of scientific activity. According to the anarchist vision, science is a dogma constructed carefully in the “developed world” during the last three centuries to displace and replace other dogma. Like a religion, science possesses its priests, authoritarian discourse, hermetic language, cult, communities, rules, and myths. 26


Religion, in this context, relates to the institutional, socio-economic, political and epistemological dimensions and, above all, the processes of exclusion and hegemony. Knowledge or faith? To learn or to believe? To be saved in this world with material life or to be saved in the other world with the eternal life? To go to school or to go to church? To seek knowledge or to seek God? The materialism of science took charge of the material life, and the idealism of religion took charge of the spiritual life, both being useful for the colonizer. If knowledge is a systematized structure constituted of conceptual tools, consensual principles, codified rules, proven laws and theories, standardized discourse, and tested methodologies, then Western science is also knowledge since it has been systematized in the same manner. The knowledge provided by science can be extracted, as a fixed content, and employed in a mechanical, instrumental manner (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002). According to this western epistemology, only western science can claim to have valuable knowledge, owing to its on-going standardization, its proliferation of information-to-know, and its rigorous methodological concerns. Indigenous epistemologies bring alternative perspectives to define knowledge. Indigenous epistemologies are concerned with the sociopolitical, economic and historical context through which knowledge is constructed, validated, theorized and applied (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002). Knowledge, in this view, is anchored in a particular cultural group, and results from their ways of thinking, creating, behaving, formulating or communicating. It is a relation that involves people, not only experts, in a continuous process of re-creating, re-structuring, re-theorizing and expanding that knowledge. Scientific knowledge, namely Western modern knowledge, relies heavily on the methodological dimension of inquiry. Durkheim, at the end of the nineteenth century, worked on some specificities for what became “social sciences”, and developed the basis for interpretative inquiry, hermeneutic in its basic principles, ethnographic in its approaches, and mostly qualitative in its methodological processes. Relying now on a specific set of scientific criteria (modified objectivity, internal validity and fidelity), disciplines such as sociology, psychology and, also, education, can claim to be scientific knowledge. However, this development leads to numerous questions: What is the final purpose of the process? Who is it supposed to help, and how? Who identifies and defines the social problem? What do they think about the research process? What will be the impact on the participants and communities involved? Who writes the research, and who will take advantage of it? These questions are answered, ultimately, somehow accessorily, through what is called the ethical protocol. Ethical concerns are often later incorporated to improve the methodological process, but not at the beginning, to inform the research made by an ethical researcher. In this way, scientific knowledge is produced by methodologists seeking an interesting research subject rather than by agents of social transformation adopting appropriate methodologies.



Scientific arrogance is not only a result or side-effect of the ways that science has been used, but is also constitutive of the fundamental elements of its elaboration. Science has been developed to drive the European man to dominate nature. Many argue that the regrettable effects of science are due to its misuses by despotic politicians, cupid merchants or blinded corporations. Although this statement cannot be denied, it does not explain the whole picture of the hegemony of science for the last three centuries through the colonial and post-colonial enterprise. European sciences, embedded with technology and forming the techno-sciences, especially in light of their militaristic spin-offs, have been, and still are today, anchored into the colonial enterprise in multiple ways. Modern colonization has brought the South and European techno-sciences inextricable together. Science and technology form the core of success for European expansion and colonization around the globe (Osborn, 1999). The exportation of techno-sciences from Europe started during the sixteenth century. Underpinning this expansion, Europe brought to the world its geography, its astronomy, its anthropology, its militaristic ambition, and its thirst to excavate natural resources abroad. The philosophy of Enlightenment allied to the idea of a universal humanity, provided a powerful justification for the broad diffusion of European cultural and scientific ideals. United militaristic and scientific forces ultimately became entwined in the European pursuit of imperialist goals, which swept through the developing world throughout the nineteenth century. According to the anthropologist Arthur Bordier, the conceptualization of French colonial politics is based on the determinism of science (Osborn, 1999). Science offered a rational model for the development of a productive colonial system. The techno-sciences cannot be separated from the colonial system, where they created not only tools of exploration, penetration, domination and economic development, but also the scaffolding of militaristic and cultural superiority. They are an indispensable part of an intricate network of power which led to the domination of conquered nations, as well as the massive exploitation of these conquered lands. The introduction of science-based weapons and devices caused the defeat of indigenous elites and the traditional knowledge so cherished by indigenous peoples. The railway, the postal service and the electric telegraph are seen as great motors of social progress in the colonial process. The colonial railway has been presented as the demarcation-line between pre-modernity and modernity, archaic and civilized worlds, and settled and nomadic peoples. However, since the eighteenth century, the Royal Academy of Sciences has been part of the machinery enlisted to support colonial efforts and interests (McLellan, 1999). Astronomy and cartography became united to furnish theoretical and practical knowledge relative to navigation, chronometry, meteorological observations, storm and eclipse predictions, longitudinal analyses, and the construction of ports for shipping. On a regular basis, the Academy organized and subsidized expeditions, as well as published the reports drafted by the explorers, adventurers and researchers who 28


participated in these expeditions. One of the formidable challenges for navigation was measuring longitude at sea, which was remedied by the Frenchman Ferdinand Berthoud, who constructed in 1760 a compass, an indispensable tool for navigators and a precursor to today’s precise chronometers. One of the most important domains of interest in the French colonies was the study of botany and, more broadly, natural history, an ancestor of biology. In the seventeenth century, religious missionaries had been officially mandated to study Caribbean flora, and produced many encyclopedia outlining the knowledge they constructed/acquired. During the next century, many botanical gardens were created for practical reasons, a process which allowed medical and botanical domains to work together. The goal was to use the taxonomy developed in this area for the introduction of other plants, thereby promoting new economic interests for the colonies. For example, the coffee tree, the vanilla plant, the pepper plant, the clove tree, the cinnamon tree, the nutmeg tree, the mango tree, and the mangrove tree, and others, were transported from the Indian ocean to the Caribbean sea, and were highly coveted during the journey by enemy ships (McLellan, 1999). This represents the birth of the globalization of food production. In the nineteenth century, science, namely biology and anthropology, was used to classify the different civilizations on a hierarchical scale. Racist judgments were no longer based on the creationist considerations of monogenesis or polygenesis (Petit-Jean, 1999). This racism has, since then, been supported by an authoritative discourse and an misguided interpretation of Darwin’s theory of evolution. During this century, learned (scientific) societies (sociétés savantes in French) are increasingly involved in the control of the planet. According to Petit-Jean (1999), Europe controlled 35% of all lands in 1800, 67% in 1878, and 84% in 1914. Scientists became some of most important figures of the colonizationperiod, in addition to the military officer and the physician. Scientific arguments were constructed which supported the inequality of races, as well as legitimizing the legitimization of the domination of the supposedly inferior races (Coupin, 1905; Raichvarg, 1992). Biological theories, such as those pertaining to the anatomy of the brain, contributed to a great extent to the development of elaborate human scales. Scientific institutions, thus, played a key role by controlling networks of anatomists, naturalists, geologists, mineralogists, astronomers and physicians. Those multidisciplinary networks of scientists constitute an exclusive academy of letters in which news, instructions, plans, reports, publications and knowledge are shared to improve the logistics of the whole enterprise of colonization. From 1800 on, science became involved, more directly, in militaristic expeditions, particularly in Egypt. Based on the first principle that colonization is the most effective way to explore and control territories, and on the second principle that science serves to emancipate “uncivilized” people from ignorance and absolutism, many scientific-militaristic projects were organized. While the militaristic branch assured the security of the project, and collected (or pilfered) precious arts and antiques of the dominated civilizations for European museums, the scientific 29


branch used science knowledge not only to support European concerns, but also to directly exploit the colonies. One major issue in this context was the acclimatization of plants, animals and humans. Scientific societies within the colonies started to organize large conferences to teach and explain to the explorers and military officers the resources discovered. Through these activities, scientific societies became the main educational network for the sciences. At a broader level, their publications contributed to the dissemination of science among the general public, thus influencing political debate.


New but still powerful forms of colonization are playing out across the world since the vast movement toward independence in the 1960s was initiated. Science is now embedded in economic interests, thereby serving its inextinguishable appetite for more profits. Therefore, the unbalanced power relationship between Northern and Southern nations is reinforced through the militaristic, industrial, pharmaceutical and agro-cultural domains. Despite the fact that some countries in the South, like Brazil, Argentina, India and Indonesia, have recently become engaged in the scientific-techno-industrial revolution, these ex-colonized territories have generally accepted the scientific tradition as it was imposed from outside, and have generally lost the opportunity to develop their own indigenous traditions. As a result, there is a problem in that there is no relevance being attached to the research (Bouguerra, 1993). Deployed in the South, science appears fully ambiguous and paradoxical. Most of the successful techno-sciences in the North have been used in the South against local peoples, and have reinforced the oppression they face. Science in the South has often constrained, threatened or imperiled peoples and nations. The same colonization process with new forms – more subtle, more insidious, and more powerful – takes place in the South. Taking into account the value of science and technology, several issues must be underlined: genetic pillage; the biotechnology threat; the South as the North’s guinea-pig; militaristic entomology; pharmaceutical colonialism; environmental destruction; and colonization of the mind. Neo-Colonialism through Genetic Pillage Genetic pillage concerns the inestimable richness of the biodiversity of the South. This apparently unlimited source of seeds constitutes a laboratory which multinationals from the North can freely and endlessly exploit and transform. They then sell genetic material at high costs to the same countries in the South. As the genetic uniformity of the monocultures in the North increases their vulnerability, fresh genes have to be brought into the cycle, over and over, negatively affecting biodiversity in the South. The economic return for those multinationals is calculated in the billions of dollars of profit every year. Importantly, they entrench their intellectual property “rights” for the genetically improved material with patents 30


and licenses. Selling improved seeds back to the South leads to the dislocation of some of the local varieties, thus impacting on the local population. This effect is called genetic erosion. Neo-Colonialism via Biotechnological Threat After atomic energy and telecommunications, biotechnology is presented as the third major revolution in the contemporary history of humanity. However, unlike an atomic explosion which can be seen and heard, the liberation of micro-organisms is invisible and inaudible; and, significantly, the living material reproduces itself. This invisibility and reproducibility constitutes the threat of an unimaginable ecological holocaust. Jacques Testart (1997) is correct to question the forces supporting technology, which are mainly economic in orientation, and which are focused on increasing profits at the expense of the dominated. Neo-Colonialism: The South as the North’s Guinea-Pig Is it possible for a country to undertake experiments in a foreign country which are forbidden or impossible for it to do within its own territory, especially when opposed by many of its own citizens? Despite the Helsinki Convention relative to experiments on human beings, peoples of the South have always been subjected to chemical experiments controlled by, and from, the North. Classic examples of this can be found in Puerto-Rico, Haiti, Mexico, Chile, Columbia and Thailand (Bouguerra, 1993). Neo-Colonialism through Militaristic Scientific Research In the goal, supposedly, of understanding how the mechanisms of infectious tropical diseases can affect troops, the militaristic domain pursues scientific research on toxins and parasites. The 1972 Convention on Biological Weapons made their utilization illegal but it did not forbid their production for dissuasive goals. The problem now is that the production-process rate has been considerably simplified and accelerated by genetic engineering. Neo-Colonialism through the Pharmaceutical Industry Without underestimating the complicit cooperation of various governments, one could consider the movement of some drugs toward the South as a wave of toxic waste. In response to this observation, a representative of the Swiss company Hoffman Laroche in Africa commented: “The pharmaceuticals companies do not exist for the human good; they exsit to make profits. If, by chance, they contribute to the well-being of sick people, it is a bonus which they will use for advertising capital and public relations” (translated from French quotation by Bouguerrea, 1993). Other questionable practices have been mentioned and criticized by countries in the South, notably Columbia: over-invoicing, improper fiscal shelters, false financial losses, unfair competition, and false advertising. Taking into account the African climate, some families of drugs are particularly in demand by 31


these populations, including antibiotics, anti-diarrheics, anti-paludism, vaccinations and anabolic steroids, the latter to stimulate appetite and decrease fatigue. Despite a weak economic situation, countries in Africa, with their particular public health situations, represent a tremendous market for pharmaceutical firms. If one adds lax regulations and controls, especially concerning insulin and antipaludism, the pharmaceutical industry has a green light to do whatever serves its immediate interests. Neo-Colonialism through Environmental Destruction Very few people dare to deny the green-house effect and other environmental impairments, such as the ozone layer, smog, acid rain, water contamination from metal ions, erosion, and their inevitable consequences on climate change, water, agriculture, and health. Who are victims of these effects, and who is responsible? Environmental destruction is difficult to predict, evaluate, and link to specific causes, especially for countries in the South. In Haiti, the onslaught of Hurricane Jane in 2004 devastated the area around the city of Gonaives, but compounding the damage was the almost complete lack of foliage due to trees being cut down for fuel, without consideration for replenishment of the forest. The American multinationals responsible for the exploitation of bauxite, and for re-arranging geographic patterns to accommodate their commercial routes are also responsible. Does humanitarian aid for natural disasters come as an after-thought, or is there preventative planning to protect people, as is the case in the North? Neo-Colonialism through Enslavement of the Mind Science often neglects concerns abut meaning, and focuses on the technocratic sphere of material and methodological concerns. Not only does it avoid meaning as a scientific purpose but it invalidates the quest for meaning as unworthy of an intelligent (scientific) mind. One has choices: submit oneself to the laws of the scientific mind, escape completely into an isolated sphere, or work at odds against perceived logic and the intelligent way. Whatever the choice, through science, the mind is colonized, enclosed in the scientific frame. Science is more efficient than even physical violence in perpetuating domination over peoples and nations. As Nandy (1998) has put it, this psychological effect of colonization makes one become the intimate enemy to oneself. The colonized mind seems to secrete epistemological anti-bodies that fight against its own cultural traits, and then destroys them. The most important step ensuring the success of the colonial enterprise is to work on the mind (Nandy, 1998; Shiva, 1998). SCIENCE AND INDIGENOUS CULTURES

Western science and technology find their full deployment in industrialization, starting in the nineteenth century. Science, technology and industrialization mesh together into a triad concerning the conceptualization of laws and theories underpinning the conception of mechanical and electronic devices, as well as the 32


massive production and diffusion of these devices. The industrial domain does not limit itself uniquely to the application of technological protocols. It also supports a set of political, economic, social and organizational components. For instance, today’s prevailing organizational structure is based generally on the nineteenth century industrial model (schedule of work, compartmentalization of tasks, and division of knowledge). Despite many conflicts and crises, the long and tight incubation of science with technology and industrialization, within the context of European traditional cultures, led to what can be qualified as a new European culture. With an economic impetus, the capitalist model assured complete hegemony. The logic of this new culture lies in the principle of expansion: knowledge, territories, material resources, human resources, production methods, openings markets, and above all, profits. Not only has the content of cultures been modified, but cultures have also been shattered to their deepest foundations. Colonization, through the model of Western science, led to a vast invalidation of diverse indigenous knowledges. After religious subjugation and military deployment by the West, Western knowledge production and application was a second phase, more subtle and sophisticated, used to maintain the system of domination. Arguments used to frame the campaign worked at several levels, including philosophical, epistemological, methodological, and cognitive. These were necessary in order to legitimate and justify the political and socioeconomic domination over peoples and nations in the name of colonization. Western culture gained power and identity by creating knowledge about the nations Europeans had colonized. As no production of knowledge can ever ignore or disclaim its author’s involvement, it is clear that knowledge produced by Europeans about subordinated people is shaped within the configurations of power and domination between the former and the latter (Said, 1979). As stated above, philosophical denial of the existence of indigenous knowledge has taken place. For example, after erasing the existence of African philosophy, which, according to Hegel, was the unique prerogative of Ancient Greeks, Hegel presents Africa as a different geographical space but without time, a-historical, surviving anachronistically, outside of the history of the world (Willinsky, 1998). Where there is no time and history, there is no memory; there is a vacuum, a tabula rasa where a new corpus of knowledge about the other can take place. As a consequence, a tremendous body of geologists, naturalists, astronomers, ethnographers, philosophers, historians, geographers, painters and writers started the encyclopedic work of producing a coherent imperial knowledge. An example of the metaphor of erasing knowledge comes in the form of the movie character of the invincible white man Tarzan, who faces nature in the African jungle and triumphs. The epistemological posture which facilitated material progress in the West has gained its superior status in developing countries by suppressing the traditional epistemology of the indigenous cultures. Western knowledge, based on the scientific model, became the standard knowledge, and its process was considered the standard way for achieving knowledge. In this way, the neo-colonial enterprise created a state of mind that was nurtured and maintained by indigenous people 33


themselves over other indigenous people (Nandy, 1998). The superiority of western knowledge has been internalized, both by the colonizer and the colonized. Indigenous knowledge, on the contrary, has been classified as a folklore of rituals, beliefs or myths, which, according to Western epistemology, is a non-knowledge. Indigenous people have been judged as incapable of knowing. Not only have they not created their own knowledge, but they cannot successfully master and construct for themselves Western knowledge. The invalidation of indigenous knowledge goes deeper by relying on genetic theory. The sadly unforgettable Bell curve (Herrnstein and Murray, 1994), after the resurrection of the highly discredited pseudo-science of eugenics, reminds us that more than a century and half ago the Darwinian theory of evolution led to a strong link between intelligence and race, and that in the racialized world inferiority just happens to be associated with being poor and black (Dei, 1996). The conceptual mixture of intelligence, race, knowledge, cognitive ability and social consequences served up by Herrnstein and Murray has been denounced by many scholars (Berger, 1994; Dorfman, 1995). Some have nuanced their assumptions without questioning their motives. Owing to the pervasive effects of social-Darwinism on psychological researchers and the use of intellectual quotient (IQ) tests by the school psychologists, the question remains whether or not the Black-White IQ gap is based on genetics or social context. Starting in the 1960s, the absolute glorification of Western knowledge achieved a climax in the international arena (Aillot, 1999). During this period, scientists in the South started to pay attention to popular practices. A solid corpus of indigenous knowledge has been constructed, including a deep understanding of natural phenomena, and a logic well adapted to the specific local context. Essential differences between scientific knowledge and cultural knowledge emerge, including at the level of principles and values: in other words, the vision of what is rational, what is better, what is desirable, and what is not the same. Indigenous knowledge is significant because it is contextual, vocational and solution-oriented. It demonstrates the ability to: (a) bring solutions to problems identified by the people who face them; (b) take into account the environmental specificities and the socio-economical context; (c) produce an understanding of contemporary challenges; and (d) limit, as much as possible, predictable negative side-effects (Aillot, 1999). Even if this definition is close to that of sustainable development, it does not necessarily pursue the same goals. The aim of sustainable development is to continue to exploit nature in a quantitative way by trying to minimize as much as possible the inevitable side-effects. The challenge is to re-valorize indigenous knowledges without avoiding the duty to enlighten, describe, analyze, synthesize and generalize, according to the requisite patterns of transmission and diffusion. This duty does not exempt indigenous knowledges from being critical, or from being critiqued. The contact between the science-technology-industrialization triad and vernacular cultures, whatever the domain, often takes place in forced asymmetric interactions. The immediate effects are abrasive, and enduring, provoking a process of leaching of cultures, including deforestation, uprooting, disastrous 34


water run-off, and prolonged periods of dryness. In the long term, the essential elements, such as the nutritive soil and the humus of the cultures, have been flushed out. This is the framework of erosion. In neo-colonized countries, the primary culture is still organized to fall in line with the powerful colonial values, needs, interests, representations and behaviors. Language, religion, education, production, consumption, life style, and aesthetics are all involved. The serious tensions introduced in these societies through the imposition of colonial culture have generally shattered the vernacular cultures; in particular, those societies have suffered through deportation, slavery, colonization and anti-Black racism. Special consideration, therefore, must be exercised in understanding and contextualizing presenting realities. For these populations, cultural erosion also means the removal of identity. Conquered, and then disintegrated in the colonial empire, indigenous cultures have suffered from the ideological discourses, all of them legitimating the superiority of Western colonial culture. The religious discourse invalidated the gods, and enslaved the soul. The aesthetic discourse invalidated the phenotypes, and enslaved the body. The social discourse invalidated the rituals, and enslaved the behavior. The educational discourse invalidated indigenous knowledges, and enslaved the mind. Then came the meta-discourse, the scientific discourse, which furnishes all of them with the epistemological tools to rationalize their discourse. The ethical domain presents itself when the scientific discourse affects the cultural sensibility. Ethics plays a major role in the value system of a culture; it offers norms and criteria for action, models of behaviour, and principles for motivation. However, despite the fact that science generates some of the most controversial issues for societies, ethical concerns are generally rejected by scientists. The requirement for an ethic in science and by scientists is paradoxical: scientists are asked to think about the ethical problems they stir up when their pragmatic logic (defined by usefulness, immediateness and profits) does not acknowledge the pertinence of the ethical questioning.


Willinsky (1998) postulates that the educational project of neocolonialism in Western countries is only beginning, and, that given its enormity, it seems to be able to live on, as an unconscious aspect of education. It may take many generations to appreciate the depth of a body of knowledge transported through five centuries, characterized by information-gathering, studying, classifying and ordering the world within an imperial context. As imperialist Occidental societies are being shaped increasingly by science and technology, science education represents an important domain for all stakeholders: decision-makers, employers, researchers, teachers, parents, and especially the students themselves. The elitist nature of scientific training has always placed emphasis on the specialized theoretical content of disciplined programs, rather than the learning process or the social construction of scientific knowledge. Later, the desire to 35


assure a basic scientific education for all led to altered program content, and a greater priority was placed on the cognitive process involved in science learning. Emerging from constructivism and socio-constructivism psychological trends, science teaching was born with an increasing preoccupation on understanding how students construct their scientific knowledge, and which conditions can best improve science learning (Giordan and de Vecchi, 1987; Robardet and Guillot, 1997). The aim of science education, during the ten to twelve years of elementary and secondary schooling, therefore, is designed to shape the scientific mind in every student, no matter what their deep cultural concerns might be. The exact reproduction of world dynamics comprised by the North-Colonizer and South-Colonized dynamic takes place, at the school level, between respective groups of students. At school, the North-South cleavage is expressed in terms of the underachievement in science. At the higher levels, the cleavage is expressed in the under-representation (exclusion) of some groups of students in science. In the United States, where most of the research has been conducted on this issue, excluded groups are composed largely of African Americans, First Nations and Latin Americans (Catsambis, 1995; Muller et al., 2001; Murry and Mosidi, 1993; Oakes, 1990; Solorzano, 1995). In the popular imagery, black students are associated with interest and success in sports, music and dance, but not with science. They themselves indicate that science is something for white people (Thesee, 2003). Some research reveals, on the contrary, that they have high-level aspirations to pursue their studies in science, but very few of them follow through. Although constituting 15% of the population, African Americans represent only 2% of graduate students in science and engineering (Oakes, 1990). Despite the significant increase in the representation of women in science (another group traditionally excluded from science) in the last decade, there is no such improvement for the African American community. In general, early in school life, they manifest severe underachievement in mathematics and science, and comparative data show that they achieve lower levels than European and Asian-American students of the same socio-economic status (Hill and Pettus, 1990; Muller et al., 2001). Interestingly, the ones who succeed and pursue their studies in science at the doctoral level come primarily from the Traditionally Black Institutions (TBI), which offer undergraduate degrees to black students only (Solorzano, 1995). In Montreal, where the Haitian community totals roughly 150,000 (Torczyner and Springer, 2001), the situation is not very different. The academic route of Haitian youth is also considered fragile. In elementary schools, they are overrepresented in special classes that constitute a dead-end for advanced studies, especially in science and mathematics. In Junior high school, they show weak achievement, notably in the same area. In the latter stages of high school, they are relatively absent from advanced courses in physics and chemistry, which are gateway courses for college-level programs in science-related fields. Whatever their relation to science and mathematics might be, the result is streaming or filtering of lively, capable minds into areas the effect of which will be felt throughout their lives at social, economic, and professional levels, via the academic segregation 36


that takes place in adolescence. At college level, the underachievement in mathematics and science continues. Among those who are admitted to university level science programs, few of them pursue their studies beyond the undergraduate level (Thésée, 2003). Given the cultural, and mainly phenotypic, heterogeneity of schools in occidental cities, great attention is paid to the educational process within intercultural contexts. At the beginning, the colonial attitude aimed to keep colonized people away from the general education stream, arguing that it was not applicable for them: the half-civilized (Gustave Lebon, 1889, quoted by Gadjigo, 1990, p. 12). Then, the assimilationist attitude aimed to eradicate in children behaviours representative of the vernacular cultures, judged unacceptable by the colonial culture, in order to engage them in the civilized Western culture through the education process. Additionally, although it relies on different ideological foundations, there is Cartesian rationalism, which shapes a Man, postulating that education must go forward, without any consideration for contingent factors such as cultural belonging (Camilleri, 1985). That infers taking into account the cultural dimension in education, and focusing on the normative European worldview. Acculturation is one of the concepts elaborated to analyze the situation of a dominated cultural group evolving under the influence of a dominant cultural group (Segall et al., 1999). However, the domain of intercultural education has neglected the central point that people from neo-colonized countries have been subjected to centuries of systematic racism in the extremely unequal colonizer-colonized relationship. The fact of anti-black racism illustrates this dilemma (Dei et al., 2004). In education, there has been a parallel pathologization of vernacular cultures that manifested in the following expressions: “intercultural problem”, “cultural deficiency”, “cultural handicap” and “cultural inadequacy”. The significance of this terminology is not innocent, and the repercussions are far-reaching, as evidenced by teachers and those in authority who view the “other” as somehow deficient and inferior.


The main contribution of this chapter toward the development of a critical anticolonial thought framework lies in the socio-epistemological work proposed herein. It brings science, and scientific knowledge together as targets to be carefully scrutinized when addressing concerns of pervasive colonial mechanisms, effects and impacts on indigenous cultures. The metaphor of erosion offers a conceptual framework for the description, analysis and understanding of these impacts. If it were only a question of interest, taste or preference, the issue of scientific knowledge would be of paramount importance. The reality that science is a critical pre-requisite in education, especially in order to enter and advance at the postsecondary level, makes it a necessary domain of concentration. Being excluded from this field of knowledge early on leads to a life of exclusion for many students 37


from the mainstream of studies, employment and life opportunities. The embedding of technology into science teaching, coupled with the technocratic paradigm which guides education, highlights the urgent need for a critical approach, one less contaminated by the methodological perspective of the ongoing positivist paradigm. Additionally, the need for an anti-racist science teaching is becomes more salient (Gill and Levidow, 1987). The resistance against the long-term and systemic colonial enterprise is undoubtedly complex and uncomfortable. In this process, there is no safe place to stand. Every intervention, no matter how it is expressed in attitudes, words or actions, is a controversial political stand against an institution, taken implicitly and/or explicitly. Certainly, many trends must be developed in parallel: the political, the legal, and the social. Scholars can assist in the struggle against neo-colonialism and the resulting new figures of racism, through intellectual strategies. They are involved in the work of questioning the knowledge which sustains domination and exclusion. To engage in anti-colonial thought is to engage in knowledge production, interrogation and the use and the relationship of social power (Dei, 1996). For example, Dei (1996) and Dei et al.’s (2004) work in antiracism education, as well as Shiva (1998) in feminist knowledge; Said (1979) and Thaman (2003) exemplify the increasing attention paid to indigenous knowledge by minority scholars. Critical theory proposes an approach to social realities with the aim of encouraging liberation from diverse types of alienation and emancipation of peoples and groups. This requires stimulating critical reflection about discourses and social practices, and also shedding light on contradictions, paradoxes and power relations involved in the hidden structure that sustains domination and inequities (Sauve, 1997). As a fundamental value, critical theory is based on the development of critical consciousness and empowerment within one’s social context. The key considerations for the scientific researcher are, therefore, to: (1) scrutinize social realities in order to expose and flesh out the imbalanced power dynamics; (2) denounce systematic references to instrumental rationality relying on pervasive positivistic perceptions of science; (3) question expressions of liberal humanism, which can anesthetize minds; and (4) revalorize subjective and affective realities in order to facilitate people re-appropriating their voices and their knowledge. Our purpose is to engage in anti-colonial thought through what can be called a critical socio-epistemology, which leads to analysis of the social realities we are concerned with: the neo-colonial dynamics that invalidate cultural knowledges and dominate peoples and minds through the pervasive mechanisms of a positivist science. The following model presents a set of four strategies: Refuse, Re-question, Re-define and Re-affirm. Refuse: Globally, this strategy is used to address the different discourses which are infused into the mind continuously in everyday life. These discourses present strong symbolic, implicit and explicit content. The symbolic content includes images, styles, attitudes or relations which fill the ordinary social environment with, for example, media and artistic productions. The implicit content includes 38


entities such as representations, beliefs, stereotypes, and all statements taken for granted without having been questioned. That is the case, for example, when knowledge is represented as being exclusive to European White males (Shiva, 1998). The explicit content includes the rules, laws, methodologies, data, and analysis constructed upon a rational perspective supposedly acknowledged and accepted by all. This includes natural science and other knowledge claiming to be scientific representation of a kind of authoritarian discourse which mutes other types of knowledge. The efficiency of the discourses is centered on their ability to impregnate the mind without shattering it, so the more subtle and insidious they are the deeper the impact. Given its transmission-function, the school is the main site of propagation for these discourses. In that sense, the feminist perspective of science teaching as activism would be a place where equity meets with an inclusive science concerned with global environmentalism (Tripp and Muzzin, forthcoming). Re-questioning: This strategy relates to new forms of questions to address issues of scientific knowledge. Re-questioning is similar to a de-construction; the de-construction of the technocratic world, which asks mostly “how much?”, seeking the measurable goals in various situations. Placing emphasis on “What for?” addresses concerns about finalities and meanings. The goals pursued by scientific knowledge activities often affect deep values about life and living. For example, to re-introduce the finalities questions, in science education, is one way to transform it in a more socially appropriate way, which makes people feel more involved in what they learn. In this case, in accord with Sauve (1997), requestioning even the aims of education must be a point on the resistance agenda. Transforming the questioning makes the educational researcher become, first, a social-transformation agent seeking appropriate methodologies, rather than a methodologist seeking a social research subject, as can be seen in the university formation in research that emphasizes the methodological dimension (Smith, 1999). Emphasis on “What is suitable?” establishes a real and equitable priority list, which is not based on luxury needs and inherent profits, but based instead on the problems faced by people and nations. Re-questioning the “How?”, therefore, shatters the certainty and rigidity of methodologies by daring to structure procedures differently. Redefine: The responsibility to redefine or to re-write knowledge is crucial. There must be a re-definition of knowledge in all its dimensions, that which is social in nature: formal traits, aesthetics, choices, ethical values, and collective rituals. The formal traits of knowledge include concepts, basic principles, rules, laws and theories which have been formalized through periods of inter-subjectivity and broad consensus. Redefining aesthetics supposes a change of perspective which allows for the appropriation of an analysis toward oneself by oneself, rather than to see oneself throught another’s eyes. Redefining ethics is necessary in order to re-shape values by also taking into account ancestral mores which are usually depreciated by progress-oriented scientific knowledge. Another dimension of redefining knowledge relates to the inquiry into meaning discussed above. If the quest for meaning is, at least partially, answered by religion, which etymologically 39


aims to join people (from the Latin religare), then collective rituals must also be re-defined. As scientific knowledge, religion has to be critically questioned and re-defined in order to uproot the pervasive colonial representations and the continuous alienation of the mind which results from those representations. Reaffirm: To reaffirm the self is necessary in order to deviate from the pervasive Eurocentric view of others that one is inferior (Wane, 2002). Going further in the resistance process is supposed to affirm the collective self supported by all actors at all levels (societal, community, family and individuals of all ages). New strategies of self-affirmation must be considered, including those in the realm of pedagogy. Solar (1998) proposes an emancipatory pedagogy, which claims to rupture four characteristics inherent in the process of domination: (1) silence; (2) omission; (3) passivity; and (4) disenfranchisement. She proposes to replace them by inserting transformative actions, such as: (1) giving voice to the word; (2) working on memory; (3) participating actively; and (4) feeling the empowerment. Considering the intricate working of colonial phenomena and the broad spectrum of damage inflicted, one can state that the diverse problems we face today are not escapable. Whether or not they are acknowledged as such, the ongoing problems faced by colonized peoples and nations constitute the syndrome of a post-traumatic effect (Dei et al., 2004). As Dei et al. (2004) have postulated, if complete healing is not possible in the near future, as our identities are situated in the scarred experience of post-colonialism and racism, what hope can accompany our reflections and interventions? The acknowledgement of a post-traumatic effect for survivors of wars has introduced, in psychology, the concept of resilience, which is imported from metal physics field. It is linked to resistance and flexibility. In psychology, resilience designates the capacity for a person to recover well, without serious after-effects, after experiencing trauma. The most important factor associated with the resilience of the persons in post-traumatic syndrome, as well as in school, is the positive support offered by a nurturing social environment which can buffer the trauma (Cyrulnik, 1999; O’Connor, 2002). Despite the impregnation of colonization through scientific knowledge, and despite the erosion of vernacular cultures (re)generated by people and nations, the hope for a meaningful resistance and resiliency is situated within the framework of understanding, meaning and empowering, which can be only achieved within a strong and supportive communitarian-based experience, and a strong racial socialization and identity.

REFERENCES Aillot, S. et al. (1999). Savoirs du sud. Paris: Éditions-Diffusion Charles-Léopold Mayer. Bachelard, G. (1989). La formation de l’esprit scientifique. Paris: Bibliothèque des textes philosophiques. Berger, B. (1994). Methodological fetichism. National Review, 46(23), 54–56. Bouguerra, M.L. (1993). La recherche contre le Tiers Monde. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Camilleri, C. (1985). Anthropologie culturelle et éducation. Lausanne: UNESCO-Delachaux and Niestlé.


SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE IN THE NEO-COLONIAL ENTERPRISE Catsambis, S. (1995). Gender, race, ethnicity, and science education in the middle grades. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32(3), 243–257. Chalmers, A. (1987). Qu’est-ce que la science? Paris: Éditions La Découverte. Coupin, H. (1905). Les bizarreries des races humaines. Paris: Vuibert et Nony Éditeurs. Cyrulnik, B. (1999). Un merveilleux malheur. Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob. Dei, G.J.S. (1996). Anti-racist education: Theory and practice. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. Dei, G., Karumanchery, L. and Karumanchery-Luik, N. (2004). Playing the race card. New York: Peter Lang. Dorfman, D.D. (1995). Soft science with a neoconservative agenda. Contemporary Psychlogy, 40(5). Gadjigo, S. (1990). École blanche, Afrique noire. Paris: L’Harmattan, p. 147. Gegeo, D. and Watson-Gegeo, K.A. (2002). Whose knowledge? Collisions in Solomon Islands community development. The Contemporary Pacific, 14(2), 377–409. Gill, D. and Levidow, L. (Eds.) (1987). Anti-racist science teaching. London: Free Association Book. Giordan, A. and Vecchi, G. (Eds.) (1987). Les origines du savoir. Lausanne: Delachaux & Niestlé. Herrnstein, R.J. and Murray, C.A. (1994). The Bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: Free Press. Hill, O. and Pettus, C. (1990). Three studies of factors affecting the attitudes of blacks and females toward the pursuit of science careers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27(4), 289–314. Kuhn, T. (1970). La structure des révolutions scientifiques. Paris: Flammarion, Collection Champs. McLellan, J. (1999). Les colonies des lumières. Les Cahiers de Science et Vie, 50, 22–28. Muller, P., Stage, F. and Kinzie, J. (2001). Science achievement growth trajectories: Understanding factors related to gender and racial-ethnic differences in precollege science achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 981–1012. Murry, E. and Mosidi, R. (1993). Career development counselling for African Americans: An appraisal of the obstacles and intervention strategies. Journal of Negro Education, 62(4), 441–447. Nandy, A. (1998). Colonization of the mind. In M. Rahnema and V. Bawtreee (Eds.), The postdevelopment reader. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing, pp. 168–178. Oakes, J. (1990). Lost talent: The under-participation of women, minorities and disabled persons in science. Santa-Monica: Rand. O’Connor, C. (2002). Black women beating the odds from one generation to the next: How the changing dynamics of constraint and opportunity affect process of educational resilience. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 981–1012. Osborn, M. (1999). Les effets paradoxaux des sciences et techniques. Les Cahiers de Science et Vie: Les Sciences d’Europe s’Imposent au Monde, 50, 14–20. Petitjean, P. (1999). Le triomphe du savant colonial. Les Cahiers de Science et Vie, 50, 30–37. Raichvarg, D., Thyrion, F. and Valmer, M. (1992). Félicité. Nice: Z’éditions. Robardet, G. and Guillaud, J.-C. (1997). Éléments de didactique des sciences physiques. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Said, E. (1979). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books Edition. Sauvé, L. (1997). L’approche critique en éducation relative à l’environnement: Origines théoriques et applications à la formation des enseignants. Revue des Sciences de l’Education, XXIII(1), 169–187. Segall, M., Dasen, P., Berry, J. and Poortinga, Y. (1999). Human behavior in global perspective: An introduction to cross-cultural psychology. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Shiva, V. (1998). Western science and its destruction of local knowledges. In M. Rahmena and V. Bawtree (Eds.), The post-development reader. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Dunedin: University of Otago Press. Solar, C. (1998). Peindre la pédagogie sur une toile d’équité. In C. Solar (Ed.), Pédagogie et équité. Montréal: Les Éditions Logiques, pp. 25–65. Solorzano, D. (1995). The doctorate production and baccalaureate origins of African Americans in the sciences and engineering. Journal of Negro Education, 64(1), 15–32. Testart, J. (1997). Progrès de la science et progrès de la société. In M. Caron (Ed.), Paradoxes du progrès: 5e entretiens de la communication scientifique et technique (CNRS, Paris: 29 janvier 1997). Paris: Association Science Technologie et Société (ASTS), pp. 42–55. Thaman, K.H. (2003). Decolonizing pacific studies: Indigenous perspectives, knowledge, and wisdom in higher education. The Contemporary Pacific, 15(I), 1–17.


´ EE ´ THES Thésée, G. (2003). Le rapport au savoir scientifique en contexte d’acculturation. Application à l’étude de l’expérience scolaire en sciences d’élèves du secondaire d’origine haïtienne. Doctoral thesis, Université du Québec à Montréal. Torczyner, J. and Springer, S. (2001). L’évolution de la communauté noire à Montréal: Mutations et défis. Projet d’étude démographique des communautés noires montréalaises. Montréal: Consortium de McGill pour l’ethnicité et la planification sociale stratégique. Tripp, P. and Muzzin, L. (Forthcoming). Teaching as activism. Equity meets environmentalism. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Ullmo, J. (1969). La pensée scientifique moderne. Paris: Flammarion. Wane, N.N. (2002). African women’s technologies: Applauding the self, reclaiming indigenous space. Journal of Post-Colonial Education, 1(1), 45–66. Willinsky, J. (1998). Learning to divide the world: Education at empire’s end. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.





In this chapter, I examine the pedagogical and knowledge-producing processes that occur in the mixed-race antiracism classroom. My site of interest, here, is not simply the classroom that attempts to be racially equitable, but instead, one that takes up antiracism as its primary object of inquiry, thereby intending to challenge racism, and one in which the participants are differently privileged with respect to dominant societal racialization practices. In particular, I seek to examine the way in which whiteness is, or else fails to be, interrogated and challenged both outside of and within the classroom through this site. I raise questions about the extent to which students privileged through race do, or else do not, engage with their personal implications and responsibility in the hierarchical racial reality in which they/we live, and about what this (lack of) engagement looks like when conceptualized within an anticolonial discursive framework. Consequently, I discuss the ways in which whiteness is often further entrenched even in the site of the mixedrace antiracism classroom, and suggest ways that this site can be restructured based on critical anticolonial knowledges. There has been much written around the notion of whiteness and its relationship(s) to antiracist/critical pedagogy. Some writings concern themselves generally with what the writers understand as the possibilities and limitations among various methods of engaging and confronting whiteness (e.g., Ellsworth, 1997; McLaren, 1998). Others look particularly at the theoretical grounding of the pedagogies used in critical classrooms (e.g., Ellsworth, 1992; Ringrose, 2002). Still others are specifically concerned with seeking out appropriate pedagogies for instructing White students about whiteness in an effort to head off white guilt and/or reactionary retreats to the most bigoted expressions of whiteness (e.g. Giroux, 1997a, 1997b; Kincheloe and Steinberg, 2000; McLaren, 2000; Rodriguez, 1998, 2000). These writings generally hinge on arguments around the essentialism involved with the notion of White racial solidarity and/or monolithic conceptions of whiteness, and are occupied with whether certain antiracist approaches and methods reify the whiteness construct that they seek to challenge. However, many of these writings (with some notable exceptions such as Roman, 1997) in their attempt to challenge essentialist notions, are not balanced with an adequate analysis of white privilege. As I shall discuss, a major theoretical flaw in a majority of these writings and the pedagogies they advance is a confusion of G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 43–63. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


the concepts whiteness and White identity/ies1 – concepts that, here and elsewhere (Howard, 2004) I argue are distinct, though overlapping. None of these writings adequately address the issues that concern me here, particularly since they are written with the agency of the White body as their primary concern. What I am concerned with are the colonial relations and dynamics that are potentially reproduced in these classrooms, thus impinging upon the Non-white body. I argue that the pedagogical methods suggested in some of these articles entrench whiteness by claiming to challenge it, but leaving the issues of the accountability and responsibility of the White body in White supremacist society insufficiently addressed. In trying to create a comfortable identity space for either the White body in multicultural society and/or the White antiracist body in antiracist circles, these writings are one-sided and fail to mount an adequate challenge to whiteness – that is, the system of white dominance, privilege and supremacy. I argue that underlying these shortcomings is the ineptness of postmodern and/or postcolonial theoretical stances for adequately analyzing privilege, and for articulating the agency of the Non-white body. In this chapter, then, I use a critical anticolonial discursive framework to reexamine the site of the mixed-race antiracism classroom. While there is much overlap between postcolonial theory and the anticolonial framework as it is advanced in this volume, there are several critical disjunctures between them; and these are principal features that I build into this critique.


I am a teacher in Canada who has worked in various secondary and elementary schools in Quebec and Ontario – specifically in Montreal and in the Greater Toronto Area. In these settings, there are no education professionals – teachers, administrators, support workers, etc. – who would openly claim to be racist. Indeed, I have found the opposite – that is, that most education professionals would claim to stand firmly for matters of racial and cultural equity. However, despite my years of experience, I am continually taken aback by the sometimes subtle, often blatant, but very routine manner in which many of these same individuals, in their thinking, behaviour, practice(s) and policies, habitually enact whiteness – that is, they behave in ways that marginalize and discriminate against their Nonwhite students and colleagues and entrench the racist status quo. Of course, much of this contradiction is made possible by the unspoken “taboos” (Schofield, 1989; see also Kailin, 1999; Lipman, 1997) around explicitly mentioning race, working in tandem with the unrestrained practice of invoking race through the “coded language of racism” (Kailin, 1999; see also Dei, 1996, 1999; McIntyre, 1997; Lipman, 1997). These strategies cloak expressions of racism with a veneer of liberal acceptability. However, I found it perplexing that, apparently, these educators – most of them identifying as White,2 and some of whom had taken “diversity”, “multiculturalism” or antiracism courses in their teacher training – could not or would not see what appeared to me to be the stark contradictions between their 44


words and the consequences of their actions. What caused this blindness or wilful ignorance – this “dysconsciousness” (King, 1991)? What exactly in the identity formation of racially dominant subjects enabled this phenomenon? This ongoing experience has, in large part, fuelled my involvement in community initiatives that support students of colour, as well as my interest in formally studying racism and racialization processes. I came to the academy seeking a space where the everyday Canadian realities of racialization and racism, white dominance and White supremacy could be named openly, understood, and challenged in the midst of the Euro-American context that handles these issues with silence and denial. Data gathered during my Master’s research strongly suggested that those White teachers whose actions seemed to contradict their claims to racial egalitarianism were also those who acknowledged the existence of white racism, while distancing themselves from it (Howard, 2002, p. 51). White racism, for them, was always perpetrated by someone else, somewhere else, or at some other time. Thus, it seemed clear to me that a large part of challenging white racism would entail exposing everyday enactments of whiteness, coming to understand the formation of racially dominant subjectivity, and laying bare the implication of the White body in White supremacy at both the macro and micro levels. It was with much consternation, then, that in a number of instances within the critical academy, I found classes and forums with an express antiracist raison d’être that, in their pedagogical approaches, failed to challenge this denial and distancing. Unlike in the school system, I found that there was critical talk about whiteness; however, very much like in the school system, I found individuals structurally positioned as White speaking about whiteness as something happening in a nebulous “out there”. They seemed to make no connections to themselves and to draw no implications about how they might construct oppositional White identities. Further, little, if anything, in the way these spaces were structured or in their guidelines for engagement challenged this phenomenon. This is in marked contrast to the important, but often hyper-critical demand upon minoritized bodies in the academy to justify their resistance discourses and examine the implications of their/our locations. In this chapter, therefore, I wish to take another look at what some scholars have disparagingly referred to as the “confessional approach” (see e.g. Bonnett, 2000a, p. 142; Bonnett, 2000b, p. 128; Ringrose, 2002, p. 310) to antiracism pedagogy. Contrary to these scholars’ assessments, I argue that this approach may be the only way to combat the colonial relations of racial dominance that can easily be reinscribed even within the very classrooms and people that claim to oppose them. This method moves in the direction of promoting in these contexts some form of reciprocity in knowledge-producing endeavours, which have usually unilaterally taken away from those positioned as racially subordinate (see Bannerji, 1991; also, hooks, 1992).



In this section, I map out the aspects of an anticolonial discursive framework with which I will be working in this paper. In particular, I consider Albert Memmi’s formulation of “the colonizer who refuses” (1969), alongside some recent work that fleshes out the anticolonial discursive framework (Dei, this volume; Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001) and Dirlik’s (1997) critique of postcolonial theory. Anticolonial discourse takes issue, quite pointedly, with the manner in which postcolonial theory tames the political bite of resistance discourses. Its attempt to grasp the complexity of subject positions in a vaguely defined “postcolonial” era seems to occur at the expense of the ability to articulate an unambiguous political rejection of colonial power relations. Further, the overemphasis on the discursive belies the urgency of the tragic material effects lived by the oppressed. Indeed, the “aura” (Dirlik, 1997) created by postcolonial discourse makes such definitive terms as “oppression”, “oppressor”, “discrimination”, “resistance”, “struggle”, seem passé. It is no wonder, then, that anticolonial scholars have pointed out postcolonial discourse’s domesticating effect upon the resistance discourses of the colonized (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 307), and even its attractiveness to dominant intellectuals in “settler colonies” (Dirlik, 1997, p. 64). While anticolonial discourse has long recognized the complexity of identities, it contests what would seem to be the attendant political paralysis and the inability of postcolonial discourse to name, track, isolate, and resist ongoing colonial relations. As such, for theoretical grounding it looks to the prematurely forsaken writings from an era when the tyranny of colonial systems and the urgent need to overthrow them were well understood. Albert Memmi’s The Colonizer and the Colonized (1969) is one such work. As the title of this seminal work would suggest, Albert Memmi undertakes defining and describing the categories “colonizer” and “colonized”. He further subdivides each category speaking of “the colonizer who refuses” (1969, pp. 19– 44) and “the colonizer who accepts” (1969, pp. 45–76); as well as the “two answers of the colonized” (1969, pp. 119–141). Memmi argues at length (1969, pp. 10–16) that though Europeans in the colonies might vary with respect to their ethnicities and class positions, and though some may be exploited by the ruling classes, they are still invested in the colonial system and “given equal material circumstances, economic class or capabilities, he3 [sic] always receives preferred treatment” (1969, p. 12) with respect to the colonized. Memmi also rejects the common sense comparisons that are often made between the less privileged colonizer and the colonized individual who may be affluent – that is, the colonized individual who experiences some class privilege within the colonial system (1969, p. 9). He states that the colonizer “knows . . . that the most favored colonized will never be anything but colonized people . . . that certain rights will forever be refused them [within the colonial system], and that certain advantages are reserved strictly for him [sic]” (1969, p. 9).



Memmi is also clear that within the colony there can be no simply “colonial” individual – or, in other words, that the “European living in a colony but having no privileges . . . does not exist” (1969, p. 10). He explains that such an individual is privileged by the colonial system regardless of her/his personal disposition and feelings about that system (see 1969, pp. 17–18). The European in the colony is therefore always a colonizer, whether or not s/he agrees with the colonial system, thereby becoming a “colonialist” (1969, p. 45). Memmi writes: . . . colonization does not depend upon one or a few generous or clear-thinking individuals. Colonial relations do not stem from individual good will or actions; they exist before his [sic] arrival or his [sic] birth, and whether he [sic] accepts or rejects them matters little. It is they, on the contrary which, like any institution, determine a priori his [sic] place and that of the colonized, and in the final analysis, their true relationship. (1969, pp. 38–39) Finally, Memmi points out that the privilege of the colonizer is always at the expense of the colonized (1969, pp. 8–9), putting to rest the notion of merit where there are relations of domination. He is worth quoting further here: He [sic] finds himself on one side of a scale, the other side of which bears the colonized man [sic]. If his [sic] living standards are high, it is because those of the colonized are low; if he [sic] can benefit from plentiful and undemanding labor and servants, it is because the colonized can be exploited at will and are not protected by the laws of the colony; if he [sic] can easily obtain administrative positions, it is because they are reserved for him [sic] and the colonized are excluded from them; the more freely he [sic] breathes, the more the colonized are choked. (1969, p. 8) In a time when postcolonial discourses seem preoccupied with notions of “hybridity” and the “third space” and while discourses of dominance are invested in maintaining privilege while claiming innocence, what is worth reclaiming and reasserting in Memmi’s dated analysis is: (a) The clarity with which he is able to speak of colonizer and colonized. In spite of what critics of such older writings may claim, Memmi skilfully nuances his definitions recognizing the existence of multiple locations along the spectra of both privilege and politics within each category. However, by keeping the notion of privilege foremost in his analysis, Memmi has no qualms about distinguishing between these two categories and drawing boundaries around them. (b) The importance of the critical gaze upon dominance from the perspective of the dominated subject. This is not to be understood as the fetishization of dominance, but as an expression of the next critical insight, namely . . . (c) The two-sidedness of the colonial situation – that is that the experience of the colonized and the experience of the colonizer with respect to privilege are the juxtaposed surfaces of the same wrinkled fabric. The valleys in the one side of the cloth are the mountain peaks on the other. 47


(d) The way in which Memmi undermines dominant claims to innocence made through flawed comparisons between colonizer and colonized and the unwillingness to acknowledge the unequal distribution of privilege and consequences in the colonial system. In our contemporary global context, such analytical clarity is refreshing. While in the present historical juncture, border crossings, the notion of the colony within the metropole, the colonizer within the colonized, and other dislocations are significant matters giving rise to complexities in spatial reasoning, the logic behind the distribution of privilege has remained alarmingly stable. Memmi’s analysis helps to redress the political paralysis induced by the poststructural/postcolonial premature outright rejection of categories in an apparent unwillingness to analyse the historical distribution of systemic privilege. While strict binaries are not tenable, this matter cannot be allowed to forestall political correctives while social disparities are still so glaringly apparent. As Dei and Asgharzadeh so poignantly assert, the power of a social theory exists in its ability to offer a social corrective (2001, p. 298). Political paralysis only results in the maintenance of the status quo.


Once one recognizes and is willing to point out the enduring colonial dynamics in our neo-colonial or global colonial (but hardly postcolonial) times, the appropriateness of applying anticolonial thought in this historical juncture becomes clear. Dei (this volume) posits that the notion of the colonial “refers to anything imposed and dominating rather than that which is simply foreign and alien”. As such, anticolonial thought becomes useful for articulating resistance against any site of domination. However, the anticolonial discursive framework seems particularly useful for reframing what I have called the apparent postrace discourse in true antiracist terms. Nowhere is the “unilateral fragmentation around difference” (Chisti, 1999) and the postmodern race to implicate multiple subjects in colonizing projects more apparent than in contemporary discourses around race and racism. The debate about racial categories and boundaries and their overlap with other axes of oppression, while important in challenging the biologism of historical and commonsense understandings of race, has often been misused, resulting, in some cases, in questioning the existence of racism, and certainly in many cases, in rendering white privilege invisible. Anticolonialism understands the socially constructed nature of racial (and indeed, all other social) categories, the messiness and futility involved with determining precise racial boundaries, and that racial identities are not monolithic. However, it rejects the accusations of “essentialism” and “vulgar multiculturalism” (e.g. Newitz and Wray, 1997a, p. 5) that are commonly levelled at the use of these labels to track and resist social privilege and punishments. When one appreciates the political immobility that such accusations cause, one is led to ask questions about the true motives of such arguments. To 48


illustrate, when one looks at the appalling realities of anti-Black racial profiling by criminal justice, employment and educational systems here in Canada – the statistically demonstrated existence of the driving while Black charge (e.g. Rankin et al., 2002); that the employment rates for Black university graduates equals that of White grade ten dropouts (e.g. Solyom, 2001); that Black students are pushed out of schools in disproportionate numbers (see Dei et al., 1997) – what, indeed, is the purpose of trying to micro-analyse who/what is Black and/or who/what is White when this is so clear with respect to the distribution of privilege and punishment at the systemic level? Of likewise questionable motive are the current discussions around the tenuousness of white racial privilege which foreground the “particularity of experience” and the “simultaneity of oppressions”. Of the one type are arguments that White identity/ies is/are too diverse and fragmented for one to be able to assume that all Whites have white racial privilege (e.g. Chambers, 1997; Newitz and Wray, 1997a, 1997b) – arguments that are often flawed because they primarily consider relationships among those identified as White (e.g. Chambers, 1997, p. 191). Of the other type are arguments that whiteness “does not only impinge on matters of race” but “cuts across social axes” (Rodriguez, 1998, p. 38; see also p. 47). In the case of this second type of arguments, though it is important to recognize the interlocking nature of the several axes of social domination, why and to what end does the term whiteness become the catchall term for any kind of social dominance? If we were to stretch this argument to its limits, then in order to truly have white privilege, one must not only be identified as White, but must also be male, bourgeois, Anglo-European, heterosexual and non-disabled. The two types of arguments I have discussed above can make it very difficult for almost any person located as White to recognize and become accountable for her/his implication in whiteness. If one finds oneself unable to claim that one’s whiteness has been compromised by one’s gender, sexuality, non-AngloEuropean ethnicity and so on, one can often attempt to claim working-class origins, which for most individuals is only a few generations removed. Indeed, the White Trash project (see, e.g., Hartigan, 1997, 2003; Newitz and Wray, 1997a, 1997b), with which I have taken issue at length elsewhere (see Howard, 2004), seems to be largely occupied with contesting the notion that poor Whites have any racial privilege at all. I agree wholeheartedly with Scheurich that “claims that white racism is interrupted and complexed by sexism, classism, heterosexism, while true to a certain extent, [. . . are] dangerous if we use this ‘complexing’ to dilute or undermine the pervasiveness of white racism” (2002, pp. 8–9). We must be able to “think through ‘Whiteness’ and its complexities without avoiding or evading racial injustice and deep systemic inequities” (Dei, 2000, p. 29) Finally, I assert that the White antiracist worker, despite her/his political opposition to whiteness, is still privileged by that whiteness. It is here that we must insist on the difference, for analytical purposes, between White identity and whiteness (see Howard, 2004; Moon 1999; Kincheloe and Steinberg, 2000). A number of the “complexity of whiteness” arguments attempt to create a space for the White person to be or to become opposed to whiteness (see Giroux, 1997a, 1997b; 49


Newitz and Wray, 1997a, p. 5) and thus seek ways to “rearticulate” (Giroux, 1997a) whiteness as other than dominant. However, this is a dangerous argument in that it suggests that living out an oppositional White identity and possessing white privilege are mutually exclusive positions. It becomes yet another way for the White body to be ignorant of or deny its implication in the whiteness that privileges it in spite of its political convictions. I argue that the White identity that one chooses to live out does not negate one’s implication in the system of whiteness that confers privilege. Further, I contend that it is this understanding that creates the space for the formation of a true antiracist White identity that can engage whiteness in its complex and contradictory meanings. This identity works to undermine whiteness while yet being accountable for its implication in privilege. These insights, then, which stem from a critical anticolonial stance, are those that I will bring to bear upon the classroom dynamics in the mixed-race antiracism classroom. However, first I discuss some of the ways in which White subjects distance themselves from whiteness in the academy. DEFERRING RESPONSIBILITY THROUGH ACADEMIC RATIONALITY

I have discussed the ways in which whiteness is deferred through the invocation of complexed identities. This section will deal with how this deferral is accomplished in the academy in particular. In the first place, the academy functions as a space for the creation, acquisition, assertion and reassertion of whiteness and the simultaneous rejection of Non-whiteness. The strategies that enable this are numerous. Among these are the liberal notions of “merit” and “excellence” involved with determining who gets into and belongs in the academy and why, and who then becomes successful by academic standards. These concepts are mobilized in such a manner as to deny the embedded racism that structures academic selection, standardization and gate-keeping processes (Dei, 1999, p. 18). Also, there are the knowledge validation processes that determine which knowledges are worthy of academic attention and disciplinary status and which are rejected for being “interested” and “partisan”. Further, the Eurocentric knowledge that characterizes dominant academic discourses is presented as objective and universal, obscuring its own interestedness (Asante, 1991; Dei, 1994), while discussions of Euro-American societies, their histories and their politics, are sanitized – stripped of the racism that defines them, and shot through, instead, with a politics of denial, erasure and forgetting (Dei, 1999, p. 18; Dirlik, 1997, p. 64). Finally, scholars have observed the “civilizational racism” (Scheurich, and Young, 1997) in academic epistemologies caused by the inherent racism in received academic understandings of such terms as “respectability”, “reason”, and “rationality” (see Goldberg, 1993; Dei, 1999, p. 21; Razack, 1998). In this section, I trace some of these strategies as discussed by Schick (2002) in order to draw attention to academic distancing, not only from the alleged messiness and degeneracy of Non-whiteness, but from any implication in white racism. 50


As I have discussed above, Schick also addresses the way in which White university students construct the space of the university as an ideological space of whiteness “characterized by abstraction, objectivity, and rationality; quite unlike ‘out there’, where others belong and which [they] describe as political, embodied, and not necessarily rational” (2002, p. 101). Out there in the street are found “such irrationalities as ‘culture and gender’ [while] in the pure white space of the university, these issues can be discussed as intellectual topics” (2002, pp. 111– 112). However, I further wish to draw attention to a point that Schick hints at, but unfortunately does not fully develop. Schick shares an excerpt from a student participant’s interview where he tells of seeing “somebody scrawling some racial or gender slur on the [washroom] wall” (2002, p. 116). Schick’s ensuing discussion centres around the fact that the participant sees this individual as belonging “out there” and, thus, by his presence in the university, is seen as invading the university. However, the point that Schick just misses developing is that the participant has distanced himself from other (racist and sexist) Whites, despite the fact that this “invader” is, presumably, a White man, and also presumably a student who does indeed “belong” in the space of the university. Thus, outside the university walls one finds not only those who are racialized and gendered (as though we all weren’t), but also those Whites who perpetrate racism and sexism. The space of the university, as well as those within it, is/are thus neatly absolved of any implication in white and/or male dominance. I will return to this point in the next section.


Having discussed how distancing might occur in general in the academy, I now narrow my focus to deal with this phenomenon within critical academic spaces that might not only claim academic rationality, but also nominally exist to challenge social dominance and inequity. Specifically, how might this dynamic play out even in the antiracism classroom? While there is an important discussion that is had around resistance by racially dominant subjects who refuse to recognize social (and particularly, racial) privilege at all, or who are required or pressured by their programs to take multicultural or antiracism courses (see e.g. Ng, 1993; Pope and Joseph, 1997; Schick, 2002), in the interest of brevity, I will limit my discussion to those who willingly enter these critical spaces, and who are willing to recognize the existence of racial privilege on the macro level. Racially privileged students in these circumstances, in contrast to those unwilling to acknowledge structural social inequity, tend to be silent in the classroom or otherwise resist implicating themselves in the web of relationships of a system of domination that privileges them. This silence of those who have antiracist sentiments, or their tendency to maintain discursive distance between themselves and whiteness is problematic. I posit several possible reasons for this silence here:



(a) The failure to recognize racial privilege. The student may simply not recognize her/his own racial privilege. As I have already suggested, this is entirely possible because of the proliferation of discourses and arguments that resist the recognition of racial privilege. Most common are those that revolve around the notion of the complexity of identities. Namely, the intersection of gender, sexuality and/or ability marginality is understood to erase the dominance of whiteness. Also of significant influence here are those arguments that purport to resist essentialism but fail to recognize and acknowledge the crude constructions of race that still determine white privilege. Individuals over-influenced by this argument underestimate the role the body plays in locating them socially. They argue that their bodies are inconsequential, privileging the notion of the “rhetorical body of whiteness” (Warren, 2003, p. 19) over more embodied understandings. Here Memmi’s claim that it is impossible to have a colonizer without privilege (1969, p. 10) is useful. From a critical anticolonial perspective, which foregrounds the notion of privilege, it is impossible for the White body in white supremacist Euro-American society to be devoid of privilege. It is clearly unrealistic and unacceptable to claim that the white body is inconsequential within racist society. Such a stance makes white privilege (more) invisible to those who have it. Antiracism/anticolonial classrooms must create the space and the imperative for the racially privileged to recognize the ways in which they are dominant even as they address any ways in which they are simultaneously made marginal (see Dei, this volume; Fellows and Razack, 1998). (b) The fear of becoming vulnerable. Ellsworth suggests that students in general assess the risks involved in self-disclosure, and that “students occupying socially constructed positions of privilege [may not] risk being known by students occupying socially constructed positions of subordination” (1992, p. 105). Such a stance is analogous to that of Memmi’s “colonizer who refuses” (1969, pp. 19–44). Memmi discusses the contradictions between the colonizer’s position of privilege and her/his contradictory and wavering commitment to opposing the colonial situation, and predicts that this results in the silence or withdrawal of the colonizer who refuses (1969, p. 43). The White body in antiracist circles has to navigate similar contradictions. S/he must consider what it means to have racial privilege while opposing it, and what the full success of the antiracist project might mean for life as s/he knows it and/or her/his relationship with the racially oppressed. Who will s/he be, and will s/he be rejected because her/his structural positioning is taken by the racially oppressed to be more salient than her/his individual political disposition? It would appear that Memmi’s prediction holds true, and that the uneasiness caused by such questions results in the kinds of silences in the classroom that Ellsworth discusses. While the reasons for this discomfort are clear, the silence is inexcusable, and suggests the political ineffectiveness with which 52


Memmi charges the colonizer who refuses (1969, p. 42). It is impossible to do true antiracist work without a willingness to take the very real risks that are implied. As Dei (2005) has asserted, the important question is not “Who can do antiracist work?”, but rather, “Who is willing to assume the risks?”. Further, little is accomplished by this silence of the dominant. The racially oppressed are no less aware of the socially bestowed privilege of the racially dominant simply because they have chosen not to articulate their relationship to it. Indeed, the message more likely to be received in such instances of dominant silence is one of insincerity and lack of commitment to changing the racist status quo. (c) The “Inoculation” effect (Rains, 1998, p. 78) Here, I do not intend to imply that Whites are maliciously trying to use this space to create themselves an alibi that excuses them from resisting white supremacy (though this does, no doubt, sometimes occur). Rather, I am suggesting that its presence in the antiracism classroom and/or other sources of affinity with Non-whiteness (through romantic or family relationships, for example) may cause the White body to understand her/himself (or think others understand her/him) as being devoid of implication in whiteness. S/he need now only focus outward on “other Whites out there” who have not yet come on side. It is worth taking considerable space here to unsettle this notion. First, there is the notion of the ambivalence of the colonial will. Lott (1993) argues persuasively, through his treatment of blackface minstrelsy, that even the clearest manifestations of racism can be shot through with notions of desire and ambivalence on the part of the racist and/or the racially dominant toward the racially subordinated (e.g., pp. 18, 52–53). Likewise, Huhnsdorf (2001) argues convincingly that Robert Flaherty’s “documentary” work with the Inuit, work that he might benevolently have conceived of as preserving a dying culture, served largely to portray the Inuit as inherently inferior by locating them statically in anachronistic time and forecasting the disappearance of “the” Inuit culture, while obscuring the colonial relations between the “West” and the Arctic that were responsible for making such a discourse possible. As such, Huhnsdorf concludes that “the ‘documentary’ value of Flaherty’s work does not lie in its accuracy in portraying Eskimo [sic] culture. Rather the contradictions in the film reveal . . . the need of modern colonial culture at once to claim its innocence and to enact its dominance” (2001, pp. 115–116). In discussing relations of alleged benevolence and the attraction of those positioned as racially dominant to those positioned as racially subordinate, I wish to also draw attention to hooks’s observation that “[d]ifference can seduce precisely because the mainstream imposition of sameness is a provocation that terrorizes” (1992, pp. 22–23). Clearly, any notion of (racial) difference or Otherness as the “spice [or] seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream culture” (hooks, 1992, p. 21) is a notion that re53


asserts the normalcy and centrality of the (racially) dominant as the standard against which all Others are measured. A clear conclusion to be drawn from these arguments, then, is that the racially dominant’s attraction to the Other and/or to antiracism where s/he is able to rub shoulders with the Other cannot always simplistically be assumed to be all positive and/or devoid of racism. The second reason that the White antiracist should proceed with caution is the observation that pejorative racial meanings are embedded in European/Euro-North American knowledge systems. Toni Morrison, in Playing in the Dark, concerns herself with exposing “the pervasive use of black images and people in expressive prose [and] the shorthand, the takenfor-granted assumptions that lie in their usage” (1992, p. x); the way that “black people are reduced to ‘a personal metaphor”’ (hooks, 1992, p. 39). Morrison declares that: Neither blackness nor “people of colour” stimulates in me notions of excessive, limitless love, anarchy, or routine dread. I cannot rely on these metaphorical shortcuts because I am a black writer struggling with and through a language that can powerfully evoke and enforce hidden signs of racial superiority, cultural hegemony, and dismissive “othering” of people and language which are by no means marginal or already completely known and knowable in my work. My vulnerability would lie in romanticizing blackness rather than demonizing it; villifying [sic] whiteness rather than reifying it. The kind of work I have always wanted to do requires me to learn how to maneuver ways to free up the language from its sometimes sinister, frequently lazy, almost always predictable employment of racially informed and determined chains. (1992, pp. x–xi; emphasis added) Clearly, Morrison is not only testifying to the existence of these embedded racial meanings and to the commonsense way in which they are employed, but she is also linking the methodological risk of lapsing into their usage to (un)racialized social dominance. Along with the numerous examples that Morrison employs in her analysis, Espinet and Razack add Miller’s “The Crucible” which, through the character Tituba, “evokes an entire constellation of [racialized] values which serve the plot effortlessly, itself illuminating the degree to which this negative other constitutes the assumptions of everyday knowledge” (1995, p. 3). Thus, the embeddedness of white supremacist assumptions in Euro-American culture makes the reinscription of racism, even in critical spaces, extremely likely – particularly where one is not aware of one’s vulnerability to doing so. Dominant discourses that normalize racist inequity and that cover their tracks by insisting upon the innocence of whiteness make it that much more crucial that the White body that is privileged by these notions grapple seriously with its implication in whiteness rather than imagining that the effects of their social positioning are so quickly and easily surmounted. 54


Thirdly, we must consider the work of ostensibly “aware” White scholars whose project or intent was/is either specifically to challenge racism and/or to be respectful of the racially minoritized. DuCille (1994) speaks of an incident in which White scholar Jane Gallop anticipates the presence of Black scholar Deborah McDowell at one of her talks and wishes to impress and honour her. However, duCille notes that “Gallop seemed to expect approval without having to do the thing most likely to win it [that is, in her talk,] include McDowell and other black women scholars in the category of feminist theorists” (1994, pp. 608–609). Further, duCille notes that through Gallop’s narration of this incident, she “actually demean[s] [McDowell] . . . cast[ing] her (and . . . ‘the black feminist critic’) somewhere between monster and mammy” (1994, p. 609). In another example, Zine Magubane discusses the way that Sander Gilman’s frequently referenced article, Black Bodies, White Bodies, while skilfully drawing attention to a racial shorthand in late nineteenth century art (somewhat analogous to that spoken of by Morrison in literature) fails to historicize, and thus essentializes, notions of Blackness and “racial and sexual alterity” (2001, p. 818). These arguments should serve to make the case that the racially dominant in the antiracist classroom cannot be assumed to be devoid of racism; neither can it be assumed that her/his motives are above reproach. I suggest, then, that an open engagement with the implications of the social positioning arising from one’s body is an indispensable part of the antiracist work of those positioned as racially dominant. (d) The inability to speak as victim. This is the situation in which some students do not speak because they do not feel that their social positioning gives them sufficient access to discourses of marginality (see Ringrose, 2002, p. 301). This amounts to a problematic association of the right to contribute to an antiracist discussion with having a non-dominant identity. This position fails to see the two-sidedness of racism (Memmi, 1969; Fanon, 1967; Morrison, 1992), and, therefore, the importance that the offensiveness of racism be spoken not only by the racially oppressed, but also by the racially dominant (Dei, 2000, p. 35). (e) The desire to avoid monopolizing the discursive space. Finally, some racially privileged students recognize that white dominance has often manifested itself through its will to define and speak for – to seize voice while silencing other voices. Students who claim this as their reason for silence wish to avoid continuing this trend and/or avoid being mistaken for doing so. This is, possibly, the most reasonable excuse for silence or failing to be openly accountable for one’s racial privilege. However, these sensitive and insightful students must understand that the resolution of this dilemma is less an issue of whether they speak than of how they speak. As I shall discuss below, their silence will usually prove to be the greater error. 55


As I have suggested earlier in this paper, much of the scholarship that examines whiteness and how it might be confronted in/through the classroom is underwritten by an implicit concern with the agency of the White body. Consequently, the perceived problems are those that limit the agency of the White body, and the proposed solutions are those that extend it. More specifically, main features of these writings express concerns that applying the label “White” or foregrounding the domination of whiteness might induce white guilt and/or white defensiveness, and/or provoke white bigotry or complacency, and/or hinder the formation of a guilt-free antiracist White identity (see e.g. Ellsworth, 1992; Giroux, 1997a, 1997b; Kincheloe and Steinberg, 2000; Ringrose, 2002). The solutions suggested, which are offered under the banner of a misappropriated anti-essentialism, exacerbate the problem with which I am concerned here – namely, the creation of the space for racially dominant individuals to overlook their personal implications in the system of whiteness, and the reinscription of a colonial dynamic. An entirely different set of questions and solutions than those in the aforementioned articles might arise if the agency of the racially oppressed subject is centred while maintaining an anticolonial gaze on dominance. Specifically, I ask here: What are the risks and consequences for the racially oppressed body of sanitized, impersonal, arm’s-length discussions of whiteness? What violence to the Nonwhite body is implied where whiteness is discussed and dissected, but yet would afterwards seem to have action-oriented implications for no one in the room? How might these phenomena be resisted? In this vein, I make two observations. First, many writers have attested to the fact that for the victim of racism to be able to speak of the often hidden racist dynamic in society and her/his experience of it in an atmosphere that acknowledges and affirms the reality of such experiences is a necessary survival tactic – a means of maintaining sanity in a society that routinely ignores, denies, and renames racism (see Christian, 1987; LadsonBillings, 1998; Tate, 1994). While the racially oppressed are well served, and best served, by the stories that we share among ourselves, I suggest here that because of the two-sidedness of racism, there is a further dimension that is significant. Antiracist ends can also be served by stories from the dominant that likewise trump the prevailing denial of racism. The voicing of stories that expose one’s implication in racism, and how one has been privileged by it, are stories that serve to rupture the socio-pathology that allows racial injustice and racial privilege to appear normal. What is certain is that if much of the violence of contemporary whiteness lies in its silence, forgetting, denial, and claims to innocence, then detached treatises on whiteness with no grounding in the personal serve only to exacerbate that racist violence. Second, it is important to remember what the work of such scholars as Morrison (1992), and Nestel (1995, 2002) makes clear – that is, that so often racially dominant subjects produce knowledge, construct identities, and garner credentials on the backs of the racial Other. Thus, however reasonable the motives for silence or detached conversations about race might seem to the racially dom56


inant, if their personally grounded contribution to the discourse in the antiracism classroom does not occur, the likely result is a slide into a knowledge-producing dynamic that is inherently colonial while racially subjugated bodies continue to speak in an effort to rupture silences that uphold the status quo. “The other [becomes] a spectacle for audiences who themselves remain unseen and unscrutinized” (Huhnsdorf, 2001, p. 115). The knowledge produced in the classroom, then, largely benefits Whites at the expense, and by the expending, of Non-whites – an academic form of “eating the Other” (hooks, 1992, p. 21). Non-White educators have agonized about this dynamic for some time (e.g. hooks, 1990, pp. 54–55; Bannerji, 1991). Bannerji, protests “I am offering up piece by piece my experience, body, intellect, so others can learn” (1991, p. 6). One might respond to her, “Then why not just stop?” Yet, she cannot be silent (Bannerji, 1991, p. 7). The political and moral commitment to doing one’s part to move an antiracist project forward dictates that one cannot allow oneself to be silent and allow whiteness to remain unnamed and unchallenged. To suggest silence to the racially dominated subject in these circumstances is to suggest they accept the racist status quo and support detached, impersonal, “objective” discussions of racism. As scholars concerned with the agency of the Black (or Non-white) subject have made clear, objectivity is the subjectivity of Eurocentric discourse (see, e.g., Asante, 1999, p. 5). This may explain the discomfort some have with the personally grounded vocality of the racially oppressed. It is a powerful tool of resistance (see Dei, 2000, p. 37). Thus, the means of avoiding the colonial dynamic in the antiracism classroom cannot be through promoting aloofness, but rather through promoting reciprocity.


In order, then, to maximize the classroom’s antiracist potential and interrupt the playing out of a colonial dynamic, I suggest that those positioned as White break the silence and begin to speak about their locations and their implications in dominance where they find themselves in antiracist settings. However, it should be clear here that I am not inviting the dominant and dominating voice of an unapologetic whiteness, again, to deny and justify racism and defend white privilege. Nor am I inviting the ostensibly antiracist White body to sympathize or even empathize with the racially dominated, attempting to get into our shoes and speak for us, or else dominating antiracist discourse by setting its parameters and competing for the right to speak, to name, to define, to construct knowledge in its own image. Yet I do call for the voice of the racially privileged body that realizes that, at least with respect to racism, it cannot, and should not, speak primarily as victim but, rather, is willing to face its implication in whiteness and racism, thereby offering up its own experience and attempts to rupture whiteness for contemplation. The willingness to voice one’s implication in whiteness establishes the only ground upon which Whites can learn antiracism and do honest antiracist work, and this ground must continually be re-established in a racist 57


society that continually contradicts and seeks to erase it in order to re-establish white dominance and “innocence”. Scheurich (2002) asserts: That we as whites are at our core white racists no matter how hard we work against racism must be accepted, said, repeated. We must always carry and speak this explicitly in our understanding, in our publications, in our actions. (Scheurich, 2002, p. 8, emphasis added) Strangely, the implications of such a stance for pedagogy in the antiracism classroom are often ignored and certainly not insisted upon – possibly, may I suggest, because it runs up against the liberal construction of “freedom”. Not that I expect or advise that anyone interrogate or bully anyone else into speaking, or that anyone deliberately shame her/himself. But I do insist that pedagogical activities, classroom discourse, and evaluation ought to eschew “rational academic distance” and continually and explicitly encourage that each person openly consider how s/he is implicated in and related to racism as a prerequisite for such a classroom to be classified as an antiracism classroom. Thus, I am arguing for the much maligned “confessional approach”, (Bonnett, 2000a, p. 142; Bonnett, 2000b, p. 128; Ringrose, 2002, p. 310), so named by its detractors because of their disdain for it. And if this refers to the self-absolving (and deliberately self-innoculating) opening ritual of simply naming oneself as racially dominant without grappling with the implications, I too am opposed (hooks, 1990, p. 54). However, I do promote a space for the type of “confession” that means admitting one’s connection to what has gone wrong. And guilt, which others seem to want to be careful not to inculcate (Giroux, 1997, pp. 313–314), may be a necessary part of this process if guilt means cultivating a sense of responsibility and accountability for a-critically accepting and enacting an ideology that accepts white-skin privilege as normal while claiming democratic and egalitarian ideals. An anticolonial pedagogy for the mixed-race classroom, then, might ask that all students articulate their understandings of their personal relationship(s) to whiteness – how they have been either privileged or punished, or both, by racism and racialization, and in relation to whom. They might consider the relative intensities of racisms for differently racialized bodies. After establishing ground rules for respectful engagement that will avoid inflicting further racist insult and violence, an anticolonial pedagogy might ask all students to recall and re-analyse situations in which they failed to challenge and were complicit in whiteness. Further, the racially dominant might consider ways in which they may knowingly have allowed themselves to garner white-skin privilege through silence, while Non-white bodies might consider how they may have enacted whiteness toward other bodies of Colour. An anticolonial pedagogy would surely require all students to devise ways in which they might take up and live out antiracist identities, and to submit their musings for contemplation by, and comment from, those who are differently located. Much about combating racism for the White body will mean the need to understand whiteness, its privilege, and the process 58


of constructing an oppositional White identity. Toward this end, hooks (1990) asserts: only a persistent, rigorous, and informed critique of whiteness could really determine what forces of denial, fear, and competition are responsible for creating fundamental gaps between professed political commitment to eradicating racism and the participation in the construction of a discourse on race that perpetuates racial domination. (1990, p. 54) A classroom dynamic where dominant accountability is fostered changes the potentially colonial dynamic of the mixed-race antiracism classroom and moves toward a more reciprocal and, therefore, equitable experience. While the racially oppressed, in sharing their experiences, benefit by establishing the reality and validity of their experiences while offering their experiences toward an understanding of racism from their perspective(s), the racially dominant, reciprocally, in articulating their accountability and sharing their own experiences of grappling with whiteness, establish an authentic entry-point into a true antiracist stance while offering their experiences for an understanding of struggling against whiteness from their perspective(s). Thus, through an anticolonial shifting of the focus from the agency and interests of the White body to a concern with the agency and interests of the Non-white body, and through an understanding of the two-sidedness of racism, I have argued that detached rational discussions of an unembodied whiteness cannot serve antiracist ends. I contend that because of the face of whiteness in critical academia, which creates so many possibilities for the individual positioned as White to find an “out” (Scheurich, 2002, p. 8), the White student in the antiracism classroom must openly grapple with her/his own implication in whiteness and the issues involved with the development, possibilities, and tenuousness of her/his own oppositional White identity. Consequently, I have argued for the undermining of whiteness in the antiracism classroom through an anticolonial pedagogy which would include personally grounded dominance-challenging contributions from those located at different points on Memmi’s map of the terrain of colonization (1969, p. 8). As Dei insists, “the classroom must provide the space for each learner to understand both her privileges and oppression, and to develop effective oppositional resistance to domination” (this volume).

NOTES 1 Again, an exception here is Kincheloe and Steinberg (2000), which hints at the difference between these concepts. Unfortunately, this article subsequently slips into an anti-essentialism discussion that, like many similar articles, works to evade the materiality and embodiedness of white privilege. 2 While it is important to consider the role of the racially oppressed subject who has internalized the oppressive ideologies and therefore enacts whiteness, (and there is much scholarship to this effect) this paper turns the gaze upon the racially dominant. As the anticolonial discursive framework I use in this paper will make clear, while these differently located subjects may both enact whiteness, they differ significantly in that the racially dominant subject suffers few of the consequences for her/his actions in comparison to the racially oppressed subject.


HOWARD 3 The insightful analysis of the relationship between colonizer and colonized is marred by the fact that Memmi clearly had only men in mind, and in some instances blatantly objectified women. While this is inexcusable, and is an erasure about which Memmi has since expressed remorse, and while it calls for a gender analysis of Memmi’s work in general, the particular concepts that I discuss here hold true across gender lines.

REFERENCES Asante, M.K. (1991). The Afrocentric idea in education. Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 70–180. Asante, M.K. (1999). The painful demise of eurocentrism: An Afrocentric response to critics. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. Bannerji, H. (1991). Re: Turning the gaze: Racism, sexism, knowledge and the academy. Resources for Feminist Research, 20(3/4), 5–11. Bonnett, A. (2000a). Anti-racism. London: Routledge. Bonnett, A. (2000b). White identities: Historical and international perspectives. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall. Chambers, R. (1997). The unexamined. In M. Hill (Ed.), Whiteness: A critical reader. New York: NYU Press. Chisti, M. (2002). Muslim women, intellectual racism and the project towards solidarity and alliance building. Unpublished paper, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Christian, B. (1987). The race for theory. Cultural Critique, 6, 51–63. Dei, G.J.S. (1994). Afrocentricity: A cornerstone of pedagogy. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 25(1), 3–28. Dei, G.J.S. (1996). Critical perspectives in antiracism: An introduction. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 33(3), 247–269. Dei, G.J.S. (1999). The denial of difference: Reframing anti-racist praxis. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 2(1), 17–38. Dei, G.J.S. (2000). Towards an anti-racism discursive framework. In G.J.S. Dei and A. Calliste (Eds.), Power, knowledge and anti-racism education: A critical reader. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing. Dei, G.J.S. (2005). Resistance to amputation: Anti-racism and anti-colonial thought. Race, Gender, and Class, forthcoming. Dei, G.J.S. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: Towards an anticolonial discursive framework. Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3), 297–323. Dei, G.J.S., Mazzuca, J., McIsaac, E. and Zine, J. (1997). Reconstructing dropout. A critical ethnography of black students’ disengagement from school. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Dirlik, A. (1997). The postcolonial aura: Third World criticism in the age of global capitalism. Oxford: Westview Press. duCille, A. (1994). The occult of true black womanhood: Critical demeanor and black feminist studies. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 19(3), 591–629. Ellsworth, E. (1992). Why doesn’t this feel empowering? Working through the repressive myths of critical pedagogy. In C. Luke and J. Gore (Eds.), Feminisms and critical pedagogy. New York: Routledge. Ellsworth, E. (1997). Double binds of whiteness. In M. Fine, L. Powell, L. Weis and L. Mun Wong (Eds.), Off white: Readings on race, power, and society. New York: Routledge. Espinet, R. and Razack, S. (1995). How we know what we know. Resources for Feminist Research, 23(4), 3–4. Essed, P. (1991). Understanding everyday racism. Newbury Park, Ca: Sage. Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Press. Fellows, M.L. and Razack, S. (1998). The race to innocence: Confronting hierarchical relations among women. The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, 1, 335–352. Giroux, H.A. (1997a). Rewriting the discourse of racial identity: Towards a pedagogy and politics of whiteness. Harvard Educational Review, 67(2), 285–320. Giroux, H.A. (1997b). Racial politics and the pedagogy of whiteness. In M. Hill (Ed.), Whiteness: A critical reader. New York: NYU Press.


ON SILENCE AND DOMINANT ACCOUNTABILITY Goldberg, D.T. (1993). Racist culture: Philosophy and the politics of meaning. Oxford, UK and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Hartigan, J., Jr. (1997). Name calling: Objectifying ‘poor whites’ and ‘white trash’ in Detroit. In M. Wray and A. Newitz (Eds.), White trash: Race and class in America. New York: Routledge. Hartigan, J., Jr. (2003). Who are these white people?: ‘Rednecks’, ‘Hillbillis’, and ‘white trash’ as marked racial subjects. In A.W. Doane and E. Bonilla-Silva (Eds.), White out: The continuing significance of racism. New York: Routledge. hooks, b. (1990). Yearning: Race, gender, and cultural politics. Boston, MA: South End Press. hooks, b. (1992). Black looks: Race and representation. Boston, MA: South End Press. Howard, P. (2002). What racism? An exploration of ideological common sense justifications of racism among educators in Quebec English-language education. Unpublished Master’s Thesis: McGill University. Howard, P. (2004). White privilege: for or against? A discussion of ostensibly antiracist discourses in critical whiteness studies. Race, Gender, and Class, 11(4), 63–79. Huhnsdorf, S.M. (2001). Going native: Indians in the American cultural imagination. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Kailin, J. (1999). How white teachers perceive the problem of racism in their schools: A case study in ‘Liberal’ Lakeview. Teachers College Record, 100(4), 724–750. Kincheloe, J.L. and Steinberg, S.R. (2000). Constructing a pedagogy of whiteness for angry white students. In N.M. Rodriguez and L.E. Villaverde (Eds.), Dismantling white privilege: Pedagogy, politics, and whiteness. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. King, J.E. (1991). Dysconscious racism: Ideology, identity and the miseducation of teachers. Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 133–146. Ladson-Billings, G. (1998). Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice field like education? Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(1), 7–24. Lipman, P. (1997). Restructuring in context: A case study of teacher participation and the dynamics of ideology, race, and power. American Educational Research Journal, 34(1), 3–37. Lott, E. (1993). Love and theft: Blackface minstrelsy and the American working class. New York: Oxford University Press. Magubane, Z. (2001). Which bodies matter? Feminism, poststructuralism, race, and the curious theoretical odyssey of the ‘Hottentot Venus’. Gender & Society, 15(6), 816–834. McIntyre, A. (1997). Constructing an image of a white teacher. Teachers College Record, 98(4), 653– 681. McLaren, P. (1998). Whiteness is . . . : The struggle for postcolonial hybridity. In J.L. Kincheloe, S.R. Steinberg, N.M. Rodriguez and R.E. Chennault (Eds.), White reign: Deploying whiteness in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press. McLaren, P. (2000). Developing a pedagogy of whiteness in the context of a postcolonial hybridity: White identities in global context. In N.M. Rodriguez and L.E. Villaverde (Eds.), Dismantling white privilege: Pedagogy, politics, and whiteness. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Memmi, A. (1969). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Moon, D. (1999). White enculturation and bourgeois ideology: The discursive production of ‘good’ (white) girls. In T.K. Nakayama and J.N. Martin (Eds.), Whiteness: The communication of social identity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Morrison, T. (1992). Playing in the dark: Whiteness and the literary imagination. New York: Vintage Books. Nestel, S. (1995). ‘Other mothers’: Race and representation in natural childbirth discourse. Resources for Feminist Research, 23(4), 5–17. Nestel, S. (2002). Delivering subjects: Race, space, and the emergence of legalized midwifery in Ontario. In S.H. Razack (Ed.), Race, space, and the law: Unmapping a white settler society. Toronto: Between the Lines. Newitz, A and Wray, M. (1997a). Introduction. In M. Wray and A. Newitz (Eds.), White trash: Race and class in America. New York: Routledge. Newitz, A and Wray, M. (1997b). What is ‘white trash’? Stereotypes and economic conditions of poor whites in the United States. In M. Hill (Ed.), Whiteness: A critical reader. New York: NYU Press. Ng, R. (1993). ‘A woman out of control’: Deconstructing sexism and racism in the university. Canadian Journal of Education, 18(3), 189–205.


HOWARD Pope, J. and Joseph, J. (1997). Student harassment of female faculty of African descent in the Academy. In L. Benjamin (Ed.), Black women in the Academy: Promises and perils. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. Rains, F.V. (1998). Is the benign really harmless?: Deconstructing some ‘benign’ manifestations of operationalized white privilege. In J.L. Kincheloe, S.R. Steinberg, N.M. Rodriguez and R.E. Chennault (Eds.), White reign: Deploying whiteness in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Rankin, J., Quinn, J., Shephard, M., Simmie, S. and Duncanson, J. (2002). Singled out: Star analysis of police crime data shows justice is different for blacks and whites. Toronto Star, October 19. Razack, S.H. (1998). Race, space, and prostitution. The making of the bourgeois subject. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, 10(2), 338–376. Ringrose, J. (2002). Developing feminist pedagogical practices to complicate whiteness and work with defensiveness. In C. Levine-Rasky (Ed.), Working through whiteness: International perspectives. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Rodriguez, N.M. (1998). Emptying the content of whiteness: Toward an understanding of the relation between whiteness and pedagogy. In J.L. Kincheloe, S.R. Steinberg, N.M. Rodriguez and R.E. Chennault (Eds.), White reign: Deploying whiteness in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Rodriguez, N.M. (2000). Projects of whiteness in a critical pedagogy. In N.M. Rodriguez and L.E. Villaverde (Eds.), Dismantling white privilege: Pedagogy, politics, and whiteness. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Roman, L.G. (1997). Denying (white) racial privilege: Redemption discourses and the uses of fantasy. In M. Fine, L. Powell, L. Weis and L. Mun Wong (Eds.), Off white: Readings on race, power, and society. New York: Routledge. Scheurich, J.J. (2002). Anti-racist scholarship: An advocacy. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Scheurich, J.J. and Young, M. (1997). Coloring epistemologies: Are our research epistemologies racially biased? Educational Researcher, 26(4), 4–16. Schick, C. (2002). Keeping the ivory tower white: Discourses of racial domination. In S.H. Razack (Ed.), Race, space, and the law: Unmapping a white settler society. Toronto: Between the Lines. Schofield, J.W. (1989). Black and white in school: Trust, tension or tolerance? New York: Teachers College Press. Solyom, C. (2001). Black-and-white inequity: Pigment matters in Montreal: Survey. The Gazette (Montreal), October 26. Tate, W.F. (1994). From inner city to ivory tower: Does my voice matter in the Academy? Urban Education, 29(3), 245–269. Warren, J.T. (2003). Performing purity: Whiteness, pedagogy, and the reconstitution of power. New York: Peter Lang.




So much of our self-reported experience as human beings falls within the framework of conscious experience that we usually ignore the largely unconscious set of habitual patterns of thoughts, emotions and actions that pervade our lives and yet escape the purview of conscious reflection. As a teacher, I feel it is my job to identify unconscious attitudes and bring them out into the open so that they can be challenged and form a basis for transforming the mind. This is often a difficult task, to say the least, and takes years of coordinated effort and practice to accomplish. Implicit attitudes can range from the benign to the most destructive. An implicit fear of a rattling sound coming from a pile of leaves may save one’s life. However, an implicit bias or an implicitly racist attitude towards members of another race can only lead to suffering and is counterproductive to humanity. These destructive implicit attitudes are the ones that teachers must no doubt target. In order to do so, it is necessary to try to understand the extremely complex processes through which implicitly learned biases are internalized and expressed. Months ago, while sitting in the passenger seat of my teacher friend’s car, I witnessed a particularly dangerous unconscious racist attitude suddenly emerge before my eyes. This episode forced me to reassess my thinking on several fronts and stimulated an interest in the psychobiology of racism. After attending a luncheon, I had accepted a friend’s offer to drive me home. As we rolled to a stop at yet another traffic light along the way, we saw a group of young black men crossing the street. As the group walked in front of the automobile, I heard the synchronized clicking sound of the car’s central locking system engaging and realized that my friend had hit the “lock” button on his dashboard, securing all the doors. We had been friends for a while, and not once had I detected a hint of racism in his words or actions, but this incident had forced me to rapidly review all of our past encounters, searching for something I may have missed. Immediately, I asked my friend why he had locked the doors at this particular moment. I inquired as to why he hadn’t locked the doors when we had stopped at a previous stoplight when a couple of white teens had been the ones making their way across the street in front of the car. I was surprised to hear his answer. “It was like . . . automatic . . . I can’t explain it, man”, he said, adding: “Was I being a racist?” All of a sudden, quite unexpectedly, I began to picture several regions in his brain lighting up. A couple weeks earlier, I had been reading a book about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which presented several fMRI (functional Magnetic G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 63–85. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


Resonance Imaging) studies of the cerebral cortex. In one section of this book, for instance, I had read how fear, through conditioning, could readily become automatic in the brains of individuals. Upon hearing my friend’s answer to my query, I instantly became interested in looking into how racism is learned and what regions and biological processes within the brain-body-mind axis may play a role in this type of learning. I wondered how deeply a socially conditioned fear of blacks had to penetrate people in order to elicit the “automatic” habitual behaviour of locking one’s doors upon the mere sight of a group of young black men crossing the street. I had to look into this to understand if the junctions of brain science and sociology could shed light on racist and colonizing attitudes and provide some direction that would translate into sound pedagogical strategies to combat racism. Within certain limits, I found that studying the brain can help us understand how minds are colonized and also reveal some ways in which this can be transformed. This study will explore how racism and colonialism, seen not only as a set of historically specific human power relationships but also psychological processes, become embodied and how social reality gains expression through biological and physiological processes operating within the human brain. Data will be presented to show that the historical legacies of colonialism have had a profound impact on the minds of both the colonizer and the colonized by perpetuating white supremacy. It will be argued that while traditional educational programs to combat racism through the exploration of self-reported attitudes and commonly held stereotypes to make learners aware of overt biases are worthwhile, they do not go far enough, ignoring the very salient and tenacious structures of implicit, unconscious prejudice that pervade society. For many educators, more education is the automatic knee-jerk reaction to combating racism. Yet, even though there are more highly educated people than ever before in North American society and access to continuing education, workshops, and seminars on diversity and racial tolerance is probably greater than in any other country, this has not resulted in the elimination of racism. A 1998 study, for example, backed up by decades of work by social psychologists, using implicit measures of prejudice (the IAT: Implicit Association Test) showed that 80–85% of whites exhibit negative attitudes towards black people even though they verbally report having no biases towards anyone (Schwartz, 1999). This represents a serious pedagogical challenge and demonstrates how racist and colonial violence can be manifested at very subtle levels of the mind – levels which current educational strategies would find difficult to reach. Neuroscience, combined with psychological research, has started to reveal some of the processes that mediate the internalization of implicit biases. This research points to the need for new and more wide-ranging strategies to combat hidden, implicit racism. The fact that these processes often evade our ordinary conscious monitoring processes – as the incident described at the outset reveals – means that challenging them will require a great degree of mental discipline and effort. Indeed, it will be argued below that what is necessary is no less than a radical transformation of body and mind, including a transformation of the actual 64


physical patterns in which the brain has been “wired” through experience. This study will also stress the need for social change because the sources of implicit bias will be traced to the way societies, particularly North American society, have been organized. It will be argued that combating racism requires a continual, lifelong anti-racist and anti-colonial pedagogy incorporated into our daily lives. This chapter will discuss the ways in which newly emerging research from the areas of neuroscience and Buddhist psychology might inform the development of this pedagogy. The chapter will begin by briefly presenting a discussion of the possible shortfalls of brain-based inquiries into complex social phenomena such as racism. After that, it will provide a brief theoretical framework, noting the intellectual contributions of two central figures in the development of anti-racist, anti-colonial psychology: Franz Fanon and Albert Memmi. This will lead to a presentation of the most current data from brain-based studies of racism. From there, the chapter will go on to analyse and interpret the data while searching for what may cause implicitly racist attitudes to form in the first place. Finally, the chapter will conclude by suggesting that Buddhist psychology, with its emphasis on rooting out negative emotions and cultivating and amplifying positive emotions, presents a viable strategy for combating implicitly racist and biased attitudes.


Like other approaches to studying the dynamics of human behaviour and cognition, the scientific study of the brain yields results that may be subject to multiple interpretations; therefore this level of analysis is not intended to represent a reductionist approach to the study of racism or any other social phenomenon being discussed. In fact, the main criticism of brain-based studies is that when researchers observe the activation of certain regions in the brain, they are not really seeing anything tangible. Despite some important advances, given our current lack of understanding of brain processes, the activation of any given region of the cerebral cortex may be the result of some hitherto unknown, generalized state of brain activity. Moreover, the study of the neural correlates of a particular human pattern of behaviour is just that – a correlate. Yet, localizing a particular process within the brain’s anatomy is not the main goal of studying the social brain. Rather, a study of neural correlates presents an opportunity to synthesize what we have learned about the ways in which emotional and psychological processes interact with anatomical structures within the brain, and lead to important changes in cerebral structure and function. The multiple caveats discussed above naturally force one to question the legitimacy of brain-based investigations. However, as the results of the following investigations show, in each case something is happening in the brain. And while it is true that the results are subject to interpretation, this should not preclude the incorporation of the study of racism at the level of the human brain and whatever conclusions flow from it into anti-colonial and anti-racist pedagogy. Indeed, it is our responsibility to find out what is going on. 65


Franz Fanon was one of the first thinkers to write about the social basis of mental evaluations. He argues that racial and colonial forms of oppression dehumanize people by generating a self-understanding among the oppressed that they are outside the scope of humanity. According to Fanon (1966), this process either induces the relinquishment of personal autonomy accompanied by the adoption of the view of self that was enacted upon the oppressed by the oppressor, or provokes violence in response to dreading the loss of a sense of interconnectedness with others. In his writings, Fanon frequently portrays colonialism as a neurosis that proliferates and spreads through society in the form of internalized guilt and fear. In Fanon’s (1968) study of whiteness, Black Skin, White Masks, he shows that racism not only elicits fear among the racialized, oppressed, and disempowered masses but also among dominant whites themselves, who subsequently become imprisoned by their own narratives of whiteness. Albert Memmi also explored the social basis of human mental life, particularly the consequences of the colonial relationship on mental health. Memmi begins by demonstrating that racism was underpinned by colonialism, which mediates the different and negative valuations attached to skin colour. In Racism (2000), Memmi defines racism as "a judgement of difference, generalized or specific, real or imagined, for the purpose of justifying aggression which benefits the accuser and causes harm to the victim." Or, put more simply as the ’profitable utilization of difference’ (2000, 14). He argues that racism has become a very widespread phenomenon in society because it has come to exist in the wider context of “unconscious” social memory: “If racism is first of all a lived experience, it is also a social experience that is very widely shared” (2000, 30). ßFinally, Memmi links anti-racism to the practice of mental health, arguing that “the struggle against racism is the condition of our collective social health” (2000, 161). In this struggle, Memmi (2000, 155) argues that “it will not be necessary to deny the real differences between people, as many anti-racists desire, driven by their simplistic humanism. ßOn the contrary, differences must be lucidly recognized, embraced and respected as such”. While many writers after Fanon and Memmi have explored the phenomenological and sociological aspects of the mind and how these are related to racist behaviour, modern neuroscientific investigations have recently begun to reveal a great deal about the biological processes involved in the formation of racial biases. The main arguments of both Fanon and Memmi, that racism is a social neurosis internalized in particular ways through powerful emotional processes, have largely been confirmed by recent brain studies showing that certain systems underlying social cognition in the human brain, though not evolved for any specific purpose, can be commandeered by socially-mediated experiences, leading to racist behaviour of which individuals may not be aware. The first area of research to make important connections between social processes and brain structures has been the work of a group of cognitive neuroscientists and social psychologists who have studied the relationship between racism and the human fear response. 66


In a series of experiments, Elizabeth Phelps et al. (2000, pp. 729–738) used brain-imaging techniques (fMRI) to explore the neural correlates of conscious and unconscious representations of blacks by white subjects selected at random from a group of volunteers. The scientists chose to focus on the role of the amygdala, a small almond-shaped anatomical subregion of the brain responsible for the expression of anger, defensiveness, and fear. This subregion connects the “non-thinking” autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system with the “thinking” parts of the brain located in the higher levels of the cerebral cortex (see Appendix 1). According to Leslie Brothers (1997, p. 56), the amygdala, with its various efferent and afferent connections to the frontal cortices, the cingulate gyrus, the temporal pole cortices, and the sensory cortex, is part of a system that acts as the brain’s “social editor” involved in the evaluation of social stimuli. The amygdala has also been identified as part of a “general-purpose defence response control network in the brain” (LeDoux, 1998, p. 158). It is also a crucial component mediating several forms of emotional learning that have been acquired as a result of negative thoughts or unpleasant experiences (Phelps et al., 2000, p. 730). During their experiments, the Phelps team showed a series of black and white faces with neutral expressions to a group of white subjects and measured their brain activity. Before doing this, however, the subjects were required to take a test measuring their implicit racial bias (IAT)1 and they were also given a standard test of conscious, self-reported attitudes towards people of other races called “the Modern Racism Scale”. One week after these tests were administered, the subjects were called back to the testing facility and the intensity of their startle (eyeblink intensity) response to the same black and white faces shown in the earlier phase of the experiment was measured. Finally, the same subjects were shown faces of familiar blacks and whites. The scientists found no correlation between activity in the amygdala and the eyeblink startle response, nor did they find any relationship between amygdala activation and self-reported attitudes on the Modern Racism Scale. However, Phelps et al. (2000, p. 732) did find “a significant correlation between bias in response time on the IAT and the strength of the amygdala activation to black-versus-white faces”. Among the regions that showed increased activity besides the amygdala were the regions of the prefrontal cortex, which is largely responsible for emotional processing, and the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, which is thought to play a central role in attention (see Appendix 1, a diagram of the subcortical anatomy of the brain). No consistent pattern of amygdala activation was observed when the same subjects were shown pictures of familiar blacks and whites. The experiments of Phelps et al. (2000, p. 734) showed for the first time that a differential response in the anatomical structures of the brain is related to “unconscious social evaluation”, and according to the researchers, “these results suggest that the amygdala response to black-versus-white faces in white subjects is a function of culturally acquired information about social groups”. A more recent study (Banaji et al., 2004), following similar methods, has measured the cortical responses of white subjects when presented with the faces 67


of blacks and whites subliminally (flashed at a duration below the threshold of direct, conscious awareness) and supraliminally (flashed at a duration that can allow conscious apprehension of an image). The researchers found greater activation in the amygdala in white subjects when they were subliminally presented with black faces, suggesting that “for whites, the unconscious evaluation of black faces may be one of threat or negative affect, and the unconscious evaluation of white faces may be one of safety, or non-threat” (Banaji et al., 2004, p. 12). Furthermore, the team found that black faces activated the amygdala more forcefully in subliminal presentations versus supraliminal presentations and that white faces deactivated the same region in both supraliminal and subliminal conditions. One of the key findings of Banaji et al. (2004, 13) was not only that unconscious processes play a role in modulating conscious processing but also the reverse, i.e. that conscious processing plays a role in modulating unconscious processes. Previous experiments, such as the ones by Phelps et al.2 discussed above, had only studied subjects’ responses to consciously processed images of faces. The Banaji et al. findings now provide more compelling evidence suggesting that unconscious processing of black faces activates the amygdala in whites, whereas conscious processing of black faces requires greater cognitive inhibition, control and response conflicts as seen by the activation of different brain regions in each case (Banaji et al., 2004, p. 13). These findings fit with recent models of the brain that have been proposed by prominent neurobiologists, such as Joseph LeDoux (1998). In Appendix 2, I have included three diagrams showing an adapted (and significantly abridged) version of this model. The first diagram shows the mediating influence of culture on emotional and cognitive systems: Culture carries powerful, emotionally salient social narratives, historical relations of social power, and dominant socio-economic forces, and forms the milieu into which we are born and in which the connections in our brains are moulded by experience. The second diagram merely points out what the research above has begun to tell us – that emotional stimuli are assessed and evaluated through the amygdala, which plays a critical role in the expression of emotional behaviour. The final diagram adapted from LeDoux (1998, p. 164) represents at least two possible routes that emotionally salient stimuli may take in the human brain: the first route, the so-called low road, happens automatically and below the level of conscious awareness, whereas the second route, or the high road, requires higher levels of cognitive processing and usually occurs at conscious levels of awareness. Some questions that remain unanswered are how the levels of unconscious processing and higher level processing are related, and to what extent conscious awareness of one’s own biased brain processes can influence the so-called “low road”. In fact, what the research presented in this paper overwhelmingly shows is how the lower levels of emotional activation are related to higher cognitive functions in an integrated, dynamic fashion which develops over time and in response to environmental factors. This will be elaborated in greater detail later on at which time it will be argued that the learning (or unlearning) required to “rewire” one’s unconscious brain processes entails a great deal of rigorous, mindful practice to root out socially mediated learning that can lead 68


to the automatic expression of negative thoughts and emotions. First, however, the paper will look at another set of intriguing findings, this time illustrating the relationship between implicit bias and higher levels of cognitive processing.


Many researchers of the politics of colonialism and racism have noted the dynamics involved in the social construction of whiteness, including the substantial investment in the denial of complicity and a commonly assumed, self-appointed racial neutrality in whites reflected through behaviours, practices, and institutions (Dei, 2004). Recent studies by Jennifer Richeson et al. (2003, pp. 1323–1328) have begun to reveal how the investment in denying complicity and the selfassumed neutrality are manifested at the level of brain structures involved with emotional regulation. In a very recent study, Richeson et al. (2003, pp. 1323–1328) investigated the way executive brain functions (including higher level reasoning) are recruited and depleted in white subjects who engage in conversations with blacks. These investigations revealed very interesting patterns of cerebral activation in executive regions of the cerebral cortex when correlated with IAT measures. In the first of a series of experiments, Richeson et al. took up the question of “whether neural activity in brain regions known for their participation in cognitive control mediates the relationship between racial attitude bias and inhibitory task performance after racial contact” (2003, p. 1324). Because it is not yet possible to view the brain functioning in direct face-to-face conversations between individuals, scientists showed white test subjects (after taking the IAT) unfamiliar black faces to measure activity in the right and left prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex (see Appendix 1) – areas responsible for inhibition, response control, and attention. Immediately following the imaging sessions, the subjects were given a standard Stroop Test3 designed to assess executive function. The scientists observed that activation in white subjects varied considerably in both brain regions when white subjects were shown black faces; more areas of the brain were activated in subjects who had viewed photographs of black faces. The major finding was that implicit racial bias scores as measured by the IAT predicted the activation of areas of the brain known to be responsible for the inhibition of responses4 – the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (see Appendix 1). Significantly, this occurred when subjects viewed photographs of black faces, but not when they viewed white faces (Richeson, 2003, p. 1325). Moreover, the researchers found that the activation of these areas of the cerebral cortex also predicted the extent to which people were unable to function on the Stroop task that followed the presentation of the photographs. In effect, the experiments showed that simply interacting with another race required greater cognitive processing in white subjects. Past research has shown that the systems responsible for executive inhibitory function in the brain have limited resource capabilities. Thus, the inability to perform well on executive inhibitory function directly after exposure to black faces suggests that whites 69


engage in significantly greater cognitive control when interacting with blacks, indicating the willed motive to repress negative feelings and withhold certain aversive behavioural responses (including language), that could be interpreted as being racist. According to Richeson et al. (2003, p. 1326): One intriguing aspect of the present findings is the emergence of a positive correlation between racial bias scores and the recruitment of executive control regions upon exposure to black faces. Although this finding is somewhat counter-intuitive, it must be interpreted within the context of contemporary societal norms in which it is unacceptable to show prejudice. Furthermore, many individuals who generate high scores on subtle measures of racial bias endorse egalitarian values and aspire to behave in nonprejudiced ways. Coupled with previous findings that racial bias predicts the automatic activation of negative stereotypes, our results suggest that individuals with high scores on subtle measures of racial bias may put forth additional effort to control their thoughts and behaviors in order to live up to their egalitarian, nonprejudiced values. The region of interest in the Richeson et al. (2003, pp. 1323–1328) study, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is located right under the midway point between our temples and the top of the front portion of our head (see Appendix 1), is the most recently evolved part of the human brain and is important for higher human brain functions like working memory, reasoning, decision making, and control of behaviour. There is evidence that the dorsal regions of the prefrontal cortex reach maturation in late adolescence and continue to develop until the third decade of human life (Steinberg, 2004, p. 15). The DLPFC is also thought to act as a storehouse of information on types of behaviour that one can select from throughout life. As new emotionally packed experiences rapidly fill up the DLPFC through adolescence and beyond, it becomes possible to make more informed choices whether or not to act (and how to or how not to act) in familiar situations. Activity in this area is then thought to create essential feedback loops that reinforce certain patterns of behaviour that may be activated when a person is faced with novel stimuli. Research into developmental neurobiology has revealed that there are sensitive periods in brain development (plasticity)that occur over a person’s lifetime. While the emotional centres of the brain develop early in life, the areas responsible for emotional regulation as well as inhibition and executive control over behaviour, develop much later in a cumulative fashion and are continually moulded by experience. For this reason, it is absolutely essential to provide anti-racism and anti-colonial education programs as early as possible (starting in early adolescence, at the latest) when the DLPFC is undergoing intense growth and development. ANALYSIS

According to the research presented above, years of implicit learning having to do with the management of racism through education, which has included the stigmatization of overtly racist attitudes, has caused racism to go underground. As 70


a result, overt racism as a function of self-report has declined. However, racism still persists within the fabric of society, within the depths of cultural memory, and as a motivator of racist behaviour and thought. The research highlighted in this paper, for example, can shed light on how people who profess not to be racists in social circles among friends can become racial profilers in a work setting as they move from one socio-cultural context to another – one in which racial bias is taboo to another in which bias can still readily be expressed. For the first time, we can now observe how bias and prejudice have been learned and internalized in the structures of the brain; this means we may therefore be able to develop better strategies to challenge racism. And now we know that merely becoming aware of one’s own racist tendencies is not enough. For many, being aware of racism just forces them to control their behavioural responses that may have been deemed taboo by society. More than anything, recent brain research affirms that the “management model” of racial sensitivity training, etc., has not yielded the intended results of diminishing racism. What is required is another approach altogether – one that has been practised by indigenous populations in colonized lands for centuries: It includes a strategy of decolonizing our minds and consists of a systematic anti-racist inquiry that allows us to question the nature of reality (and history) paired with the anti-colonial practice of interrogating how colonial relations underpin the different and negative evaluations of skin colour. Anti-colonial pedagogy, according to George Sefa Dei, would include “interrogations of colonial representations and imaginaries examining processes and representations of legitimacy and degeneracy through the mutually constitutive relations of power” (Dei, 2004, p. 3). It is important for students to develop an interest in studying the history of colonialism as well as the political economic relations that underpin systems of colonial domination. This point must be stressed, since “in the study of colonial relations, there is and should be no claim to “innocence” [or a] moral distancing” (Dei, 2004, p. 4). In this way, we may begin to challenge the automatic denial of complicity and self-assumed neutrality that is especially exhibited by those in dominant social positions. This is especially important since research into the formation of automatic prejudices has shown that situational power influences prejudice formation. In psychological experiments, Richeson and Ambady (2003, p. 181) have shown that “individuals holding a powerful position for an upcoming intergroup interaction were more biased than individuals holding a less powerful position”. This provides a great impetus and urgency for a critical interrogation of the present unequal distribution of class power and how this negatively influences social and personal development. According to Phelps et al. (2000, p. 734), understanding the underlying processes and mechanisms of the formation and expression of indirect racial bias “can initiate discovery of the means by which they are learned and modulated”. Such inquiries also possess “the potential to shift the orthodox thinking about the separation of social, mental, and physical spheres, revealing how social learning and evaluation are rooted in the ordinary mechanics of the mind”. What are the means through which implicit prejudices are learned? The following section will explore this question. 71


Neurologist Richard Restak has recently written a book entitled The New Brain: How the Modern World Is Rewiring Your Brain (2003). In it, he mentions the increasingly important role of images as a purveyor of information in our modern culture. He notes that images have replaced words, recorded sound and other means of human communication. According to Restak (2003, p. 69): It is now possible for us to view and repeat images of upsetting and alarming events as if they are actually happening before us. The horrors of a particular event such as the World Trade Center attack can be relived – often unexpectedly, when we turn on our television and are exposed to the rerun of a clip of a plane hitting a tower . . . [M]erely viewing violent or aggressive images, such as those routinely encountered on television and movies, is sufficient to activate the prefrontal cortex. Especially sensitive to activation is the orbitofrontal cortex [see Appendix 1]. This area is in intimate contact with the emotional centers of the amygdala and other limbic system components. Following the orbitofrontal activation, brain circuits are established that encode the images for subsequent replay . . . Later, reexposure to the same or similar scenes strengthens the newly established circuits. When the emotionally arousing image is reencountered, these circuits are activated and the brain reacts with emotional arousal each time. The situation of upsetting images and alarming events being played over and over again on television has coincided with the recent emergence of a particularly virulent form of overt racism against Muslims since the World Trade Center attacks and subsequent media coverage of US colonial expansion into Iraq. These developments provide yet another example of how racist attitudes are formed and reinforced by the dominant colonizing forces in society. While watching television, images reach deep into the viewer’s brain structures and influence cognitive processes by provoking the viewer’s emotions. Indeed, since September 11, 2001, the emotion of fear has been extended throughout modern society in newly destructive ways, allowing the spread of violence, intolerance, and warfare. Combined with the series of events following the attacks as they were portrayed in the media, a large chunk of US society now legitimates racism and violence against Muslims. Once this narrative of racism and bigotry has been established, it is quickly picked up by television producers in a travestied way and reinforced. A very recent example of this dynamic at work includes a recent episode of the popular television show, The West Wing, in which Turkey, a secular, predominantly Muslim country was grossly misrepresented. In the episode, it was claimed that the moderate Islamist government in Ankara had ordered the beheading of a woman for committing adultery (ATAA, 2005). This is especially ironic, given that Turkey has no laws against adultery and, unlike many parts of the United States, has no death penalty! Yet, the predominant automatic, implicit prejudice against Muslims, portraying them as head-chopping barbarians, has proliferated to such a degree through the media, movies, and television that the 72


show’s producers can easily get away with this type of misrepresentation. One of the questions for education and psychology today must address these destructive emotions which set up dangerous cultural narratives, altering our psyches at the unconscious and subconscious levels, leading to enormous amounts of mental and physical suffering. Contrary to the perverse saliency of images, which the media has no trouble providing, a very different type of communication occurs with books. When reading a book, words on a page expose us to ideas and allow us to establish a link with the mind of the authors and either accept or reject their ideas. In my own case, reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X was a pivotal transformative experience in my early adolescence. As I am sure it has done for many adolescents, the book introduced me to the issues of racism and the continuing legacies of colonial domination in a very engaging way. Throughout my subsequent learning, I found myself referring back to it frequently. While watching televised images promotes passive absorbtion, reading encourages active engagement and criticism. And unlike the written word, images only offer an elementary means of communication with others. When viewing emotionally packed images, the mind enters survival mode and becomes severely prone to immediately categorizing images based on the emotions they provoke. The mind’s survival mechanisms are designed to make quick and dirty assessments and these in turn lead to the formation of habits and patterns of behaviour that are inaccessible to consciousness. Given that North Americans on average spend less than a hundred hours per year reading books and several thousands of hours watching television and movies, we may begin to understand the damage being done to our brains. According to the Entman-Rojecki Index of Race and Media (2000) which monitors the US media, it is four times more likely for the mug shot of an accused to be shown on TV if the suspect is black and it is two times more likely that a suspect will be shown restrained by police if she or he are black. Viewers are thus forced to automatically attach black faces to crime, simply because of the way information is being presented and communicated. There is no need to talk about conspiracies or even highlight the regime of disinformation that definitely operates at a certain level! The media, which deals mainly in images, is more likely to put the spotlight on black crime and stress the violence of black males by default, thereby racially priming the activation of the amygdala and the fear processing centres of our brains. This is itself a reflection of the automatic bias that the decision-makers in the media have learned throughout their lives, living in North America. Social psychologists have clearly documented the effects of this type of media imagery on the psychology of whites, and volumes of psychological research on the implicit activation of widely shared stereotypes about blacks have been produced. For example, in his classic 1947 study, Gordon Allport showed participants a picture portraying a black male arguing with a white male on the street. In the picture, the white male was holding a razor blade. In over half of the experiments, when asked to re-tell the story, subjects inaccurately described the black male as the one holding the razor blade. More recently, in his now famous study, B.K. Payne (2001) used a sequential priming 73


task to examine whether black faces facilitated identification with handguns. As a part of his experiment, Payne showed white subjects pictures of either common tools, such as pliers, or handguns, followed by black or white face primes. His results clearly indicate that black faces more easily facilitated identification with weapons whereas white faces more easily facilitated identification with tools. Though the evidence has been overwhelming over the years, very little action has been taken to address the situation. The actions that have been taken, namely to manage racism through education, have conversely caused racims to become internalized. Implicit biases have thus firmly become implanted within the minds of many and for these individuals they have become the unconscious sources of racist thoughts and behaviour. Again, given all the information presented above, it is worth repeating that the management model of combating racism through education emphasizing interracial harmony (a method embedded in the ideology of multiculturalism and an uncritical encounter with “diversity”, which are themselves outgrowths of colonial relations) does not form a significant challenge to the systemic oppression of colonialism or racism and cannot even begin to initiate the mental processes required to decolonize the mind. However, this is still the main strategy used to “educate” children on race. For example, in a recent study, Jones and Foley (2003, p. 558), came to the conclusion that racism can be reduced in society by teaching children “material that decreases the salience or validity of boundaries between groups, leading children to perceive similarities rather than differences when viewing self and others”. In their experiment, Jones and Foley (2003, pp. 556–557) used a “colourfully illustrated PowerPoint slideshow” with 11 slides of anthropological evidence and 4 slides on biological evidence serving to decategorize race followed by 8 slides on the “Melting Pot” – a presentation of the various contributions made to American society by people of different racial ancestries. Aside from promoting the “banking” method of education that negates the creative potential of students (Freire, 2001, p. 73), these methods simply do not constitute a viable strategy for combating the formation and expression of implicit racial biases that are formed as a result of mind-society interactions occurring at the level of unconscious learning. Considering the powerful battery of images available to dominant social forces responsible for producing the prevalent socio-cultural narratives that continually become the unconscious referents of our actions, merely acknowledging that racism exists and presenting scientific or historical evidence that suggesting racism consists of false categorizations simply does not go far enough. Indeed, even experiential learning that builds passive familiarity with one’s own prejudices does not go far enough. In fact, it may end up causing more harm than good! A traditional example of this method used by pedagogues is the popular “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” diversity-training exercise that has been repeated with endless permutations since it was first introduced over three decades ago by Jane Elliott. A recent assessment of this method by Stewart et al. (2003, p. 1898) has shown that this exercise has no effect on negative attitudes towards AfricanAmericans, and only a slightly observable effect in changing attitudes towards 74


Latinos. Moreover, the research has shown that it is common for participants to report “anger with themselves when noticing themselves engaging in prejudiced thoughts or actions” – a negative emotion that may be detrimental to the longterm reduction of stereotyping and prejudiced thoughts and actions (Stewart et al., 2003, p. 1908). This reaction actually corresponds to the findings of Richeson el al. (2003, pp. 1323–1328) discussed in detail above where the DLPFC is programmed through emotionally salient experience to consciously suppress overt indicators of racism while wholly being under the influence of implicit racial biases and schemata working at the subconscious or unconscious level. Implicit negative attitudes can exist against any group. Such sentiments are propped up by the long legacies of inequality that have been firmly entrenched in cultural memory over the last several centuries. Thus, another way to interpret these findings is that society has yet to systematically deal with colonialism, racism, class bias, and gendered forms of oppression. Dominant groups have never accepted responsibility for plunging society into this condition. In fact, they have made a massive investment in covering their tracks and denying their complicity by building an infrastructure mediated by culture, politics, language, and literature designed to reinforce the status quo notion of the racial superiority of whites and white civilization. As a result, there is a constant denial that race matters, and a relegation to the sidelines of society of those who attempt to show the true impact of racism to the sidelines of society. In similar fashion, the majority of education programs purporting to deal with racism have only managed to develop people with more sophisticated methods of suppressing their racist attitudes and behaviour, and have thus effectively furthered the investment that has been placed in maintaining the superiority of whites. The resulting conditions represent the central psychological and emotional costs of colonialism that continue to plague humanity. In case anyone would interpret emerging brain research as an attempt to “naturalize” racism, I would like to counter at this point by arguing that if racism were natural, everyone would be a racist all the time. In fact, upon introspection, it is possible for people to identify their racist thoughts, locate the origins of these thoughts as arising from socially-constructed colonial relations rooted in system of unequal social power relations that forms the basis for the implicit learning of racist attitudes, and struggle to unlearn the underlying unconscious patterns that give rise to automatic negative evaluations of those of another race. Indeed, while racism definitely has “natural” biological components in the way it recruits the actual living structures of the brain, it does not exist in the true nature of the mind. Simple introspection can verify this. No matter where we look for it, the racist moment is hard to locate and actually exists as a continuum throughout several aspects of the mind and over a much subtler and larger terrain that extends beyond the mind-body axis into the communities in which live and in what Fanon would call lived experience. However hard it is to locate, it is only through a systematic inquiry into the true nature or reality of the mind that we can deconstruct negative automatic evaluations of others and enhance such positive emotions as goodness, fairness, equanimity, and love of one another in order to begin the process of 75


decolonising the mind. Instead of beginning with the cosmetic notion that we are all equal, this process must begin, as Memmi (2000, p. 155) would argue, with an open acknowledgement of difference, eventually leading to acceptance. In the process, implicit attitudes must be allowed to surface and a critical engagement with one’s thoughts must occur. The sections below will begin to sketch what this process may look like, specifically focussing on the learning strategies that can counter racism. Before doing this, however, let us briefly consider the extremely damaging emotional tolls of colonialism. COLONIALISM, NEGATIVE EMOTIONS, AND STRESS

Underlying the main arguments presented in this study is the idea that colonialism creates negative, destructive emotions, notably fear and anxiety associated with exposure to colonialist thoughts, imagery, and actions that are then transformed into unconscious referents that give rise to implicit, yet observable and measurable racist attitudes. Obviously, at a more fundamental level, colonialism is based on concrete material social relationships built on unequal social relations that allow a colonizer to extract the resources (both human and material) from colonized lands and impose their own dominant ideas and forms of economic and social relations on a colonized people, privileging their own knowledge and technology over those of others. According to Hazel Waters (2004, p. 1), the latest wave of colonization is occurring within a historical conjuncture where “The occasion is terror, the instrument, fear and its delivery mechanism, racism”. In a recent article, William Schroder (2005) has accurately captured the operative logic of colonialism and imperial domination today, carried out by the most powerful colonizer in the history of the world, the United States: Like the great imperialists of bygone days, America’s rulers share a long history of creating fear – one “evildoer” or another always threatens the destruction of “the American way of life”. Then, while the frightened population huddles gratefully under the umbrella of power, the government pursues an agenda calculated to transfer vast sums of public wealth into the hands of the corporate and political elite. Arhundrati Roy (2004), using a very appropriate metaphor, has compared colonialism to rape. On countless occasions, the dominant white culture has portrayed land as open to penetration, willing, and needing conquest. This metaphor pits femininity (with its associated concepts of passivity, nature, emotion and purity) against the masculinity of calculative logic and conquering reason. Indeed, this narrative of colonial conquest, in the form of sexual domination, permeates the culture of Euro-American colonial expansion. And the fixation with sexualizing colonized bodies is reflected today in literature, movies, television, and advertising. A very recent manifestation of this is the now infamous imagery of sexual domination and abuse of Iraqi prisoners carried out by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison. As argued in other works in this volume, colonialism unleashes a torrent of negative emotions as a result of its perverse logic – it is rape committed on a mass 76


scale. Indeed, the greatest tolls of colonialism are its emotional ones. Colonialism plunges entire societies into cycles of terror, dependency, and continued violence as it sucks out the spirits of people, crushing bodies and minds in the process. Colonialism takes up the narrative of race with a vengeance and transforms it into a weapon for conquest, establishing minority rule over the majority by creating divisions that are built into cultural space and buttressed by the practice of class and gender inequalities. Finally, colonialism plunges colonized people into a perpetual state of fear which is eventually replicated in the colonizer’s own society. Brain research has revealed a great deal about the negative impact of the fear response and what it can do to the human body-mind axis. When the amygdala is activated by images that invoke fear, it initiates a chemical cascade. One of the more important chemicals in this cascade is acetylcholine. This chemical activates other regions of the cortex, putting the brain in a state of arousal and facilitating memory formation to create vigilance against future negative stimuli.5 Increased levels of acetylcholine from the emotional centres of the brain signal the adrenal glands located just above the kidneys to release more chemicals, including norepinephrine and adrenaline (epinephrine) into the blood stream. These chemicals cause an accelerated heart rate, increased respiration, and a tightening of the muscles. When these chemicals reach the nervous system, they provoke spontaneous automatic behaviour to facilitate escape or engage in combat. If neither option is available, the brain goes into a general state of hypervigilance or anxiety that carries the negative emotions forward in time, creating stress and wreaking havoc on the body-mind axis, leading to the long term expression of violent and defensive moods. As we all know, if permitted to continue, continual stress results in an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. These chemicals work at the intersections of the bodymind axis, providing the actual “feeling” or sensation of our experiences, but they also have the potential to harm the body-mind. These processes also represent some of the neurobiological correlates of colonization. Though I have made it sound like all these chemical reactions happen outside of an individual’s control in the simple sketch provided above, this is definitely not the whole story. The automatic learning of fears only represents one form of learning – a very basic form that causes “spirit injury”. It is necessary to confront and come to terms with the negative emotions being perpetuated by us and by society, or else they become, as we have seen, virulent automatic unconscious afflictions that spread violence and hate. This requires a different type of learning – one that is more disciplined and focused on the mind?a process of learning that questions the way our mind-body axis produces reality. It is based on the idea that the current reality we perceive, based on the perpetuation of negative emotions, is not right and that we have the power to transform this situation.



When it comes to dealing with negative emotions, Buddhism has been doing it for centuries. Love and compassion are the anchors of Buddhist practice and it is the extension of these emotions that leads to decreased suffering through mental practice and the process of self-reflection. As bell hooks (1996, p. 292) has written: “A fundamental shift in consciousness is the only way to transform a culture of domination and oppression into one of love. Contemplation is the key to this shift”. One of the central practices in Buddhist healing psychology is the practice of meditative contemplation. Meditation is the path to spiritual and mental transformation. Even the anchors of love and compassion depend on mindfulness training and meditation – they are not automatic. This kind of intense reflection and mental training carries over into life. I have been practicing meditation for several years. Through this form of mental exercise, I try to uncover my own thought patterns. This is sometimes painful and embarrassing, but it is the essence of gaining insights into my own thought processes and the nature of the “reality” produced by my brain. The mind itself is capable of unravelling our mental narratives; it can witness how race, class, gender, and privilege may condition our thoughts and actions. Transforming the mind to uncover these narratives, by tracing their origins to colonial social arrangements, for example, allows us to change the way we internalize the colonial imagery and customs that permeate our everyday existence, thereby allowing us to develop more critical patterns of thought. This is one of the goals of the socially engaged Buddhism that I have been practicing over the past few years. Through socially engaged Buddhist practice, we can gain power over the dominant social forces and psychological influences that hijack the automatic processes in our brains, and effectively “rewire” our brains. Meditation can utilize the powers of what we call “consciousness” to bring the unconscious scripts into focus in our mind’s eye. Moreover, it can allow us to control our negative emotions by paying closer attention to the moment they arise, giving us a chance to transform negativity through the power of positive emotions. Modern brain research is affirming what Buddhist practitioners have known for millennia. Neuroscientists have recently found, for example, that advanced Buddhist practitioners can control their startle response?one of the most basic and primitive of human reflexes – by developing the skills to mediate external experience through different channels of the mind (Goleman, 2003, p. 17). Other scientists have noted the neurochemical dimensions of meditation, which directly oppose the “fight-or-flight” mechanism, due to the positive effects that meditation has on the autonomic nervous system (Wallis, 1998, pp. 54–68). In fact, meditation invokes what has been called the “relaxation response” – a state of deep calm. This is where further research can help us to better understand how the body-mind interacts with society to generate all sorts of mental and physical afflictions. Unfortunately, while Western psychology has produced a plethora of research into the role of negative emotions, we still have much to learn regarding the power of positive emotions. This is where studying and incorporating Eastern traditions and indigenous knowledge(s) 78


that stress interconnectedness, holism, and the power of positive emotions into pedagogic practice would help provide us with some direction for healing. In order to rewire the brain, it is necessary to be proactive rather than passive on questions of race, diversity, and responsibility. This is absolutely necessary because in North America, passivity equals white supremacy. Racial bias is pervasive and can be rooted in very subtle processes, conditioned by (and itself conditioning) our cultural milieu – through movies, magazines, TV, media, clothing, and all the products we consume. They may further be mediated by class power, economic relations, and powerful cultural narratives. Bias is an infection afflicting my mind as a person with privileges, as well as the minds of those who might not have access to such privilege. In struggling to free our minds of bias, what we require is an indigenousness in the positioning of our bodies, our transient ideologies, and also our minds. This indigenousness of the mind gets at what is often referred to as the “luminous nature” of the mind – its inherent capacity for goodness (Dalai Lama, 2000). In other words, we have the power and capacity to root out bad thoughts and replace them with good thoughts by attending to both as they arise and assessing their worth. It is through seeking this indigenousness of the mind that we may realize how natural systems operating in the brain can be taken over by outside forces, effectively being colonized, and how we may use our own minds to win back control over those natural, habitual systems by using the mind’s natural abilities to extend love and compassion while seeking to transform society in a more positive direction. As argued above, starting early on the path of transforming the mind and spirit is crucial. In schools, meditative practice should be made a part of everyday schooling in an attempt to produce students with disciplined minds (and many of the practices of Buddhist meditation for heightened spiritual awareness can easily be carried out in a secular or multifaith context). For this to happen, however, those responsible for education must look inward and do a lot of intense soul searching and we must thus cast our gaze on our own positions, which are often the very sites from which we oppress and perpetuate colonial relations (Dei, 2004). Turning back briefly to my teacher friend in the car mentioned at the beginning of this study, he has recently finished a course which taught several methods of meditative practice and he now reports feeling more able to identify the powerful legacies of history and culture that make him behave and think in certain ways. This is not surprising. Meditation, like much of Western science, takes its starting point in “objective” reality and observation. However, unlike Western science, the object under examination is the mind itself and how the mind constructs “reality” through lived experience. Through engaging with this ancient form of acquiring knowledge about the mind and self, my friend is now more conscious of his implicit attitudes and thoughts. He is more readily able to identify his “automatic” actions and questions them intensely. Finally, he has also become adept at expanding his positive emotions and has told me that he employs pedagogic practices in his classroom to reveal the powers of this type of emotional learning to his students.



Before concluding, it is necessary to ask what studies of the human brain can tell us about racism. Western scientists have recently begun to learn a lot about the functioning of the human brain. Brain studies are reaffirming the negative effects of colonization on the colonized. Brain research has provided us with information regarding the mechanisms through which racism continues to be exhibited in the mind of the colonizer over the centuries as the dominant social forces giving rise to colonialism have changed themselves and also adjusted the operative logic of modern-day politics of colonialism. Yet current research has a long way to go in understanding the hidden mysteries of this highly complex process. More research is required and the arguments presented in this paper must be regarded with some scepticism, for it is misleading to assume that a few regions of the brain are responsible for, or is predictive of, a highly complex behaviour such as racism. In the final analysis, brain research seems to yield more questions than answers regarding racism. The questions we choose to address will determine the approach we take to combating racism at the level of education. What is education if not (at some level) the active “rewiring” of the brain? The problem with rewiring, as with education, must necessarily be the unpredictability of the outcome. This aside, the knowledge we have accumulated about brain function over the centuries stresses the necessity for social transformation to be carried out alongside the transformation of minds in order to create a system of social relations free of bias and prejudice in any of their forms. A deeper understanding of the interactive nature of the functions of the cerebral cortex would allow us to form pedagogical strategies appropriate for combating racism more effectively. We know that repetitive images provoking strong negative emotions gives way to rapid unconscious categorizations of information in the mind. We also now are beginning to find out that these categorizations become automatic referents working beneath the level of conscious awareness to activate certain regions of the brain in response to stimuli. Hearing the words “the suspect has been identified as a black male . . . ” and having the image associated with this line reproduced in movies, music and in other cultural outlets over and over again creates a situation where the human amygdala (responsible for fear response, anger, etc.). In this case, as described above, the ACC (regulating attention), and the PFC (responsible for higher level emotional processing) are automatically activated and may arouse some sort of defensive emotional posture (such as fear) when white subjects see a black face even in the isolated and relatively safe environment of the laboratory. White subjects thus perceive a socially constructed and mediated threat and respond with a survival-mode response that in the evolutionary schema of our species did not originally develop for this purpose. Furthermore, in face-to-face interactions, studies have shown that white subjects in conversations with black subjects perform badly on a Stroop test, requiring higher executive function immediately after their interaction. Scientists point to the drain of resources caused by whites checking their responses and inhibiting their inherent biases from emerging. Moreover, we have also learned that the brain changes with time, going through several 80


crucial periods of rapid change (periods of high plasticity). And finally, as we age, our average abilities to recall detailed information decreases, leading to more stereotyping and generalizing to compensate for declining functionality in certain memory systems. Studies have also shown that people are more likely to engage in stereotyping activity as they attain higher degrees of situational (social) power, which is likely to also occur with age. All of this evidence points to the need for what Memmi (1999) has described as a “lifelong pedagogy” to combat racism. This paper has argued that scientific findings reveal the need for a struggle geared towards social and spiritual transformation waged at the multiple levels of individual human minds (through mindfulness techniques described above) alongside collective action in various forms, such as introducing more anti-colonial and anti-racist literature into the curriculum. In addition, it is necessary to launch an assault on the automatism created by the social forces that compel us to accept and internalize social values without questioning them, leading to the formation of automatic frames of reference that operate in the background of our minds. From an early age, we must teach children how to take control of their minds and direct it in ways that expand positive emotional states in earnest, while taking responsibility and devoting our lives to make right the wrongs of the past and the present. This is why anti-colonial, anti-racist literature and imagery to counter colonial narratives must become a part of our lived experience. Finally, as the fields of cognitive neuropsychology, developmental neurobiology, and brain imaging techniques continue to develop and expand, the emerging research will have a profound impact on education – just as it has already on clinical psychology. And as we have seen, the parts of the brain, like the parts of the Earth, can be claimed as territory by colonial powers and relationships. It is therefore absolutely necessary for anticolonial, critical pedagogy to establish the brain as a part of the interdisciplinary and complex terrain of anti-colonial struggle.

NOTES 1 The Implicit Attitude Test (IAT) is a test that measures subtle, sub-conscious processes in the evaluation of social groups. Subjects are presented with a series of faces and asked to identify them as “black” or “white”. The reaction time is recorded. Then, they are asked to match positive and negative adjectives with the same black and white faces with neutral facial expressions. The test measures the differences in response times to the black+good/white+bad pairing versus the black+bad/white+good pairing. To take a demo version of the test, go to Though there has been some debate regarding the accuracy of this method in measuring implicit racist behaviour (Gehring et al., 2003, pp. 1241–1243), it is a widely accepted and reliable tool used in social psychology to observe and document implicit attitudes and biases. 2 In a more recent article by Phelps et al. (2003, pp. 203–208), a woman with partial damage to her amygdala was subjected to the same set of tests as control subjects with intact amygdalas, to see the extent of the amygdala’s role in the expression of racial bias. The experiments showed that the woman with amygdala damage showed a similar bias compared to control subjects, suggesting that “although activation of the amygdala is correlated to IAT scores, it is not critical for the expression of racial bias”. Despite the fact that these findings seem to challenge the previous experiments, they do not really provide conclusive evidence either way because the woman’s amygdala was removed in


UNSAL her later years, which would have allowed considerable time for emotional learning to take place in childhood in other areas of the cortex that have not been investigated in the expression of racial bias. 3 The Stroop Test measures mental vitality and flexibility by taking advantage of our ability to read words more quickly and automatically than we can name colours. If a word is printed or displayed in a colour different from the colour it actually names; for example, if the word “green” is written in blue ink we will say the word “green” more readily than we can name the color in which it is displayed, which in this case is “blue”. The cognitive mechanism involved in this task is called inhibition, you have to inhibit or stop one response and say or do something else. 4 Neurobiologists know that certain areas of the brain are responsible for certain functions from deficit studies of people who have had strokes or other debilitating brain injuries. These injuries have shed light on the various functions of brain areas. 5 This is why, for example, we feel a certain uneasiness if we walk by a street where we may have been mugged a few years ago. The feelings come back even if we walk by a place resembling that emotionally-salient area or hear sound like those we heard on that night or even smells that may be associated with that negative experience.



Source: Floyd Bloom et al., Brain, Mind, and Behavior. New York: Worth Publishers, 1985.



Adapted from: LeDoux, Joseph. The Emotional Brain. New York: Touchstone Books, 1998, pp. 162– 164.

REFERENCES Allport, G.W. (1947). The psychology of rumor. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Assembly of Turkish American Associations (2005). Message regarding NBC’s “The West Wing”. Available at (February 14, 2005). Banaji, M.R., Cunningham, W.A., Johnson, M.K., et al. (2004). Dissociated conscious and unconscious evaluations of social groups: An fMRI investigation. Available at∼banaji/byauthor.html (March 9, 2004). Bloom, F., Nelson, C.A. and Lazerson, A. (1985). Brain, mind, and behavior. New York: Worth Publishers. Brothers, L. (1997). Friday’s footprint: How society shapes the human mind. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Dalai Lama (2003). Transforming the mind: Teachings on generating compassion. Hammersmith, London: Thorsons. Dasgupta, A.G. and Greenwald, A.G. (2001). Exposure to admired group members reduces automatic intergroup bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 800–814.


IMPLICIT RACISM AND THE BRAIN Dei, G.S. (2004, unpublished draft). Lecture notes: SES 3914H: Anti-colonial thought: Pedagogical challenges. OISE, University of Toronto. Entman, R.M. and Rojecki, A. (2000). The black image in the white mind: Media and race in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Statistics available at (March 20, 2004). Fanon, F. (1966). The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove Press. Fanon, F. (1968). Black skin, white masks. London: McGibbon & Kee. Freire, P. (2001). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Gehring, W.J., Karpinski, A. and Hilton, J.L. (2003). Thinking about interracial interactions. Nature Neuroscience, 6(12), 1241–1243. Goleman, D. (2003). Destructive emotions: How can we overcome them? A scientific dialogue with the Dalai Lama. New York: Bantam Books. hooks, b. (1996). Contemplation and transformation. In M. Dresser (Ed.), Buddhist women on the edge. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, pp. 287–292. Jones, L.M. and Foley, L.A. (2003). Educating children to decategorize racial groups. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33(3), 554–564. LeDoux, J. (1998). The emotional brain: The mysterious underpinnings of emotional life. New York, Touchstone Books. Memmi, A. (2000). Racism. Trans. Steve Martinot. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Paine, K.B. (2001). Prejudice and perception: The role of automatic and controlled processes in misperceiving a weapon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 181–192. Phelps, E.A., O’Connor, K.J., Getenby, C., et al. (2000). Performance on indirect measures of race evaluation predicts amygdala activation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 12(5), 729–738. Phelps, E.A., Cannistraci, C.J. and Cunningham, W.A. (2003). Intact performance on an indirect measure of race bias following amygdala damage. Neuropsychologia, 41, 203–208. Project Implicit. (2004). Implicit association test. Available at (March 21, 2004). Restak, R. (2003). The new brain: How the modern age is rewiring your mind. New York: Rodale Press. Richeson, J.A. and Ambady, N. (2003). Effects of situational power on automatic racial prejudice. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 39, 177–183. Richeson, J.A., Baird, A.A., Gordon, H.L., et al. (2003). An fMRI investigation of the impact of interracial contact on executive function. Nature Neuroscience, 6(12), 1323–1328. Roy, A. (2004). The new American century. The Nation. January 22, 2004. Available at (February 5, 2005). Schroder, W. (2005). American imperialism and the politics of fear. Available at (February 16, 2005). Schwartz, J. (1999). Visuals help counter prejudice. University Week, 16(35), August 19, 1999. Available online at∼uweek/archives/1999.08.AUG_19/article8.html (March 10, 2004). Steinberg, L. (2004). The study of developmental psycopathology in adolescence. In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Handbook of developmental psychopathology. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Stewart, T.L., LaDuke, J.R., Bracht, C., et al. (2003). Do the “eyes” have it? A program evaluation of Jane Elliot’s “Blue-Eyes/Brown-Eyes” diversity training exercise. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33(9), 1898–1921. University of Washington. (1998, October). 33,000 Web tests show unconscious roots of racism, ageism. Available at (March 14, 2004). Wallis, C. (1998). Faith and healing. Time, 147(26), June 24, 58–64. Waters, H. (2004). Editorial. Race and Class, 46(1), 1–2.




Any form of colonialism is bound to leave a mark of some kind. European colonialism in Africa left lasting marks on the landscape, as well as the political, social and economic organization of the African peoples. Further, there was an attack on the mental, spiritual and emotional realms of Africans, the scars from which are visible today. Aidoo (2000) sums it up well: I grew up knowing that Europeans had dubbed Africa ‘The Dark Continent’ . . . That expression was first used in the Nineteenth Century. Since then its ugly odor has clung to Africa, all things African, Africans and people of African descent everywhere, and has not faded yet . . . I am not a psychologist or a psychoanalyst. However, I do know that it has not been easy living with that burden. Africans have been the subject of consistent and bewildering pseudoscholarship, always aimed at proving that they are not inferior human beings. Even when there was genuine knowledge it was handled perniciously: by anthropologists and social engineers, cranial and brain-size scientists, sundry bell-curvers, doomsday, medical and other experts. (Aidoo, 2000) Aidoo’s words speaks for many colonized people who feel the need to prove that we are human beings; we did have a history before the colonizer and we did have meaningfully organized ways of living, educating and governing our societies. Many scholars – anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, post-colonialist and all sorts of educators have been asked to do “something” about the colonolized subjects (hereafter referred to as Indigenous Peoples). “Doing something” about the colonial past and present ranges from genocide and rewriting history to denying their existence, devaluing their knowledges, and debasing their cultural beliefs and practices. This has been done through – among other mechanisms – Western systems of education, texts, and literature, thereby making the business of education and knowledge production contested terrain. This paper works through the imagining of the pre-colonial, the colonial encounter, and the colonial era and discusses the impact of colonialism on colonized subjects. My aim as a woman who grew up in rural Kenya is to examine my fragmented past and try to make sense of what I saw and learned through the stories, the proverbs, and the idioms imparted to me by my elders while growing up. I am quite aware that many readers will dismiss the exercise as a romanticization of the past; however, for me, this is a journey to the past with the hope of understanding the present in preparation for the future. Two Trees states that the keys to our salvation are located in our connectivity, our ability to unlock the memory past G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 87–106. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


and present. The struggle to retrieve the past and survive the present is an arduous journey. This paper therefore, aims to capture the fluidity between the past and present, recognizing that the former cannot be quarantined from the latter (Said, 1993, p. 4). Within this context, the paper situates my analysis on decolonizing as articulated by scholars from the 1960s to the present. In addition, I employ contemplative discursive framework as a spiritual discourse of knowing and learning. This is because in order to revisit the past, one has to employ a holistic approach to learning and knowing. Contemplative spiritual discourse provides the framework to do so. The contemplative includes the natural human capacity for knowing through silence, looking inward, pondering deeply, beholding, and witnessing. As I engage in this exercise, I am aware of historical objectification which emerged as a central tool of social control. I am aware of how the hierarchies of difference were the basis of colonial relations of ruling. I am aware of the violent consequences and psychic imposition of colonial education. Colonial education not only facilitated the normalization of Western education, but actively left deep spiritual and mental scars, causing mental and physical enslavement. This form of control was an absolute necessity within colonial relations of power for, as Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (1985) argues in his book: Decolonizing the Mind, political and economic control of people will never be complete or effective without mental control. To control people’s culture and way of thinking is to control their tools of self-definition in relationship to others. Colonial education can be characterized by a series of absences in learning about the multiplicity of different knowledges. As a young girl, who was eager to learn, I was only partially aware that there was much missing about my culture and my knowledge. As a researcher and scholar, I have come to know in greater depth the scope and meaning behind these absences. I center my arguments on the following questions: How might I describe my past, before colonialism? How was the colonial encounter? How did the colonizers take over my family land and reduce my forefathers and mothers to squatters? What was the impact at spiritual, physical, and emotional levels on people who were initially independent, and then made dependent? What were the various forms of resistance that my foreparents used to fight back? How has that impact been passed down to subsequent generations since? What is the impact on me, an associate professor teaching in one of the most prestigious universities in North America? How am I coping with the scars of colonialism?


Spirituality as an anti-colonial discourse is shaped by the lived realities of colonial subjects who question the concept of a universal standard by pointing out, or recognizing, its limited scope and perspective (Amadiume, 1987; Smith, 1999; Some, 1994). Spirituality as a discourse cannot be taught since it is a biologically built-in constituent of what it is to be human. My elders made me aware of my spirituality; now I reflect on it in the light of my culture. Spirituality may be 88


understood as a process of struggle, a way of self-recovery and the path to follow in order to become whole and liberated. In other words, spirituality lies at the heart of being human. When I make reference to spirituality as a discourse, I do not mean the creed-based formulations of any faith traditions. I am making reference to the ancient and abiding African quest for connectedness with our own souls, with one another, with the worlds of nature, and with the mystery of being alive (Palmer, 1999; Wheeler et al., 2002). Spirituality as a discourse guides my quest for greater meaning in life. It enables me to search for answers to conflicting messages that may come from new knowledge being created from the advancement of technology and the fact that today, humans are able to provide explanations for different occurrences; despite all this, there is a vacuum in most peoples lives. Different authors have suggested that the soul is the seat of our spirituality and that it represents the multiplicity of selves within each of us, and that their interaction and struggles are the threads that weave the self together (Rogers, 2001). I strongly believe that the inward journey is a discovery of our multiple selves and that spirituality is manifested in our search for wholeness, meaning and interconnectedness and values. Spirituality is the vital life force that animates African peoples and connects them to the rhythms of the universe, nature, ancestors and the community (Wheeler et al., 2002). It permeates nearly every domain of Africans’ lives. Historically, spirituality has served as a personal and communal source of liberation, solace, hope, meaning and forgiveness (ibid).


My name is Njoki, which means one who comes back. This may be translated to mean different things to different people depending on situation or circumstance. It could mean going back to the source, in this case my ancestral roots. It could mean parents naming one of their children after their married daughter; it could mean being reborn – that is, acknowledging a female member of the clan who has passed on, or who has left her ancestral home due to marriage, education, etc. This name provides a sense of meaning and a sense of belonging to its bearer. I am therefore quite aware of the fact that the urge to look into my ancestral past is mainly due to who I am and what my role is within my clan. I received my initial education (K-12, Bachelors and Masters degrees) in Kenya and then moved to Canada to pursue another Masters degree and a Ph.D. From grade 5 to grade 12, I attended missionary schools and was taught by nuns of European ancestry; I followed a British curriculum and memorized material written by Western scholars’ texts to pass British set examinations. I took pride in reading and reciting works of Shakespeare, D.H. Lawrence, Bernard Shaw, Hemingway, and Dickens, and I regarded others who did not read or enjoy reading these books as backward and illiterate. As I have stated elsewhere: I thought that Ngugi Wa Thian’go, who began, in the 1970s, to decry the “colonial mentality” and to promote the virtues of writing in African languages, was 89


a whining, troublesome English professor. I took it for granted that English was one of the languages of Africa, because it was, along with Swahili, an official language of my country. People who spoke English were/are considered educated. I never imagined that anyone would tell me or that I would come to the realization that the English language and foreign education were a form of colonization, and that the beliefs that were inculcated in me were not really mine, that all the people and cultural symbols I was celebrating were simply not mine. In this blissful ignorance, it did not occur to me to question even the most obvious assumptions implicit in my education such as why the written word was valued over traditional knowledges and why nothing was Kenyan and African histories were absent in the curriculum. (Wane, 2003, p. 321) From the above quotation, it is quite clear that colonization did not end with the British leaving Kenya in 1963, but continued through the various organizations and institutions that they conceived as instrumental to carrying out the colonizing project even after they were thousands of miles away. Kenya was under direct British rule for 75 years. The education that I received reinforced very strong Western values and created a desire in me to aspire to physically relocate and live in the West. I truly felt that my education would be incomplete if I did not visit the land and see the people who dominated so much of the ethos of education in Kenya. This was because all the learning was embedded in a social structure designed to erode traditional knowledge and values. Most learning concentrated on Europe and North America. Colonial education succeeded in planting seeds for the expansion, growth, and sustainability of imperialism. This is eloquently captured by Said (1984) as the “process or policy of establishing and maintaining an empire, lingering where it has always been in the general cultural sphere as well as in specific political, ideological economic and social practices” (p. 9). In other words, education was an organized form of imperialism that allowed colonization to continue by indoctrinating new subjects. Unknown to me, the act of being schooled in the literary canons so valued in Europe caused me to be disassociated from, and devalue the cultural knowledges and wisdom of my ancestors, my community, and my family. In another paper (Wane, 2003), I reflect on my education in Kenya and on how, as an African woman growing up in Kenya, a former British colony, I took pride in going to school and learning everything about Western countries. In that paper, I reflect on seductive aspects of Western colonial education and lifestyle. This is because most colonized subjects acquiring literacy in English or French were quick to realize that a university education opened up prospects for economic advancement, individual attainment, and would ultimately provide keys to political as well as economic power (Wane, in press). In reference to my schooling, we were taught to strictly separate the personal and the academic. The emphasis on separating the personal from education served to keep us a step removed and distant from spirituality and emotions, to retain an objective position.



My missionary education symbolized a dividing wall between my “knowledge” and my self-esteem – between my new values and my family relations. The various structures that surrounded me acted as metaphors for progress and cleanliness through whiteness. These structures assumed a notion of universalism that problematized colonial and indigeneity from the time of their first encounter. In other words, the mission for many people in my community was like a beacon of light leading the youth to another world – a world away from their indigenous roots. The power of texts and the written word cannot be underestimated in educational colonization. Furthermore, texts play a central role in the contestations that take place in schools and within systems of education (Apple, 1996). The author captures the essence of texts as tools when he points out that the types of knowledge that appear in texts are not neutral, because socio-economic as well as cultural activities are implicit in texts. Texts are a result and embodiment of these processes and are by no means simple transmitters of fact. Under British rule, Kenyan social structures were disrupted and damaged, and people’s cultural beliefs were devalued. The colonial government managed to create doubt in people’s mind about who they were, to the point where parents advocated a colonial education for their children even after independence was attained in 1963. In this paper, I write from a very privileged position in terms of my social location as a university professor. My job as an academic provides the space to look back, to reflect on my past, my history, and my cultural values and to commit to paper my take on colonialism and its impact. There are many African women from rural Kenya who have the ability to do this, but have no time to write or tell their stories. This is due to their social responsibilities, and their everyday struggles with the colonial structures, which leaves them with very little room to put on paper their perspectives on colonialism. In this paper, I employ imagination to understand this history. One exercise I have employed as a methodological tool to revisit the past, is to have students write the ways they imagine life before the colonial encounter, on the blackboard or on scraps of paper. The end result is what you see below.


Governments communal work communal ceremonies individual ceremonies storytelling proverbs teaching dreams vision foreseers healers medicines rituals wars reconciliation teacher grandmothers observation discipline rites of passage medicine women medicine men beads shells drums songs moon sun magic initiation shaman healing power community water spirit wind voices crops celebrations offering religion rhythm governance society understanding fire mourning cleansing native grandfathers mothers fathers sisters aunts community mothers elders traditions traditional herbs illness death knowledge children boys girls warriors disease green trails idioms schooling harmony sanctity of nature spirituality totems collaboration reciprocal flow of energy clan plants rocks gods self defence 91


beliefs trinity of intertwined forces politics economies earth not for conquest and subjugation but for living with in harmony politics was an art of man/womanship mutuality culture music history progress communal cultures community power exercised by wise women and men titles conferred over time common aspirations acknowledged leadership orality transmission of knowledge collectivism. This exercise of employing our imagination to write or talk of what it was like before the encounter with European settlers enables us to escape the present and relive in the past. As a class, we resurrect the various rituals, ceremonies, celebrations, trade routes, wars, ways of worshipping and solving conflict. In our imaginary encounters with traders, we use barter trading. We also mourn our losses through destruction of ancient kingdoms. We carry out rituals of welcoming newborn babies and rituals of saying farewell to our dead. We visualize ways that knowledge was passed on from generation to generation and how traditions were maintained. As an instructor, it is interesting to observe students using proverbs, wise saying or short stories to pass on knowledge. I usually stand at a strategic spot where I can observe all the students as they walk around, go to the board to write or sit at their desks to carry out their exercise. Before I gathered courage to carry out this exercise in one of my classes, I used to relive my past in my mind. In addition to this imagining exercise, I have read the works of scholars such as Molefi Asante, Ra Un Nefer Amen, Queen Afua, Wallance Dudge, Mulana Karenga, Kwesi, just to name a few, who have tried to make sense of the African past by writing about their research or by visiting the ruins of ancient civilizations in Africa. Asante writes about his findings: “Everywhere the evidence of the pyramid form, the tekemu, or the facades of buildings speak something very ancient and deeply Africa . . . its history and culture during the period of its greatest achievements linked to the rest of the continent” (p. vi). He goes on to note “there were several institutions of learning along River Nile such as Temple of Bast at Babastis, the Temple of Ptah at Memphis, the Sakkara complex, the Labyrinth at Faygum, the Temple of Hutheru at Dendera, the Osirieon at Abydoes, the Ramesseum, the Temple of Amen at Karnak, the Temple of Heru at Edfu, the Temple of Khnum at Aswan, and the Temple of Anset at Philae” (Asante, 2000, p. vi). Queen Afua in the Sacred Woman book provides a detailed account of her research of the physical and ancestral healing practices that restored harmony among the Nubia. She states that our ancestors learned how to combine and unite the elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit to bring balance to their lives and the cosmos. Queen Afua does acknowledge that we have lost the way of life we had thousands of years ago. However, some of us seek to remember and to spiritually and physically grow and blossom by returning to our ancient ways (Afua, p. 14). These scholars of ancient African civilization have confirmed for me that my imagination is not all that abstract and that there are Africans today seeking and wishing they could have a glimpse of their past, even if it is in their dreams. Many times when you are searching for information, it is fragmented and not meaningful at all. In most cases, it is very frustrating to piece it together. 92


Following our blissful moment of living in the past, I usually turn to students and ask them to erase what they have written, not in a systematic fashion, but with one sweep of the brush per student. If the exercise was done on paper, I ask them to exchange these. After the exchange, I ask everybody to shred the paper and scatter the pieces in the air. Usually, there is a whoop from the students followed by some saying “Why are you doing this? I would have wanted to keep what I have written to remind me of what it might have been in my past”. After the blackboard is erased or the papers are flying all over the room, I give them twenty minutes to reconstruct what was written on the board or to go around the room to pick out their own pieces and put them together. What is even worse, I ask them to go around the class and pick up their own pieces and glue them together. I usually emphasize that as they reconstruct what was there, they should keep in mind the idea of change. The end result is half-written words or single letters that are written or pasted on the blackboard. I have tried to reproduce that below. THE ENCOUNTER

. . . rnmnts. . . com. . . . . . ork. . . . . . unal. . . emoni.individual. . . toy. . . verbs. .eaching . . . reams. . . . . . sion. . . . . . ealers. . . b. . . dicine. . . wars. . . .divided. . . .teachers. . . gran. . . mothers . . . discipline . . . passage . . . women . . . men . . . beads . . . shells druk m. . . oon . . . sun . . . mag. . . man. . . power . . . commu. . . pirit . . . w. wind . . . voices . . . fferig . . . Gion. . . rh. . . yth m go . . . nance so. . . Standing. . . fire. . . rning . . . Clea . . . sin . . . ative rand . . . thers atheri s. . . sis. . . Genocide . . . assimilation . . . extin . . . c reak. . . the spirit religions, forc. . . dependency . . . des munity. . . ders . . . tradition . . . herbs . . . ip llness death knowledge . . . Children. . . . . . arriors dis . . . ease . . . scho. . . mo jny . . . tity of nature . . . spirit . . . Coll . . . procal . . . Energy . . . rocks gods . . . At the end of this exercise, there is an air of sadness, even desperation in the room. The atmosphere in my class is well articulated by Fanon’s words. Colonialism is not satisfied merely by hiding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it. This work of devaluing pre-colonial history takes a dialectical significance today. When we consider the efforts made to carry out the cultural estrangement so characteristic of the colonial epoch, we realize that nothing has been left to chance and that the total result looked for by colonial domination was indeed to convince the natives that colonialism came to lighten their darkness. The effect consciously sought by colonialism was to drive into the natives’ head the idea that if the settlers were to leave, they would at once fall back into barbarism, degradation and bestiality. (Fanon, 1994, p. 37) It becomes very clear that we cannot recreate the past and that even if we could, it is not static. What is however painful, is the destructive element embodied in the exercise. The realization from just a simple exercise makes clear to students some 93


of the ramifications of colonialism today – at a personal and societal level. This exercise speaks to notions of loss and fragmentation of cultures, belief systems, educational thought, etc. Many times the students ask questions such as: Why were the colonizers so brutal? Did they realize they were destroying people’s spirits, culture, values, etc.? How can we reconstruct the past that took place hundred of years ago? How can we uproot some of the ills of colonization? How can we uproot the fragmentation of the self and our society? How can we uproot the notion of the divide-and-conquer mentality that we have inherited from colonialism? How can we heal our broken spirit and reclaim our fragmented past? In the last four decades, there has been a concerted effort by scholars to create texts that reflect anti-colonial thought and different forms of resistance.


Anti-colonial thought is a complex discourse that highlights different ways that colonized people have countered their colonial experiences. I must state, from the outset, there are many anti-colonial thinkers whom I may not mention in this paper, but I do acknowledge their heroic efforts to speak when many chose to remain silent and to accept the status quo – the subordinated, marginalized other. However, for the purposes of this paper, it is essential to examine some of the salient features of anti-colonial discourse to determine how the theoretical framework may speak to the discourse of reclaiming, rewriting and acknowledging of the past. Anti-colonial resistance is a long and central component of the African experience. Anti-colonial discourses within the context of attempting to reclaim indigenous African identities are best captured in the work of African writers. Indeed, generations of African writers have built their careers on intimately interrogating the micro- and macro-effects of colonialism alongside resistance strategies undertaken within their communities. The notion of education as a colonizing tool has been taken up by authors such as Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Chinua Achebe, Albert Memmi, Wole Soyinka, Ashis Nandy, Aimé Césaire, just to name a few. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s work provides an understanding as to how Western societies espoused imperialism and distorted histories of Africans. Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart, illustrates how colonization destroyed a Nigerian community. In this novel, Achebe aims to inform the outside world about Ibo cultural traditions, to remind his own people of their past, and to assert that it had contained much of value. In many ways, the novel is a direct challenge to the belief that African societies have no history or culture. In another novel, A Man of the People, Achebe examines corruption, not as an African phenomenon but as an offshoot of colonialism as local people attempt to emulate colonial political structures. My critique of these earlier voices of decolonization agrees with Sadaawi’s who deplores the lack of representation of women’s voices (Sadaawi, 1997). Although the relationship with anti-colonial or nationalist discourse based on issues of gender is complex, there are some concerns in relation to the subordinate place to which women have been reassigned in decolonized societies in the 94


aftermath of anti-colonial struggles (Moore-Gilbert, 1996). For instance, women fall outside of Fanon’s account in Black Skin, White Masks. African women have however written to challenge colonialism – authors such as Flora Nwapa, who through her fiction (see her earlier novels, Efuru, 1966, and Idu, 1971) expresses the struggles of Nigerian people as they try to make sense of their exploitation by colonialism and capitalism in the midst of civil war and authoritarianism is worth noting. Nwapa, like other women authors, exposes the hegemonic order in a society wrapped in a history of colonialism and patriarchy. Although Nwapa repeatedly denied being a feminist, many of her works do address questions of tradition and transformation for women. African women are the guardians of traditional knowledge and leaders in resistance struggles. The women’s art of traditional teaching through storytelling, riddles, proverbs, or idioms is as ancient as the people themselves. Some African societies acknowledge the fact that oral traditional teachings facilitate the inculcation of socially desirable values such as hard work, honesty, thrift, and wisdom. My emphasis here is that women’s role as traditional teachers has never ceased. They have continued their feminist work in different ways so as to end their silences and speak their truths as they know them. Linda Smith, Ngugi Wa Thio’ngo, Franz Fanon, and Patrice Malidome, among others, explore the different and more subversive ways in which peoples’ minds were colonized. These anti-colonial thinkers suggest that discipline, the inculcation of an alien culture, a foreign language and education were ways in which minds were colonized. Superiority was established at the level of knowledge production, discipline, and conformity. For instance, Fanon felt that being colonized by a language had larger implications for one’s consciousness. He argued that “[t]o speak . . . means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization” (pp. 17–18). For Fanon, speaking French meant that he was coerced into accepting the collective consciousness of the French, which identified blackness with evil and sin. Embracing another person’s language was the highest form of colonization. This is because one is denied what is essential to one’s cultural growth. Fanon, like Du Bois before him, advocated the use of text as a liberating tool. His book Black Skin, White Masks has become one of the central documents in the anti-colonial discourse. This book has influenced such anti-colonial writers as Kenya’s Nugugi Wa Thiong’o, Zimbabwe’s Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Senegal’s Ousmane Sembene. However, some theorists contend that we live in a post-colonial world, perhaps implying that we have somehow moved past the problematic of colonialism (Ashcroft et al., 1995). To speak of the post-colonial is to mark the end of an epoch falsely by placing a break where none exists (Werbner, 1996, p. 5). The 20th century became the century of colonial emancipation (Cabral, 1970). Cabral emphasized the importance of going beyond the achievement of political independence and taking into consideration local realities. He advocated the return to the source, that is, going back to reeducate yourself in terms of your cultural knowledge. Focusing on the attempt to decolonize the mind, one’s imagination takes a personal journey (Bartlet and Turner, 2000). Cabral recognized that colonialism had assumed new forms and 95


subtler disguises such as the creation of client states that are manipulated from a distance (Nkrumah, 1963). This was illustrated during my research among Embu people on indigenous healing practices.


The journey towards personal decolonizing and reclaiming continues and, in many ways, mirrors the journey of many African people through out the continent in general and Embu rural people of Kenya in particular. My decolonizing project was triggered by a number of things about sixteen years ago. That was soon after I arrived in Canada to pursue my Masters degree. Elsewhere (Wane, in press), I have recounted my experiences of being in a feminist class where there was no mention of African women or their feminism. Most people I would talk to would inevitably ask me what made me come to Canada and when I would be leaving for Kenya, or where I had learned to speak and write in English. The plethora of questions made it very clear to me that I did not belong and the sooner I packed my bags and left for Kenya, the better it would be for me. I often used to question this distaste for my presence, until I started reading anti-racist writing and the discourse of race. It was therefore in my early years in Canada that I thought I must find out about my past and reclaim it. I have carried out a number of research projects among Embu rural people in efforts to find out about the indigenous practices. In this paper, however, I will only make reference to my research on indigenous healing practices.


Ena is a small village in Embu District, in Eastern Province of Kenya. It has a population of about five thousand people. In June 2002, I visited the village to carry out my research on indigenous ways of healing individuals and our community. I explained to my participants that I was not interested in current approaches to healing – such as going to the local clinic or going to church to be prayed for. I was not interested in listening to stories of intervention by local priests or pastors. Initially, there was some reluctance to talk or even to imagine that there was another way of healing a community or its people that had been devastated by poverty, failed development projects and the spread of HIV/AIDS. From their eyes, I could clearly see that they had many questions for me. Why would a Western educated woman be talking about traditional healing practices? Is she one of those people who, when they get too much of the Western education, goes nuts? However, after my persistence that our community had different ways of healing, a reluctant high school teacher agreed to introduce me to some elders who would know what I was talking about. The teacher felt that these elders, who were in their late nineties, may have something to offer me because what I was enunciating was ancient, outdated and had no place at all in this community that 96


had desperately tried to emulate the city people by building homes that were no longer circular but square or rectangular. During this dialogue, a couple of questions arose in my mind: How is it possible that a sizeable number of educated Embu people are in denial of the existence of any indigenous healing practices? What are the implications of this denial? Colonialism and imperialism have had peculiar impacts on people’s psyches. Amina Mama captures some of these dynamics when she states: [B]eing conquered by the colonizing powers; being culturally and materially subjected to a nineteenth-century European racial hierarchy and its gender politics; being indoctrinated into all-male European administrative systems, and the insidious paternalism of the new religious and educational systems . . . has persistently affected all aspects of social, cultural, political, and economic life in postcolonial African states. (Mama, 1997, p. 47) The Embu people’s struggles on behalf both of themselves and of the wider community are very much a part of African people’s heritage. Indigenous healing practices among Embu people are very much parts of people’s existences. However, during colonialism, African societies changed drastically. Traditional systems were disrupted while those reinforcing Western practices such as Western medicine and religions were cultivated. However, this should not mean that there was no resistance. There were different forms of resistance, such as the passing down of indigenous ways of healing that the elders revealed to me after they were convinced without doubt that I was genuine in my search for my roots. In the Embu peoples’ renewed effort to survive, different people have called upon their spirituality and self-reliance skills as tools to deal with domination and exploitation. What was interesting was the fact that the indigenous knowledges are not easily available to all people who walk into the village and ask for them. The elders are very conscious of the exploitative nature of colonial and neo-colonial practices and are willing to deny having any knowledge rather than give this information to the wrong people. As an African woman, it has therefore become important for me to centre my decolonizing efforts on the traditional teachings of my grandmothers that have come to play a great role in my everyday living practices out here in the West. Memories are not only inscribed in words and silences, but are expressed and lived through places, material objects and bodies. The articulation and naturalization of a particular representation of the past is often an important component for reconstructing the past. Visiting with Embu elders has enabled me to actualize my past. The various descriptions by the Elders of initiation, marriage, naming, or even healing or cleansing rituals have made me appreciate what I had left behind in pursuit of Western education. What my research among Embu people has confirmed is that memory is a slippery place, a misty object and a moving political target. My conclusion is that Embu people, just like their ancient Nubian ancestors, were very spiritually attuned before the foreigners began to plague our land, our minds and destroy our spiritual wealth. I was able to reflect on the elders’ stories to put together some lessons of my past mistakes and that I can now pass these 97


knowledges to new generations. The elders emphasized notions of unity in order to heal our community of the spread of HIV/AIDS. They clearly stated that the disease had been brought to the community from outside. They indicated that today, the community is disunited, and is therefore, sick with emotional, physical and mental violence. DECOLONIZING THE SELF

Decolonizing oneself is the most difficult process. Most indigenous people who have been subjected to Western education have become a commodity of Western ideology. Malidoma Some (1994), the author of Of Water and the Spirit, suggests that, in order to uproot yourself from the colonial ideology, one has to be subjected to a serious of rituals to reclaim your mind, spirit and soul (1994, p. 111). Some’s book provides a detailed description of how he struggled to decolonize himself, in a process where he undertook to be re-educated in his traditions. After escaping the missionary school where he had been for twenty years, Malidoma Some returned to his people. However, he soon realized that this was not enough – he still carried within him colonialism itself. Malidoma Some states that when you go through the Western education or life style, you “carry something in you, something very subtle, something that comes from your contact with . . . [Western thought]” (p. 111). For Malidoma Some, the solution was for him to be subjected to a series of rituals to reclaim his spirit, mind, and soul. When Malidoma Some was taken away from his people, the community felt that it had lost him because one concern was that one cannot be in the west as well as among one’s people simultaneously. In other words, how can one be here and there at the same time? When Malidoma Some returned to his village, his elders talked to him about his centre: each one of us possess a center that they grow away from after birth. To be born is to lose contact with our center, and to grow from childhood to adulthood is to walk away from it . . . The center is both within and without. It is everywhere. But we must realize it exists, find it, and be with it, for without the center we cannot tell who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. No one’s center is like someone else’s. Find your own center, not the center of your neighbour, not the center of our mother or father or family or ancestor but that center which is yours and yours alone. When there is a center there are four live parts to the circle; the rising part in the east and its right side, the north, the setting part in the west and its right side, the south. (Some, 1994, pp. 111–112) In my decolonizing journey, I have learned the importance of examining how the institutions around me can create an apparatus of systemic oppression. I try to make sense of other colonized people so that I can move beyond the pedagogical absences created by education. I take into consideration my own colonial pedagogical training by continuously challenging my own world view. As I have stated elsewhere (in press), coming to Canada “forced” me to search for my centre because colonial education had made me leave my family behind. As mentioned 98


earlier, I had worked hard in school because of the material promises held out by Western colonial education. However, my coming to Canada burst that bubble. All of a sudden, I realized that my culture and values were somewhere at the back of my mind; colonial education and the emphasis on a Western education by my parents had suppressed this knowledge. I found myself longing for African music, food, clothing, spirituality and my indigenous knowledge. INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE

“Indigenous” is a loaded term, with its coinage inextricably linked to colonialism. From my colonial education, I learned that countries in the East had no history of value, Africa was a dark continent, hence, not much to offer, and European countries built cathedrals and empires and modern education. Places like China and Egypt created ancient civilizations that left remnants of their civilizations in forms of pots and pyramids respectively. The representation of the world was dichotomous; the West represented the modern and something on the move, while the rest of the world was frozen in time. The colonizers viewed indigenous knowledge as uncivilized, primitive, and inferior as compared to their knowledge, education, or ways of knowledge (Maurial, 1999; Semali and Kincheloe, 1999). Semali and Kincheloe argue that the term “indigenous” and the concept of indigenous knowledge have often been associated in the Western context with the primitive, the wild, and the natural. This, they argue, has generated little appreciation for what indigenous knowledge is or what it might offer. However, for most indigenous people from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America, indigenous knowledge is personally reflected in some form. This could be in the form of cultural beliefs, folk knowledge, or spirituality. Scholars such as Maurial (1999), Wangoola (2000), Castellano (2000), and Shiva (1997), among others, state that indigenous knowledge is an outcome of interactions that occur among families and communities and is alive and holistic. All learning and teachings are intertwined within the context of everyday interactions as demonstrated, for example, by Embu elders. Again, as Embu elders stated, members of the community generated the knowledge, and then passed it on to the next generation through storytelling, observation, songs, ceremonies, or traditional rituals. It is important to note that African indigenous knowledges are not homogeneous. As indicated by Asante (2000), while the belief systems may contain elements of commonality, they are very specific to each cultural group. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (1985) suggests that in order for African people to liberate their economies, politics, cultures, and education from the colonial-based stranglehold, they have to revisit their creative initiatives in history. He believes that it is important to utilize organic ideas and in this particular instance, African ideas, philosophies, folklore, and imagery. He goes on to state that the only way to put them to good use is to translate them almost literally from the African language. Another choice he advocates is the reclamation of language in order to define people in relation to their social environment and cultural universe. Wa Thiong’o laments his loss due to colonial education: 99


Language was not a mere string of words. It had a suggestive power well beyond the immediate and lexical meaning . . . the languages, through images and symbols, gave us a view of the world, but it had a beauty of its own. The home and the field were then our primary school . . . and then I went to school, a colonial school, and this harmony was broken. The language of my education was no longer the language of my culture. (Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, 1985). Further, Batido states: Every language is the custodian of its speakers’ cultural experiences, which are often the result of their many centuries of interaction with their physical milieu, inter- and intra-ethnic contacts, and relations with the supernatural world. (Batido, 2001, p. 312). In the loss of language is the loss of knowledge and wisdom. As I have stated elsewhere (Wane, in press) language is a powerful tool for colonizing people’s minds. In most neo-colonial societies, foreign languages have become the main determinants of a child’s ability to master formal education. According to Wa Thiongo, language has been used to take children further and further from themselves, their cultures, and their worlds. A foreign language inculcates a foreign culture and its values in children. In order to do this successfully, it has to be done from an early age (Wa Thiong’o 1985). What the colonizer succeeded in doing, therefore, was destroying or undervaluing the ways of knowing and teaching of not only the African people but of all indigenous peoples of the world. The use of a foreign language as a medium of education makes a child foreign within her or his own culture, environment, etc. This creates a colonial alienation. What is worse, the neo-colonized subject is made to see the world and where she or he stands in it as seen, and defined by or reflected in the culture of the language of imposition. This is made worse when the neo-colonized subject is exposed to images of her or his world mirrored in the written language of her or his colonizer, where the natives’ language, cultures, history, or people are associated with low status, slow intelligence, and barbarism. James Baldwin expressed the depth of internalization when he talked about the difficulty of dismantling internalized values or norms. This makes the work of the decolonization of languages, education, and text a very urgent project for scholars interested in dismantling colonial, neocolonial, and post-colonial education in order to create room for indigenous ways of knowing and teaching. Anti-colonial education can do this.


I strongly believe that for any meaningful work to be done in recreating the past, it is necessary for educators to rethink or re-imagine how indigeneity may be introduced within the Eurocentric curriculum. The approach acknowledges the role of the educational system in producing and reproducing racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, and sexual inequalities and the absence of indigenous 100


voices and practices. Further, by blending the two discourses we problematize the marginalization of certain voices and ideas in the educational system, as well as the delegitimation, in the pedagogic and communicative practices of schools, of the knowledge and experiences of subordinate groups. Using this methodology enables the educator to affirm the pedagogic need to confront the challenge of social diversity and the urgency of creating an educational system that is both more inclusive and better able to respond to the varied local concerns of colonized subjects. In the past, the quantity and quality of indigenous knowledges depended on the age and particular role of a person in society. Today, this will not be possible because of the migration patterns of people. I would like to believe that I can practice Embu indigenous practices while living in North America. I believe this because indigenous knowledges are stored in people’s minds and dispersed through stories, songs, proverbs, and everyday practices. Through proverbs, I can teach my students as well as my children – in return, they can teach the next generation. Indigenous African learning plays a vital role in the transmission of values considered essential in understanding and experiencing the fullness of life. It is interwoven in the fabric of African life and inseparable from African religions or spirituality. When African people talk about education, they make a distinction between formal and non-formal, or informal, education. It is, however, important to note that the term “education” – going to school – is somehow removed from what African people conceptualize as learning and teaching. Indigenous knowledges are concerned not just with producing knowledge but also with the holistic sustainability of the physical, mental and spiritual. The social organization of indigenous ways of knowing is such that both natural and artificial infrastructures should sustain and support themselves. Indigenous knowledges are applied, not abstract, particular to the environment and to other specific needs. In indigenous societies, knowledge is collectively and communally shared, not monopolized by individuals. However, individual elders may preserve knowledge for the community. Various members share knowledge while specific elders from the community remain its custodians (Agrawal, 1995).


In this paper, I have engaged with what Linda Smith refers to as spaces of resistance and hope. Through this work, I hope to reclaim and relearn my history, my culture, my ways of social practice, and my tradition. In this work, my desire was to unearth my history not through the eyes of the colonizer but through elders from my community. What, then, is the novelty of this paper other than in romanticizing and trying to relive the blissful moment of the past? Colonization has created huge scars in my psyche and my physical self. I am constantly finding excuses to not practice my African spirituality in the academy. I have critically examined why this is the case in order to make sense of the destruction embodied in colonialism. I have made an effort not to blame the colonizer for who I am today. I have instead 101


made it my own responsibility to search for ways that honour my ancestral past and constantly put into practice whatever I can of my elders’ teaching. My journey has been long and has involved both physical and mental travel to different lands. It has taken listening to different elders from my community as well as other indigenous communities of the world. From reading and listening to other people’s stories of decolonizing, it became clear to me that it takes time and patience to recover the besieged consciousness that would finally lead to awareness of the existence of knowledge in my blood and bones. The elders emphazised that recovery of consciousness involves both the physical and the invisible. It involves asking spirits for help through meditation which at some point triggers the knowledge of ancestral experience stored in one’s body. This practice, that I have adopted for close to five years, has enabled me to learn from my ancestors long gone. I do know that people, many of whom appear to be poor or malnourished (especially in my village), are losing confidence in indigenous ways. With formal Western education and its inherent rewards, indigenous knowledges have been devalued in the minds and hearts of people, despite the fact that indigenous knowledge systems predate colonialism (Wane, 2000). Through research and writing, I have realized the importance of becoming increasingly self-reflexive in an effort to move beyond critiquing the other. It is imperative I stop spending my time critiquing the totalizing forms of Western historicism and engage in the discourse of possibility, where missing voices and knowledges can be heard and validated.


It is quite clear from my discussion that imagining the past to make sense of the colonial aftermath has been a worthwhile exercise. Today, I have a sense of who I am, though thousands of miles away from my ancestral land. It was quite evident from exercises in class that there is a nostalgic desire to look into the past in order to create stability for the present and future. In other words, discussions on preencounters are not as static as they may appear at first, but play an active role in triggering a past that is engraved in our minds and bodies. Creating space for discussion and research has led to further questions and more engagement with indigenous practices. It is quite clear that indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing and teaching are complex, fluid, and heterogeneous in nature. Salvaging the languages, rituals and knowledges has become the priority of many indigenous peoples. For instance, rituals of any kind, enable us to clear our minds and shift from the clutter of our everyday life. These are meant to direct your thoughts and focus your mind – to help you pay attention to the moment. I strongly believe that this is what is needed in a decolonizing journey.


IS DECOLONIZATION POSSIBLE? REFERENCES Afua, Q. (1998). The sacred woman. A guide to healing the feminine body, mind, and spirit. New York: One World/Ballantine Books. Agrawal, A. (1995). Neither having one’s cake, nor eating it: Intellectual property rights and “indigenous knowledge”. Common Property Resource Digest, 3–5. Aidoo, A.A. (1994). To be a woman. In Robin Morgan (Ed.), Sisterhood is global. New York: Anchor Books, pp. 258–265. Aidoo, A.A. (1998). The African woman today. In O. Nnaemeka (Ed.), Sisterhood: Feminisms & power: From Africa to the Diaspora. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, pp. 39–50. Aidoo, A.A. (2000) Sister Kill Joy. New York: Taylor & Francis. Amadiume, I. (1997). Women’s achievements in African political systems: Transforming culture for 500 years in reinventing Africa: Matriarchy, religion & culture. London: Zed Books, pp. 89–108. Amadiume, I. (1987). Male daughters, female husbands: Gender and sex in an African society. London: Zed Books. Ani, M. (1994). Yurugu: An African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior. Asmara: Africa World Press. Appiah, K.A. (1995). The postcolonial and the postmodern. In B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (Eds.), Post-colonial studies reader. London: Routledge. Apple, M. (1996). Power, meaning and identity: Critical sociology of education in the United States. Journal of Sociology of Education, 17(2), 125–144. Asante, M. (1988). Afrocentricity. New Jersey: Africa World Press. Asante, M. (1991). The Afrocentric idea in education. Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 170–179. Asante (2000). The Asante principles for the Afrocentric curriculum, Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G. and Tiffin, H. (1995). Post-colonial studies reader. London: Routledge. Ball, S.J. (1998). Big policies/small world: An introduction to international perspectives in education policy. Comparative Education, 34(2), 119–130. Balzano, W. (1996). Irishness – Feminist and post-colonial. In L. Chambers and L. Curti (Eds.), The post-colonial question: Common skies, divided horizons. London: Routledge. Batibo, H.M. (2001). The endangered languages of Africa, a case study from Botswana. On biocultural diversity, linking language, knowledge and the environment. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, pp. 311–324. Bennett, J. (1997). Confronting continuity. Journal of Women’s History, 9(3). Bereano, P.L. (1995). Patent pending: The race to own DNA. The Seattle Times, August 27, B5. Braidotti, R., Charkiewicz, E., Hausler, S. and Wiering, S. (1994). Women, the environment and sustainable development, towards a theoretical synthesis. New York: Zed Books. Burkhardt, J. (2001). Agricultural biotechnology and the future benefits argument. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 14, 135–145. Cabral, P. (1970). Liberation and culture. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Castellano, M. (2000). Updating aboriginal traditions of knowledge. In G. Dei, B. Hall and G. Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledge in global context: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 21–36. Chowdhry, G. (1995). Engendering development? Women in development (WID) in international development regimes. In M. Marchand and J. Parpart (Eds.), Feminism, postmodernism, development. London: Routledge. Cooper, A. (1994). Black women and work in nineteenth-century Canada West: Black woman teacher Mary Bibb. In P. Bristow (Ed.), We’re rooted here and they can’t pull us up: Essays in African Canadian women’s history. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 143–170. Croll, E. and Parkin, D. (Eds.) (1992). Bush base: Forest farm, culture, environment and development. New York: Routledge. Dei, G. (2000). African development: The relevance and implication of indigenousness. In G. Dei, B. Hall and G. Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledge in global context: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 95–108. Dove, N. (1998). African womanism: An Afrocentric theory? Journal of Black Studies, 28(5), 515– 539.


WANE Eshiwani, G. (1993). Education in Kenya since independence. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers. Fair, J.E. (1996). The body politic, the bodies of women, and the politics of famine in U.S. television coverage of famine in the Horn of Africa. New York: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Fanon, F. (1994). Franz Fanon and the postcolonial prerogative: The location of culture. London: Routledge. Fraser, V. (2001). What’s the moral of the GM food story? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 14, 147–159. Gandhi, L. (1998). Postcolonial theory, a critical introduction. New York: Columbia University Press. Grenier, L. (1998). Working with indigenous knowledge: A guide for researchers. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre. Harding, S. (1998). Is science multicultural?: Postcolonialism, feminism, and epistemologies. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press. Hall, C. (1996). Histories, empires and the post-colonial moment. In L. Chambers and L. Curti (Eds.), The post-colonial question: Common skies, divided horizons. London: Routledge. Hall, S. (1995). The whites of their eyes: Racist ideologies and the media. In G. Dines and J. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media. London: Sage Publications. Harris, D.W. (1991). Colonizing Mohawk women: Representation of women in the mainstream media. RFR/DRF, 20(1/2), 15–20. Hountondji, P. (1995). Producing knowledge in Africa today: The second Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola Distinguished Lecture. African Studies Review, 38(3), 1–10. Jegede, O.J. (1999). Science education in nonwestern cultures: Towards a theory of collateral learning. In L.M. Semali and J.L. Kincheloe (Eds.), What is indigenous knowledge? New York: Falmer Press. Jones, P.W. (1998). Globalisation and internationalism: Democratic prospects for world education. Comparative Education, 34(2), 143–155. Mama, A. (1995). Beyond the masks: Race, gender and subjectivity. New York: Routledge. Mama, A. (1997). Engendering African social science. Senegal: Codesria. Maurial, M (1999). Indigenous knowledge and schooling: A continuum between conflict and dialogue. In L.M. Semali and J.L. Kincheloe (Eds.), What is indigenous knowledge? Voices from the academy. New York: Falmer Press. McCann, J. (2001). Maize and grace: History, corn and Africa’s new landscapes, 1500–1999. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 43(2), 246–272. McGinn, N.F. (1996). Education, democratization, and globalization: A challenge for comparative education. Comparative Education Review, 40(4), 341–357. Mikell, G. (Ed.) (1997). African feminism, the politics of survival in Sub-Saharan Africa. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Minh-ha, T.T. (1989). Woman native other: Writing postcoloniality and feminism. Bloomington & Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press. Mohanty, C. (2000). Under Western eyes. In L. Back and J. Solomos (Eds.), Theories of race and racism: A reader. New York: Routledge, pp. 203–223. Moore-Gilbert, B. (1997). Postcolonial theory: Contexts, practices, politics. London: Verso. Nandy, A. (1987). Traditions, tyranny and utopias: Essays in the politics of awareness. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Nathani, N. (1996). Sustainable development: Indigenous forms of food processing technologies. A Kenyan case study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto. Nkrumah, K. (1963). Africa must unite. London: Heinemann. Nnaemeka, O. (1997). Introduction: The rainbow. In O. Nnaeneka (Ed.), Sisterhood, feminism and power: From Africa to Diaspora. Asmara: Africa World Press, pp. 1–35. Ogundipe-Leslie, M. (1994). African women, culture and another development. In Recreating ourselves: African women and critical transformations. Trenton: Africa World Press, pp. 21–42. Oyewumi, O. (1997). The invention of women: Making an African sense of Western gender discourses. Minniapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Palmer, P. (1999). The grace of great things recovering the sacred in knowing, teaching and learning. Transcripts, Spirituality in education,


IS DECOLONIZATION POSSIBLE? Palmer, P. (2003). Teaching with heart and soul: Reflections on spirituality in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(5), 376–385. Parpart, J. (1995). Deconstructing the development “expert”: Gender, development and the “vulnerable groups”. In M. Marchand and J. Parpart (Eds.), Feminism/postmodernism/development. London: Routledge. Petersen, K.H. (1995). First things first: Problems of a feminist approach to African literature. In B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (Eds.), Post-colonial studies reader. London: Routledge. Pieterse, J.N. (1992). White on black: Images of Africa and blacks in Western popular culture. London: Yale University Press. Plumwood, V. (1994). The ecopolitics debate and the politics of nature. In K.J. Warren (Ed.), Ecological feminism. New York: Routledge, pp. 64–87. RAFI (1998). GENO-TYPES “Basmati rice patent”. Available at 980401basm.html. RAFI (1999). News posting. Available at RAFI Communique (1994). Bioprospecting/biopiracy and indigenous peoples. Available at RAFI Communique (1996). The geopolitics of biodiversity: A biodiversity balance sheet. Available at Rains, F.V. (1999). Indigenous knowledge, historical amnesia and intellectual authority: Deconstructing hegemony and the social and political implications of the curricular “other”. In L.M. Semali and J.L. Kincheloe (Eds.), What is indigenous knowledge? New York: Falmer Press. Rhodes, J. (1995). The visibility of race and media history. In G. Dines and J. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media. London: Sage Publications. Sadaawi (1997), The Nawal El Saadawi reader. London: Zed Books. Said, Edward (1993). Cultural and imperialism. New York. Alfred A. Knopf. Semali, L.M. and Kincheloe, J.L. (Eds.) (1999). What is indigenous knowledge? Voices from the academy, Volume 2. Indigenous Knowledge and Schooling Series. New York: Falmer Press. Shiva, V. (1993). Women’s indigenous knowledge and biodiversity conservation. In M. Mies and V. Shiva (Eds.), Ecofeminism. Halifax, NS: Fernwood, pp. 164–173. Shiva, V. (1997). Biopiracy, the plunder of nature and knowledge. Boston, MA: South End Press. Sittirak, S. (1997). The daughters of development: Women and the changing environment. London: Zed Books. Slemon, S. (1995). The scramble for post-colonialism. In B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (Eds.). Post-colonial studies reader. London: Routledge. Smith, L.T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies, research and indigenous peoples. New York: Zed Books. Some, M. (1994). Of water and spirit: Ritual, magic, and initiation in the life of an African shaman. New York: Tarcher/Putnam Book. Suleri, S. (1995). Woman skin deep: Feminism and postcolonial condition. In B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (Eds.), Post-colonial studies reader. London: Routledge. Terborg-Penn, R. (1995). Through an African feminist theoretical lens: Viewing Caribbean women’s history cross-culturally. In V. Shepherd, B. Brereton and B. Bailey (Eds.), Engendering history: Caribbean women in historical perspective. New York: St. Martin’s Press, pp. 3–19. Thomas-Slayter, B. and Rocheleau, D. (1995). Gender, environment, & development in Kenya, a grassroots perspective. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Tikly, L. (2001). Globalisation and education in the postcolonial world: Towards a conceptual framework. Comparative Education, 37(2). Townsend, J.G., Zapata, E., Rowlands, J., Alberti, P. and Mercado, M. (1999). Women and power: Fighting patriarchies and poverty. New York: Zed Books. Van Sertima, I. (1984). Black women in antiquity. New Brunswick, NY: Transaction Books. Wane, N. (2000). Indigenous knowledge: Lessons from the elders. A Kenyan case study. In G. Dei, B. Hall and G. Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledge in global context: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 95–108. Wane, N. (2002). African women and spirituality: Connection between thought and education. In E. O’Sullivan, A. Morrell and M. O’Connor (Eds.), Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning. Essays on theory and Praxis. New York: St. Martin’s Press, pp. 135–150.


WANE Wane, N.N. (2003). ‘Embu women: Food production and tradition knowledge. Resources for Feminist Research (RFR) Journal, 30(1–2) (Spring/Summer). Wane, N.N. (2006) Mapping the field of indigenous knowledges in anti-colonial discourse: A transformative journey in education. Journal of Race, Gender & Ethnicity, accepted. Wane, N. and Waterfall, B. (2001). Embracing diversity: A transformative learning exercise. Paper presented at the 4th Transformative International Conference. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Wangoola , P. (2000) Mpambo, the African multiversity: A philosophy to rekindle the African spirit. In G. Dei, B. Hall and G. Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledge in global context: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 265–277. Wa Thiongo, N. (1985). Decolonizing the mind: The politics of language in African literature. New Hampshire: Heinemann. Werbner, R. (1996). Multiple identities, plural arenas. In R. Werbner and T. Ranger (Eds.), Postcolonial identities in Africa. London & New Jersey: Zed Books. Wheeler, A. (2002). Voices from Africa: Transforming mission in a context of marginalization. London: Church House. Williams, C. (1990). The destruction of Black civilization: Great issues of a race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. Rev. ed. Chicago, IL: Third World Press. Zeleza, T. (1997). Fictions of the postcolonial: A review article. CODESRIA Bulletin, 2, 15–19.



5. SPIRITUAL POLITICS: POLITICIZING THE BLACK CHURCH TRADITION IN ANTI-COLONIAL PRAXIS Encourage My Soul and Let us Journey On Though the night is dark and I am far from home. Thanks Be to God, the morning light appears. The Storm is passing over, the Storm is passing Over, the Storm is Passing Over Hallelujah (Black Gospel Chorus) INTRODUCTION

The Black Church is unique to Black people, having its roots in our Africanness and being sharpened through the various oppressions we have had to suffer. Through the varying continuums of the Black Diaspora, the Black Church has been effective in articulating a philosophy of hope and ingraining a culture of resistance in the anti-colonial struggle. The Black Church, which predates European colonization, has had to change and adapt to the diverse social conditions around it including enslavement and oppression: “it was the brilliance of Africans that when white masters used scripture to justify slavery, Blacks used scriptures to actualize their freedom” (Stewart, 1999). Herein lies the paradox: the Black Church was able to recognize the liberating and emancipatory aspects of biblical Christianity and use it as an anti-colonial tool, though Christianity was used as a tool of colonialism by the Europeans who enslaved Blacks. Thus, any discussion of Black oppression and resistance strategies within an anti-colonial framework must consider the pivotal role of the Black Church. Despite the very important historical role that the Black Church has played in the anti-colonial struggle, it remains vastly ignored, misunderstood, and even disdained. On a broader scale, this is attributed to the enslavement of Africa by Christian colonizers a fact that simply paralyzes many intellectuals from seeing anything positive in that experience. Many are harshly critical of a religion or a church that is implicated in the process of colonization; therefore, to consider the Black church’s role as a site for resistance in the anti-colonial struggle is to walk on slippery ground to say the least. Needless to say, this work must be done, specifically in the Canadian context, to demystify the misunderstanding and often outright ignorance of the continuing role the Black Church plays in today’s society. The academy has generally over-focused on the negative role that Christianity played in the process of colonization without taking into consideration the actual experience of Black Christianity and other forms of Black religious expression. As a consequence, the Black Church and religious forms of resistance G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 107–127. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


have been de-legitimized as fields of engagement in academic circles. While it is important to acknowledge the colonial role of Christianity as practiced by the Europeans, we cannot allow it to obscure the role played by Christianity for those who resisted enslavement, which I argue, is entirely different. Black identity and culture involve a plurality of experiences, but at their core include an anchored sense of spirituality, community and a persistent capacity to cope under the most debilitating of circumstances. An essentialist position perhaps, according to the deconstructionist, but it is important that Blacks reclaim our cultural strengths in the context of secularism and post-colonialism that attempt to cut us away from that important anchor. Black culture and religious spirituality have very strong affinities and it is difficult to separate them entirely when discussing their influence on Black life. Some argue that spirituality is a private affair that has no place in the public intellectual arena. But as the paper will argue, this is a postcolonial idea that ignores the complementary relationship between the material and spiritual worlds in Black life. Because the sacred and the secular in Western thinking are viewed generally as separate entities, a radical critique of western discourses that negate the synthesis of religious spirituality and culture in the public and private realms is required. Affirming the Black Church today, then, calls for a positive recognition of how the Black Church has made vital contributions to the anti-colonial struggle, the quest for social justice, the process of decolonization and to engraining a philosophy of hope/empowerment for minoritized communities. Biblical Christianity is not inherently racist or Western as many presuppose. This is not to suggest, however, that the Black religious tradition is a perfect institution closed to critique; but rather, it is to suggest that the current aversion to explore religious spirituality in the intellectual arena, in some respects, is attributed to the blind acceptance of post-colonial dogma which conceals new strategies of colonialism that serve to negate the significant role that religious spirituality plays in peoples’ lives. In this paper, I will begin with a personal reflection that will discuss my own process of spiritual decolonization. The paper will be organized into the following five sections: (1) The Black Church & Religious Spirituality, (2) The Anti-Colonial Framework and Its Divergence from Post-Colonialism, (3) AntiColonial Resistance Movements – Negritude & Black Theology, (4) Decolonizing the Spirit, (5) The Black Church: A Call to Action. The term the Black Church will be defined according to Lincoln and Mamiya’s definition, which “refers to a sociological and theological reference to Black Christian churches”. In general, “any Black Christian person is included in ‘the Black Church’ if he or she is a member of a Black congregation” (Lincoln, 1990, p. 1). The term “religious spirituality” will also be defined within the context of Black Christian churches. The interpretation of these terms is not designed to devalue other religious disciplines or negate the importance of other Black spiritual traditions in the anti-colonial struggle; affirming the Black Church within Christendom specifically is where my knowledge, experience and belief reside.



There is a call for community mobilization and this must include spiritual voices, not only to ensure that questions about the meaning of faith continue to be raised, but also to incite a philosophy of hope in an era where the phenomenon of spirit injury is a growing concern. I am particularly motivated to address spirit injury as I have experienced it first hand. Spirit injury is a form of spiritual, mental, psychological and physical exhaustion that occurs as a result of battling racism and other forms of oppression where the spiritual identities of people are not integrated, acknowledged or valued. As a member of a Black faith community and student of the academy, I now use my upbringing in the Black Church as a platform to engage the problems that confront Blacks in contemporary society. During my early years in university, my upbringing in the Black church had no place in my academic ventures. My faith and spirituality were how I thrived outside of the academy, yet within my studies it was not acknowledged. I eventually grew weary of critiquing the systemic disadvantages of Blacks with the lack of a spiritual emphasis in anti-racism pedagogy. The classroom debates of how to address the systemic issues of the Black community focused primarily on the structural inequities with little or no mention of the religious histories of Blacks, which created a dictum of hope that allowed them to overcome the storms of the Black experience. After becoming burnt out in doing equity work, I realized that I was functioning as a “fragmented” being. I took on the language of postcolonial dogma, which resulted in disarray, confusion and paralysis. Equity work, at the time, seemed irreconcilable with the nihilism that occurred in the Black community. Spirituality was taboo and there was little recognition or literature in the classroom that spoke to this essential aspect of my identity. After starting my doctoral work and studying Black feminist thought, my spiritual identity became agitated as the environment provided the terms by which I might finally be “allowed” to acknowledge this important aspect of my identity as a Black churchwoman. I soon discovered that there was an unspoken silencing of this aspect of my identity within the academy. This created a disconnection in my being, and it was not until I began to give space to my Black Christian culture that I experienced a sense of wholeness and spiritual decolonization, which I refer to as the process of cleansing from Eurocentric expressions of spirituality that do not speak to Black realities. This experience enabled me to link my strong religious upbringing in the Black church as a starting point to address the role of spirituality in Black life. I can now say, the Black Church has been fundamental to my intellectual development and to suppress this aspect of my identity in the academy is to deny the indigenousness of Black church teachings. No longer should academics write in ways that overlook or simply ignore the role of Black religious spirituality and the impetus of Black churches in Canada, which have made vital contributions toward the survival, self worth and sanity of Black people. Hence, there is a critical role in academia for Black intellectuals from the Black Church tradition. It is to inspire silent voices from the Black Church to mobilize with the purpose of adding critical 109


contributions to the current fight against oppression. Therefore, it is important that intellectual institutions promote an environment for indigenous teachings to come to the forefront where students can not only articulate their concerns but more importantly, dialogue in ways that promote a new generation of scholars to displace ideologies and paradigms that simply negate the realities minoritized people in particular, face in schooling. Ultimately, the concern in this paper to validate the Black Church tradition as a site for resistance in the anti-colonial struggle. My goal is to contribute to the rising area of anti-colonial scholarship and to present alternatives to Eurocentric based discourses that devalue indigenous realities specific to Blacks. THE BLACK CHURCH & RELIGIOUS SPIRITUALITY

As Evans (1992) explains, “under slavery the very possibility of thinking and speaking in ways that opposed the dominant culture depended upon the creation of autonomous institutions like churches that white slave owners had little knowledge and little control” (p. 24). Asante (2003) argues that “cultures exist for centuries with many basic characteristics unchanged and the Black [Church] community is no different as there are certain essential characteristics that identify the contours of this community” (p. 45). Paris furthers this line of query in his book The Spirituality of African Peoples (1995) in which he describes the Black religious tradition as a “commonsense discourse about moral and religious commonalties between diverse African cultures on the continent and in the African Diaspora” (p. 24). Similarly, in Lincoln and Mamiya’s (1990) monumental study of Black Churches, they found that Black churches . . . with all their limitations represent the institutionalized staying power of a human community that has been under siege for close to four hundred years. Black personalities, movements and ideologies have waxed and waned over the years, and will continue to do so, but Black churches remain . . . as the hub of the Black community. (p. 398) As the preceding authors highlight, the Black Church has had a far-reaching effect in the Black community that spans centuries. The progressive role that the Black Church played in forming religious forms of resistance has much to do with the liberating theology of biblical Christianity. This theology includes a faith praxis and a spiritual underpinning that has brought Blacks through decades of enslavement. This faith praxis includes “a religious cosmology which gives meaning to human existence” (West, 2002, p. 31), where notions of spirituality, freedom, hope and resilience has become deeply engraved in the consciousness of Blacks. As a result, an indigenous spirituality evolved out of the experiences of Black oppression. When colonizers justified tearing Blacks from their ancestral home in Africa under the pretence of Christianizing them, Black slaves were able to reconstruct an authentic faith from the compromised religion of the white man (Wilmore, 1988, p. 12). The slaves’ profound belief in God and strong belief in social justice causes set the conditions for a corresponding set of values, attitudes, 110


and faith practices to emerge in their lives. These values became the foundation on which Blacks counteracted white domination and systems of oppression through religious forms of resistance. This is why (to borrow from Afrocentric concepts) it is important that the sociological aspects of the Black experience are understood (Mazama, 2003, p. 9) and that the role of the Black Church and notion of “religious spirituality” are given credence in contemporary understandings of spiritual expressions. Religious spirituality creates a space for members of the Black church community to respond to intersecting forms of oppression such as race, gender and religion to name a few. Religious spirituality as expressed within the Black Church plays a pivotal role in contemporary forms of Black resistance. The culture of resistance cultivated within the walls of the Black Church “sought to combat the myth of Black inferiority by reinforcing the self-esteem of Black people” (Chapman, 1996, p. 17). “As Black people prayed and worshipped God, they created culture through the practice of Black spirituality and Black religion, which lead to a unique hermeneutics of existence” (Stewart, 1999, p. 37). Thus, as Lincoln argues, “the spiritual and cultural munificence with which the Black Church has endowed the lives and experiences of Black people, past and present, is inescapable” (Lincoln, 1990, p. 92). Spirituality means different things to different people and the diversity in spiritual perspectives may produce different forms of resistance. Notwithstanding that spirituality has both religious and non-religious forms, it is important to operationalize the use of religious spirituality echoed in the Black Church in terms of how it is distinct from other expressions of spirituality. Religious Spirituality is the organizing principle around which one’s life is structured (Lincoln, 1990, p. 92) and it is expressed through involvement in a church, like the Black Church, where social responsibilities are centered in a particular religious ideal. This community setting is a breeding ground where the emancipation of political, social and critical consciousness can occur. Religion is thus a sustaining force and a “platform of faith” that provides strength to endure when endurance gives no promise (Lincoln, 1990). Spirituality is the operative force or guiding philosophy to give courage in the face of one’s own dehumanization (Lincoln, 1990). In essence, religious spirituality is the fusion of religious and social justice convictions played out in the social or political arena. The convergence of spirituality and religious spirituality can be characterized by the salient role they play to resist external realities like racism, poverty, sexism and so on. An individual may not necessarily have religious convictions that drive their social advocacy yet their social action is a form of spirituality. Rodgers (2004) explains: Spirituality is not specifically a religious phenomenon. It is rooted in a fundamentally and characteristically human capacity for being aware of the world through relating to it in a particular way. By extension, the term is used to cover the forms in which this awareness is given expression and the means by which it is fostered. (p. 4)



Spirituality in practice resembles forms of religiosity in that there is the recognition that there is “knowledge” beyond human inspiration. Hence whilst spirituality and religion are not the same thing, the terms and/or experiences should not be polarized as conflicting entities. They both can be described as the intellectual and emotional dualism that stimulates social action, which erupts from a critical consciousness that aims to emancipate people from a particular social oppression. For some, spirituality is regarded as a voice calling the conscience to a more balanced attitude to social problems and issues of injustice. Donnelly (2002) views spirituality as self-reflection and the day-to-day experiences regarding life, surroundings and relationships with those around us (2002). According to hooks, “spirituality enables the oppressed people to renew their spirits to find themselves again in suffering and in resistance” (hooks, 2002, p. 117). Dash says “our spirituality must be such that it drives us to build relationships” (Dash, 1997, p. 9). Wiggins argues that spirituality has come to “denote a religious quest by those who have defected from or resist institutionalized religion, traditional rituals, or theological positions of established denominations” (2005, p. 3). For others in general, it’s a deep sense and/or acknowledgement of a higher entity, which guides and regulates peoples’ ways of living so that they can make sense of their world. Definitions of spirituality are endless. However, whether it is religious or not, it should involve some method of social advocacy. The divergence between spirituality and religious spirituality however, is fundamental to understanding the dual role of the Black Church as a religious institution and a cultural system for dealing with forms of reality within present structures of colonialism. This distinction is controversial but the sharp divide between non-religious spirituality and faith-based spirituality and the privileging of the former, warrants such a distinction. As Taylor (2004) explains, There is a growing disconnect between religion and spirituality, whereby organized religion and religious participation in general are not viewed as being necessary to achieve a high level of spirituality and, for some, individual spirituality is believed to be superior in terms of its personal benefits and outcomes. (p. 164) Spirituality has acquired a distinct meaning from religion. Schneider further adds, Non-religious spirituality is usually a privatized, idiosyncratic, personally satisfying stance and practice which makes no doctrinal claims, imposes no moral authority outside one’s own consciousness, creates no necessary personal relationships or social responsibilities, and can be changed or abandoned whenever it seems not to work for the practitioner. (Schneider, 2003) With this definition in mind, non-religious spirituality has become more centered on “spiritual techniques” without the accompanying philosophical tenets, whereas religion, generally, endorses the power of not knowing and is more centered on God and community. Where spirituality should have more to do with social action and resistance to dehumanizing structures in society, there is a growing tendency in the mainstream to connect spirituality with “feel good” experiences, individualism and the legitimization of white supremacist ideology that privilege western 112


ways of sorting out the supernatural realm. Spirituality, as Schneider contests, can become “a form of cultural appropriation where whites have taken up forms of indigenous culture (practices such as meditation, fasting, personal and communal rituals) borrowed by the religious traditions they repudiate” (Schneider, 2003, p. 164). “Spirituality . . . ís not a warm and fuzzy kind of experience: it is a powerful and empowering process – one that involves a liberating encounter, liberating reflection, and a liberating action” (Dash, 1997, pp. 94–95). For Blacks and people of colour who have encountered the dehumanizing forces of racism, sexism and/or other forms of injustice, religious spirituality “is an escape to sanity” and is the explanation as to how they have endured hardship; they have been anchored in the belief in God and the conviction that he aligns with the oppressed. Though there are many spiritual expressions, it is important to insist that religious spirituality, from an African-centered perspective is distinct from the Eurocentric spirituality paraded in the mainstream. Religious spirituality, from an African centered perspective, is an indigenous form of spirituality for Black people as it “represents the full matrix of beliefs, power, values, and behaviours that shape Black people’s consciousness, understanding, and capacity of themselves in relation to Divine reality” (Stewart, 1999, p. 1). As Dirlik explains, indigenousness is not indigenous ideals as they are reified in New Age consumptions of indigenism but indigenous ideals as they have been reworked by a contemporary consciousness where indigenism appears not merely as a production of the past, but as a project to be realized. (Dirlik, 1997, p. 18) Put differently, the Black Christian religious tradition is an indigenous spiritual reality amongst Blacks that evolved out of the historical conditions of slavery. Still, despite the multiplicities of spiritual expressions amongst Blacks, a firm cosmology undergirds and informs their spiritual practice. As Stewart claims, [T]his cosmology holds that God, the Divine Spirit is the absolute hegemonic, supreme, primordial reality, which orchestrates, governs, empowers, transforms, and infuses creation with a creative soul force that is the basis and power of life. This also means that no human power, individual or collective, can ever invert or subvert the intimacy of this divine Spirit in the human realm. (Stewart, 1999, p. 8) Religious spirituality as expressed in the culture of the Black Church informs the intellectual, emotional and spiritual well being of its members. The Black Church is a host for “spiritual intellectualism” to be bred where religious spirituality is politicized so the personal is not just viewed as political but spiritual as well. Spirituality, for Black church people, is the bond which keeps them grounded in community, social action and a firm commitment to God as the ultimate Supreme Being in one’s life. So, despite the plurality of spiritual expressions, “Black churches have remained a firm anchor stabilizing the Black experience and giving it meaning through the uncertain eras of change and counter-change” (Lincoln, 1990, p. 398). Incorporating an anti-colonial framework in politicizing the role of the Black Church is useful as it stresses the validity of indigenous knowledge where reli113


gious spirituality and the promotion of community and wholeness of being are at the helm of anti-oppression work. Thus an anti-colonial perspective is central to viewing Black churches beyond the religious mainstream, as it illustrates the intellectual validity of other knowledge that are used in the anti-colonial struggle. The following section will discuss the anti-colonial framework in contrast to postcolonialism mainly pointing to how an anti-colonial framework in the context of the Black Church solicits the wholeness of the mind, body and spirit while dealing with the harsh realities of oppression. ANTI-COLONIAL FRAMEWORK

There is an ongoing debate in which numerous authors have highlighted the inconsistencies of post-colonial theory (Dirlik, 1997; Moore-Gilbert et al., 1997; Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001) but little has been said about how the areas of inconsistencies have affected Black identity and culture in general. Anti-Colonial thought has gained momentum in the academy given the flood of critical reviews that aim to counter western Eurocentric ways of knowing. Anti-colonial theory goes beyond theories such as Anti-Racism, Black Feminism and Afrocentricism that are used to interpret the minoritized status. It provides, as Dei and Asgharzadeh describe, a “common zone of resistance” and delves deeper by not just naming the entrenchment of white supremacy in modern forms of colonialism, but by politicizing multiple knowings and a diversity of practice. In this respect, indigenous knowledge is viewed as central, valid and holistic in the lives of minoritized groups. Anti-colonialism, then, is an umbrella framework by which profound sites of empowerment and forms of resistance can be birthed and/or revitalized to subvert newer forms of power. As Dei and Asgharzadeh put it, The anti-colonial discursive framework is an epistemology of the colonized, anchored in the indigenous sense of collective and common colonial consciousness. Colonial in this sense is conceptualized not simply as foreign or alien, but rather as imposed and dominating. Its goal is to question, interrogate, and challenge the foundations of institutionalized power and privilege and the accompanying rationale for dominance in social relations. The anticolonial discursive framework emphasizes the saliency of colonialism and imperialism and their continuing effects on marginalized communities. (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 300) The key distinction between anti-colonialism and post-colonialism lies in their respective understandings of the colonial encounter. It is true that post-colonial theory has offered a terrain to interpret issues of diversity and multiple oppressions in ways that were previously undermined. Post-colonial theory provides careful insights into the power structures that have undermined the development of people. Moreover, it captures the history of imperialism and the colonizer/colonized relationship through an examination of the power structures of the West. However, it does so by dwelling on the oppression of the self to the degree that it can result 114


in an intellectual abyss where the individual is paralyzed in her self-construction thus limiting her from seeing outside the box of “oppression”. Schiele writes: Oppression is defined as a systematic and deliberate strategy to suppress the power and potentiality of people by legitimizing and institutionalizing inhumanistic and person-delimiting values such as materialism, fragmentation, individualism and inordinate competition. These values together undergird a society that teaches people to see themselves primarily as material, physical beings seeking immediate pleasure for their material, physical, or sexual desires . . . This situation leads to a kind of alienation from the spiritual and the moral. (Schiele, 2003, p. 191) Over-focusing on oppression in this way can remove the centrality of community, tradition and spirituality, which are all positive indigenous hallmarks of Black culture and identity. Anti-colonial theory better describes the validity of indigeneity, multiple knowings and the uncovering of experiences lost in the colonial encounter. It is a direct counter to post-colonial and western interpretations of colonization as it opens spaces for effective theorizing of the colonial and colonized relations by looking at how the oppressed have fought against oppression in liberating ways. For instance, “whereas post-colonial theorists mainly depend on Western models of analysis conceptualization, and theorization, the anti-colonial theorists seek to work with alternative, oppositional paradigms based on the use of indigenous concepts and analytical systems and cultural frames of reference” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 301). Dei and Asgharzadeh also argue that what the post-colonial narrative has done, is “usurp and appropriate the realms, which traditionally have belonged – and currently do belong – to anti-colonial discourse and praxis” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 307). This view may explain why post-colonial discourse has become homogenized in the academy. The dilemma of working in the ivory tower, while also being part of a larger cultural community, gives rise to an experience which calls into question the multiple aspects of one’s identity that become increasingly fluid as one navigates her/himself in the “new” global community. For post-colonial theorists, this is known as a “universal crisis of identity” that makes issues such as the language of race, class and nation more palatable within the academy (Moore-Gilbert et al., 1997, p. 4). From this perspective, “post-colonialism appears as the ideology of articulate groups within diasporic populations who challenged earlier configurations of ethnicity and culture with a new consciousness that sprung from their own conditions of existence” (Dirlik, 1997, p. 9). As a result, while the issues raised by post-colonial theorists are relevant and give credence to the multiple dimensions of identity faced by those in the West, this mega intellectualizing of the “personal” has resulted in a displacement of indigeneity, denigration of community and the polarization of the material and spiritual world. Post-colonialism, then, can be regarded as a discourse of new-found power where those who have the power and privilege to speak, appropriate the concerns of minoritized voices. 115


Notwithstanding that post-colonial theory has gained significant traction in the academy, it is impossible to have contestation around Black identity and culture without indigenous knowledge to counter dominate western ways of knowing. The fascination with individuality, secularism and victimhood within post-colonial theory removes the centrality of the Black experience. Embedded within post-colonial theory is an unsettling phenomenon of the “fragmented self” that does not speak to the realities of Black people generally. Post-colonialism de-centers people and is based on Eurocentric concepts of identity, which are interpreted in the context of a white supremacist environment. While postcolonialism does emphasize the hybridity of people (which is a necessary critique in a diverse society) it can ultimately create a sense of paralysis, particularly for people of colour since the “fragmented” self can become overburdened with sorting out the complicities of their own identity. As a result, the individual may experience a state of hopelessness and/or nihilism as their intersecting identities collide with Eurocentric constructs that negate particular aspects of Black identity. An anti-colonial framework allows us to remain firmly rooted in our identities (in spite of the complexities) while doing equity work, though we are also cautioned to consider how we might become complicit in forms of oppression. For anticolonial theorists, the dilemma of fragmentation is not everyone’s dilemma. Anti colonial theorists are more concerned with upsetting systems of oppression inherent in racialized, classed, and gendered societies (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 311). In this analysis, the way colonized people are dominated by covert structures and systems is key for critical examination to expose and subvert newer forms of colonialism. As Memmi (1969) so eloquently points out, the role of the colonial and the colonized are distinct depictions of the influence of colonization on particular bodies. Memmi exposed the clear lines between the colonial and colonized relationship that limits the progress of colonized bodies. He urges that although the far-reaching effects of colonization are still felt, the colonized must free himself from that condition. Memmi notes: We have seen that colonization materially kills the colonized. It must be added that it kills him spiritually. Colonization distorts relationships, destroys or petrifies institutions, and corrupts men, both colonizers and colonized. To live, the colonized needs to do away with colonization . . . he must do away with the colonized being that he has become . . . the colonized must rise above his colonized being. (1969, p. 151) To do away with colonization, as Memmi suggests, however, is not that simple for people who have been dominated for centuries. Amilcar Cabral (1970) reiterates this by adding that: History teaches us that, in certain circumstances, it is very easy for the foreigner to impose his domination on a people. But it also teaches us that, whatever may be the material aspects of this domination, it can be maintained only by the permanent, organized repression of the cultural life of the people concerned. (p. 3) 116


This is why anti-colonial movements such as Negritude, Black Theology and the evolvement of the Black Church under slavery were based on cultural sameness. As Memmi advocates “this can help the colonized to cease from defining himself through the categories of colonizers” (Memmi, 1969, p. 152) and free herself/himself from colonial domination. ANTI COLONIAL MOVEMENTS – NEGRITUDE & BLACK THEOLOGY

Negritude was an attempt to nationalize Black identity towards an epistemology that put Blacks front and center. It was also a realization that there is something intrinsic about Black culture and identity that needed to be defined outside the confines of colonial interpretations. As Moore-Gilbert explains, negritude [included] both the historical movement of French-speaking Black intellectuals, and the understanding that there is something intrinsic to the Black world (MooreGilbert et al., 1997, p. 7). Because the colonized Blacks were considered as backward, irrelevant and invisible in the eyes of the colonizer, they created their own modes of resistance to the modus operandi. The negritude movement was not a simple matter of racial essentialism (Kelly, 1999, p. 17) as some postcolonial theorists would argue. Negritude tapped into the cultural dimension of Black reality to resist a form of colonial rule, to dismiss it based on essentialist claims is suspicious at best. Dirlik (1997) explains, Whether in its anti-colonial or Third World expression, or in the language of national liberation, radical struggles did not presuppose an essentialist primordialism, but rather viewed cultural identity as a project that was very much part of the struggle for liberation that it informed. That this is ignored in Postcolonialist representations of these struggles raises the question of whether the objection is indeed to the essentialism of past conceptualizations of the world, or to the aims those struggles promoted, which have become undesirable from a contemporary perspective. (p. 17) In essence, Negritude evolved as a result of the “social conditions that occurred locally in that time which allowed the colonized to resuscitate from mental bondage” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 302). This created a specific dictum of liberation and freedom, which are key interconnected parts of other anti-colonial movements against colonial rule. A contemporary example of an anti-colonial movement that was faith-based is the use of Black Theology during the South African Apartheid. Black theology is the philosophical blood stream of Black churches used to oppose colonial systems like Apartheid, as well as overt racial discrimination experienced in South Africa and beyond. Black Theology, also known as Liberation Theology, is a theological movement that focuses on Black liberation for the poor and oppressed. Black theology provided the impetus for formally addressing the hypocrisy, racism and inconsistencies of the Ethnocentric Christianity, which the political institutions of South Africa had embraced. White supremacist policies were entrenched in the political, socio-economic, educational and Christian religious institutions. This 117


resulted in Blacks being treated as non-persons. Apartheid was a modern version of colonial racism in South Africa. It emanated from Europe in the early days of Imperialism and effectively sustained the system of colonization decades later. The history of colonialism in South Africa is too lengthy and complex to summarize but an important factor to note is that Apartheid was justified by a politically motivated distortion of Christianity. Christian churches actively promoted racial divisions through the political philosophy of Apartheid where whites were at the top, coloured persons (mix races) in the middle and Blacks at the bottom. Cementing this within the economic, political and social fabric of the society and enforcing strict rules for anyone that would not comply, ensured compliance, allowing white supremacy to prevail. Blacks in South Africa were relentless in defying the system of apartheid and as a result many lost their lives or were imprisoned in efforts to destabilize that system of racial segregation. As within most experiences of Black oppression, the spirituality of Blacks gave them strength to orchestrate ways to mobilize under great risk. Black intellectuals reinterpreted European Christianity in light of the existential situation of the African mass (Simms, 2000). In analyzing the Scriptures, Black students and others began to explore what the scriptures really had to say about their plight. They contended that the religion thrust upon them could not be divorced from their political, economic and social status, and therefore should encompass freedom, liberation and a theology that engaged with their predicament. Interestingly, they did not dismiss the validity of Christianity but rather threw out the colonial distortions thereof. This process of decolonization was a rearticulation of their social predicament according to Scripture, not what white racists had dictated to them. As Simms (2000) explains, During the late 1960s African intellectuals began to openly discuss the ineffectiveness of western Christianity realizing that it simply did not deal with the problems of their people; it did not provide comfort when they were beaten, insight when they hated themselves, or support when their children were denied education. In short, it failed to address the social, cultural, and religious needs of Blacks. In response to this situation, Black intellectuals developed a contextualized system of religious thought, using their life situation to particularize their theology and their humiliation to circumstantiate their relationship with God. (p. 180) He adds, Christianity was used as a moral paradigm to ‘conscientize’ the masses, that is, to educate them to appreciate the inequity of their social and political situation. Not only did Christianity inspire their ideas, but it also provided them with an emancipatory language for expressing ideas of Black self worth, Black liberation and Black equality. (p. 186) Black Theology was used as a tool of decolonization in South Africa. Simms notes “it was a political and religious response to racial oppression and it was an attempt to create a new religious culture and political orientation that would 118


liberate Black South Africans from apartheid and the political system that had sub alternated them for decades” (2000). Black theology applied biblical interpretations that were relevant to the daily struggles of Blacks who suffered under the burden of white racism. It was also a sociological response to European Christianized racism, found to be irrelevant to the experiences of Blacks, who experienced tremendous sufferings at the hands of whites. Black Theology was a tool to uncover racist policies and practices that were buried under the banner of Christianity. It was, and is, a “counter hegemonic theory which argued that, according to the scriptures, the subjugation of non-whites was not Godordained but was the deliberate creation of wicked men, misrepresenting God and His divine will” (Simmons, 2004, pp. 178–179). Black Theology created a new religious culture. It used a careful analysis of scripture to understand the true essence of biblical Christianity. This reinscription affirmed “Blackness” as a powerful means to solidify Black consciousness in liberating Blacks from white racism. Ultimately, Black theology was an ideology, which Black Christians could relate to, and was instrumental in the destruction of apartheid in South Africa. In both Negritude and Black theology, powerful representations of Black identity and culture were used as liberating tools to decolonize Blacks under colonial oppression. In Cabral’s study of national liberation struggles, he found that “generally struggles are preceded by an increase in expressions of culture, consolidated progressively into a successful or unsuccessful attempt to affirm the cultural personality of the dominated people, as a means of negating the oppressor culture” (Cabral, 1970, p. 5). What Cabral alludes to is that if the colonized are to emancipate themselves from the clutches of colonial domination, the notion of identity and culture should be expressed positively in anti-colonial struggles and should not become a paralyzing juncture as post-colonial thinking infuses. There should be an awareness of the value of culture and identity as liberating and empowering tools that allow individuals to rise above the dictates of colonialism. So, in essence, where there is confusion, fragmentation and paralysis concerning identity politics and culture in the West, there will be a weakening of social justice efforts to dismantle the structures of colonialism.


It is important, then, to critique the politics behind the disdain for Christianity as a liberating theology in relation to forms of resistance. Today, the struggle to consider religious forms of resistance has much to do with the entrenchment of post-colonial discourse in the academy, which has not adequately identified how it has become complicit in newer forms of colonialism. The main objection to post-colonial discourse is not that it is wrong but that it creates a discourse of paralysis. In the Canadian Black Diaspora, the push and pull factors of immigration and the assimilation process have distanced Blacks from appreciating their ongoing connections to the mother land. As a result, this may have altered our concept of Black identity and culture, which values the importance of religious 119


spirituality. Any mention of Africa’s culture or traditions is quickly suppressed since one must find one’s place in the new arena of the first world. This means that the entrenchment of multiculturalism and assimilationalist views “deprives Blacks of the autonomous elements of their way of life and the genuine creations of their cultural heritage” (West, 2002, p. 80). The mere mention of Antiracism, Afrocentricity or Black Spirituality may raise many white supremacist eyebrows, but if words like Multiculturalism, Post-colonialism or “Spirituality” are used, this somehow appeases the concerns of the dominant group. Indeed, post-colonial theorists have successfully articulated the false dichotomy people of the Diaspora experience upon their arrival to the new world. The job of an anti-colonial theorist however, is to effectively displace that discourse of fragmentation by inserting other paradigms that portray the wholeness of Black identity shared by millions all over the world. While the cruel history of slavery brought on by the Europeanized version of Christianity is an obvious focal point for explanations of colonization in Africa, the hegemony of post-colonial discourse which collides with African-centered views on identity should not go unnoticed. Certainly, “the false premise for the slave trade is what has convinced many Blacks today that Christianity is a religion of which they want no part” (Perry, 1998, p. 8). Consequently, many Blacks identify Christianity with imperialism, which has led to a sense of fragmentation in the Black community from the pulpit, academy and the wider community. The perversion of Christianity by white colonialists was a reenactment of white supremacist policies through the most powerful weapon of compliance – religion (Usry, 1996). For Blacks in particular, we must read our history closely and not rely on Eurocentric interpretations of history that negate Black identity and cultural legacies. When we read about Christianity in the medieval period we usually think of Europe, because that is what we have been taught by White Christians contemplating their own heritage; but Christianity was no less an African faith, and in contrast to some other faiths, it began there without conquests or force of arms. (Usry, 1996, p. 38) If biblical Christianity has had such a compelling role in consciousness-raising in the Black community, perhaps the politics behind its silence has everything to do with Eurocentrism and the fear that it could stimulate rebellion against the status quo. Current Eurocentric interpretation of “religion” and “culture” generally views popular culture and religion only as instruments of domination and vehicles of pacification. It only sees their negative and repressive elements with little attention to its positive and liberating aspects. (West, 2002, p. 117) As Tait (2002) also attests, “Blacks must remain confident in the merits of their rich and varied African tradition. This sure foundation comes into question when people lose sight of their own history and accept what others say about their identity” (p. 23). When slaves arrived in the West, slave masters often did not want the 120


slaves to hear about the Bible because they feared that the egalitarianism implicit in Christianity would somehow inspire a slave rebellion. This fear soon became a reality. Though slaves were preached to, they knew they were not getting the full story, and they reconstructed a more just version of Christianity, developing a non-racist reading/understanding of the Christian faith. Again, as Usry (1996) emphasizes, Instead of simply accepting the form of Christianity delivered to them by racist church institutions, African-Americans accepted a Christianity whose truth was authenticated to them in the experience of suffering and struggle . . . to produce an indigenous faith that emphasized dignity freedom, and human welfare. (Usry, 1996). Akinyela, another African-American scholar points out that “the faith of the enslaved Africans was not just a slave religion but a genuine and indigenous faith forged out of the experiences of Africans in slavery that helped them develop a central organizing theme of resistance/resilience at the core of their culture” (Akinyela, 2003, p. 278). Developing critical spaces to include the Black church as a valid site for resistance in anti-colonial struggle is an attempt to subvert white supremacist politics in the academy which aim to “racialize religion” where people are marked not according to a biological determinant such as skin colour but according to how certain religions have been constructed. Many Black Christian intellectuals have concerns about the way religious discourse is represented in the academy, and therefore shy away and wonder how Black religious expression can work as a means of resistance to anti-colonial struggles. The reluctance to explore religious spirituality in the academy has much to do with the legacy of colonization and the questions of fear and conformity. Black Christian intellectuals must stay anchored in the roots of their cultural and religious traditions and view it as “something to be preserved and promoted, improved and enhanced not erased and replaced” (West, 2002, p. 118). While it is true that colonizers perverted biblical Christian ideals during colonization, there are other ideological factors to be considered that explain why the Black Church remains vastly ignored. Spirituality is ultimately about the quest for meaning and it is also linked to context and ideology that dictate the terms under which the spiritual are allowed to arise and develop. Meaning, “Ideology does not, as is often assumed, refer to political ideas alone” (Loomba, 1998, p. 25). It includes all our “mental frameworks, our beliefs, concepts and ways of expressing our relationship to the world” (Loomba, 1998, p. 25). What Loomba suggests is that in different historical periods ideology changes in different social contexts. For example, history records how potent religious forms of resistance can be in challenging imperial paradigms. Just as slaves were denied a true biblical interpretation of scripture for fear they would oppose imperial structures, and just as perversions of Christianity were used to enslave the minds of people in South Africa, new forms of colonialism aim to marginilize religion through colonizing the spirits of the masses. The colonial project is largely one of appropriation and 121


a reversal tactic is being used in modern forms of colonialism. To some extent, where religion was once used as a tool of colonization to breed compliance, domination and control over the masses, secularism is the new colonial tool. In other words, secular-based theories like post-colonialism inculcate a “politics of forgetting”, which alienates us from our cultural experiences, and as a result, causes us to forget what kept our predecessors anchored and firmly rooted in their identities and culture. Cabral notes that: The experience of colonial domination shows that, in the effort to perpetuate exploitation, the colonizer not only creates a system to repress the cultural life of the colonized people; he also provokes and develops the cultural alienation of a part of the population, either by so-called assimilation of indigenous people, or by creating a social gap between the indigenous elites and the popular masses. As a result of this process . . . the urban or peasant “petite bourgeoisie” assimilates the colonizer’s mentality, considers itself culturally superior to its own people and ignores or looks down upon their cultural values. (Cabral, 1970, p. 7) Although Cabral wrote in the context of colonial practices in Africa and national liberation movements, his arguments are relevant today, for “while colonialism in its formal sense might have been dismantled, the colonial state has not . . . the political, economic, and cultural links established by colonial domination still remain . . . ” (Kelly, 1999, p. 18). The post-colonial line of questioning has resulted in meager attempts to dismantle the colonial structures which continue to dominate minoritized communities. Therefore, the process of decolonization cannot be limited to the mind but must also include the decolonization of the spirit where the actual experience of Black Christianity and other forms of Black religious expression are considered as integral components to anti-colonial forms of resistance. Spirituality, regrettably, has become so privatized and ambiguous that God has been displaced and individuals are accountable for their own spiritual destiny. To rely solely on individual knowledge to explain one’s purpose, meaning and understanding is what the colonial masters have successfully brainwashed into the masses. It is a type of divide and conquer strategy in the sense that spirituality and religion are polarized as if they were evil contenders, thereby making it difficult to bridge the gap which divides people of faith, academics and grassroots advocates. “It is a destructive idea to see one’s spirituality as something that we only do or experience individually” (Dash, 1997, p. 9). Indeed, spirituality should take into account the importance of community and social action whether it comes from religious or non-religious forms. However, the disconnect which exists between the church pews, the academy and wider community strongly suggests that more emphasis must be laid on the need for community organization at all levels. This is why discourses that counteract Eurocentric sensibilities that negate realities specific to Black culture and identity must be challenged in order to stimulate social change. Anti-colonial thought aims to raise the consciousness of communities to bring about awareness of colonial structures. Anti-colonialism can be 122


regarded metaphorically as a form of spiritual practice, not in the conventional sense but in terms of moving knowledge to the realm of transformative politics to decolonize the spirit and to “open the door for hitherto discredited notions of spirituality . . . so that these modes of expressions are also validated as legitimate forms of knowledge, emerging from lived experiences of the bodies” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 318). Anti-colonial practice therefore requires that we step back in humility and engage questions about accountability and responsibility with the purpose of revitalizing community – a central feature that was lost in the colonial encounter. The capacity to view the world via an anti-colonial lens, then, requires a change of the self. This is not an easy process but it is a starting point to decolonize the spirit and consider how religious spirituality from the Black Church tradition is a valid site for resistance in the anti-colonial struggle. THE BLACK CHURCH: A CALL TO ACTION

There are few institutions that have the organizing apparatus to assemble large members of the Black community and “it is important that Blacks have community places and voluntary associations where they can think and talk and socialize, removed from the scrutiny and control of those who hold power over their lives” (Evans, 1992, p. 27). The Black Church is a “free space” which Evans (1992) describes as “public meeting places in the community”, where [Blacks] are able to learn a new self-respect, a deeper and more assertive group identity, public skills, and values of co-operation and civic virtue (p. ix). The Black Church has an integral role in organizing Blacks within their community contexts since “Black preachers and pastors are in charge of the most numerous and continuous gatherings of Black people . . . and they are the leaders of the only major institutions in the Black community that are not accountable to the status quo” (West, 2002, p. 121). As West emphasizes, the Black Church is instrumental in building solidarity around issues of injustice that affect Blacks as a collective. However, the Black Church today has lost its momentum as a strong institution for social reform. “The pervasive sleepwalking in churches in regard to social justice is frightening” (West, 2004, p. 168). Whereas the Black Church provides an inner sanctum for individuals to deal with forms of oppression on a micro level, it has failed to play a role on the macro level where spirituality must be brought to the level of politics where action oriented change can occur. Spiritualizing politics is not about revisiting the ongoing debate surrounding the separation of church and state; instead, it is using faith/spirituality as a platform to speak of social realities that benefit and disadvantage certain groups in society. It is about politicizing hope, self worth, and vision for communities and future generations. Take for instance, the Toronto Star February 4th, 2005 issue which highlighted what some may perceive as a controversial statement made by Professor George Dei, who suggested the need for alternative schools for Black youth as a way to address the problem of high dropout rates amongst this population. Without considering the multiple tensions that face Black youth in the educational system, the media and minoritized leaders in the community slammed the 123


idea, labelling it as racial segregation and a step backward as Black youth need to work within the models of multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance. The radical statement made by Dei, whether practical or not, and the blatant misread of what he was actually advocated for is a testament to the disjuncture and dismemberment of a community victimized by the entrenchment of post-colonial rationales which focus on “individual” successes that negate the need for alternative schools. Too often when blatant injustices of minoritized bodies are presented, somehow the arguments are switched to focus on the individual who needs to rise above the “odds”, regardless of the overarching powers of colonial systems which dominate the least privileged and most victimized. The problem is that, professors like Dei cannot speak “as a lone ranger” for such controversial remedies. The community must band together and institutions like the Black church must step forward in the role of educator to raise the consciousness of Black people and encourage them to get involved in the public domain. The reference to the Toronto Star report is not to sensationalize and oversimplify problems in the Black community but rather to capture a growing awareness that there is a role to play for Black churches together with their community to tackle issues at the political level. Despite the efforts of many strategies to address the problems facing Blacks, we cannot deny that Black people continue to be at war with colonial forces that attempt to take away their positive sense of self. The issue of high school dropouts in the Black community stems from deep-seated structural issues that cannot be fought in only one way. Instead, it must be attacked through an integrative approach that recognizes the interplay of political, economic, sociological and spiritual factors that result in conditions like spirit injury. If Blacks have little or no positive outlets to heal the trauma of trying to survive in a world that has incessantly tried to devalue them, they may be left with a profound loss of faith and hopelessness. Interestingly, what Dei advocated for in the school setting is what Black churches have offered for centuries. Not only is the “church” a religious and spiritual uplift for Blacks but Black churches are an “autonomous social world” which has Black role models and leaders where church members can develop a profound sense of being conscious and Black in a white dominant society. In the same Toronto Star issue, Rosemary Sadlier, president of the Ontario Black History Society, shared her negative experiences of the school system and why she was able to succeed. She notes, “What I had that maybe some students don’t have now, is that I was able, because I was involved with a Black church, to see people of African origin make decisions and conduct themselves with grace and intelligence outside of the school setting . . . ” (Heath-Rawlings, 2005). Sadlier’s experience attests to Black churches being educational centers, which prepare Blacks to navigate in a world that attempts to limit their life chances. Black Churches have produced community-minded political leaders, polished orators, and activist journalists and scholars (West, 2002, p. 36). Many Black activists such as Martin Luther King, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks and countless others had strong connections to the Black Church in which their religious beliefs were used as a platform to spearhead forms of resistance in the political realm. A contemporary scholar that can also be added to this list is Cornel West, a renowned Black Christian professor at Princeton. His 124


philosophies are centered in what he calls “Prophetic Christianity”, lodged in the historical legacy of the Black Church. For West (2002), to be a prophetic Afro-American Christian is to negate what is and transform prevailing realities against the backdrop of the present historical limits. In short, Afro-American Christian thought imbues Afro-American thinking with the sobriety of tragedy, the struggle for freedom, and the spirit of hope. (p. 20) West’s views are captured in a moral vision that speaks to the realities of the Black experience. He argues (1993) that the meaninglessness, hopelessness and the state of siege that is raging in the Black community is in part related to collapsing structures of meaning (p. 91). What West describes is a state of spirit injury in the Black community, which he attributes to the lack of traditional institutions like the Black Church, which historically provided a philosophy of hope and a culture of resistance in the face of the dehumanizing structures of society. West “urges Black political leadership to promote and practice ‘a politics of conversion’ which is a mechanism that inspires people to believe that there is hope for the future and meaning to struggle” (Johnson, 2003, p. 29). Though West does not argue from an anti-colonial perspective, he does draw upon his own upbringing in the Black Church to present his views on how the Black Church is a precursor to attacking Black nihilism. It is this level of “spiritual politics” that is so desperately needed to bring about positive changes in the Black community and make linkages with other community advocates, educators and concerned people. CONCLUSION

The historical Black church reveals the tenacious resilience of Blacks to engage in social justice advocacy. The philosophical teachings of Black Churches have inculcated a strong sense of optimism, courage and hope in the lives of Blacks who have suffered under great persecution. These values are integral to the formation of Black identity and consciousness, and can also help to stimulate social action, resistance and confrontation to forms of oppression. The Black Church is a hidden community which has a long legacy of resistance and social action that should not be misunderstood, ignored or disdained simply because of its affiliations with colonial legacies. A careful inquiry into the nuances of colonization, and the paradoxical institutions which have risen out of it, should be considered in an anti-colonial critique. Finally, there is a need to revive a sense of hope amongst today’s generations. The storms of the Black experience should not be discussed without giving credence to the role of the Black Church, which offers a paradigm for resisting oppression wherever it appears. While this chapter aims to politicize the role of the Black church today, it is not meant to essentialize religious spirituality or engage in a missionary endeavour to convert the academy. My main aim is to simply rupture what would appear to be growing anti-religious sentiments in the academy, traces of which are echoed in post-colonial discursive practices. In so doing, there is a need for further research to document the lives of Pastors, Preachers and 125


lay people who attend Black churches in Canada in order to further understand the notion of “spiritual politics” so that bridges can be built between community members of all walks of life. In the words of West, “to be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away” (West, 2004, p. 172). This, indeed, is part of the legacy of the Black church tradition. Just as previous generations in the Black church articulated a philosophy of hope, it is important that Black people today identify with the spiritual discipline exhibited by Black people in the past, so they also can become active participants in the unfolding drama of liberatory action. REFERENCES Akinyela, M. (2003). Battling the serpent, Nat Turner, Africanized Christianity, and a black ethos. Journal of Black Studies, 33, 255–279. Asante, M.K. (1988). The Afrocentric idea. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Asante, M.K. (1999). The painful demise of Eurocentrism. New Jersey: Africa World Press. Asante, M.K. (2003). The Afrocentric idea. In A. Mazama (Ed.) The Afrocentric paradigm. Africa World Press, pp. 37–54. Cabral, A. (1970). National liberation and culture. The 1970 Eduardo Mondlane lecture, program of Eastern African studies of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, February 20. Cesaire, A. (1972). Discourse on colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Chapman, M.L. (1996). Christianity on trial: African-American religious thought before and after black power. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. Copeland, M.S. (2002). Racism and the vocation of the christian theologian. Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality, 3, 15–29. Dash, M., Jackson, J. and Rasor, S. (1997). Hidden wholeness an African American spirituality for individuals and communities. Ohio: United Church Press. Dei, G.J.S. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: Towards an anti-colonial discursive framework. Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3), 297–323. Dirlik, A. (1997). The post colonial aura: Third World criticism in the age of global capitalism. Oxford: Westview Press, pp. 1–23, 52–84. Donnelly, J. (2002). Educating for a deeper sense of self – Understanding, compassion, and engaged service. In Miller and Yoshiharu (Eds.), Nurturing our wholeness perspectives on spirituality in education. Rutland: The Foundation for Educational Renewal, pp. 304–314. Heath-Rawlings, J. (2005). Do we need black schools? Toronto Star, February 4. hooks, b. (1999). Embracing freedom: Spirituality and liberation. In Glazer (Ed.) The heart of learning spirituality in education. New York: Penguin Putnam, pp. 113–137. Ivory, L.D. (1997). Toward a theology of radical involvement: The theological legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Nashville: Abingdon Press. Johnson, C.S. (2003). Cornel West & philosophy: The quest for social justice. New York: Routledge. Keener, C. and Usry, G. (1997). Defending black faith answers to tough questions about AfricanAmerican Christianity. Illinois: InterVarsity Press. Kelly, R.G. (1999). A poetics of anti-colonialism. Monthly Review, 1–21. Lincoln, C.E. (1990). The black church in the African-American experience. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Loomba, A. (1998). Colonialism/post-colonialism. London: Routledge. Mazama, A. (2003). The Afrocentric paradigm. In A. Mazama (Eds.), The Afrocentric paradigm. Africa World Press, pp. 1–34. Memmi, A. (1969). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Moore-Gilbert, B., Stanton, G. and Maley, W. (1997). Post colonial criticism. London: Longman.


SPIRITUAL POLITICS Rodger, A. (2000). Moral, spiritual, religious – Are they synonymous? In Leicester et al. (Eds.), Spiritual and religious education. London: Falmer Press, pp. 1–13. Schiele, J. (2003). Afrocentricity: In social work practice. In A. Mazama (Ed.), The Afrocentric paradigm. Africa World Press, pp. 185–200. Schneiders, S. (2003). Religion vs. spirituality: A contemporary conundrum. Spiritus Journal, 3, 163– 185. Simmons, A. (2004). African theology and black theology. Available at Simms, R. (2000). Black theology, a weapon in the struggle for freedom: A Gramscian analysis. Race and Society, 2(2), 165–193. Stewart, C.F. (1999). Black spirituality and black consciousness: Soul force, culture, and freedom in the African-American experience. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. Tait, L. and van Gorder, A.C. (2002). Three-fifths theology challenging racism in American Christianity. New Jersey: Africa World Press. Taylor, R.J. (2004). Religion in the lives of African Americans: Social, psychological, and health perspectives. California: Sage Publications. Usry, G. and Keener, C. (1996). Black man’s religion. Can Christianity be Afrocentric? Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. West, C. (1993). Prophetic thought in post-modern times beyond Eurocentrism and multiculturalism. Volume One. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press. West, C. (2002). Prophesy deliverance an Afro-American revolutionary Christianity. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press. West, C. (2004). Democracy matters. New York: The Penguin Press. Wiggins, D. (2005). Righteous content black women’s perspective of church and faith. New York: University Press. Zinnbauer, B. and Pargament, K. (1997). Religion and spirituality: Unfuzzying the fuzzy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 36, 549–564.




The writing of history has long been a privileged calling undertaken within the church, royal court, landed estate, affluent town house, government agency, university and corporate funded foundation. Michael Parenti (2003, p. 13)

History is alive. It is neither static nor fixed. History is the subjective construction of what and how, people and groups remember. It is the totality of lived experience. While often perceived as an immovable sort of record, history is better understood as a site of struggle. There is strategic importance in the who, why, where and how of knowledge production. The struggle is that of a prolonged interrogation of competing versions of events, as well as the power relations implicit in those versions. This paper is an attempt to begin, inspire and facilitate an interrogation of dominant history. Included below is, first, a theoretical framework for anti-colonial historiography. Second, an analytical case study of the history textbooks used in Ontario, Canada, from 1866 to 2006. And third, a case specific example of curricular synthesis, demonstrating one way in which dominant education can be subverted. Upon beginning this piece, I unconsciously presumed I had license to write about whatever I pleased. Sadly, this ignorance is the inbred sense of entitlement of the White (usual male) scholar. As I worked through the project, I came to better understand the responsibility of all writers and researchers to never presume inclusion or entitlement when approaching a topic or community. I am a White teacher in Ontario. I have been asked as well as required, to teach a colonizer’s history. I was educated in Ontario – inundated with the tautology of Canada’s multiculturalism while taught the glories of only certain peoples’ ideas, struggles, epistemologies and ontological perspectives. Further, my child, as I write this, sits in an Ontario classroom with (in the Toronto District Schools Board’s tribute to empire) a picture of England’s queen, always in view. My people and my society have cultured within me a racism and a comfort with White supremacy. The racism is a quiet one, understood best not through my words or actions – for I have long spoken anti-racism – but through the instincts and reactions that I have come to interrogate and have attempted to change in the last half of my life. It is understood through my ignorance – meaning I rarely know the little pieces are there, until they are gone. One result is that I must G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 129–158. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


continue to look at myself and my contextual underpinnings, with a critical eye. This process does not end with the completion of one paper, book or coversation. It is something with and through which I must work for as long as inequity is configured in its current state. To contest dominant history is for me a professional, personal, academic and family undertaking. It affects and has meaning in all parts of my life – be it playing “castle” with my daughter, or designing courses that subvert the dominant curricula for my classes. This for me is not a solitary pursuit. History is not mine to find or document: it is a conversation in which I may, at times, participate. One of my responsibilities as a White person within a White supremacist society is to recognize and respect the places and pursuits best left alone by the dominant. This is not to say that Whites have no role in the anti-colonial struggle, but rather that those roles are often best assigned and designed by the oppressed. It is relevant here to make a distinction between being White (as a subject location and site of difference) and Whiteness (as a system of privilege) (see Ruttenberg, 1993). Such distinctions must not obfuscate the role all White people play in White supremacy – be it often or rare, intentional or unintentional. With this said, White people have a crucial role to play in contesting White privilege. Production and reproduction of knowledge are ideally, collective pursuits, which recognize and work to dissolve power inequities – pedagogically and epistemologically. This work is thus not prescriptive, but interrogative. It aims to support an anti-colonial project, theoretically and practically, by providing both a framework and examples for and of, anti-colonial historiography. The anti-colonial framework casts a critical gaze wherever imposition occurs. It rejects the etymological implication of the “post” in post-colonialism and asserts that the colonial encounter is trans-historical rather than historical – it persists in colonized and colonizing nations. As far as education, we may look to the myriad ways that difference is ignored, suppressed or taken up in classrooms and curricula. It is not only under the tutelage of invading colonizing regimes that people find themselves excluded from the format and content of their education. The anti-colonial stance posits that not only are indigenous people made foreigners in their own lands by way of the colonial encounter, but also that immigrants and racialized minorities are similarly excluded from/by dominant pedagogical practices. The international socio-political processes of displacement, impoverishment and migration (forced and voluntary) are thus relevant here. So when analyzing colonialism in the contemporary context, we must relate the legacy of Spanish colonialism in Mexico, to the lives of Mexicans fighting for health care in California and Texas. When looking at the legacy of French imperialism in Africa, we must look at the struggle for representation by North Africans in Southern France. How do the educational practices in these regions (the US and France, as well as Mexico and Northern Africa) reflect power and competing histories in these multifaceted colonial encounters? These are but two examples, not of a new colonialism, but of the internationalization and extension of colonialism. This can be understood as one very important aspect of globalization/imperialism. In the Canadian context, imposition is thus understood not simply as it affects the indigenous people who continue to fight for autonomy under the yolk of Canadian 130


colonialism, but as it affects all those marginalized by the content and contexts of schooling. Anti-colonial education interrogates the Euro-American/Canadian lens and philosophy through which such practices are developed and invoked. Those who teach history do not simply convey knowledge, but go much further and construct it through conscious and unconscious inclusion and exclusion of historical perspectives, contributions and events. To teach history well is to question and teach questioning, at every turn. A critical approach to teaching and learning cannot be taken up merely for the sake of being critical. Our questioning should be both strategic and compassionate. The history instructor should not only address historical events, but also the history of how events in question have been taught hitherto. Historical events exist in transhistorical contexts and can have transhistorical relevance. An awareness of these contexts is crucial to understanding (a) regional power discrepancies, as Said (1993) argues, and (b) local power inequities and inequalities current and historical. History is a responsibility; an imperfect pursuit with specific interests and intentions in play at every turn. Zinn writes: My argument cannot be against selection, simplification, emphasis, which are inevitable for both cartographers and historians. . . . [T]he mapmaker’s distortion is a technical necessity for a common purpose shared by all people who need maps. The historian’s distortion is more than technical, it is ideological; it is released into a world of contending interests, where any chosen emphasis supports (whether the historian means to or not) some kind of interest, whether economic or political or racial or national or sexual. (1999, p. 8) The error we must avoid in the telling and teaching of history is thus not subjectivity, but the denial thereof. To claim that any perspective is complete and/or neutral, is erroneous. To claim that history is told or taught without specific objectives (conscious or unconscious) is inaccurate. We must then acknowledge the purpose and perspective of our teaching and telling of history – we must identify the subjectivities at play in the narratives we convey, lest we fall prey to the Eurocentric claim of objectivity and its corresponding mask of universality. Formal curricula, at all levels of study (elementary, high school and college/university) serve to construct meaning for students as far as self-identification, cultural belonging and school engagement. History, with its philological, cultural, economic, geographic, political and social strands is perhaps unique among so-called “disciplines” in that the implications for the learner are so broad. In the case of popular representations of Aboriginal Peoples and perspectives in dominant Canadian history, not only are the people and perspectives largely absent, but so too is the story of the attempted genocide of the People of Turtle Island and their history. A reconsideration of such history is thus not only a strategic examination, but also one that quite simply, seeks greater accuracy and thoroughness in order to combat the removal of so much from the history of Turtle Island.1 Historical analyses and the creation of the “other”, either as backward or as outside of history, are present throughout colonized and colonizing societies currently and historically. The dominant has for centuries, written the dominated out 131


of the historical material process. The works of leading European thinkers (like Bacon, Descartes, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Smith, Ricardo and others) from a variety of fields (such as politics, mathematics, science, philosophy, economics and others) serve as a modern foundation and prescription for othering non-dominant knowledges and peoples (see Shiva, 1997; Wolff, 2000; Bishop, 1990; Joseph, 1987; and others). The effects of such thinkers are present in educational practises in almost all colonial contexts. Educational imperialism is a crucial element of colonialism, with profound effects on the colonized and colonizer. Fanon writes: . . . [C]olonialism is not content to impose its rule upon the present and the future of a dominated country. Colonialism is not satisfied with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it. This work of devaluing colonial history takes on a dialectical significance today. (1963, p. 210). Fanon’s work speaks to the mental effects of colonialism and colonial education. The uni-focal history of dominant/colonial education serves to amputate marginalized people from their past and consequently from their present. In Canada today, the histories of Aboriginal people are excluded from dominant education. Spivak’s (1996) work with community groups and scholars on the historiography of the Subaltern in India, is a relevant example not only of historical interrogation, but of the creation of a revised popular history. The subaltern can be loosely understood in the Gramscian sense as comprised by “non-elite or subordinated social groups” (Landry and MacLean, 1996, p. 203). The knowledge and practices of these groups are understood for the purposes of an anti-colonial historiography, as relevant in and of themselves, as well as informative for positive (action-oriented) social change. The anti-colonial critique must be pointed at all thinkers and philosophies, on the left and the right. Two hundred years ago, even revolutionary European thinkers partook of the oppressive practice of “othering”. In the Introduction to A Critique of Political Economy, Marx writes: “Tribes living exclusively on hunting or fishing are beyond the boundary line from which real [historical] development begins” (from Eze, 2000, p. 234). The telling, or omission, of the history of the colonized by the colonizer, is part of the reproduction and preservation of what Eze calls the “neocolonial setup” (2000, p. 242). He writes: They speak of the colonized or of the subjects of neocolonial exploitation in biological terms and declare them to be the antagonists of history. The native, or the neocolonial peasantry is said to be inferior and have no appreciation of values . . . Thus the settler, or neocolonial elite, has no regrets or qualms of conscience for he does violence not to humans but to strange entities located between humanity and undifferentiated history. (2000, p. 242) When students see neither themselves nor their histories reflected in their education, disengagement understandably follows. In Decolonizing Methodologies, Smith writes: “Schooling is directly implicated in this process. Through the curriculum and its underlying theories of knowledge, early schools redefined the 132


world and where indigenous people were positioned within the world” (1991, p. 33). In many cases, Aboriginal people have been located outside of the world: the world of progress, the world of goodness, the world of history. In the capitalist epoch, history decidedly begins and ends with capitalism. For orthodox Marxists, history begins and ends with class struggle. Cabral says in a 1966 speech: [T]his leads us to pose the following question: does history begin only with the development of the phenomenon of ‘class’, and consequently of class struggle? To answer in the affirmative would be to place outside history the whole period of life of human groups from the discovery of hunting, and later of nomadic and sedentary agriculture, to the organization of herds and the private appropriation of land. It would also be to consider . . . that various human groups in Africa, Asia and Latin America were living outside of history. (1969, p. 77) Although Cabral is speaking in the African context almost forty years ago, his words are true today in many colonial settings and speak to the global nature of the oppression implicit in so much colonial pedagogy – currently and historically. The education system in Ontario, Canada for example, ignores the content and practice of Aboriginal history and epistemology. It instead provides compulsory Canadian settler history that preserves the salience of settler domination. Inaccurate and oppressive histories are thus thrust upon Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples alike. Edward Said (1997) argues that although Marx was sympathetic to non-EuroAmerican peoples suffering under the yolk of European imperialism, he saw the suffering as the beginning of the reorientation of a backward society, toward the possibility of a better future. Marx was concerned with oppressed people but was guilty of the paternalistic western discursive position that “they” need civilising, if only on an economic level, by “us”. Marx was content to form his understanding of the non-European Subaltern from problematic symbols of Orientalism, created and maintained by the dominant political project; a project which Marx himself purported to reject (Said, 1997). Said quotes Marx and his racist conclusion about Asian Peoples, “they cannot represent themselves; they must be represented” (1997, p. 93). Marx falls into the trap of essentializing the non-dominant world by assigning a false homogeneity to all of its peoples. Aboriginal Peoples struggle against not only a western view of history, but also against a western presentation of history, which ignores among other things, oral histories and the value of story telling (Smith, 1991). A failure to contest this approach allows for the continued amputation of people from their cultures and histories. Fanon writes: Every people in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its cultural originality – finds itself face to face . . . with the culture of the [dominant] mother country. The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards. (1967, p. 18) Fanon’s analyses are as relevant today in colonial educational settings globally, as they were to the Caribbean and Africa (about which he was writing) in 1967. 133


As many authors have argued, a multicentric approach to knowledge and learning is possible and I would add necessary, in a number of different contexts (see Agrawal, 1995; Yakubu, 1994; Dei, 2000; Hodson, 1998). Similarly, a number of applications of this knowledge are possible. It is necessary then, that teachers operate pedagogically only on a multicentric understanding and articulation of principles, strategies and goals. This multi-focal approach can contribute to what Dei has called a “complete history of ideas which have shaped and continue to shape human growth and development” (2000, p. 17). Raising these issues in the Canadian context sheds light on broader questions of knowledge production, the validation and dissemination of information, and roles of power and representation in education. Canada’s failure to teach and value accurate and inclusive history must not be understood as benign omission, but rather as part of its ongoing colonial project in which the power of representation is paramount. Anticolonial historiography differs from typical historical re-telling in that it takes an overtly strategic approach to the telling of things past. Its focus is two pronged, working to interrogate and rupture dominant history on one hand, while focusing on the achievements, practices and resistance of oppressed peoples to colonial imposition on the other. It is not the existence of a political project within anticolonial historiography that distinguishes it from mainstream history, but rather its unabashed articulation of its political aims from the start. This does not mean that we should dispense with accuracy as a goal or direction for study. It means that we must contextualize the telling of history as well as history itself so the why, who, where and how of knowledge production are brought into focus. Objectivity is better sought through an interrogation of subjectivities than through a denial that such competing perspectives exist. In Discourse on Colonialism, Césairé (1972) problematizes the subversive notion of history as a monologue. I argue here that history must be a dialogue – a continually evolving contestation of perspectives, versions and memories. History must move beyond the notion of fractious divisions of time into past, present and future. In place of such a partition, a continuum of knowledge must be fostered wherein knowing itself is understood as embodied as well as temporal, and both as an individual and communal path and practice, which identifies and values the subjectivities of learners. The aim here is not a post-structuralist one, wherein all perspectives are valued equally, but one in which light can be shed on all experiences to reveal the bad and celebrate the good; one in which invalid histories are exposed as such. On an individual level this can assist in the development of what Freire has called “complete humanism” (1997, p. 25). On a community level, it can help to facilitate the empowerment of marginalized groups. Beyond curricula, the way in which teaching takes place delivers a strong message. Language for example, can be a tool for empowerment or disempowerment. Young people learning a language (and learning in a language) spoken by their people, are connected to their culture in a fundamental way while in the classroom. This is not to say that people should avoid learning or spending time in languages other than their own, but we should be cautious of the dangerous “insider/outsider” dynamics that can and do transpire around language. In India 134


for example, the English language was an important colonial tool. Gandhi, writing about English colonialism in India, argues: To give millions a knowledge of English is to enslave them . . . Is it not a sad commentary that we should have to speak of Home Rule in a foreign tongue? Is it not a sad thing that, if I want to go to a court of justice, I must employ the English language as a medium; that when I become a barrister, I may not speak my mother-tongue, and that someone else should have to translate to me from my language? Is this not absurd? . . . We are so much beset by the disease of civilisation, that we cannot altogether do without English education . . . A little thought should show you that immediately [when] we cease to care for English degrees the rulers will prick up their ears. (1997, pp. 103–104) Gandhi is pointing to both the harm of colonial practice as far as language is concerned, and to the potential for resistance thereto. To what degree are these questions from the Indian context of the 1940s, relevant for the twenty-first century? In the realm of political economy, they are extremely important. English is an asset for many people. It affords them access to work and schooling, and without which their economic situation may be likely to worsen. The motivation to retain and pass down local languages is thus diminished in many colonial settings. The language of the dominant/colonizer takes on the form of currency, with value afforded to it. In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon writes: The Negro of the Antilles will be proportionately whiter – that is, he will come closer to being a real human being – in direct ratio to his mastery of the French language . . . A man who has a language consequently possesses the world expressed and implied by the language . . . What we are getting at becomes plain. Mastery of language affords remarkable power. (1967, p. 18) With telemarketers in India trained to mimic the accents of people in certain US and Canadian regions (so that incoming calls sound “local” to “first” world ears) it is clear that with the intensification of the global market, comes an intensification of cultural and economic imperialism. We should be careful also, to search out opportunities for, and histories of, resistance within the colonial encounter. As many have pointed out (see Iseke-Barnes, 2004; Shkilnyk, 1995; Burnaby, 1996; Battiste, 1988; and others) in the Canadian context, Aboriginal languages are not only absent in most classes, they are in decline in both Aboriginal communities and Canadian society as a whole. In many communities, English is no longer simply a courtesy for outsiders or a gracious gesture, but has become the default language of choice. English comes to define and thus potentially limit expression, representation and historical telling. This erodes students’ abilities to centre/value their own culture and thus themselves, when considering history and their respective roles therein. Non-dominant students are thus “othered” within the curriculum, the classroom and the schoolyard. In Albert Memmi’s (1969) seminal work The Colonizer and the Colonized, he points to the cultural experience of colonialism as well as the consequences for historiography. He writes: 135


[T]he colonized observes all [of the colonizer’s] religious holidays. These holidays are located at the beginning of history, rather than in history. From the time they were instituted, nothing else has happened in the life of that people. There is nothing particular to their own existence which deserves to be retained by the collective consciousness and celebrated. Nothing except a great void . . . The history which is assigned is not his own . . . Far from preparing the adolescent to find himself completely, school creates a permanent duality in him. (1969, pp. 104–106) Instead of contributing to the wholeness of the learner, or the wholeness of history, colonial/dominant education is a marginalizing force, which divides the learner from herself and her history. Whose histories are celebrated in the curriculum, the classroom and the media? Whose spirituality is normalized and accepted? Who can look to what is being taught for historical cultural affirmation? The case study included here, entitled Survey of Ontario Classroom History Resources from 1860 to the Present, looks at textbooks and Ontario Ministry of Education guidelines from, as the title indicates, 1860 to the present. These resources contain a litany of glaring omissions, outright expressions of hatred and anthropological condescension that combine to privilege whiteness and European epistemology at the expense of Aboriginal perspectives and material processes. These lies and manipulations have been told in much the same way throughout the past 144 years in countless books and course outlines. In order to interrogate these histories and misrepresentations, it is important to document them. The survey is a step in transforming history from monologue to dialogue. It is the beginning of contestation. The resources discussed are classroom materials used currently or in the past, in Ontario, Canada. Ontario is located in Central Canada, and is the country’s most populous province. Historically, it has elected conservative governments provincially, while voting for the dominant Liberal Party nationally. In Ontario, the educational curriculum is developed by the provincial government and is standardized across the province’s thousands of public and private schools. Teaching resources are traditionally developed around the government curriculum. The government’s role in the educational process is thus paramount. On the whole, dominant Canadian history provides an inadequate and exclusive portrayal of the histories, activities, perspectives, tendencies and abilities of the Aboriginal People inhabiting Turtle Island. These histories have educated settlers and Aboriginal peoples alike. They provide a philosophical backbone for the continuing cultural and economic imperialism inflicted upon Aboriginal people by the Canadian Government on a micro level, and by the global capitalist system on a macro level. This project was originally going to include a partial text of Aboriginal-centric history told through recorded oral histories by Aboriginal People from the Ontario area. One of my original aims was to create a unit of study for use in Ontario secondary school classrooms (for the Grade 10 Canadian History course in particular, as it is the only compulsory secondary history course)2 that would present Aboriginal histories in a manner in keeping with Aboriginal world views. Ann Pohl writes:



[P]edagogy must include recognition of the disruption of Indigenous cultures by European imperialism, in particular the Doctrine of Terra Nullius and, in this land [Canada], The Indian Act. Through these tools of colonization, Aboriginal Peoples have been dispossessed of their means of livelihood and subsistence, leading directly to deep social, economic, civil, political, spiritual and cultural marginalization. The continuing marginalization of Aboriginal worldviews, cultures and contemporary concerns is evidence of the ongoing neo-colonial program: cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples. (Pohl, 2002) The problem, she writes in another paper, goes much deeper: “As the teachers are themselves uninformed of Aboriginal perspectives, cultures and concerns, even compulsory units on Aboriginal Peoples are often handled in a minimalist manner, resulting in further reinforcement of negative and false stereotypes about First Peoples” (Pohl,, no date provided). This history has scarcely been prepared for Ontario classrooms and educators too often ignore wonderful work that has been done. As this project evolved, the plan changed. As for documenting or writing Aboriginal History, I cannot right now, as a White Canadian, be the one to write or even compile this history. After discussing the ethics of such work with the coordinator of the history project at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, I understand that the efforts of White educators, those who enjoy racial privilege in the very education system addressed in the case study below, are best placed elsewhere. I have concluded it is best, as a member of the dominant, to interrogate dominant history, as presented currently and historically; and to demonstrate possible locations for synthesis. The notion of synthesis is precarious however, and must be undertaken respectfully. Non-dominant knowledge, as Sardar (1999) writes “needs to be acknowledged and appreciated on its own terms” (p. 53). With this in mind, I have attempted to demonstrate the ways in which curriculum developed by Aboriginal groups can be implemented under the existing Ontario Ministry of Education guidelines. This is a location for positive intersection between the subject at hand and my work. Thus, following the Survey of Ontario Classroom History Resources from 1860 to the Present, is a section entitled Proposed Learning Expectation Integration. This is a proposed integration of the current Ontario Ministry of Education Canadian history expectations, with a set of expectations developed by the Coalition for the Advancement of Aboriginal Studies (CAAS). The CAAS expectations elaborate the extent of understanding it believes should be required for all Canadian high-school graduates. The CAAS literature states: “CAAS advisors, educators, traditional teachers, Elders and affiliated groups bring to our work the perspectives of a variety of First Peoples’ cultures and of Canadian regions” (CAAS, 2004). Their goal is “to ensure that all students who graduate from Canadian schools achieve a minimal set of learning outcomes which reflect Aboriginal perspectives on First Peoples’ and Canadian history and culture” (CAAS, 2004). The Proposed Learning Expectation Integration section draws links for teachers in the history discipline, between the CAAS expectations and those mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Education 137


for the Grade 10 Canadian history course. Although this is the only compulsory Canadian history course at the secondary level, the course description makes no mention of Aboriginal Peoples. The course curriculum lists fourteen overall learning expectations for the course, none of which refer to Aboriginal Peoples. In addition to the overall learning expectations, there are 65 specific learning expectations, only three of which refer to Aboriginal Peoples.3 The Proposed Learning Expectation Integration section will facilitate easy and clear integration of Aboriginal perspectives into the Grade 10 Canadian history course. Included as an appendix are two sample assignments that demonstrate this expectation linkage. These assignments can satisfy both categories of expectation, and serve as both examples for educators and as actual assignments available for immediate use.


Over the past 140 years, students in Ontario have been “educated” about the lives, perspectives and nature of the region’s Aboriginal Peoples. This “education” is better understood as intentional miseducation, aimed directly and indirectly at preserving the colonial power of the European settlers and their descendant power, organised as the Canadian Government and its provincial subsidiaries. Essential to this miseducation project are the textbooks used by teachers as well as the curricula developed by the Ontario Government. I have analyzed and categorised these materials in four groups: Group A: Resources which use the powerful place of history, as a site from which to debase Aboriginal Peoples and promote explicitly racist and hateful misunderstandings about the people of Turtle Island. These texts accept the colonial project not only as inevitable, but also as correct in a normative sense. Group B: Resources that treat Aboriginal People and life anthropologically, as functions and features of the past. In this conception, Aboriginal Peoples are themselves artefacts from long ago – developmentally arrested. This group of resources virtually ignores Aboriginal resistance to colonization and treats Canada’s First Nations as features of the geographic landscape of long ago – relevant only as far as they relate to the colonial project. Group C: Resources that largely or entirely omit Aboriginal Peoples. These resources write Aboriginal people out of Canadian history, not with a dualistic eye for the autonomy of indigenous history but rather with an essentialist conception which implicitly identifies history as the project of White expansionism. Group D: Resources that identify Aboriginal People in a transhistorical rather than historical context, and which in some cases, chart at least some of the ways in which Aboriginal People have resisted the Canadian colonial project. Although these works are a great deal better than the works listed in the 138


other categories, they do not adequately incorporate Aboriginal worldviews or epistemologies, and do not address the degree to which Aboriginal People have been oppressed by Canada. To transform monologue to dialogue, polemic to contest and contest to conversation, the position of the colonizer must be clearly identified. The texts and curricula discussed below represent an articulation of the colonial position and design. Let us resist first by analysing the position of the oppressor – and then by subverting this position. The following undertakes the former. Group A Stephen Leacock’s The Dawn of Canadian History: A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada and the Coming of the White Man (1914), an early classroom text, provides a typically cruel account of Aboriginal People and their interaction with White settlers. He writes about Aboriginal People at the time of contact: “. . . the Indians of Canada had not emerged even from savagery to that stage half way to civilization which is called barbarism” (1914, p. 27). He continues: “Now and again a few members of this unhappy race were carried home to England to be exhibited at county fairs before a grinning crowd” (1914, p. 27). It is striking that this sort of cultural venom was ever packaged as history. The text entitled Ontario Public School History of Canada by the Ministry of Education, was published two years later in 1916. In it, the “Indian” is discussed at some length, like some strange specimen. Referring to the European encounter with the “Indians”, it states: “Such were the people whom the pioneers of our own race found lording over the North American continent. The Indian displayed two very marked characteristics: a love of freedom and a spirit of revenge. This untamed savage of the forest could not bring himself to submit to the restraints of European life”.4 In a statement that unabashedly articulates the colonial understanding of progress, the text reads: The sight which met the eyes of the first Europeans who sailed up the St. Lawrence was a striking one, but very different from that which is seen to-day. Instead of fields covered by abundant harvest, there was almost impenetrable forest; instead of prosperous towns were seen single wigwams or a collection of smoky huts; instead of railways were narrow, winding trails, leading through the dense forest growth; instead of palatial steamers was seen an occasional bark canoe creeping silently along the shore. The changes of the last four hundred years have been marvellous.5 How different are modern Eurocentric notions of progress? Is this not the political project of Eurocentric science in general? Francis Bacon asserted that science had the power to not just “merely exert a gentle guidance over nature’s course; [it] [has] the power to conquer and subdue, to shake her to her foundations” (Shiva, 1997, p. 163). In 1921, a new edition of Ontario Public School History of Canada was written by George Wrong, for the Minister of Education. It maintains the European 139


presumption of superiority and devotes its first chapter to the “discoverers” of America. A telling passage about one of Jacques Cartier’s first landings states: The ruler, Donnacona, came out to meet Cartier with twelve canoes. This is the first reception of a ship from Europe at what we know as Quebec, and chilled the heart of Cartier. For these people were only crude savages, and of gold and other riches there was no trace. (Wrong, 1921, p. 15) On the moment of Columbus’ first spotting of “America”, Wrong states: Keen eyes were alert at daybreak and there, quite near, lay a tree clad coast, with naked human beings . . . He thought he was in Asia, on one of the islands inhabited by the savages described by Marco Polo. They seemed poor and barbarous. They wondered at the new-comers as if they had dropped from heaven, and were ready to worship them. (1921, p. 7) One wonders what Americans will learn about the places their government invades, e.g. Afghanistan and Iraq. In 1930, A History of the Canadian People was published, again for the Government of Ontario. Therein the hatred and racism persisted. The author, George Wallace, discusses the Aboriginal People only as far as they are relevant to the French colonial project. Of the Iroquois he writes: “They were still, however, savages at heart” (Wallace, 1934, p. 81). A moral inferiority is assigned here, which is present throughout many historical texts. Pages from Canada’s Story (1936), by Dickie and Palk, paints the portrait of a lazy “Red Man” in need of White salvation. One telling verse reads: Who Calls? The Red Man, Poor and Sick He calls. Who comes? The White Man, Rich and Strong He comes. Who watches? To See That Pity Reigns, God Watches (Dickie and Palk, 1936, p. 37) Today, in many Ontario classrooms, students are asked to pray to this very same god. To this end, an entire curriculum devoted to Catholic education has been publicly funded and developed in Ontario, with corresponding publicly funded Catholic schools. In another section on the North American “Indian”, Dickie and Palk write: “They were unreasonable savages and were quite ready to blame for any misfortune that came to them” (1936, p. 77). This criticism of oppressed people persists in Canada today. The Canadian Pageant (1951), by Reeve and MacFarlane, tells the story of, among other things, the Jesuits working in early Canada. Painting the Jesuits with a brush of nobility, the authors draw a stark contrast between the priests and the “Indians”, writing: “The first Jesuits . . . set to work among the ‘shifting, shiftless . . . The smoke, draught, filth and dogs of the wigwams were too much even for the selfless Jesuits” (MacFarlane and Reeve, 1951, pp. 45–46). The colonizers thus came with their own ready-made martyrs. If there was anyone deserving of compassion, it seems it was the noble cleric. 140


In Canada Then and Now (1954), Aileen Garland tells of Aboriginal Peoples through the racist words of the European explorers. Although few other sources existed in print, she seems to personally concur with the value judgements of the famous Europeans. After one of Cartier’s particularly derogatory descriptions of the “Gaspé Indians”, Garland agrees vehemently, writing: “This was a very poor and backward tribe” (1954, p. 4). Like many other works past and present, Canada Then and Now is content to let hateful distortions of the past make up the history of the present. In Canada: A Nation (1963), by Chafe and Lower, various horrible passages from Cartier and Champlain are present, while the authors themselves sketch the Iroquois as “blood thirsty savages” and as a “savage horde” (Chafe and Lower. 1963, p. 53). It is important to identify racist historical accounts not in the distant past, but in resources that currently inform many people. Six years later (1969), the very interesting but problematic Documentary Problems in Canadian History, edited by J.M. Bumsted was published. The editor compiled a series of articles in two volumes (Volume 1 – Pre-Confederation, Volume 2 – Post-Confederation) authored by “leading specialists in Canadian History” who analyse “important problems in Canada’s history” (Bumsted and Dorsey, 1969, cover). The very first of these articles is “The Indian Problem” by Cornelius Jaenen. The article contains such section titles as “D’Avity – The Natural Savage”, “Indian Barbarity”, and “Ready for Evangelization” (Bumsted and Dorsey, 1969, pp. 1, 3, 9). The discussions of Aboriginal People and life are presented entirely through a European lens, with unapologetic incorporation of highly racist primary sources. One of the most offensive recent texts is Early Canada, by Emily Odynak, in which students/readers are asked to think like a missionary, and select among competing strategies for converting the Aboriginal People. Odynak tells the story of Father Le Jeune, a Jesuit leader from 1632 to 1639. “[H]e tried to think of the best way to teach Christian beliefs to the different groups of Native people who lived near the St. Lawrence River . . . Before he decided what to do, he considered many plans” (Odynak, 1990, p. 66). Students are then given three proposed strategies (one of which is residential schooling) and asked: “If you were Father Le Jeune, which plan or plans would you choose? Give reasons for your choice” (Odynak, 1990, p. 66). Absent from this choose your own adventure colonialism is any discussion of the harm done by the Catholic Church or residential schools. Also omitted is information about Aboriginal spirituality and Aboriginal resistance to cultural colonialism. This presents Aboriginal Peoples as merely something to overcome in the broader divine mission of European Imperialism. Group B A Summary of Canadian History from the time of Cartier’s Discovery to the Present Day (1860), by J.A. Boyd is one of the first books written on Canadian history for use in Ontario classrooms. Purporting to fill the gap of thoroughness and accuracy left by other works of the period, Boyd poses such questions as “Who discovered North America?” (Boyd, 1860, preface) His answer is a Eu141


ropean one. Boyd’s discussion of Aboriginal Peoples is little more than a racist anthropological survey of basic demographic facts and assumptions. School History of Canada and of the Other British North American Provinces (1864), by George Hodgins offers a brief (one chapter) portrait of the daily life of Aboriginal People, but includes the following suggestion for teachers: [NOTE TO THE TEACHER] – As the following chapter on the Indian Tribes, does not form any consecutive part of the history of Canada, the teacher can omit in whole or in part at his discretion, when going over this history. (Hodgins, 1864, p. 99). The omission suggested above persists in Ontario classrooms today. Has the reasoning evolved any more than the curriculum? Carl Sauer’s 1939 work, Man in Nature, treats the “Indians” as part of the landscape – a geographic feature of purely natural interest. Building the Canadian Nation (1942), edited by George Brown, was meant to contribute to what he saw as the re-writing of Canadian history taking place at the time of his writing. Despite this, Aboriginal perspectives are absent from the work. Aboriginal People are discussed only in relation to European history. A similarly problematic, but more recent work is Readings in Canadian History (1982), edited by R. Douglas Francis and Donald B. Smith. It treats Aboriginal Peoples, for the most part, as features of the past. It does however, include one section entitled: “The Indian Interpretation of Man and Nature”, by Diamond Jenness, which details some of the spiritual practices and beliefs of the “Eastern Indians” (Douglas and Smith, 1982, p. 44). This is a brief entry in a 526-page work however, and inadequate taken alone. By 1986, the Ontario Ministry of Education had begun to include some material relating to the history of Aboriginal Peoples. This was limited however, to anthropological observation of a culture that once was, and failed to address either Aboriginal resistance historically or currently.6 Canada in a North American Perspective, a popular text in many Ontario high schools today, discusses Aboriginal Peoples only as a feature of early Canada – a time past. Canada Through Time (1992), by Angus Scully, treats Aboriginal life as transhistorical and relevant in an evolving context, but nonetheless treats Aboriginal Peoples anthropologically, as a subject outside of “Canada”. Group C Early Government curricula provide virtually no information about indigenous people or perspectives. The Ontario Ministry of Education Social Studies History Guidelines from 1937–1950 do not refer to Aboriginal Peoples.7 More recent “official history” repeats these horrendous omissions. In the Ontario Department/Ministry of Education, Canadian History sections for 1959, 1962, 1970 and 1973, Aboriginal perspectives are absent, and so too are Aboriginal people in general.8 Canadian history, according to the Government of Ontario, excludes Aboriginal People. 142


Luella Bruce Creighton’s Canada Trial and Triumph (1963), identifies Canadian history as having begun with Canada’s Confederation in 1867. Aboriginal Peoples are excluded from previous and subsequent history. When historical accounts treat a political project while ignoring the people it affects, the history is naturally and necessarily exclusive, strategic and political. In Canada, History in the Making (1986), Gillian Bartlett details numerous elements of Canadian society past and present but leaves out any substantial mention of Aboriginal Peoples. Canada, A Growing Concern (1987), by Allen Hux and Fred Jarman, makes only passing reference to Louis Riel and otherwise excludes Aboriginal People and perspectives altogether (Hux and Jarman, 1987, p. 52). In 2004, this text was nonetheless being used in many Canadian history classes in Ontario. Another book still in use is Canada in the Twentieth Century, by Henry John Regehr. Published in 1987, it includes no discussion of Aboriginal Peoples or perspectives in the Canadian context. Group D Canada: Face of a Nation (2000), by Angelo Bolotta, is one of the latest and most popular texts for the Grade 10 History course in Ontario. The teacher’s resources available within the book make it easy to implement within Ontario’s new curriculum. It also includes a helpful list of online resources (websites of Aboriginal organizations) which correspond to the various chapters in the text. Although Canada: Face of Nation addresses some sites of Aboriginal resistance (the stand-off at Oka for example), there are no relevant analyses of the broad context in which the oppression of Aboriginal People takes place. Ordinary People in Canada’s Past is an interesting work which (as the title suggests) charts the lives of working class people in Canada’s history. It identifies Aboriginal history in a continuum and attempts to respectfully identify Aboriginal history as autonomous. Discussed in these four sections are all of the resources I could find in numerous current and historical collections, at schools, universities and in private collections. The abundance of racist literature and curricula is due not to a selection of pieces which support my argument, indeed I would have been pleased to find more positive materials, but to the nature of dominant history in Canada. These texts have helped construct identity, power relations and the oppressive cultural infrastructure in Ontario for generations. The need for new accounts, narratives and perspectives is clear.


Listed below are the coded Ontario Ministry of Education Overall Expectations from the Grade 10 history course, entitled Canadian History Since World War I, Grade 10, Academic.9 This is the only mandatory Canadian history course at the secondary level and it is required for completion of the high school program in Ontario. Below each emboldened Ministry of Education Overall Expectation, are 143


corresponding CAAS learning expectations.10 Each is marked with the following symbol: . Teachers can locate the government expectations with which they are already working, and find the corresponding CAAS learning expectation(s) for subsequent integration. Although not all of the suggested correlations are exact matches on first glance, they are good entry points from which to begin subverting problematic curricula and from which to begin teaching Aboriginal perspectives while working within existing government policy. Overall Expectations, Canadian History Since World War I, Grade 10, Academic, CHC2D; and Proposed Corresponding CAAS Learning Expectations By the end of the course students should be able to: CGV.01 – explain how local, national, and global influences have helped shape Canadian identity;  demonstrate an awareness of Aboriginal world-view regarding the importance of land, culture and the ideals that foster respect for the environment  demonstrate an awareness of the role of language in defining and maintaining one’s cultural identity, integrity and values, and the impact that loss of one’s language would have on one’s cultural understandings and world-view  can evaluate/acknowledge the content, source and objectives for various explanations for the origins of Aboriginal Peoples in this hemisphere  can identify historic and contemporary forms of discrimination experienced by Aboriginal Peoples  demonstrate an awareness that Aboriginal cultures share many common philosophies  demonstrate an awareness of various traditional decision-making processes, including the significance of some in the structures of contemporary North American governments  can evaluate/acknowledge the significance of Aboriginal Peoples in the current context of Canadian society  demonstrate an awareness of the stereotypical images of Aboriginal Peoples, and is able to accurately analyze portrayals and images of Aboriginal Peoples and individuals



 can identify approaches and experiences, within Aboriginal world-view and customs, that affirm and strengthen one’s identity  can evaluate/acknowledge the contribution of the Métis People to Canadian society, both historically and today  can evaluate/acknowledges the significance of Aboriginal inherent rights  can evaluate/acknowledge the contribution of the Inuit People to Canadian society, both historically and today  can describe traditional teachings and can describe at least one in a thorough manner  can evaluate/acknowledge the issues, feeling and characteristics of being an Aboriginal person within the socio-political context of contemporary Canadian society CGV.02 – analyse the impact of external forces and events on Canada and its policies since 1914;  can evaluate/acknowledge the impacts of Eurocentric schooling on the lives and culture of one or more Aboriginal Peoples, and Aboriginal individuals and families CGV.03 – analyse the development of French-English relations in Canada, with reference to key individuals, issues, and events;  demonstrate an awareness of the role of language in defining and maintaining one’s cultural identity, integrity and values, and the impact that loss of one’s language would have on one’s cultural understandings and world-view  can identify the historic and contemporary causes of the social and economic marginalization of Aboriginal Peoples CGV.04 – assess Canada’s participation in war and contributions to peacekeeping and security;  can identify the rights and responsibilities of Aboriginal Peoples  demonstrate an awareness of the specific issues and challenges historically facing Inuit, Métis and First Nations Peoples  can evaluate/acknowledge the impacts of Eurocentric schooling on the lives and culture of one or more Aboriginal Peoples, and Aboriginal individuals and families 145


 can describe the origin, purposes, impacts and experience of the Reserve system  can describe the meaning of Treaty and its legal context, including old treaties, post-Confederation treaties and modern treaties  can identify the legal precedents, vis-à-vis Aboriginal-Canadian relationships, of the Proclamation of 1763  can identify historic and contemporary forms of discrimination experienced by Aboriginal Peoples  demonstrate an awareness of the specific issues and challenges facing Inuit, Métis, urban Aboriginal and First Nations Peoples today  can evaluate/acknowledge detrimental social patterns and issues associated with the Aboriginal population in Canada as symptoms of a larger malaise related to the loss of cultural identity or “ethno-stress” (e.g. colonization), and can identify some of the factors that have led to this loss of cultural identity CCV.01 – analyse changing demographic patterns and their impact on Canadian society since 1914;  can describe traditional patterns and customs for trade of resources and manufactured goods  can describe basic elements of the spiritual concepts and ceremonies of Aboriginal Peoples living in or near the student’s locality  can evaluate/acknowledge the economic impact of the Reserve system and other policies affecting land and resource rights of Aboriginal Peoples  can evaluate/acknowledge the impact of social and demographic changes on Aboriginal communities, e.g. relocation, urbanization and pressures to assimilate  can identify traditional territories and present-day regional distribution patterns of Aboriginal Peoples across Canada  demonstrate an awareness of sustainable and effective renewable and non-renewable resource mapping and management strategies, including use of local sources of information, calculation of inventories and stewardship responsibilities



CCV.02 – analyse the impact of scientific and technological developments on Canadians;  can evaluate/acknowledge the challenges that Aboriginal culture faces from the dominant Canadian culture and beliefs, and the way in which this dynamic contributes to the evolving nature of Aboriginal cultures  can describe basic elements of the spiritual concepts and ceremonies of Aboriginal Peoples living in or near the student’s locality  can evaluate/acknowledge the impact on Aboriginal Peoples of interaction with Europeans including exposure to their technologies, diseases, religions, laws and other Euro-cultural elements  demonstrates an awareness of the role oral tradition plays in the maintenance of Aboriginal cultural continuity and identity  can evaluate/acknowledge how cultural factors influence a People’s relationship to the environment and economic development  demonstrate an awareness of Aboriginal world-view regarding the importance of land, culture and the ideals that foster respect for the environment  demonstrate an awareness of sustainable and effective renewable and non-renewable resource mapping and management strategies, including use of local sources of information, calculation of inventories and stewardship responsibilities  can evaluate/acknowledge the student’s own feelings and thoughts about the natural world and the extent to which this agrees or does not agree with Aboriginal world-view regarding the natural environment CCV.03 – explain how and why Canada’s international status and foreign policy have changed since 1914;  can evaluate/acknowledge the economic impact of the Reserve system and other policies affecting land and resource rights of Aboriginal Peoples  can evaluate/acknowledge the interdependence of local, national and global communities and their mutual dependence on the environment  can evaluate/acknowledge the causes and effects of power relationships within groups within their immediate environment, Canada, and internationally



CHV.01 – analyse the contributions of various social and political movements in Canada since 1914;  demonstrate an awareness of Aboriginal world-view regarding the importance of land, culture and the ideals that foster respect for the environment  can evaluate/acknowledge the challenges that the Aboriginal culture faces from the dominant Canadian culture and beliefs, and the way in which this dynamic contributes to the evolving nature of Aboriginal culture  demonstrate an awareness of the specific issues and challenges historically facing Inuit, Métis and First Nations Peoples  can describe the purpose and content of The Indian Act, including significant amendments to The Indian Act vis-à-vis human rights issues of Aboriginal Peoples  can identify national Aboriginal Peoples organizations, e.g. the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriisat, the Métis National Council, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and the Native Women’s Association of Canada and can describe their origins and mandates  demonstrate an awareness that Aboriginal cultures are diverse and dynamic  can describe the history, customs and cultures of this country’s original inhabitants and first citizens  demonstrate an awareness of Aboriginal Peoples’ contemporary political, cultural and social issues in Canada  demonstrate an awareness of Aboriginal Peoples’ contemporary political, cultural and social issues in Canada CHV.02 – assess how individual Canadians have contributed to the development of Canada and the country’s emerging sense of identity;  can evaluate/acknowledge the challenges that the Aboriginal culture faces from the dominant Canadian culture and beliefs, and the way in which this dynamic contributes to the evolving nature of Aboriginal culture  can describe the meaning of Treaty and its legal context, including old treaties, post-Confederation treaties and modern treaties  demonstrate an awareness of the roles, skills and abilities of a variety of Aboriginal peoples since time immemorial in history, including in 148


contemporary Canadian and pan-global cultures  demonstrate an awareness of the contributions and role of Louis Riel, and his image across Canada both historically and today  can describe contributions and accomplishments of specific Aboriginal Peoples, cultures and individuals SPV.01 – analyse how changing economic and social conditions have affected Canadians since 1914;  demonstrate an awareness of Aboriginal world-view regarding the importance of land, culture and the ideals that foster respect for the environment  can evaluate/acknowledges the technical, social and cultural implications associated with resource and other economic development projects, and the range of perspectives within a First Nation regarding development projects  demonstrate an awareness of the inter-relation between: a First Nation People, their specific environment with its life-sustaining resources, and the processing systems the people have used to make use of these resources  can describe current entrepreneurial activities of Aboriginal Peoples  can identify the rights and responsibilities of Aboriginal Peoples  can describe traditional patterns and customs for trade of resources and manufactured goods  demonstrate an awareness of the specific issues and challenges historically facing Inuit, Métis and First Nations Peoples  can evaluate/acknowledge the economic impact of the Reserve system and other policies affecting land and resource rights of Aboriginal Peoples  can describe traditional resource and land stewardship beliefs and principles  can describe the meaning of Treaty and its legal context, including old treaties, post-Confederation treaties and modern treaties  can identify the historic and contemporary causes of the social and economic marginalization of Aboriginal Peoples



 demonstrate an awareness of the Aboriginal beliefs, values, and world-view that underlie traditional education and child-rearing practices, and can describe these practices for at least one culture  can evaluate/acknowledge initiatives, both individual and collective, that have the potential to improve the economic lives and advance the economic independence of Aboriginal persons and their communities SPV.02 – analyse the changing responses of the federal and provincial governments to social and economic pressures since 1914;  demonstrate an awareness of Aboriginal world-view regarding the importance of land, culture and the ideals that foster respect for the environment  can describe the meaning of the terms: First Nations, Métis , Status Indian, non-Status Indian, enfranchisement, ceremony, world-view, traditional teaching, Aboriginal, indigenous, self-determination, genocide, assimilation, inherent rights, treaty, consensus decision-making, Elder, paternalism, Colonialism  demonstrate an awareness of the role of language in defining and maintaining one’s cultural identity, integrity and values, and the impact that loss of one’s language would have on one’s cultural understandings and world-view  can evaluate/acknowledges the difference between the current political status quo and self-determination  can identify the rights and responsibilities of Aboriginal Peoples  can evaluate/acknowledge the economic impact of the Reserve system and other policies affecting land and resource rights of Aboriginal Peoples  can describe the purpose and content of The Indian Act, including significant amendments to The Indian Act vis-à-vis human rights issues of Aboriginal Peoples  can identify the date, signatories, name and general context of at least one Treaty which still applies today between a First Nation (related to Aboriginal territory in or near the student’s locality) and the Crown/Canada  can identify significant legal decisions and precedents which advance the right to self-determination of Aboriginal Peoples within Canada



MIV.04 – communicate the results of historical inquiries, using appropriate terms and concepts and a variety of forms of communication;  can identify approaches and experiences, within Aboriginal world-view and customs, that encourage an individual’s health and cohesion of mental, spiritual, emotional and physical dimensions  demonstrate an understanding of the concept of culture, including the effect of the student’s own cultural knowledge and experiences on the student’s interpretation of other cultures  demonstrate understanding of the ways in which an individual’s family background, language and culture influence that person’s ideas and behaviour  demonstrate the ability to use traditional teachings or other elements of Aboriginal world-view to make informed choices about the student’s own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being  demonstrate the ability to use traditional teachings or other elements of Aboriginal world-view to make informed choices about the student’s own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being MIV.03 – interpret and analyse information gathered through research, employing concepts and approaches appropriate to historical inquiry;  demonstrate active listening and speaking skills, vis-a-vis traditional oral materials  demonstrate an understanding of the concept of culture, including the effect of the student’s own cultural knowledge and experiences on the student’s interpretation of other cultures  demonstrate understanding of the ways in which an individual’s family background, language and culture influence that person’s ideas and behavior  demonstrate the ability to use traditional teachings or other elements of Aboriginal world-view to make informed choices about the student’s own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being

Although Aboriginal worldviews of “official Canadian history” are largely absent from Ontario history courses, this is a trend that most want reversed. In 2000– 2001, the CAAS conducted a national Student Awareness Survey, “measuring awareness, attitudes and knowledge of facts about Aboriginal Peoples’ histo151


ries, cultures, worldviews and current concerns”.11 A Canadian Race Relations Foundation report states about the survey: In one of the most exciting parts of the report . . . 80% of the Canadian students who expressed an opinion are themselves dissatisfied with the education they obtained regarding Aboriginal Peoples in their elementary and secondary schooling. These students call directly for an improved pedagogy, based on honesty and respect.12 Although these numbers are encouraging, it is in my opinion, difficult to say whether the propaganda of the colonizer can ever properly represent the colonized or tell their story – even when it does adopt their words. There is however, a profound need to address identity as it relates to the individual and to society, in educational contexts. Perhaps these numbers point to this fact. Perhaps anticolonial historiography can help to facilitate this sort of transformation within the world of formal and informal teaching and learning. The transhistorical nature of colonial oppression of the People of Turtle Island (i.e. it happened and continues to happen geographically, culturally and economically) may preclude any work developed and/or implemented by the colonial government from being acceptable in the anti-colonial struggle. This is not my decision however, and there are Aboriginal educators and groups who feel that such integration is an important thing for which to work. To truly knock the legs out from under that which has come to constitute dominant history, we must “decentre” our understanding history itself (Hanlon, 2003, p. 29). This means looking to new/old locations for knowledge as well as validating sources often ignored by teachers, curriculum writers and other “officials” on the subject. David Hanlon writes: History it seems to me can be sung, danced, chanted, spoken, carved, woven, painted, sculpted and rapped as well as written . . . primacy must be given to local epistemologies and the ways in which knowing and being in various locales differ from the pragmatic, logical and rational assumptions that western science makes about the world (2003, p. 30). This paper is an interrogation; a questioning of what the settlers have called facts. This is however, only a beginning. Related areas which warrant further study, but which fall outside of the scope of this paper include but are not limited to: work being done (and not being done) at the provincial level in Canada to change, enhance and improve related curricula; related work being done (and not being done) in pre-service teacher training across Canada; the role of oral histories in Ontario classrooms; educational self determination of Aboriginal Peoples; the reconception of history as an element within a continuum – neither locked in the past nor unconnected to the present and the future; relevant curriculum integration projects in progress in Canada and elsewhere; and finally, the responsibility of teachers to go beyond the curriculum to find and use some of the wonderful resources which do exist. 152


I would like to thank my co-editor, George Dei of the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies at the Ontario Institute for studies in Education for reading and commenting on an earlier version of this paper, and for his intellectual guidance in my process of decolonisation. I would also like to thank Monica Bodirsky from the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, for her suggestions about the project and my role therein.

NOTES 1 Turtle Island is the name given by many Aboriginal Peoples to the land the Europeans would call

North and South America. 2 Canadian History Since World War I, Grade 10, Academic. Course Code CHC2D. From: Ontario Ministry of Education 2005. The Ontario Curriculum: Grades 9 and 10: Canadian and World Studies. 3 Ministry of Education and Training, The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10, Canadian and World Studies, 1999, pp. 27–36. 4 Minister of Education for Ontario, Ontario Public School History of Canada, The Macmillan Company of Canada, Toronto, 1916, p. 10. 5 Ibid., p. 7. 6 Ontario Ministry of Education, Curriculum Guideline: History and Contemporary Studies, Part D Ontario Academic Courses, 1986. 7 Ontario Ministry of Education, Social Studies: History Guidelines – 1937, 1940, 1942, 1950. 8 Ontario Department of Education, Senior Division, Canadian History, 1973, 1971, 1962, 1959. 9 All of the Ontario Ministry of Education Expectations are taken from The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10, Canadian and World Studies, 2005. 10 All of the CAAS expectations (as well as their order and organisation) are from CAAS home page, 11 Canadian Race Relations Foundation, Report Highlights: Learning about Walking in Beauty, report_highlights.htm 12 Ibid.


Below are two assignments that correspond to the Canadian History in the Twentieth Century, Grade 10 Academic Course. The Ontario Ministry of Education expectations to which each corresponds are identified. The aim of these assignments is to facilitate the learning outlined in the CAAS expectations identified above, under the heading of the relevant Ontario Ministry of Education expectations.



Assignment One: Where is Canada Going? Students will compare Canada today with Canada at the turn of the Twentieth Century through the lens of life for the Aboriginal People of Turtle Island. By creating a timeline, which charts statistical material changes, Aboriginal resistance to colonialism, and major judicial and treaty events affecting Aboriginal Peoples, students will gather the necessary data to assess Canada’s progress. Students should address such issues as population, economic growth, technology, health, education and other social issues. After compiling and analyzing the information gathered, students will assess Canada’s success over the past century and state their conclusions in a persuasive oral presentation. Presentations should make reference to the timeline chart and wherever possible, be told in story form. Students will submit their chart for evaluation after the presentation. Overall Expectations addressed in this activity: − CCV.01D – analyse changing demographic patterns and their impact on Canadian society since 1914; − CHV.01 – analyse the contributions of various social and political movements in Canada since 1914; − CGV.04 – assess Canada’s participation in war and contributions to peacekeeping and security; − SPV.02 – analyse the changing responses of the federal and provincial governments to social and economic pressures since 1914; − SPV.01D – analyse how changing economic and social conditions have affected Canadians since 1914; − MHV.03D – interpret and analyse information gathered through research, employing concepts and approaches appropriate to historical inquiry. Included as well, for student and teacher reference, could be the corresponding CAAS expectations.



Assignment 2: Genocide in Germany and Canada Students will analyse the rise of the Third Reich in Europe and its political, economic and cultural aims and achievements. They will then assess the degree to which these activities are comparable to those of the European settlers in North America and the subsequent Canadian Government. Students will chart the following: the consequences of each groups’ actions on the populations each affected (i.e. Jews in Europe and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada)∗ ; events of major historical significance relating to each group; the resistance of both the Jewish and Aboriginal Peoples; and the circumstances of the affected people today. Students will assess the similarities and dissimilarities of the two regimes and express their conclusions in 200–300 word position paper. ∗ The

following must be present in your discussion of settlers and their effects on Aboriginal Peoples: The White Paper (1969), Nishga Supreme Court Decision (1973), James Bay Agreement (1971–75), Berger Report (Mackenzie Valley) (1974) and residential schools. Overall Expectations addressed in this activity: − CGV.04 – assess Canada’s participation in war and contributions to peacekeeping and security; − MHV.03D – interpret and analyse information gathered through research, employing concepts and approaches appropriate to historical inquiry; − SPV.02 – analyse the changing responses of the federal and provincial governments to social and economic pressures since 1914; − SPV.01 – analyse how changing economic and social conditions have affected Canadians since 1914; − CCV.03 – explain how and why Canada’s international status and foreign policy have changed since 1914; − CCV.01 – analyse changing demographic patterns and their impact on Canadian society since 1914; − CGV.02 – analyse the impact of external forces and events on Canada and its policies since 1914. Included as well, for student and teacher reference, would be the corresponding CAAS expectations.


KEMPF REFERENCES Agrawal A. (1995). Dismantling the divide between indigenous and scientific knowledge. Development and Change, 26, 413–439. Ahenakew, F. et al. (1994). Native voices: A teacher’s guide. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. Avery, G. et al. (1989). Canada in a North American perspective. Scarborough, Canada: Prentice Hall. Barman, J. et al. (1986a). Indian education in Canada. Vol. 1: The legacy. Vancouver: UBC Press. Barman, J. et al. (1986b). Indian education in Canada. Vol. 2: The legacy. Vancouver: UBC Press. Bartlett, G. (1986). Canada, history in the making. Canada: John Wiley and Sons. Battiste, M. (2000). Reclaiming indigenous voice and vision. Vancouver: UBC Press. Bishop, A.J. (1990). Western mathematics: The secret weapon of cultural imperialism. Race and Class, 32(2), 71–76. Boiteau, D. and Stansfield, D. (1988). Early peoples – Origins: A history of Canada. Markham: Fitzhenry and Whiteside. Bolotta, A. (2000). Canada: Face of a nation. Toronto: Gage. Boyd, J.A. (1860). A summary of Canadian history from the time of Cartier’s discovery to the present day. Toronto: James Campbell Publisher. Brown, G. (Ed.) (1940). Readings in Canadian history: Original sources from Canada’s living past. Toronto: J.M. Dent and Sons. Brown, G. (Ed.) (1942). Building the Canadian nation. Vancouver: J.M. Dent and Sons. Bumsted, J.M. and Dorsey, I. (Eds.) (1969). Documentary problems in Canadian history: Volume One. Georgetown. Burnaby, B. (1996). Aboriginal language maintenance, development and enhancement: A review of literature. In G. Cantoni (Ed.), Stabilizing indigenous languages. Flagstaff, AZ: Center for Excellence in Education, Northern Arizona University. Cabral, A. (1969a). The weapon of theory. In Revolution in Guinea. London: Monthly Review Press. Cabral, A. (1969b). Practical problems and tactics. In Revolution in Guinea. London: Monthly Review Press. Canadian Race Relations Foundation (2004). Report highlights: Learning about walking in beauty. Available at ePub_LAW20021115_report_highlights.htm. Accessed in spring of 2004. Canadian Welfare Planning Council (1964). Winnipeg, Indian Metis Conference Committee, Survey of Canadian history textbooks now in use in Manitoba. Chafe and Lower (1963). Canada: A nation. Ontario: Longmans Company. Coalition for the Advancement of Aboriginal Studies (2004). caas/expectations.htm. Accessed in spring of 2004. Cesaire, A. (1972). Discourse on colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Creighton, L.B. (1963). Canada trial and triumph. Don Mills, Ontario: J.M. Dent and Sons. Dei, G.J.S. (2000). African development: The relevance and implications of ‘indigenousness’. In G.J.S. Dei, D. Goldin-Rosenberg and B. Hall (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: UofT Press. Dickie and Palk (1936). Pages from Canada’s story. Don Mills, Ontario: J.M. Dent and Sons. Eze, E.C. (2000). Colonialism and the colonized: Violence and counter violence. In E.C. Eze (Ed.), African philosophy. London: Blackwell. Fanon, F. (1963). The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove Press. Fanon, F. (1969). Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Press. First Perspective (2004). Accessed in spring of 2004. Francis, D.R. and Smith, D.B. (1982). Readings in Canadian history. Canada: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Freire, Paulo (1997). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Gandhi, M.K. (1997). “Hind Swaraj”. In Hind Swaraj and other writings. Cambridge: Pearl. Garland, A. (1954). Canada then and now. Canada: The Macmillan Company of Canada. Gustafson, R.W. (1978). The education of Canada’s Indian peoples: An experience in colonialism. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press. Hanlon D. (2003). Beyond ‘The English method of tattooing’: Decentering the practice of history in Oceania. The Contemporary Pacific, 15(1), 19–40.


ANTI-COLONIAL HISTORIOGRAPHY Hodgins, G. (1864). School history of Canada and of the other British North American provinces. Montreal: John Lovell Publisher. Hodson, D. (1998). Towards a curriculum framework for multicultural science and technology education. In D. Hodson (Ed.), Science and technology education and ethnicity: An Aoteroa/New Zealand perspective, Proceedings of a conference held at the Royal Society of New Zealand, Thorndon, Wellington, May 7–8, 1996, The Royal Society of New Zealand Miscellanoes Series #50, pp. 11–20. Hux, A. and Jarman, F. (1987). Canada, A growing concern. Toronto: Modern Curriculum Press. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. (2004). Accessed in spring of 2004. Iseke-Barnes, J.M. (2004). Politics and power of languages: Indigenous resistance to colonizing experiences of language dominance. Journal of Thought, 39(1), 435–81. Jenness, D. The Indian’s interpretation of man and nature. In D. Francis and D. Smith (Eds.), Readings in Canadian history. Canada: Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada. Joseph, E. (1987). Foundations of Eurocentrism in mathematics. Race and Class, 3, 13–28. Kohn, R. and Montell, L. (Eds.) (1997). Always a people: Oral histories of contemporary Woodland Indians. Indiana: Indiana University Press. Landry, D. and Maclean, G. (1996). The Spivak reader. New York: Routledge. Leacock, S. (1914). The dawn of Canadian history: A chronicle of Aboriginal Canada and the coming of the white man. Toronto: Glasgow, Brook and Company. MacFarlane and Reeve (1951). The Canadian pageant. Toronto: Clark Irwin Company. Manitoba Department of Education and Training (1995–1998). Native studies renewing education: New directions series. Marcotte, N.S. (1990). Ordinary people in Canada’s past. Edmonton: Arnold Publishing Limited. Martell, G. (1998). Marie Battiste interviewed by George Martell in Teaching Mi’kMaq: Living a language in school. In S. Repo (Ed.), Making schools matter – Good teachers at work. Toronto: James Lorimer. Minister of Education for Ontario (1916). Ontario public school history of Canada. Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada. Odynak, E. (1990). Early Canada. Weigl Educational Publishers. Ontario Department of Education (1959). Senior division, Canadian history. Ontario Department of Education (1962). Senior division, Canadian history. Ontario Department of Education (1971). Senior division, Canadian history. Ontario Department of Education (1973). Senior division, Canadian history. Ontario Ministry of Education (1937). Social studies history course profiles and courses of study: Grades IX and X. Ontario Ministry of Education (1942). Social studies history course profiles and courses of study: Grades IX and X. Ontario Ministry of Education (1942). Social studies history course profiles and courses of study: Grades X and XI. Ontario Ministry of Education (1950). Social studies history course profiles and courses of study: Grades IX and X. Ontario Ministry of Education (1950). Social studies history course profiles and courses of study: Grades X and XI. Ontario Ministry of Education (1986). Curriculum guideline: History and contemporary studies, Part D Ontario academic courses. Ontario Ministry of Education (1999). The Ontario curriculum, Grades 9 and 10, Canadian and world studies. Ontario Ministry of Education (2005). The Ontario Curriculum: Grades 9 and 10: Canadian and World Studies. Parenti, M. (2003). The assassination of Julius Caesar: A people’s history of the Roman Republic. New York: Knopff. Pohl, A. (2002). Unlearning-to-learn: Participatory decolonizing exercises for Canadian educators – First steps toward walking in beauty. Written for CAAS, November 18, 2002. Pohl, A. (2004). Turning point home page, Accessed in spring 2004. Public District School Board Writing Partnership (2000). Canadian history in the twentieth century, Grade 10 Academic Course Profile. Queen’s Printer for Ontario.


KEMPF Reed, K.D. (Ed.) (1999). Aboriginal peoples: Building for the future. Toronto: Oxford University Press. Regehr, H.J. (1987). Canada in the twentieth century. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. Said, E. (1993). Culture and imperialism. New York: Knopf/Random House. Said, E. (1997). Orientalism. New York: Vintage. Sardar, Z. (1999). Development and the location of Eurocentrism. In R. Munck and D. O’Hearn (Eds.), Critical development theory: Contributions to the new paradigm. London: Zed Books, pp. 44–61. Sauer, C. (1939). Man in nature: America before the white man. New York: Charles Schribner’s and Sons. Shiva, V. (1997). Western science and its destruction of local knowledge. In Rahnema and Bawtree (Eds.), The post-development reader, London: Zed Books, pp. 161–167. Shkilnyk, A.M. (1995). Canada’s Aboriginal languages: An overview of current activities in language retention. Ottawa Ontario: Department of the Secretary of State. Smith, L. (1991). Decolonizing methodologies. London: Zed Publishers. Spivak, G.C. (1996). Subaltern studies: Deconstructing historiography. In D. Landry and G. Maclean (Eds.), The Spivak reader. New York: Routledge. Wallace and Stewart (1934). A history of the Canadian people. Toronto: The Copp Clark Company. Wolff, R. (2000). About philosophy. Toronto: Prentice Hall. Wrong, G. (1921). Ontario public school history of Canada. Toronto: Ryerson Press. Yakubu, J.M. (1994). Integration of indigenous thought and practice with science and technology: A case study of Ghana. International Journal of Science Education, 16(3), 343–360.





I enrolled in an OISE/UT graduate course titled “Anti-Colonial Thought and Pedagogical Implications” course unprepared for the stirrings of change that would awaken in me. This process was slowly coaxed into motion through conversations with the bright students of all ages, disciplines and backgrounds who populated Professor George Dei’s lecture. Each week we discussed the readings, sometimes hotly, each time carefully testing and negotiating our own and each others’ subject positions under George’s guidance. This process pushed and pulled me in different directions so that I became dislodged from the post-colonial perspective with which I had entered, and assumed instead a position of intellectual straddling as I attempted to bridge the convergences and divergences between post-colonial and anti-colonial politics. As I moved squarely into an anti-colonial political stance, I continued to question and strove to avoid complacency within the framework, thus maintaining this sense of disequilibrium. I begin this paper by exploring the discomfort and risks that come with shifting towards a new intellectual space, and how this straddling experience that characterized my foraging into anti-colonial politics is itself an important nexus of thought within anti-colonial scholarship. I briefly look at how anticolonial thinkers Frantz Fanon and Anthony Paul Farley have taken up racialized boundaries and stability. From this discussion, I use Farley’s concept of the colourline to look at a few of the convergences and divergences in post-colonial and anti-colonial thought vis-à-vis their conceptions of difference, knowledge and narrativity. Post-colonialism has been defined by Shohat as “a new designation for critical discourses which thematize issues emerging from colonial relations and their aftermath” (Shohat, 1992, p. 101). Anti-colonialism is very broadly “a discursive framework (that) allows for the effective theorizing of issues emerging from colonial and colonized relations” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 300). To determine the effects of these two frameworks in practical application, I look at some of the writing on the landmark case R. v. R.D.S. I find that the interpretations espoused by Richard Devlin treat difference, knowledge and narrativity in a way that is consistent with post-colonial thought and politics, and that his views function to support a national multiculturalism comprised of innocent white subjects. Sherene Razack’s conceptions of difference, knowledge and narrativity are, in contrast, consistent with anti-colonial thought and politics, and lead to a different G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 159–173. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


reading of Canada as a nation. I then offer a few of my own thoughts on an anticolonial reading of R. v. R.D.S. I conclude with some thoughts on the prospects for “teaching” anti-colonialism.


George surprised me one day after class by telling me that I bring an important voice to class discussions, that of the post-colonial. This statement came as a surprise. Me? Post-colonial? I came into George’s class without any clear idea of what anti-colonial thought was about and I earnestly believed that I was participating in the class with an open mind. Naively, I was shocked to hear that my words resonated with a particular discourse that I had never consciously espoused. My feelings of surprise were closely followed by discomfort, and then disappointment. How did I get locked into a post-colonial perspective? How could it speak through me without my hearing it? And where did it come from? On my way home from class, my thoughts wandered back to my undergraduate days pursuing an English literature degree. I was very good at critiquing “World Literature” or “Post-colonial Literature” using post-modern theory. For many years I looked forward to doing a Ph.D. in literature but abandoned that idea after I began to feel that the field was too apolitical, that it was lacking something which I needed. (Ironically, as I will discuss a little later, I can now see that postcolonial thought has a politics of its own.) As I think back on my literary studies, it becomes clear just how entrenched the University of Toronto English department is in post-colonial and post-modern thought.1 Looking at anti-colonialism enabled me to really see post-colonialism and how it has trained me to read texts, both social and fictive. And I saw things there that I did not like. I began paying more attention to the moments in George’s lecture when I felt compelled to interrupt the conversation with a remark, and also to the nature of the remarks that I was making. I found myself consistently chiming in with a comment about the pitfalls of nationalist movements. It seemed that George was able to read my discomfort with nationalism, and that he could anticipate the nature of my objections. I realize now that I systematically disagreed with the use of what Spivak has referred to as “strategic essentialism”, or using the a priori essences of race, gender, etc. that function as the foundation of oppression as centres around which to organize politically as communities (Spivak, 1985). My knee-jerk reaction against strategic essentialism as subversive politics was a learned response that I had unknowingly picked up from my years of exposure to post-colonial thought. But there was more to it than that. Anti-essentialism also resonated with my personal experience of exile. As a first-generation Canadian of a Hindu Indo-Guyanese father and a Catholic-Italian mother, I do admit to a certain degree of disappointment in not having a community to which I feel I belong, and which sees me as belonging. Anti-essentialism allowed me to dismiss those groups. I had a quiet stake in this critique. If strategic essentialism had some value, then where was my community? How could my identities and histories mo160


bilize me? I had only ever found them to be paralyzing. My physical discomfort in George’s class increased. When I began to question why post-colonial theorists make anti-essentialist objections, I saw how charges of essentialism can function as a convenient way to disrupt attempts by racialized bodies to organize and resist oppressive social, political and cultural structures. Spivak has gone on to criticize the hasty embrace of essentialism by some academics that all-too readily dispenses with the strategic part (referred to in Danius and Jonsson, 1993, p. 35). I have come to endorse a more robust version of strategic essentialism in that I see organizing around common identities as more than an effective strategy to counter an argument. Rather, I feel that these identities have an intrinsic and valid value of their own. Breathing new life into a common history and a shared memory is a powerful mechanism for social cohesion, healing and the collective agency of a community. Catherine MacKinnon has remarked that “(a)nti-‘essentialism’, as practiced, thus corrodes group identification and solidarity and leaves us with one-at-a-time personhood: liberal individualism. What a coincidence. With the inability to assert a group reality – an ability that only the subordinated need – comes the shift away from realities of power in the world . . . ” (MacKinnon, 2002, p. 75). Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee has noted that “(t)his unbridled antiessentialism only serves to deny Aboriginal people their memories, justifiable protests, and demands for compensation” (Banerjee, 2000, p. 10). Similarly, Andrew Lattas has written passionately on “the empowering role of essentialisms in identity politics” (Lattas, 1993, p. 246). While the readings in George’s class made a strong case for strategic essentialism, it was the students in the class who made me know and feel that it was right. By listening to my classmates talk about their challenges, successes and insights, I came to hear the story of strategic essentialism. And I could feel that it made sense. I began to move away from thinking of my multiple identities as differences that disqualify me from communities. I started to wonder instead if there might be space within cultural or religious communities for my “difference”. Perhaps multiplicity might allow me a unique perspective into Canadian multiculturalism without banishing me to non-belonging. It was this anti-colonial critique of essentialism that revealed to me my post-colonial view and the particular politics that I had adopted by inhabiting this position. When anti-colonialism reflected me back to myself, I was jarred from my ideological position. With one foot grounded in post-colonialism and the other dangling in anti-colonial space, I struggled with myself to maintain intellectual stability.


I began to gravitate towards anti-colonial writing that spoke of destabilization. I was struck by Fanon’s image in Black Skin, White Masks of “straddling Nothingness and Infinity” (Fanon, 1967, p. 140). I struggled to formulate a picture of this balancing act in my mind. What could Fanon have meant by this impossible binary? And how does one conceive of the line separating nothingness from 161


infinity?2 Fanon says, “(a)t the risk of arousing the resentment of my coloured brothers, I will say that the black is not a man” (Fanon, 1967, p. 8). Blackness, as it is conceived by colonialism and the history of the Western world, cannot co-exist with humanity. This is because goodness resides in the trappings of whiteness. And blackness exists only to instantiate whiteness. By virtue of its degenerate characteristics, blackness gestures to the goodness of whiteness; it brings its opposite into being. Blackness, then, is a signifier for the superiority of whiteness. For Fanon, the concept of blackness can never be redeemed. It is for this reason that “(t)he black man wants to be like the white man. For the black man there is only one destiny. And it is white” (Fanon, 1967, p. 228). The only path leading out of the degeneracy of blackness is whiteness, and whiteness is a way of experiencing power through the body. A man who is constructed as black can never achieve whiteness.3 When a child exclaims in Fanon’s presence, “Look, a Negro!”, Fanon is violently destabilized by the black/white divide. His coherent sense of himself splinters under the weight of this binary. Fanon is unable to reconcile his selfworth as a respectable person and psychiatrist with the concept of blackness as it is handed to him. He describes this experience as having his “corporeal schema” crumbled and replaced by a “racial epidermal schema” (Fanon, 1967, p. 112). Fanon constantly struggles to retain his humanity by holding onto his corporeal schema, that is, his own understanding of himself as a man, in the face of the violence of a colonial society. When confronted with colonial conceptions of blackness and inferiority, Fanon has a violent physical reaction, since it is his very body that he experiences as being assaulted. Like the line separating black and white in the violent colonial binary, the inside and outside of Fanon’s body become divided with the experience of nausea4 (Fanon, 1967„ pp. 112, 116). His body fights against the physical inversion of his insides coming out.5 Farley builds on Fanon’s ideas of embodiment and depersonalization using W.E. DuBois’ statement that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the colorline, (sic) – the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea” (DuBois, 1903, p. 5). Farley uses the term in a complex, poetic and nuanced way which I will humbly attempt to summarize. The colourline refers to “scripts for and performances of racial identity” (Farley, 2002, p. 152). The “terrain of colorlined space (sic)” is “sensual” (Farley, 2002, p. 98). This space that Farley speaks of could be any place and time where race is instantiated. He gives an example from a childhood bus trip where one of his classmates tells a lie to a girl in the class. The boy says in front of everyone that the comb she just used to smooth her hair belonged to Farley. Her nausea and perhaps even vomiting ensues while the class roars with laughter. Farley describes the students, including the girl, as knowing and performing “the dance” (Farley, 2002, p. 107). This is the dance of the colourline. The students are “whitened by the ritual” (Farley, 2002, p. 108) and they take pleasure in their whiteness. In this way, colourline terrain is sensual because its landscape is known through our bodies in a way that is physically pleasurable. The colourline serves as a medium of communication between whiteness and itself using black bodies 162


(Farley, 2002, p. 105). There are three aspects on which the colourline depend for its power: humiliation, pleasure and denial (Farley, 2002, p. 108). In the above situation, the result of the humiliation, pleasure and denial of the white students is the disappearance of Farley. I interpret the experience as an example of what Farley has termed the nobodying of the other (Farley, 2002, p. 111).6 Innocent white subjects are created and Farley is tossed into “the nonspace of the abyss” (Farley, 2002, p. 112). In fact, this subjectivity is produced precisely because of Farley’s disappearance. I understand this as the violent depersonalization of coloured bodies so as to construct whiteness. In a social landscape riddled with colourline landmines, black bodies are perpetually at risk of being hurled into this abyss and disappearing. The colourline both exists because of this abyss and is created by it. I suppose the colourline is an abyss, depending on which body one inhabits. Perhaps we can conceptualize the boundary between the Nothingness and Infinity that Fanon straddles as Farley’s colourline, as the abyss. We can then see Fanon’s straddling as a struggle against the red shoe dance of the colourline to retain his footing. He fights the pull of the abyss” racialized body schema that threatens to annihilate his body and his being by rendering him a space between words in the discourse of white supremacy. POST-COLONIALISM AND ANTI-COLONIALISM: CONVERGENCES AND DIVERGENCES

The concept of the colourline is useful as a loose reference point to look at the convergences and divergences of a post-colonial politics and an anti-colonial one. I have chosen the colourline to illustrate the links and disruptions between the two because I feel that it highlights three themes which are central to understanding each discourse: difference, knowledge, and narrativity. Post-colonial thought has brought some important developments to the table which anti-colonial thought has embraced and built upon. The previous discussion on essentialism is a good example of an area where post-colonialism and anticolonialism both converge and diverge. Post-colonialism has taught us to heed the complexities, tensions, contradictions and ambiguities of history by paying attention to difference. Arif Dirlik has written that “(t)he affirmation of ‘difference’ is basic to a postcolonial epistemology” (Dirlik, 1997, p. 5). Post-colonialism has illustrated the pitfalls of essentialism, or the glossing over of difference. It celebrates multiplicity, heterogeneity and hybridity (Dirlik, 1997, p. 6). As critics of post-colonialism (including anti-colonial scholars) have pointed out, the nature of post-colonialism’s posturing around difference has some debilitating consequences. In their reckoning, not only are collective struggles undermined, discouraged and disqualified from respectability, but the primary work of postcolonialism and its scholars becomes producing Others for consumption. Sara Suleri has referred to this phenomenon as “the otherness machine” (Suleri, 1989). In terms of the colourline, the otherness machine is implicated in the disappearance of coloured bodies into the abyss. Post-colonial scholars become the experts 163


on coloured bodies. Why is it that post-colonial studies does not teach Césaire, Nkrumah, Gandhi and Cabral? Andrew Lattas has written that “there is something disturbing about the self-confidence of some white academics who have assumed the role of offering critical advice to Aborigines about what sort of identity they should be producing” (Lattas, 1993, p. 244). Post-colonialism facilitates this kind of paternalism by demanding that resistance to and reformulation of colonialism be performed in particular ways that re-inscribe the veracity of and the need for post-colonial scholarship. As is the case when coloured bodies encounter the colourline through colonialism, encounters with the colourline inscribed by post-colonialism can also result in a kind of depersonalization. An anti-colonial lens focused on colonialism as enduring into the present and its effects on the integrity of coloured bodies picks up Farley’s three characteristics of the colourline – humiliation, pleasure and denial – at play in very nuanced ways. Indigenous knowledges are again humiliated, scholars take pleasure in constructing themselves as experts to the detriment of Others, and there is a denial of the legacy of colonialism at work. Leela Gandhi writes insightfully about post-colonialism that: The language of race, class and nation is commuted into a universal crisis of ‘identity’ that makes these vexed issues more palatable within the academy. Thus, from this perspective, post-colonialism would not be a radicalization of postmodernism or Marxism, but a domestication of anti-colonialism and antiracism. (Gandhi, 1998, pp. 3–4) One could surmise, then, that post-colonialism is the colonization of anticolonialism, a discourse dating from much earlier than post-colonialism. Another way of interpreting what Gandhi is saying is that post-colonialism is anticolonialism torn from the political context of race, class and nation in which it is embedded. Anti-colonial thought, then, diverges on the subject of contextualization. In comparison to post-colonialism as I have outlined it above, anti-colonialism is highly contextualized. Its comprehensive context ranges from local and indigenous concepts, spiritualities and frames of reference to the global, a link that post-colonialism evades (Dirlik, 1994, p. 331). By doing away with “post” as it applies to colonialism, anti-colonialism forges links between past and present bodies, histories, challenges and resistances, thus violently rejecting the former’s tacit insinuation that colonialism is in any way over. In terms of the colourline, the white supremacist social, cultural and political structures which maintain and police it are understood as embedded in the past, present and future. Dei and Asgharzadeh point out the irony of post-colonialism’s view of colonialism that it “is somehow frozen in time and in ice”, and “(a)s if European colonialism is the only colonial order” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 307). Anti-colonial thought looks at colonialness in all of the spaces and times that it inhabits, in all of its multifarious incarnations. And one of those spaces is post-colonialism. This attention to context allows a fuller understanding of the various manifestations of the colourline to come into focus. 164


Arif Dirlik has talked about post-colonialism as the “progeny of postmodernism” (Dirlik, 1994, p. 352). This is a link which is well-known and muchdiscussed (see Loomba, 1998, pp. 245–254) and which merits more attention than what I can allot to it here. Like postmodernism, post-colonialism’s insistence on difference can lead to a fragmentation that yields nihilism and relativism. If we keep fracturing identities along lines of difference and specificity, and if there is no essential truth or being, we are left with pieces which only take on meaning in relation to one another. Each individual becomes an outsider to everyone else, and insider knowledge is specific to each person. How is one to adjudicate amongst competing claims and multiple truths? How is anyone accountable to anyone else? This is where an important distinction with respect to the colourline becomes apparent. It is the difference between the disappearance of coloured bodies into the abyss of non-space and the hurling of coloured bodies into the abyss by innocent white subjects to create their subjectivity as such. Anti-colonialism takes an ideological turn here in terms of agency. Postmodernism and post-colonialism see this conception of plurality as the liberation of an independent individual from false and oppressive notions of essentialized identity. The agency of the individual is revitalized. Anti-colonialism, conversely, finds this idea paralyzing, particularly for bodies of colour. I have struggled with this paralysis myself. I found it a strange irony that postmodernism and post-colonialism value transgressing boundaries and claiming hybridity while it seemed to use difference to box me into myself. Owing to my very particular subjectivity in terms of race, religion and culture, there was no site of resistance that I felt I could legitimately occupy. I valued and admired anti-oppression work. But where could I possibly go to do this work in the community when I did not even have a community? Anti-colonialism places value not on supposedly autonomous individuals, but on collectives comprised of bodies who are cognizant of differences and who unite around common struggles against social structures of oppression. When I heard George speak to the class about this concept, my reaction was a physical one. I had the exciting feeling that I could take up space. Perhaps there was a place for me. I could expand my lungs and come out of postmodernism/post-colonialism’s corner. Post-colonial studies emerged from the study of literature and does not make overt claims of being political, a sleight of hand which, as a student of literature, fooled me and of which I have since come to be critical. Post-colonialism is a quiet politics. It can be used to read social texts in a way that has clear implications for resistance. Anti-colonial thought is political from the start. It positions itself as a “counter/oppositional discourse to the repressive presence of colonial oppression” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 301). Unlike post-colonialism’s analysis-based approach to colonialism, anti-colonialism seeks to resist it, change it and build something new. The discourse of the colourline as conceived by Farley is, then, part of the discourse of anti-colonialism in that it names and opposes the colourline. Turning to narrativity, we have returned to some convergences. Given that post-colonialism emerged from English Literature departments across the “First 165


World”, there is an obvious connection. Leela Gandhi has pointed out that “(l)iterature is dominant” in post-colonialism, a dominance that is buoyed by postmodernism’s penchant for (inter-)textuality. Conceptions of narrativity link post-colonialism and postmodernism with a variety of other discourses, including poststructuralism. These linkages extend to anti-colonialism where we find further narrative connections with anti-racism and critical race theory. Both postcolonialism and anti-colonialism value the telling of stories, and are concerned with how stories are told. Some common concerns are the choice of language, who can tell the story, who is listening, and who can hear the story. Of course, each divergence discussed above will be manifested in the narratives of each discourse. For a quick example that illustrates some of the tensions between a post-colonial framework and an anti-colonial one as manifested through narrative, I will look at Andrew Lattas’ comments on the writing of Australian Aboriginal author Mudrooroo. Lattas is critical of “some European intellectuals” who have become “preoccupied” with “(d)etermining the boundaries of Aboriginal authenticity . . . at the expense of acknowledging the positioning power of their own cultural practices” (Lattas, 1993, p. 240). He supports Mudrooroo’s “attempts to develop a modern Aboriginal aesthetic which is still connected to the past of traditional Aboriginal culture” and Mudrooroo’s refusal “to take up what he sees as a western antisocial positioning of the artist” (Lattas, 1993, pp. 253–254). Lattas highlights Mudrooroo’s quest for an “authentic artistic vision which is true to the self”, a difficult thing to achieve when Aboriginal writers “are in the bind of not being able to get their message across unless they take up European literary forms” (Lattas, 1993, p. 256). The history of hunting and gathering is celebrated so that the past is not rejected but “acknowledged as a continuing living part of the present” (Lattas, 1993, p. 254). Memory, myth and strategic essentialism come together in Mudrooroo’s identity politics: This need to produce a tradition for one’s people apart from the culture of the assimilation policy is a desire to bring the culture of one’s dead ancestors back to life by giving the past new meaning and by recreating this past as a way of formulating an uncolonised space to inhabit . . . the past and the dead are ways of integrating one’s self; they provide the alternative space from which to reflect upon the terms of present existence. (Lattas, 1993, p. 254) Lattas’ discussion of Mudrooroo’s work illustrates what anti-colonial choices in narrative and an oppositional stance to post-colonial writing and politics look like.7 R. V. R.D.S. – AN OVERVIEW

Given that the Supreme Court judgment on this case was rendered in 1997 and in light of the volumes written on it, I feel that I should say a few words as to why I am using R.D.S. in this paper. Not only is R.D.S. a landmark case in Canada on issues of race, bias and context that is continuously referred to in the courts, but I 166


feel that more can be learned from it when looked at from a boldly anti-colonial perspective. I am also encouraged by the voice of Roland Barthes who has written that “rereading . . . alone saves the text from repetition”, and that “those who fail to reread are obliged to read the same story everywhere” (Barthes, 1974, p. 16). So, I again direct attention to R.D.S. with the hopes of reading a new story that can help us, for example, when we turn to subsequent cases such as R. v. Hamilton. A white police officer arrested a black fifteen year-old boy in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and charged him with unlawfully assaulting a police officer, unlawfully assaulting a police officer with the intention of preventing an arrest, and unlawfully resisting a police officer in the lawful execution of his duty (“R. v. R.D.S.”, 1997, p. 193). The officer and the boy were the only witnesses and their accounts differed widely. Judge Sparks, a black female judge, acquitted the defendant. Sparks determined that she was unable to be sure of the defendant’s actions beyond a reasonable doubt (“R. v. R.D.S.”, 1997, p. 193). Sparks noted in her oral reasons that “police officers had been known to mislead the court in the past”, and that while she was not saying that the police officer in question had overreacted, police officers “do overreact, particularly when they’re dealing with non-white groups” (“R. v. R.D.S.”, 1997, p. 201). Sparks noted that such behaviour would indicate a “questionable” state of mind (“R. v. R.D.S.”, 1997, p. 193). The Crown challenged these comments on the basis of their being indicative of judicial bias, an unusual and severe charge (see Devlin, 1995, p. 429).8 The case went to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal where it was ruled that the judge’s comments illustrated a “reasonable apprehension of bias” and a new trial was ordered (“R. v. R.D.S.”, 1997, p. 194). The defendant appealed this decision at the Supreme Court of Canada where the appeal was allowed (“R. v. R.D.S.”, 1997, p. 194). Justices L’Heureux-Dubé and McLachlin were strongly in favour of the acquittal and employed a contextualist approach whereby they validated the importance of taking social context (in this case, race) into account when judging a case. Justices Cory and Iacobucci hesitantly favoured the acquittal but warned that Judge Sparks’ “remarks were worrisome and came very close to the line” (“R. v. R.D.S.”, 1997, p. 195). Justices Gonthier and La Forest concurred with the decision in a brief paragraph, and Justices Major, Lamer and Sopinka dissented, saying that there was no evidence that the police officer in question was racist, and that Judge Sparks’ comments “stereotyped all police officers as liars and racists, and applied this stereotype to the police officer in this case” and that this constituted “an error of law” (“R. v. R.D.S.”, 1997, p. 196).


Devlin and Pothier describe their response to the Supreme Court decision as “pleased” but “not without qualifications” (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 3). They write that “the Supreme Court has done the right thing”, although Justices L’Heureux-Dubé and McLachlin are “excessively optimistic” and hasty in their zeal for affirming the place of social context in the courts (Devlin and Pothier, 167


1999–2000, p. 3). Devlin feels that L’Heureux-Dubé and McLachlin do not “fully contemplate the complexity of the challenge” (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 17). The authors agree that “the dissenting decision of Major J. is completely off the mark” (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 3). Devlin and Pothier rightly point out that Justice Major, who wrote for the dissenting judges, was employing a “colour blind frame of reference” when race was clearly a factor in the case (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 10). The authors go on to explain how Justice Major exaggerated Judge Sparks’ actions in his remarks, and suggest that “this is symptomatic of how Canadian society avoids confronting issues of race” (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 11). The two authors disagree, however, on their interpretations of the remarks of Justice Cory. Devlin is “more impressed” by Justice Cory’s “greater caution” while Pothier is “more troubled” by it (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 1). Devlin’s conceptions of subjectivity in general, and difference in particular, place his perspective within the bounds of post-colonialism, and this gives his analysis a certain shape. Devlin summarizes L’Heureux-Dubé and McLachlin’s position on the role of a judge’s personal understanding and experience of the society in which the judge lives and works as follows: “They seem to be saying that if a judge directly or indirectly draws on his or her own experiences as a member of a community then that cannot generate an apprehension of bias” (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 19). Devlin justly notes Justices L’Heureux-Dubé and McLachlin’s problematic assumption that it is possible “for a person from one context to come to terms with the position of another”, that is, that one can place one’s self in another’s shoes (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 19). Devlin advocates an attention to the differences within communities, and points out the difficulty of knowing what constitutes the correct community (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 20). He suggests that a problematic ramification of L’HeureuxDubé and McLachlin’s position might be that relying on a single member of the community as a spokesperson risks “essentializing that community and marginalizing other members of that community whose voices have not had a chance to be heard” (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 20). He points out that “there is also the real possibility that others within that community might have different, perhaps even contradictory, interpretations” (Devlin and Pothier, 1999–2000, p. 20). While I do not entirely disagree with what Devlin is saying, there is something about it that makes me uncomfortable. I think that there are other ways to talk about the difficulties in understanding context and subjectivity than by raising the specter of essentialism and by demanding that we seek out difference. Given that it is very difficult for coloured bodies to obtain a voice of some substance within a courtroom (the paucity of black female judges in Canada will attest to this), I find it discouraging that one judge’s comments about the structural oppression of coloured bodies should lead to a warning against essentialism. In all fairness to Devlin’s analysis, this is only one part of his writing on the case, and he did not make a direct link between Judge Sparks and essentialism. The framing of the discussion in these terms, however, worries me. It is a troubling idea that in order for a subjugated perspective to be legitimate, we need a whole group 168


of coloured bodies to tell their stories so that we have a plural and polyvocal narrative. Why the demand for difference and why at this moment? Would the addition of more voices make Sparks’ judgment any more valid? From an anticolonial standpoint, I would argue that the validation by the Supreme Court of Judge Sparks’ application of her embodied knowledge of the colourline in R. v. R.D.S. does not risk essentializing whatever black community we want to talk about. To my knowledge, Judge Sparks never claimed to speak for all members of any community and I am not convinced that it is her role as a black judge to speak on behalf of “a community”. I do not see that white judges are held to the same standard. There are a few subtleties of post-colonial thought at play here that give me pause in that they can function to uphold the violence of the colourline. What disappears into the abyss of the colourline is the larger context of the identity politics in question. The view of the nation from here is one that obscures “(t)he present period of de facto global white supremacy”, as Charles Mills has put it (Mills, 1998, p. 107). Mills defines white supremacy as broadly “the European domination of the planet that has left us with the racialized distributions of economic, political, and cultural power that we have today” (Mills, 1998, p. 98). I would say that this aspect of Devlin’s analysis, with all due respect, neglects to name some of the workings of white supremacy in this case. R. V. R.D.S. – RAZACK

Razack’s piece is broadly an analysis of why she “doesn’t feel at home” in spite of R.D.S. officially counting “as a win” (Razack, 1999, p. 283). She conceives of the case as a “moment of public education in Canada, when an official story, an agreed-upon truth, is told. This public truth is also about race. It is the story that race does not matter except under highly specific and limited circumstances (Razack, 1999, p. 282, emphasis in original). Razack points out that “racism is a story that cannot be told without consequences” (Razack, 1999, p. 282), and that “(i)f the official story is that there is no racism in Canada, then those who insist otherwise do not belong” (Razack, 1999, p. 283). She goes on to explain that: My unease with the decision in R.D.S. stems from the powerful lessons this case (the processes leading up to the trials as well as the trials themselves) offers to people of colour about ‘the line’ we must not cross. This is the line that Justices Lamer, Major, and Sopinka all felt Judge Sparks crossed, the line that Justice Cory felt she came close to crossing, and the line that Justices L’Heureux-Dubé and McLachlin felt she did not cross. This line separates those who think race always matters from those who think it only matters, if at all, under highly limited circumstances involving specific individuals. (Razack, 1999, p. 284) Razack goes on to note that “with the exception of Justices L’Heureux-Dubé and McLachlin, the Supreme Court remained faithful to colour blindness” and that “we should take note that colour blindness is always just around the corner waiting 169


to reinstall innocent white subjects” (Razack, 1999, p. 284). She describes colour blindness as “a determined making of oneself as innocent, as outside of history, a willful forgetting or . . . a will not to know” (Razack, 1999, p. 284, emphasis in original). Thus, colour blindness is the conviction that racism does not exist. Razack also describes the “machinery that swung into action against Judge Sparks for calling attention to the operation of racism” and “the speed at which that power (of the dominant group) is exerted to penalize people of colour who name racism” (Razack, 1999, p. 291). She points out that “something makes it difficult for the fully contextualized, historical meaning of these features of life in a racist country to enter the courtroom as things we know to be relevant to the case” (Razack, 1999, p. 291). Razack’s discussion of the case in terms of a national narrative of colour blindness saves R.D.S. from the colour line. As opposed to a discussion on culture and identity, a connection is made between subjectivities in terms of power: colour blindness creates innocent white subjects by tossing coloured bodies into the abyss. In Razack’s analysis, coloured bodies reappear. This piece has important implications for conceptions of the nation since it challenges the multicultural discourse of tolerance, pluralism and ethnic diversity and puts accountability for racism on the table. In Looking White People in the Eye, Razack gives us the bottom line: “Canadian courts must begin with the contemporary fact of white supremacy in and out of the courtroom and not simply get by with a passing reference to its history and hazy references to contemporary cultural biases and social conditions” (Razack, 1998, p. 79, emphasis in original).


Beyond the national narrative that Razack referred to in her piece, I look at R.D.S. within a larger, contextualized narrative that critics of Judge Sparks’ judgment did not see, or, that they could not or would not read. If we are going to talk about membership in communities, we have to talk about gender and race. To talk about race, we must address the violence of racism. To talk about racism is to address the fact of white supremacy as defined by Charles Mills above. We also have to keep an eye on the role of global capitalism in this narrative. In Canada, this must lead to considerations of colonialism, a topic absent from the discussion of R.D.S. Razack has written about “the subtext of colonialism” that “informs white judicial cultural sensitivities” (Razack, 1998, p. 77). I feel that colonialism is part of the context of this case. Consider, for instance, the history of blacks in Nova Scotia and the socio-economic disadvantage of blacks in Canada. In short, the space between the black and white bodies in the courtroom was filled with a poetic meaning that was centuries in the making. This is the poetic meaning that Farley attributes to the colourline. Colonialism was already in attendance at court that day. The “close to the line” comment of Judge Major takes on a new meaning when viewed in terms of the colourline. I think of it as Judge Sparks being really close to pulling herself and the defendant out of the abyss by naming race, almost 170


reaching the mouth of the colourline, and then being called on it and hurled into the abyss again with the “will not to know”. If one sees the police officer, the defendant and Judge Sparks as embedded in this complex narrative spanning time and space, there is no question as to the relevance of race.


This paper has glanced at a range of topics related to post-colonialism and anticolonialism that, in all fairness, needs to be examined in further detail. What I have tried to do is to gesture towards some interesting connections and disruptions between two important discourses, and to point out some of the things that happen given the choice of one framework over another. The experience of straddling post-colonialism and anti-colonialism has yielded some of the deepest learning in my M.A. programme and I self-consciously maintain disequilibrium as I go forward so as to avoid academic closure and complacency. I think that it is important to ask how intellectual shifts might be initiated. Is anti-colonial politics something that can be taught? Taking on anti-colonial theory as one’s own requires a different kind of learning that goes beyond knowing authors, seminal works and theories. It is an embodied learning process that involves difficult questions about one’s self and one’s relationship to everyone and everything. This is particularly challenging within the legal community for various reasons which I will leave for exploration in my thesis. I will merely note that it was the nature of the space that George facilitated in the classroom that fostered change. We were a large group marked by racial, ethnic, gender, class and religious differences and we had very different points of view that often conflicted. Discussions based on the readings and personal experience brought these conflicting ideas forward. I found the single most important catalyst for change to be the risks that class members took in discussion. Students were willing to put everything on the table. And sometimes one had to fight for one’s voice or point of view. It certainly was work. At the same time, we were all committed to a community of differences where we valued each others’ presence. Thus, the risk was offset with a certain degree of safety. While I realize that conflicts are inevitable in such an environment, I feel that this is an important starting point for deep learning. The risk and safety polarity that characterized the lectures allowed us to transcend the all-too-common classroom situation where white bodies seek to know and consume the experiences of Others. As for anti-colonial politics, I wonder how this discourse will grow and change. I have yet to discover the limitations of putting domination and oppression at the centre of one’s analysis, but I believe that it is the most successful strategy we have for redeeming coloured bodies from the abyss of the colourline.



I would like to thank George Dei for his mentorship, Arlo Kempf for his understanding, and Nat Paul for his helpful comments on this paper. NOTES 1 It would seem that this is a characteristic shared by most English departments. 2 I was overcome by these thoughts during a class on Fanon in Sheryl Nestel’s engaging course,

“Marginality and the Politics of Resistance”. 3 Fanon has been criticized for an inattention to gender. I have chosen to use “man”, which is his framework for the discussion, to retain his voice. 4 For Fanon’s nausea and Sartre, see Pal Ahluwalia (2003). 5 While Fanon and his conceptions of embodiment are central to anti-colonial thought, I am aware that it is problematic to ascribe both Fanon and his rejection of blackness as well as strategic essentialism to anti-colonial thought since the two are in conflict. I remain unable to resolve this conflict but wish to point out that this tension exists. 6 See the analysis of the film’s “native-bearer” on p. 111 and in Anthony Paul Farley (1997) for his masterful explanation of this phenomenon. 7 Magical Realist writing might serve as an interesting site for anti-colonial narratives since the genre is rooted in subversion of power structures and resistance to political and cultural ideologies (Zamora and Faris, 1995, p. 2). Magical realism is conceptualised as a tool to help decentre the “privileged discourse” of postmodernism (D’haen, 1995, p. 203) and as such it would be useful to link it with anti-colonialism. 8 Devlin writes, “One of the most disturbing things about R.D.S.#1 is the zeal with which the Crown has pursued the appeal. What is it about the statements made by Sparks. J. that has provoked such an outcry and caused the Crown to argue not just that there was an apprehension of bias, but also the very unusual claim that there was actual bias?”

REFERENCES Ahluwalia, P. (2003). Fanon’s nausea: The hegemony of the white nation. Social Identities, 9(3). Banerjee, S.B. (2000). Whose land is it anyway? National interest, indigenous stakeholders, and colonial discourses. Organization and the Environment, 13(4). Barthes, R. (1974). it S / Z. Trans. Richard Miller. 1970. New York: Hill and Wang. Danius, S. and Jonsson, S. (1993). An interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Boundary, 2(20), 2. Dei, G.J.S. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: Towards an anti-colonial discursive framework. Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3). Devlin, R.F. (1995). We can’t go on together with suspicious minds: Judicial bias and racialized perspective. Dalhousie Law Journal, 18(2). Devlin, R.F. and Pothier, D. (1999–2000). ReDreSsing the imbalances: Rethinking the judicial role after R. v. R.D.S. Ottawa Law Review, 31. D’haen, T.L. (1995). Magic realism and postmodernism: Decentering privileged centers. In L.P. Zamora and W.B. Faris (Eds.), Magical realism: Theory, history, community. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Dirlik, A. (1994). The post-colonial aura: Third World criticism in the age of global capitalism. Critical Inquiry, 20. Dirlik, A. (1997). The postcolonial aura: Third World criticism in the age of global capitalism. Oxford: Westview Press. Du Bois, W.E.B. (1903). The souls of black folk. 1995. New York: Penguin Books. Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, white masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. 1952. New York: Grove Press.


FROM POST-COLONIAL THOUGHT TO ANTI-COLONIAL POLITICS Farley, A.P. (1997). The black body as fetish object. Oregon Law Review, 76. Farley, A.P. (2002). The poetics of colorlined space. In F. Valdes, J. McCristal Culp and A.P Harris (Eds.), Crossroads, directions, and a new critical race theory. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Gandhi, L. (1998). Post-colonial theory: A critical introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Lattas, A. (1993). Essentialism, memory and resistance: Aboriginality and the politics of authenticity. Oceania, 62. Loomba, A. (1998). Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London: Routledge. MacKinnon, C.A. (2002). Keeping it real: On anti-‘essentialism’. In F. Valdes, J. McCristal Culp and A.P. Harris (Eds.), Crossroads, directions, and a new critical race theory. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Mills, C.W. (1998). Revisionist ontologies: Theorizing white supremacy. In Blackness visible: Essays on philosophy and race. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Razack, S.H. (1998). Looking white people in the eye: Gender, race, and culture in courtrooms and classrooms. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Razack, S.H. (1999). R.D.S. v. Her Majesty the Queen: A case about home. In E. Dua and A. Robertson (Eds.), Scratching the surface. Toronto: Women’s Press. R.D.S. v. Her Majesty the Queen. File no. 25063, 10 March 1997. Shohat, E. (1992). Notes on the ‘post-colonial’. Social Text, 31/32. Spivak, G.C. (1985). Can the subaltern speak? Speculations on widow-sacrifice. Wedge, Winter/Spring. Suleri, S. (1989). Meatless days. Chicago, IL: Chicago Press.



8. THE POWER OF ORAL TRADITION: CRITICALLY RESISTING THE COLONIAL FOOTPRINT The colonized doesn’t let grass grow under his feet, but a tree, and what a tree! A eucalyptus, an American centenarian oak! A tree? No, a forest! Albert Memmi (1969) INTRODUCTION

Global challenges in the modern era increasingly confront diverse ideologies and world views. Dichotomies between the North and the South, modern and Indigenous, colonizer and colonized, and knowledge purveyors and knowledge seekers continue to perpetuate existing political, social, and economic inequalities. These binaries, often defined by dominant rhetoric, narrow the power base rather than widening it to include already marginalized members of society. Hegemonic irreverence for cultural and societal values, coercion tactics, and appropriation has marked the identities of communities across the globe. Colonialism has had a totalizing effect, imposing its logic on all aspects of society. In particular, cultural forms of expression have been muted by cultural imperialism, robbing Indigenous Peoples of rituals, dance, music, language and oral traditions. Popular Eurocentric discourse, a pillar of the modern paradigm, has silenced Indigenous forms of expression as they struggle to find space to recreate experiences and histories lost. Indigenous knowledges’ dynamic roots in collective experiences are instrumental in providing space for dissent, for the reclamation of history and for subverting cultural domination and colonial history (Dei, 2000a). In drawing on the different modalities of oral tradition, Indigenous Peoples are reclaiming power over their histories, and defining the world through shared and collective experiences, reflecting their tumultuous and challenging resistance to colonial imperialism. This paper will explore oral tradition in Indigenous cultures as it is used in reclaiming the knowledge, cultural identity and traditional practices, long denied during colonial intervention. Drawing on theories of resistance employed through collective action in efforts to subvert colonial intervention, I will highlight how the use of orality has been employed as both a mode of cultural survival and an expression of resistance within an anti-colonial framework. An anti-colonial framework provides space to draw on Indigenous concepts as opposed to conventional Western approaches. It acknowledges the importance G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 175–192. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


of the collective in resisting colonial imperialism and places value in local movements for creating social change (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). The anti-colonial framework further emphasizes the effects of marginalization on Indigenous communities at the hands of colonialism and imperialism; it works to challenge the rationale for inequities and seeks approaches to social change. Specifically, it works with alternative approaches and oppositional paradigms based on the use of Indigenous concepts, analytical systems and frames of reference (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 301). In short, the anti-colonial framework moves away from the limiting post-colonial framework, where the tensions between knowledge purveyors and societal and institutional structures, as well as the complex relationships between different forms of oppression, go unresolved. By perpetuating existing dichotomies between the Indigenous and modern, ownership of knowledges is negated and any possible room for negotiation is denied. In exploring how agency and consciousness ensue subsequent to the reclaiming of oral tradition, I argue for the necessity of finding a space in Indigenous world views that can be explored within dominant forms of knowing, particularly vis-à-vis spiritual knowledges. Lastly, I propose transformative approaches in bridging these differences through respectful means, which provide a viable framework apart from the existing binaries.


I approach this topic with great interest both politically and academically. Despite being educated in the Western tradition, my ethnic and cultural background, coupled with extensive stays in the non-Western world, has provided me a space to embrace non-Western values and world-views. Critically exploring the dichotomies of these two realities has reflect my dual identity, though I have only begun to realize, during my graduate studies, that I have lived both my Western and non-Western realities in the cradle of privilege, where my non-Western views have not been politicized or appropriated. We are all part of the relationship between oppression and resistance. The subtleties of this relationship are often overlooked in favour of creating a distinction between the oppressors and the oppressed. I have reaped the benefits of globalization, though have come to critically understand its severely impeding effects on both the Western and non-Western worlds. I have had the privilege of emigrating to escape the realities of war and religious indoctrination, though I am “Othered” because of my skin colour and religion. I dance to an endless dance in reclaiming my identity, being fully aware both of the privileges and challenges that I carry on my back. Finding stable alternatives to the extremes, as constructed by dominant discourse, is a difficult process. As an activist, educator and citizen, it is both my political and academic project to explore transformative approaches to social change, wherein autonomy is reclaimed, conscientization takes place and the currently widening divide between the dominant and Other is reduced. In doing so, I must first acknowledge and attempt to understand the marginalized 176


position of counter-hegemonic knowledges and the channels through which social change manifests. Memmi (1969) articulates my reality in his awareness of knowing the colonizer just as well as he knows the colonized. I too benefit from being in the majority and the minority, the privileged and the disadvantaged, perhaps, so far as to say, the colonizer and the colonized. I am able to explore the politics of an anticolonial framework as I have both benefited and suffered from systemic biases that enhance existing social, political and economic inequalities. I understand the institutional and systemic underpinnings that run in the face of espoused social and political ideals, and can view these issues from an objective theoretical and subjective personal context. I close this section by reflecting on one of the earliest memories of my colonization as a child. On the walls of my elementary school was a large painted mural of a gallant long-haired man sailing the ocean, watching the horizon where the greenery of Canada awaited him. The heroic depiction of Christopher Columbus was one of my first introductions to the “history” of North America. Such depictions have continued to misguide me throughout my Canadian education. In deconstructing the effects of colonization on the culture, values, mind and soul of Indigenous populations, names such as Columbus, Cook, Rhodes and Livingstone are forever tainted by new images of societies robbed of identity, culture, land, dignity, language, ritual and freedom – colonized minds and permanently bruised souls. Smith (1999) reminds us that “. . . colonialism not only meant the imposition of Western authority over Indigenous lands, Indigenous modes of production and Indigenous law and government, but the imposition of Western authority over all aspects of Indigenous knowledges, language and culture” (p. 64). I take this further and argue that colonialism is Western authority over any form of knowledge that does not fall within its paradigm. It is for these myriad reasons that I approach this topic and attempt to explore it through my personal, political and academic lens to create a meaningful space for resistance to take place.


Understanding the multi-faceted dimensions of oral tradition within Indigenous knowledges must be explored vis-à-vis other forms of knowing, particularly the current modern paradigm. In exploring the multiple contexts and the points of convergence and divergence between the modern and other paradigms, the need for a paradigm shift is better understood. World-views constructed within the modern paradigm often do not differentiate between the competing dimensions of modernity and modernism. Understanding the differences is essential in the anti-colonial project, as well as understanding the role of Indigenous knowledges within it. I have come to understand modernity as the process of engaging differing world-views in the ongoing process of change, where action pertaining to traditions, languages, spiritualities 177


and social structures is embedded in the lived realities of individuals, communities and societies. Under these conditions, there is a strong sense of complicity and accountability by all stake-holders and a sense of ownership over any change that ensues. Alternatively, modernism, the benchmark for colonialism, negates traditional practices, focusing on linear, scientific, masculine, anthropocentric and individual approaches to progress and growth. The modern European agenda has created a sense of economic and social dependency, spiritual withdrawal, loss of community and appropriation. In short, it has created a world of binaries and has falsely demarcated boundaries. The colonial project validates modernism in that rights are denied and “. . . the colonized do not have a choice between being colonized or not being colonized” (Memmi, 1969, p. 86). Césaire (1972) highlights modernism’s effects during colonialism as having “. . . undermined civilizations, destroyed countries, ruined nationalities, extirpated ‘the root of diversity’ . . . ” (p. 76). Counter-hegemonic resistance to Eurocentric modernism is essential in reclaiming ownership over knowledges and worldviews. Long argued as lacking the imperative to resist, the native, according to Fanon, becomes a stranger in his own land (1963). The Indigenous paradigm provides room to explore this further. It encompasses the social, cultural, historical, political and economic knowledge that people within a community understand in relation to one another, their environment and their past. Indigenous knowledge is dynamic, based on direct and experiential learning, plurality and collectiveness. Popular understandings also highlight that it is knowledge which is essential for survival within society, that learning accrues over time and has been intact from previous generations, reinforcing values and beliefs (Dei, 2000b; NathaniWane, 2000; Castellano, 2000). Colonialism, in denying any significance of the Indigenous, was “. . . not simply content to impose its rule upon the present and the future of a dominated country . . . not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content . . . it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures, and destroys it” (Fanon, 1963, p. 210). Indigenous knowledges must thus be examined through a multifaceted lens.


What is Oral Tradition? As one of the central tenants in Indigenous knowledge, oral tradition is more than a vehicle with which to pass traditional knowledge from one generation to the next; it is a pedagogy that takes on many different forms, including proverbs, praise-songs, story-telling, folklore, debates, poetry, fables, riddles, singing, myths and mythologies. Oral tradition provides lessons in morality, confirms identity and tells about the experiences of people. Its capacity to legitimize histories lost through its various modalities, weaves a fabric of continuity, holding communities together. Battiste (1998) completes the argument that oral tradition 178


is a “. . . central source of survival for the peoples, as well as a critical link to knowledge given to us by our Creator who blessed us with our languages and in them gave instructions for our development and survival” (p. 17). Oral tradition in Indigenous knowledges is embodied in its connection to spirituality, the environment, history and the future. It provides “. . . shared beliefs of how the world works and what constitutes proper action” (Battiste, 1998, p. 18). Spirituality is central to Indigenous knowledge, particularly in its relation to oral tradition as articulated under the guise of colonialism. Histories could only be stored through systems of written knowledge; oral histories were thus classified as “traditions” rather than “histories” (Smith, 1999; Heyd, 1995). Finding empowerment through these traditions often took the form of building relationships, not just in the community but also with nature, a higher source of being, and the order in the universe, all of which encompass spiritual knowings. Dimensions of Oral Tradition The practice of different forms of oral tradition is essential for holding communities together, and in creating a social history and telling of peoples’ cultures. The art of story-telling within the oral tradition requires someone who has a broad historical and cultural knowledge of the community, to disseminate the information. In many oral cultures, women are key players in the rendition of oral narratives, as story-telling is used as a tool to prepare children for adulthood. In finding a voice against historical misrepresentations, and seeking empowerment through orality, the role of the story-teller him/herself is just as important as the story being told. Castellano (2000) captures the significant impact of stories: Traditionally, stories were the primary medium used to convey aboriginal knowledge. Stories inform and entertain; they hold up models of behaviours; and they sound warnings. Recounted in ceremonial settings and confirmed through many repetitions, they record the history of the people . . . stories personal experience be understood either as reminiscences or as metaphors to guide moral choice and self examination. (p. 31) The necessity of the oral tradition transcends defining the history and culture of the respective community, but “serves to sustain morality, ritual, law and sanctions against offenders” (Nkabinde, 1988, in Regan, 1996, p. 26); oral testimonies come with a notion that truth is being revealed about a painful event. The collectiveness within oral cultures thus governs every aspect of society. In addition to complying with the prevailing structure of the community, the oral tradition is further strengthened through collective efforts of resisting the dominant colonial structure from outside of the community. Elabor-Idemudia (2000) illustrates the idea that oral forms of knowledge have provided a sense of strength, courage and self-identity and “not only articulates a distinct cultural identity but also give voice to a range of cultural, social and political, aesthetic and linguistic systems – systems long muted by centuries of colonialism and cultural imperialism” (p. 102). Although oral traditions’ depiction of stories is context-driven, the essence and goal of the stories, to pass 179


knowledge to younger generations in hopes that they will connect with the past and embrace their beliefs and cultures, remains static across different oral traditions. By painting accurate depictions of the past, stories provide a space for Indigenous Peoples to mete out justice for generations of misrepresentation. It further provides opportunities to “. . . bring conflicts up to date and to modernize the kinds of struggle which the stories evoke, together with the names of heroes and the types of weapons” (Fanon, 1963, p. 240). To understand how the reclamation of Indigenous knowledges is instrumental within the framework of increased agency and collective consciousness, it is necessary to delineate the significance of Indigenous knowledge, particularly its use of oral tradition. In doing so, I have outlined two widely articulated themes in current literature on Indigenous knowledges that address both the significance and challenges as they are situated within the dominant discourse. 1. Validity within the Dominant Quoting Merata Mita (1989), Smith writes “We have a history of people putting Maori under a microscope in the same way a scientist looks at an insect. The ones doing the looking are giving themselves the power to define” (1999, p. 58). The idea that Indigenous knowledge is still defined from the outside, not only highlights the consistency of colonialism and the notion that orality continues to be viewed as illegitimate within the current modern paradigm, but suggests further that Western knowledge is universal. To critically examine the validity of the oral tradition, the full spectrum of knowledges must first be considered. Knowledge takes on many forms, though it is often negated as valid in and of itself, unless accompanied by dominant modalities of expression. Embodied knowledge, encompassing movement, mime and dance in addition to knowledge through the arts and music, although valid in and of themselves, are more highly revered when accompanied by reading, writing and text. However, Jousee (2000) reminds us that “. . . before knowledge is/was ever in a book – scientia cum libro, it resides/ed in the viscera of a living human being – scientia in vivo – orally traditional human knowledge held in human memory” (in Connolly, 2004, p. 2). However, within the linear, Western paradigm, little credibility is placed on the oral tradition as the printed word supersedes any verbal agreement. In the story-telling tradition, for example, a story is shared in hopes that it will be recounted by future generations, that with each new listener there is an internalization of the story and that it will connect past and future generations, transcending time and history. However, because the colonial past of Indigenous communities is denied within dominant hegemonies, the essence of story-telling, central to Indigenous knowledge, is also denied. Eurocentric dominance negates the significance of oral tradition by failing to acknowledge the millions of people worldwide whose societies are constructed through oral traditions. Speaking to the African tradition of orality, Wright (2004) argues that by denying the significance of oral literacy, one is essentially undermining “. . . any attempts to take seriously the wealth of oral traditions we have in Africa and the use we should be making of orality in communication” (p. 156). 180


Challenging the Western notion that the oral tradition is not valid, Wright further argues that through promoting and reclaiming African-centred orality, the pitfalls of hyper-literacy and stigmatization of “illiterates” can be avoided. By invalidating the depth of knowledge, history and practice of Indigenous knowledge, Eurocentrism renders many individuals silent and invisible. Connolly (2004) contends that literacy “. . . is not intrinsically superior to orality as a medium of expression and knowledge . . . ” And, “knowledge which is recorded in writing is not intrinsically and automatically superior to the recorded memory, and that approximately 10% of human knowledge is recoded in writing” (p. 6). Denying ninety percent of knowledge as inauthentic continues to create divisions between literacy and other modalities of knowledge, creating a continual need for resistance. Central to oral tradition is its dynamism and ability to evolve based on old knowledge and new experiences; through learning about the past, new forms of knowledge are discovered (Dei, 2000a). In many oral traditions, the influence of colonialism has created a need for oral narration to be redefined so as to comply with new attitudes. However, as the consistency of written tradition counters that of the oral, there is little validity or authenticity placed on oral tradition. Smith highlights that the popular discourse of the colonizers is opposed by Indigenous Peoples as it does not reinforce values, actions, customs, culture or identity, nor does it generally acknowledge the existence of Indigenous Peoples. When it does, the information is miswritten (Smith, 1999). 2. Historical and Cultural Significance Of the foremost aspects of oral tradition is its importance for the continuity of knowledge over generations. It is by and large the role of elders, as role-models and story-tellers of the community, to bring to light the past and present through the sharing of stories in hopes that they will be espoused by younger generations. This provides a space for traditions, values and belief systems to be constructed within the framework of the Indigenous past (Dei, 2000b; Smith, 1999; Fixico, 2003). In doing so, the rooted sense of collectivity and community is restored. Oral tradition empowers individuals through locally produced knowledge and weaves the fabric of society together, creating a dynamic which is foreign to non-oral traditions. One of the many fires that colonialism has lit in colonized societies is its attempt to shift the colonized away from the collectivity that define and encapsulate oral cultures. Dei (1995) argues that within Indigenous traditions, knowledge is an interactive process that is socially and collectively constructed between Indigenous groups and the natural world and that “the concept of the Indigenous only makes sense in relation to the community which he/she is part . . . the collective spirit is stronger than the Indigenous mind” (p. 152). The modality of Western tradition imposed an alternate approach, one in which the colonized was “. . . being educated to be individualistic, complacent, subordinate, and unquestioningly obedient: culture traits that were not only foreign . . . but also counter to Indigenous heritage” (Elabor-Idemudia, 2000, p. 107). 181


Necessary to the reclamation and valuing of Indigenous knowledges, the problématique of the self-determined authenticity of modernism must be addressed. As outlined earlier, modernism’s core values contradict both the knowledge and practice of Indigenous Peoples. I argue that the central challenge faced by colonized Indigenous Peoples, which encapsulates the myriad issues already presented, is the divergent understanding of spirituality. Drawing on the three-worlds analogy, Holland (1998) contests that the problématique of the First World, home to Western knowledge, is primarily cultural, reflected as a spiritual crisis, and subsequently as a lack of meaning (in Goodman, 2003). As a sense of spirituality exists in every aspect of Indigenous knowledge, the lack thereof creates a web of interrelated issues that are linked and which cannot be solved without the involvement of all the other parts, hence creating a problématique. Indigenous colonized communities have for generations been usurped from their role in decision-making processes, and of their cultural and social responsibilities. In reclaiming oral traditions, communities engage in meaningful ways to not only retell their stories but to engage in experiential learning, celebrate community, collective agency and find empowerment through dialogue. Resistance is thus pivotal to the social change process.


The Need for Resistance Resistance is understood as the shift away from the ides that the marginalization and negation of Indigenous knowledge is invalid. It is reflected in resisting imposition and domination on knowledge systems which are denied significance within both the colonial and post-colonial frameworks. It is because “. . . Indigenous identity continuously confronts the colonial/imperial order . . . and through such perpetual confrontation that a sense of ‘Indigenousness’ is required” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 302). For the Indigenous colonized individual there are few alternatives, the least constructive of which is assimilation, to the colonial situation. In addition to running the risk of alienating themselves from their own culture, Memmi (1969) argues that assimilation eliminates the distinctions between the colonizers and the colonized, thereby eliminating the colonial relationship. Assimilation can only be successful if it affects the whole of the population, and as there are different capacities between colonizers and colonized, this can only take place if the structure of colonialism is changed. Arguing the contradiction between assimilation and colonialism, Memmi takes one step further, arguing that revolt is the only way out of the colonial situation and like an iron collar, the colonial situation can only be broken; otherwise, assimilation is inevitable. Colonial revolt can take on many forms and does not necessarily have to be exclusionary in embracing one paradigm over another. The need to create space for the development of Indigenous world views within modernity is captured by Césaire (1972), 182


We are not men for whom the question is either-or. For us the problem is not to make a utopian and sterile attempt to repeat the past, but to go beyond it. It is not a dead society we want to revive . . . it is a new society that we must create, with the help of all our brother slaves, a society rich with all the productive powers of modern times, warm with all the fraternity of olden days. (pp. 52–53). The importance for spiritual engagement is once again revisited in the need for resistance as Césaire reminds us that “it is not a dead society we want to revive”, referring to the loss of spirituality and community. Memmi (1969) highlights characteristics of a revolution as not only the pursuit of collective consciousness and the reclamation of native languages but also action embedded in a spiritual tradition, as the colonized individual internalizes the value of spirituality as instrumental in building community and creating sustainable change. I see the use of the oral tradition in resistance movements as central to building non-violent, communal and spiritual approaches to liberation as “there is no other fight for culture which can develop apart from the popular struggle” (Fanon, 1963, p. 233). Spirituality and Resistance Drawing on the colonizers’ psyche, Césaire describes how they not only consider the colonized savage but that the Indigenous Peoples’ spirituality has provoked confusion and contempt by the colonizers. The ceremonies are considered of the voodoo type and are a ludicrous masquerade and involve a collective frenzy of wild alcoholism (Césaire, 1972). Spiritual resistance is instrumental in the anticolonial struggle as it provides outlets to critically revisit the past and provides a sense of hope in considering the future. It has a totalizing effect, as it is engrained in all facets of Indigenous life. The oral tradition provides an opportunity to create a spiritual link to the resistance movement and allows the colonized to shape their sense of the world. In liberating one’s soul from colonialism, an inner social transformation occurs, setting the stage for outer societal transformations. Political resistance is closely linked to spiritual awakening and is “. . . grounded in a spiritual consciousness of the self. As a result, the process of finding one’s place in society is bound to be affirming and successful. Learning happens through the interface and synergy between the body, mind and soul” (Dei, 2005). Spirituality, as embodied spiritual action, is a reflection of the interconnected knowledge between mind, body and spirit. Spirituality encompasses the connection between inner and outer peace, the relationship to the community as well as the natural world. It is linked foremost to any framework of resistance and governs one’s values, actions and worldviews. In short, spirituality is a powerful mobiliser for social change. the oral tradition’s connection to spirituality in resistance movements requires an active, action-oriented approach. It must not only act as a catalyst for empowerment and liberation within the community but must be a tool for critical resistance and engaged reflection, perhaps even a revolutionary spirituality. 183


Dimensions of Resistance: The West and the Rest The significance of the oral tradition within dominant discourse is instrumental in the reality of Indigenous Peoples as well as non-Indigenous people’s perceptions in the current “neo-colonial” era. Oral culture continues to be prevalent within Indigenous cultures and is central to the resistance against Western hegemonic structures. Smith (1999) states that “[u]nder colonialism Indigenous Peoples have struggled against a Western view of history and yet been complicit with that view. We have often allowed our ‘histories’ to be told and have then become outsiders as we heard them being retold” (p. 33). Resistance within anti-colonial politics must be explored from different viewpoints, in particular diverging and concurring views between anti-colonial thinkers operating from a Western and non-Western Indigenous binary must be explored to further ground a framework for resistance. By revisiting history and critically exploring the framework for colonialism, a clearer anti-colonial lens for resistance be considered. In questioning the significance of a historical perspective on resistance, Smith (1999) draws attention to the following: The answer, I suggest, lies in the intersection of Indigenous approaches to the past, of the modernist history project itself and of the resistance strategies which have been employed. Our colonial project traps up in the project of modernity. There can be no ‘postmodern’ for us until we have settled some business in the modern. This does not mean that we do not understand or employ multiple discourses, or act in incredibly contradictory ways. It means that there is unfinished business, that we are still being colonized (and know it), and that we are still searching for justice. (p. 34) Western approaches used to situate anti-colonialism in dominant discourse can often be essentialized and romanticized, as the understanding of the politics of resistance and hegemony are contextual and situational. Lattas (1993) brings our attention to the tendency of white anti-colonial writers to impose their views on approaches taken by Aboriginal Peoples toward resistance, on the creation of a collective identity, and on the extent to which memory (from which oral tradition draws) should guide this process. The Europeans’ belief in constructing Aboriginality denies the colonized a sense of autonomy from the Other and any belief of ownership of the past, “. . . yet when Aborigines seek to give a mythological content to, or to reclaim, a primordial past for themselves then they are accused of essentialism and of participating in their own domination” (Lattas, 1993, p. 247). The amputation of oral tradition and denial of spirituality are reflective of this. How resistance and autonomy must be claimed, from the varied political positions of Western thinkers both essentializes Indigenous approaches and constructs a new form of knowledge. This, in turn, perpetuates Western hegemonic approaches and indirectly reproduces the colonial experience. In exploring the work of non-Western anti-colonial writers, one must be mindful of how their work is read in the West, specifically the tendency to romanticize the colonizer-colonized relationship as a mere binary. Such approaches do not 184


recognize other forms of oppression which intersect with colonialism, particularly the importance of class domination, race, gender divide, and religion within the anti-colonial struggle. Although power and resistance are embedded in wider political and economic inequalities, the need to focus on other forms of oppression which marginalize already marginalized members of society should not be forgotten. EXPLORING A FRAMEWORK FOR RESISTANCE

Due to the complex relationship between consciousness and reality, it is necessary to decolonize not only the mind but also the inner life and society (Césaire, 1972). In doing so, the reconceptualization of the colonized can take on different forms, particularly from the reference point of thinkers operating through a non-Western lens. Exploring resistance from a non-anti-colonial lens is useful in situating anti-colonial politics, as it provides space to critically view the links in resistance strategies for grounded social and political change. Drawing on Giroux’s (1983) development of a theoretical concept of resistances, three central ideas are presented in understanding anti-colonial politics. First, resistance “point[s] to the need to understand more thoroughly the complex ways in which people mediate and respond to the interface between their own lived experiences and structures of domination and constraint” (Giroux, 1983, p. 108). I have come to label this concept as “resisting through knowledge”, and particularly focusing on the shared understanding of the tensions between the Indigenous and modern paradigms and how oral tradition is affected by this ongoing tension. Second, Giroux draws attention to the idea that power is never uni-dimensional and can be exercised as a mode of domination, an act of resistance or even as an expression of cultural and social production outside the immediate force of domination (1983). Thus, domination and resistance do not exclusively account for marginalized peoples’ behaviours; within it may exist “moments of cultural and creative expression that are informed by a different logic, whether it be existential, religious, or otherwise” (p. 108). In acknowledging these expressions, people develop a sense of empowerment that affects their approach to resistance. “Resistance as empowerment”, particularly empowerment through reclaiming social, cultural and historical identities, is a central concept reflected in Giroux’s theoretical concept of resistance, and it is reflected within oral traditions. Lastly, the concept of resistance must create space for emancipation from dominance and create hope for social transformation. McIssac (1995) argues that the “. . . struggle expressed in resistance must reveal emancipatory interests which extend beyond simply oppositional behaviours in order for it to be significant in terms of actual social transformation” (p. 54). Ensuring there is a political significance in resistance struggles, it must engage in solidarity, alliance and have the potential to effect change. I have labeled this as “social transformation” – a necessary tenet of resistance within Indigenous traditions.



1. Resisting Through Knowledge By understanding the colonizer’s perspectives, attitudes, and general mindset towards the colonized, resistance to colonization can be approached from various dimensions. McIssac (1995) draws on the notion that “the dynamic nature of domination demands an analysis of the complex ways people respond to their experiences and structures of domination which in turn involves consideration of intentionality and consciousness” (p. 54). The hierarchies of knowledge, devaluing and negation of Indigenous knowledge systems through such distinctions as community over individual, peaceful coexistence with nature over control and domination (Dei, 2000b), and oral over written, demonstrates that only through an understanding of both the colonized and the colonizer’s social and political frameworks can resistance effectively ensue. Through the context-specific nature of story-telling, bringing to life ideas and reflections relevant for the specific audience, ideas such as the environment, current political and social situation, and spirituality, a greater understanding emerges of the interconnectedness of the issues and the nature of domination vis-à-vis the Indigenous situation, making resistance more effective. Resistance can best be addressed and put in place by drawing on traditional knowledge and working within the limits of dominant hegemony; McIssac (2000) captures the idea that oral history “as a cultural practice and mode of cultural survival is also important when it comes to expressions of cultural resistance” (p. 93). Quoting French poet, René Char, Fanon (1963), concurs that in using poetry as a means of revolt that “the poem emerges out of a subjective imposition and an objective choice. A poem is the assembling and moving together of determining original values . . . ” (p. 226). The anti-colonial approach emphasizes the necessity for local knowledge derived from collective experiences and actions. In reclaiming systems of knowing, empowerment follows and the marginalized are likely to shift away from victimization. Memmi (1969) takes one step further, arguing that by drawing on local knowledge, the stage is set for a revolution, as the developed efficacy aids in the complete rejection of the colonial situation. A return to spirituality follows, as it is “. . . an extraordinary place of communion for the whole group” (p. 133). Dei and Asgharzadeh (2001) highlight the power of local practice: It engages a critique of the wholesale denigration, disparagement, and discard of tradition and culture in the name of modernity and global space. There is a site of/in tradition, orality, visual representation, material and intangible culture, and aboriginality that is empowering to colonized and marginalized groups. The anti-colonial perspective seeks to identify that site and celebrate its strategic significance. (p. 301) The practice of local knowledge aids the anti-colonial project in creating institutionalized change, an example of which is reflected in the 1996 Canadian report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, recommending fair and equitable treatment of Aboriginal peoples, specifically recognizing the need for self-governance within moral, historical, legal and collective traditions 186


(Castellano, 2000). In short, Dei (2001) captures the necessity and effectiveness of resistance through knowledge in that “the learner’s self and social identities are key to engaging and producing knowledge for change” (p. 127). 2. Resistance as Empowerment Indigenous and folk knowledge have been widely used as a source of empowerment. Through cultural and creative modes of expression, Indigenous communities are doing more than passing down knowledge, which is empowering in its own rite; they have gone further and are indirectly re-developing their sense of identity and undoing generations of colonization to the mind, acknowledging that a well-defined culture past exists (Fanon, 1963). This idea is reinforced in Césaire’s (1972) notion of negritude, a belief in fostering a collective and accurate identity of African peoples in which the acknowledgement of present and historical contributions is seen as a powerful weapon against colonialists, bringing power back to the people and, subsequently, developing a sense of autonomy and solidarity. Smith (1999) argues that such expressions are a “struggle to assert and claim humanity . . . the appeal to human “rights’, the notion of a universal human subject, and the connections between being human and being capable of creating history, knowledge, and society” (p. 26). We are reminded that the devaluation and even negation of spiritual knowing as legitimate in oral traditions has had a colonizing effect on not just the mind of Indigenous Peoples, but also on the soul and body. To grant spiritual emancipation its denied importance, it must be framed as a human right – a concept denied by colonialism. Dei (2005) concurs that as there are elements of spirituality in all that is connected in the world, spirituality must be balanced in all to which it is related, in order to create harmony and peaceful coexistence. Resisting Western-driven individualism, denial of spirituality and disconnect between body, mind and spirit, are important steps in the empowerment process, which will allow individuals to embrace their Indigenous approaches as expressed through the oral tradition and instil a greater sense of accountability into the community. Emancipation from dominant structures is more than just political emancipation; it is a sense of freedom to practice and preach from a social, cultural, spiritual and historical perspective. Spirituality is more than resistance; it sets the stage to resist domination and oppression in constructive ways without inciting acts of hate, domination and oppression (Dei, 2005). 3. Social Transformation The normative view of the “globalization of knowledge”, as Smith has termed it, not only classifies Western culture’s view that the west is at the centre of legitimate knowledge and the prime source of “civilized” knowledge (1999) but perpetuates imperialist exploitation and subjugation of Indigenous Peoples. For social transformation to be grounded, it must provide space for counter-hegemonic dissent and interpretations, as opposed to being on the defensive apropos imperialist exploitation. An anti-colonial framework can only be constructed by Indigenous people’s renewal and reconstruction of “the principles underlying their own world 187


view, environment, languages, and how these construct humanity” (Battiste, 1998, p. 24). It is by building community alliances and engaging in solidarity for the greater cause that power can be reclaimed. Concepts such as Ujamma (Nyerere, 2000) and Satyagraha (Gandhi, 1969) provide space for people to draw on Indigenous forms of knowledge in subverting colonialism. The oral tradition, specifically, has been seen as a valid form for investigating consciousness and identifying resistance (McIssac, 2000). Setting the stage for community social transformations, citizenship engagement takes on meaningful ways that spark the potential for change. This is particularly effective in oral cultures, as solidarity building and alliances have the potential to develop in more fluid ways. Most poignant in the discussion of this paper is the need to acknowledge and work within a collective framework that builds a mass-consciousness, instilling a sense of solidarity in resisting hegemony. Loss of the significance, richness and importance of oral the tradition following colonialism has shifted the focus away from community efforts to sustain traditional forms of knowing. Quoting Ama Ata Aidoo, Wright (2004) draws attention to “. . . the need to reclaim, practice, and cherish (and I would add critically interrogate) a traditional African form which Africans have started to lose touch with in our pursuit of Eurocentric forms” (p. 156). Focusing on the practice of the oral tradition, there is a celebration and acknowledgement of its importance and an acknowledgement that it is an end in itself (Dei, 2000b; Wright, 2004). Building a sense of solidarity can only be achieved if there is respect and an inherent belief in the goodness of tradition and, in this case, the value of Indigenous knowledge.


Resistance strategies within anti-colonial politics are effective and essential for the colonized. However, I believe it is necessary to view the movement for social, political, cultural and spiritual autonomy within a bigger framework; one which provides opportunities to explore the marginalization of women, the polarity of views amongst citizens of the world, planetary damage and divisions not only between race and traditions but also between gender, religions, social and political interests, and minority and majority worlds, all of which suffer from “colonialism” in different forms. Dei (2001) argues “local communities must be understood not simply within so-called Western rational thought but instead within an Indigenous, culturally contextualized genesis” (p. 130). I agree with this and further argue for a shift from western-Indigenous binaries to critical engagement of the multi-dimensional components of Indigenousness, whereby there is an acknowledgement that Indigenous knowledge is itself building and evolving and, thus, cannot be a binary. When exploring how agency and consciousness ensue, subsequent to the reclaiming of the oral tradition, it is necessary to find a space where Indigenous world 188


views can be explored within dominant forms of knowing. In light of the vastness and prevalence of the Indigenous, by essentializing and romanticizing it, dichotomies and the ownership of knowledges are perpetuated, thereby denying any possibilities for transformative change. Resistance can effectively take place in both minority and dominant spaces. However, obvious power imbalances rooted in political, economic and cultural imperialism demand a middle space where the continuing discord between hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses can be brought out. Without a middle space, the opposition between the dominant and the Other is further increased. This middle space can take shape in the form of localizing the overwhelming concept of globalization, allowing Indigenous communities to further draw on local knowledge in efforts to make progressive change within the community and aid in the sustenance of Indigenous traditions. By drawing on culture and tradition, of which oral tradition is a driving force, Indigenous knowledge becomes a vanguard for transformative social change in the current era of modernization. O’Sullivan (1999) captures the need for a middle space and a planetary consciousness “. . . that pervades the mythic structures of American First Nations peoples. A coupling of Indigenous science with contemporary earth science is a new area of exploration and its outcomes should be the subject of courses that deal with planetary concerns” (p. 201). The domination of, and irreverence for, cultures and values have placed us in a predicament wherein we have to explore the concept of resistance from many different angles. Engagement in critical thought and pedagogy for social and planetary change is the umbrella under which the anti-colonial discursive falls. This paper has addressed how resistance can take place from within the marginalized communities; however, it is equally if not more important, to engage in resistance from a hegemonic framework. Constructive Praxis O’Sullivan (1999) draws attention to the impact of globalization as it has penetrated the “dream structure of contemporary education”. It is in finding the balance and bridging the divide between Indigenous and mainstream education that an understanding, which subsequently creates a shift in consciousness, can prevail. The gate-keepers of social change are, unfortunately and too often, part of the dominant culture, and it is by engaging in partnerships with like-minded and different groups that we can begin to see a shift in consciousness amongst the masses. The oral tradition in Indigenous cultures can be used not only for mobilization and resistance, but ultimately as an educational tool. The Indigenous educational void, and the blueprint of colonialism, was a result of social inadequacy on behalf of the colonizer, damaging one of the essential dimensions of the colonized (Memmi, 1969). Indigenous knowledge understands education as a life-long process in which all members of society are prepared to be contributing members. When acknowledging the prevalence of Indigenous tradition as fluid 189


and evolving and very much part of “modernity”, it is necessary to engage in both formal and non-formal Indigenous education to constructively resist modernism’s impeding impacts on the body, mind and soul. To ensure effective Indigenous education, it is important to continue resisting and mobilizing, and to find constructive alternatives that expose and challenge dominant discourse. It is necessary to resist through language, to develop a sense of collectivity amongst the masses and to enable the oppressed to feel a sense of ownership where they are able to integrate the body, mind and soul connection through oral means. Bringing spirituality into education sheds light on the impacts that a spiritual approach can have on the decolonization process, as well of its ability to instill a sense of political and social efficacy in people. Transformative inclusion, as such, sets the stage for bringing long-term sustainability to the needs of all individuals and creates respect not just for differing world-views, but for the politics that define those world-views. Most importantly, it is necessary to bridge the divide between theorizing about the politics of anticolonialism and critically examining the possibilities of resistance to amputation for a colonized society. CONCLUSION

Coupled with mobilization and education, resistance efforts which challenge dominant culture in re-articulating and subverting dominant discourse, establish a solid base for effective social change. Oral traditions’ use of story-telling indirectly challenges the status-quo by drawing on counter-hegemonic discourse, thereby allowing individuals to make sense of their reality, while at the same time providing a sense of autonomy enabling them to draw on their learned collective experiences. The greatest challenge in the process, however, is not to engage the colonized in taking active steps towards reclaiming their identity and autonomy, but to engage the colonizer in a transformative engagement in the process of conscientization. This project is possible only if there is dialogue and action from both sides. It is possible if there is an attempt to understand the political underpinnings of oppression and the role that culture, tradition and spirituality play in the lives of oppressed. It is our role as educators and activists engaged in equity work and decolonization projects, to take steps towards understanding where this balance lies, and more importantly, how to engage future generations in a similar vein; this involves building alliances and exploring viable frameworks from both the context of the oppressor and the oppressed. As we move towards transformative learning and developing a consciousness of the past, we can as individuals working to build a social movement, create meaningful change for the future – acknowledging the impact of Indigenous knowledges as we begin the journey into a post-modern era. In the midst of a global system gripped by Western supremacy that has appropriated and ripped apart Indigenous traditions, this is our project. 190


Césaire (1972) argues that due to the complex relationship between consciousness and reality, it is equally necessary to decolonize the mind and inner life. I concur and see an additional decolonization of the spiritual realm in order for both the colonizer and colonized to be freed from the differentiated, yet fierce, grips of colonialism. In resolving the destructive yet creative relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, I conclude with Césaire’s words that “for us, the problem is not to make a utopian and sterile attempt to repeat the past, but to go beyond. It is not a dead society that we want to revive. We leave that to those who go in it for exoticism. Nor is it the present colonial society that we wish to prolong, the most putrid carrion that ever rotted under the sun. It is a new society that we must create . . . ” (p. 31). REFERENCES Battiste, M. (1998). Enabling the autumn seed: Toward a decolonized approach to Aboriginal knowledge, language, and education. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 22(1), 16–27. Castellano, M.B. (2000). Updating aboriginal traditions of knowledge. In G.J.S. Dei, B. Hall and D. Goldin-Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 21–36. Césaire, A. (1972). Discourse on colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Connolly, J. (2000). Discourse on colonialism. In E.C. Eze (Ed.), In African philosophy: An anthology. London: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 222–227. Connolly, J. (2004). Reading, writing, and text: knowledge and orality-literacy interface, Presentation handout. Dei, G.J.S. (1995). Indigenous knowledge as an empowerment tool for sustainable development. In N. Singh and V. Titi (Eds.), Empowerment: Towards sustainable development. Toronto: Zed Books, pp. 147–161. Dei, G.J.S. (2000a). African development: The relevance and implications of ‘indigenousness’. In G.J.S. Dei, B. Hall and D. Goldin-Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 70–88. Dei, G.J.S. (2000b). Rethinking the role of indigenous knowledges in the academy. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 4(2), 111–132. Dei, G.J.S. (2001). Spiritual knowing and transformative learning. In E.V. O’Sullivan, A. Morrell and M.A. O’Connor (Eds.), Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning. New York: Palgrave, pp. 121–134. Dei, G.J.S. (2005). The resistance to amputation: Spiritual knowing, transformative learning and antiracism. Race, Gender & Class, accepted for publication/forthcoming. Dei, G.J.S. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: The anti-colonial discursive framework. Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3), 297–323. Elabor-Idemudia, P. (2000). The retention of knowledge of folkways as a basis for resistance. In G.J.S. Dei, B. Hall and D. Goldin-Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 102–119. Fanon, F. (1963). The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove Press. Fixico, D.L. (2003). The American indigenous mind in a linear world. New York: Routledge. Gandhi, M. (1969). Is politics a game of worldly people? In Political and national life and affairs. Ahmedabad: Navijivan Press, pp. 3–25. Giroux, H.A. (1983). Theory and resistance in education: A pedagogy for the opposition. Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey Publishers. Goodman, A. (2003). Now what? Developing our future. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Heyd, T. (1995). Indigenous knowledge, emancipation and alienation. Knowledge and Policy: The International Journal of Knowledge Transfer and Utilization, 2(8), 63–72. Lattas, A. (1993). Essentialism, memory and resistance: Aboriginality and the politics of authenticity. Oceania, 62, 249–263.


NABAVI McIssac, E. (1995). Indigenous knowledge and colonial power: The oral narrative as a site of resistance. Masters Thesis, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. McIssac, E. (2000). Oral narratives as a site of resistance: Indigenous knowledge, colonialism, and western discourse. In G.J.S. Dei, B. Hall and D. Goldin-Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 89– 101. Memmi, A. (1969). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Nyerere, J. (1973). Freedom and development. Arusha, Tanzania: Oxford University Press. O’Sullivan, E. (1999). Transformative learning: Educational vision for the 21st century. London: Zed Books Ltd. Reagan, T. (1996). Non-western educational traditions: Alternative approaches to educational thought and practice. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Smith, L.T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies. London: Zed Books. Wane, N.N. (2000). Indigenous knowledge: Lessons from the elders – A Kenyan case study. In G.J.S. Dei, B. Hall and D. Goldin-Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 54–69. Wright, H.K. (2004). A prescience of African cultural studies. New York: Peter Lang Publishers.




True liberation is not that pseudo-independence in which ministers having a limited responsibility hobnob with an economy dominated by the colonial pact. Liberation is the total destruction of the colonial system from the pre-eminence of the language of the oppressor and “departmentalization”, to the customs union that in reality maintains the former colonized in the meshes of the culture, of the fashion, and of the images of the colonialist. (Fanon, 1967, p. 105) The value of culture as an element of resistance to foreign domination lies in the fact that culture is the vigorous manifestation on the ideological or idealist plane of the physical and historical reality of the society that is dominated or to be dominated. Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history . . . Ignorance of this fact may explain the failure of several attempts at foreign domination – as well as the failure of some national liberation movements. (Cabral, 1970, p. 4)

In thinking of indigeneity in relationship to present-day Jamaica, such thought is necessarily complicated by the extinct Arawaks, Jamaica’s first indigenous population, and thus central to what one considers indigenous. Definitions of what constitutes indigenous knowledge have often overlooked how transnational slavery has positioned some diasporic blacks closer to being an indigenous population than a foreign population. Indigenous knowledge is best understood as “traditional norms”, social values, in essence the “sum of experience and knowledge of a given social group” that forms the basis of daily decision-making (Dei, 2000, p. 6). A relationship to the land, more specifically, a “long-term occupancy of a certain place” have also been key descriptors of what constitutes “indigenous knowledge” (Dei, 2000, p. 6). Since Africans have inhabited Jamaica for more than four hundred years, it is not inconceivable to think of Afro-Jamaicans as indigenous to Jamaica. If we can stretch definitions of indigenous knowledge to encompass AfroJamaican local knowledges, then we are able to see the potentialities of an G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 193–210. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


anti-neo-colonial struggle based on the effective utilization of indigenous knowledge. In order to understand contemporary Jamaican culture, the notion of anti-neo-colonial struggle must see neo-colonialism as a continuation of domination through ideological means. Here I am referring directly to the “success” of the Monroe Doctrine, which has effectively buried indigenous knowledge(s) in Jamaica during the post-democratic socialism, post-Manley era. Here I am referring to the supremacy of foreign knowledges, such as United States capitalism, which began to obscure other ways of thinking that existed in Jamaica especially after the 1972 democratic socialism phase. Thus, anti-neo-colonialism is a term that recognizes that neo-colonialism’s potency lay in its “cognitive imperialism”, a concept Marie Baptiste propounds to be the “last stage of imperialism wherein the imperialist seeks to whitewash the tribal mind and soul” (Baptiste, 1986, p. 37). While we cannot deny colonialism has had a psychological effect on the colonized, it is the changing processes and tentacles of neo-colonialism with which I am concerned. It is not schools, nor religious institutions that lead the latest charge of neo-colonialism. Today’s neo-colonialism lurks in the profitable tourism sector and in the “free market” of cellular phone consumers. Thus, a term such as anti-neo-colonialism helps us locate, unmask and resist the new arenas wherein cognitive imperialism attempts to influence the ways in which indigenous Afro-Jamaicans understand themselves. This paper is an attempt to utilize local indigenous Afro-Jamaican knowledge as a tool through which to tackle the neo-colonial hold of the Monroe Doctrine, and dislodge the ideological supremacy of the United States in Jamaica. I am interested in attending to the lost knowledges of Afro-Jamaican life that produce specific and vital ways of knowing that operate in the interest of Jamaicans. Thus, this paper attempts to think through David Scott’s important inquiry into postcolonial life in Jamaica. Scott asks: How and with what cognitive resources do we begin to imagine alternative hopes and to assemble the normative political strategies by means of which these hopes can be placed on the agenda of the present? (Scott, 1999, p. 200) This paper operates upon the premise that Afro-Jamaican indigenous knowledge(s) are essential “cognitive resources” in the anti-colonial struggle caught in a neo-colonial framework that has moved away from the physical violence of occupation and war, towards more hidden capitalist-informed discourses driven by market-seeking activities and interventions. This paper utilizes an anti-colonial discursive framework as an approach that helps us theorize the re-/neo-colonial relations and the “implications of imperial structures of knowledge production” (Dei, 2000, p. 42). I am interested in bringing about “discursive agency” that illuminates the power of local knowledge and social practices that have helped the colonized survive colonization (Dei, 2000, p. 7). Thus, in centering the indigenous practices, concepts and Jamaican cultural frames of reference, this paper attempts to position Jamaican indigenous practices and knowledges vis-à-vis western discourses. 194


I begin by using anti-colonialism as a discursive framework in order to help us center Afro-Jamaica indigenous culture as a way to think outside of the imperial structures of knowledge production. Next, I attempt to stretch definitions of indigenous knowledge to help us think of Afro-Jamaican life as (almost) indigenous. I follow with a look at the oral tradition in Jamaica as a source of folktales and oral narratives that help us formulate an understanding of indigenous knowledge as an alternative form of knowledge production in Jamaica. A look at the ideological nature of neo-colonial Jamaican society and its overt and detrimental, relationship to western capitalism helps bring into focus the nature of the terrain in which we need to operationalize Afro-Jamaican indigenous knowledge. In working towards the destabilization of western capitalist discourses, I activate local indigenous knowledges, in the belief that they represent the means by which to contradict western discourses and produce ways of knowing that are not imposed from outside and are thus more beneficial to Jamaican society. FROM ANTI-COLONIAL TO ANTI-NEO-COLONIAL: THE CHANGING IDEOLOGICAL TERRAIN

Colonial education has been one of the most damaging tools of imperialism because it has inculcated colonized populations from a young age with ways of understanding themselves as culturally worthless. Schooling in Jamaica was knowledge production that was entirely under the control of missionaries at first, and eventually the British government. Given this, as one historian succinctly puts it, “a programme of popular education in Jamaica has no chance of being unEnglish” (Campbell, 1993, p. 263). Anti-colonialism as a discursive framework can not only “interrogate, and challenge the foundations of institutionalized power and privilege . . . ” (Asgharzadeh and Dei, 2001, p. 300), but it allows us to bring to the fore the silences that can empower the silenced. This framework posits that power does not solely belong to the colonizer, recognizing that the local and social practice and tools utilized by the colonized to survive the experience are also sites of power (ibid., p. 300). In utilizing an anti-colonial discursive framework, I am interested in developing and working with an alternative paradigm, an indigenous way of knowing, that sits, not only outside of, but in direct opposition to the universalizing and hegemonic Eurocentric ways of knowing that pollute the so called “Third World”. If I were to activate indigenous ways of knowing to directly combat the miseducation of missionary-run schools in post-emancipation Jamaica or the other social and political maneuvers that characterized the craftiness of colonialism, this paper would surely miss the reality of modern-day Jamaica. This reality, begrudgingly known as neo-colonialism or re-colonization, consists of schools run by Jamaicans, a technically “independent” political system and an institution, the International Monetary Fund, that does not claim to be imperialist or colonialist but seems to have learnt a little from the British and United States imperialist adventures. Given all this, plus the expulsion of the British regime in Jamaican, the idea of anti-colonialism seems to be a misnomer. In this circumstance the 195


visual obscures the ideological. However, the, the lack of a Union Jack does not equate to a lack of British or American imperialist thought. Keeping in mind, as Cabral has suggested, that “it is not possible to harmonize the economic and political domination of a people . . . with the preservation of their cultural personality”, I look towards the realm of culture in order to identify the crevices where continuing neo-colonial modes of domination exist (Cabral, 1970, p. 03).


We can no longer imagine indigeneity in Jamaica to be solely related to the Arawak. Although blacks in Jamaica are not considered indigenous (in the strictest use of the word) it is still reasonable to speak of indigenous ways of knowing. Today it is beneficial to think of indigenous knowledge via the island’s black population(s). If we understand indigenous knowledge as being associated with the long-term occupancy of specific lands, then we can see Afro-Jamaicans as possessors of indigenous knowledge because they have lived on the island since the late 1500s. Indigenous knowledge has been defined as “an everyday rationalization that rewards individuals who live in a given locality” (Kincheloe and Semali, 1999, p. 3). It encompasses traditional norms, social values and mental constructs; in essence it is the “sum of experience and knowledge of a given social group” (Dei, 2000, p. 06). More than just an “everyday rationalization”, it is helpful to think of indigenous knowledge as a location of intellectual agency based upon careful observation that is in conversation with nature and is local rather than universal in its claims and disposition. Although indigenous knowledge can be located in various sites, from farming practices to religious traditions, I am particularly interested in the indigenous knowledge found in Jamaican oral culture. As a former slave society, Jamaica is now home to a black population that at one time consisted of many different ethnicities, from Akan to Bantu and Ga-Andangme to Yoruban. The numerous languages of the enslaved peoples in Jamaica eventually synthesized into what we today refer to as Patois/Patwa – a mixture of English, Spanish, Twi, and Yoruba to name but a few. Education in Jamaican slave society was strictly prohibited, resulting in the continued survival of Jamaican patois and a strong oral tradition that housed much of the cultural capital of Jamaica’s African populations. Indigenous knowledge in Jamaica embodies the potential to do more than simply contradict dominant discourses. It can “restore historical agency” (McIsaacs, 2000, p. 99) and allow Jamaicans to restructure their knowledge systems to reflect their local experiences. For example, fables and folkways orally transmitted in Jamaican patois have the potential to not only express reality in the language of the people, but can produce other ways of thinking: alternative understandings. The majority of folklore and poetry produced in Jamaica is in the “nation language” (Kamau Brathwaite’s term for patois),1 ensuring that it relates to the daily experiences of ordinary peoples rather than the kind of alienation we see during 196


earlier periods in Jamaica.2 As has been noted elsewhere, the English language is not neutral; it “produces inequalities by creating subject positions that contribute to their own subjectification” (Pennycook, 1995, pp. 52–53 as cited in IsekeBarnes, 2004, p. 64). In Jamaica the infamous phrase, the “Queen’s English” has come to epitomize the hegemony and production of inequalities inherent in English language use in Jamaica. Through its hegemonic insertion into Jamaica’s linguistic life, Pennycook’s asserts that: . . . language plays a central role in how we understand ourselves and the world and thus all questions of language control and standardization have major implications for social relations and the distribution of power. (Pennycook, 1995, p. 50) This clarifies for us how English language works to make the native believe in a fabricated cultural hierarchy. Nation language destabilizes this attempt; it makes precarious those standards and understandings of oneself that the English language worked hard to produce. In this light it is easy to see that the oral tradition in Jamaica has been a fundamental avenue through which the knowledge essential for survival has been protected. For instance, I am thinking specifically of Anancy/Ansani spider stories that provided examples of how enslaved peoples could carve out a space of freedom through clever manipulations of potentially dangerous situations. In these stories, the weaker and smaller spider often finds ways to escape harm by outsmarting his enemy. These stories are clearly instructive for enslaved and oppressed populations. According to current definitions of indigenous knowledge, folklore, proverbs and poems have been understood as reservoirs of culture (McIsaac, 2000, p. 91). Thus, these proverbs and poems, alluded to at the outset of this essay, form part of the culture which Cabral has positioned as essential to national liberation. As with other forms of indigenous knowledge, the Jamaican oral tradition contains localized rather than universal perspectives, speaks of a relationship with the land, and has a connection to the spiritual realm. A look at the work of the Honourable Ms. Louise Bennett (affectionately known as “Miss Lou”), a poet and folklorist of diasporic and national stature, allows us to make a clear connection between indigenous knowledge and Jamaica’s oral tradition. The locality, or the non-universalizing tendency of Jamaican folklore, a characteristic of indigenous knowledge, is expressed after each story told by Miss Lou. Her “disclaimer of absolute validity” (McIsaac, 2000, p. 94) occurs when she proclaims, “Jack Mandora, mi noh choose nun”. This disclaimer literally means “I take no responsibility for the story I have told” (Bennett, 1979, p. xi), which operates to both loosen the authoritative grip of her work and allows other stories and interpretations to exist. With this disclaimer, the stories told by Miss Lou leave room for multiple ways of knowing, allowing other interpretations to exist and making it possible to work with the epistemological possibilities of indigenous knowledge. All of her work deals with reality in Jamaica, ranging from elections, to city life, to World War II, to relationships. She makes no generalizations about the reality of other countries or cultures. Instead she intertwines 197


proverbs and fables to artistically critiques established regimes of thought via the utilization of indigenous ways of knowing. Accordingly, the centrality of proverbs in Afro-Jamaican indigenous thought is made clear in a piece by Miss Lou entitled “Jamaica Philosophy” where “ole time Jamaica proverbs” “got principles governin thoughts and conducts, an morals an character . . . ” (Bennett, 2003, p. 8). The relationship between Afro-Jamaicans and the land can be found in discourses around the term “yard”, which literally refers to a person’s land and home as well as the nation. Likewise, the term “Yardie” refers to a person of Jamaican descent, usually in the diaspora. In the works of Barry Chevannes and other Jamaican scholars, the “yard” is both a metaphorical and real space where Jamaicans reflect upon their relationship to themselves and others. The opening stanza of Miss Lou’s poem, “Dutty Tough” expresses the Jamaican relationship with the land through metaphorical use of the Twi word for ground, dutty: Sun a shine but tings no bright; Doah pot a bwile, bickle no nuff; River flood but water scarce, yaw; Rain a fall but dutty tough (Bennett, 1982, p. 120) In using the land or the ground as a metaphor for tough financial times, what becomes clear is a deep and personal relationship with the land because it has the ability to reflect the actualities of the people using and living on it. Similarly, a Jamaican proverb reiterates this close relationship; it states that “Grung nebber fesake him massa”, indicating a dependence on the land by the farmer (Anderson and Cundall, 1972, p. 64). This kind of interdependence highlights the ontological foundations of the indigenous knowledge put to use by rural populations in Jamaica who navigate their existence with the land through an intimate and dialectical relationship. The connection between Jamaican culture and the spiritual world, which helps us locate the indigenous aspects of life in Jamaica, is expressed in the patois word “duppy”. Miss Lou’s 1966 poem entitled “Duppy Market” speaks of the way in which Jamaicans interacted with the supernatural world: Wha dat yuh sey, yuh head a-raise? Kibba yuh mout? deh gal Train yuh y?eye, see one long wit-man Side-a Miss Matty stall! But a wat wit-man dah-do een yah Dis hour o? de nite? Dat deh noh mus? duppy Missis? Me dah-pray fe mahnin light! (Bennett, 1966, p. 194) This term dates back to 1774 and refers to the spirit of the dead, which makes explicit an indigenous Jamaican belief in the world of the unseen (Dictionary of Jamaican English, 1980). Although this term originated in Jamaican slave society, 198


it continues to inform contemporary Jamaican life evident through the popularity of the 1970 classic Bob Marley song entitled “Duppy Conquer”. “Duppy Conquer” has become a part of the Jamaican lexicon symbolizing a strong and fearless person and a continued belief in the supernatural world. Thus, the existence and continued prevalence of the term “duppy” points to the axiological foundations of indigenous knowledge in Jamaica. Fables and storytelling are of equal importance to the use of nation language. These oral techniques involve the excavation of memories that operate to heal the spiritual damage of colonialism and re-tell what is missing or misconstrued. A re-telling of the past and the utilization of memories become the fertile ground upon which resistances grow and flourish (Lattas, 1993, p. 250). A re-telling presents the possibility of producing alternative perspectives of the same narrative, an essential element to removing the “civilizing” and distorted narratives of the West. Storytelling also provides intergenerational communication and multiple angles through which to process the postmodern present (Iseke-Barnes, 2004, pp. 46–47).


We cannot think of neo-colonialism in Jamaica without referencing the United States’ Monroe Doctrine. This document has structured the ways in which the United States has intervened in the lives of almost all the countries in the western hemisphere. Proclaimed on December 2, 1823, President Monroe’s Doctrine was designed to keep European powers out of the western hemisphere and establish that European interference in western hemispheric affairs was a threat to national security. This doctrine became more intensely pursued with the death of Jimmy Carter’s “ideological pluralism”, via the inauguration of Ronald Reagan which effectively operated to allow countries the freedom to develop their own ideologies. Reagan’s economic initiatives, a tough economic period unaffectionately referred to as Reaganomics, aggressively attacked the Caribbean basin in an attempt to “regain respect for the United States” through his foreign policy (Libby, 1990, p. 91). Part of this policy included the enforcing of American style free market capitalism through the withholding of United States’ financial aid to countries in the Caribbean. Neo-colonialism in Jamaica remains an interesting creature. The island shifted under the influence of British imperialism to a new kind of American imperialism that rejected the territorial acquisition model of British origin (Davies and Jardine, 2003, p. 153). In the neo-colonial period we see the extraction of wealth through the sale of commodities made possible by the cultivation of markets and desires in Jamaica specifically, and the Caribbean as a whole. A case in point was the 1984 Caribbean Basin Initiative, an explicit attempt to increase US exports to the Caribbean and facilitate the growth of “free markets” through the removal of trade barriers and tariffs (Libby, 1990, pp. 100–101). No longer do we see explicit signs of foreign domination such as the railways that cross many British 199


colonies, nor do we see the imposition of a foreign head of state. This is precisely why neo-colonialism remains a threat as dangerous, if not more so, than pre-1962 British colonialism in Jamaica. The covert nature of this not-so-new operation is made clear in the pages of the United States’ national security strategy, where the old and hegemonic discourses of modernization theory cloak themselves as “political and economic freedom” – the “goals on the path to progress” (Davies and Jardine, 2003, p. 167). In addition to the “political and economic freedom” guise, “aid” also becomes a new way to re-impose colonial domination. At one time “military aid”, as Kwame Nkrumah made clear for us in Neo-Colonialism, was the dominant disguise for neo-colonial intervention (Nkrumah, 1973, p. 320). Today, “multilateral aid” and “development aid” continue the same interventionist projects of colonialism but they operate more in line with the invisible armies of neo-colonialism. Thus, we can trace the expansion of neo-colonialism in Jamaica, or if you like, in the discourses of imperialist America – the “path towards progress”, which ironically coincided with the “liberation of the economy”, after the death of Michael Manley’s democratic socialism experiment, with the dramatic increase in foreign “aid” from the United States. The reward for accepting neo-colonialism (“liberating the economy” is the main form of acceptance) was an incredible 739.7% increase in foreign aid from 1980 to 1984 (Libby, 1990, p. 105). We must be clear on this “reward”; in the form of “aid”, especially “multilateral aid”, it also includes specific stipulations that allow different international organizations access to the “rewarded” country’s policies and plans, direct their economies and set their foreign exchange rates.3 What might this wolf in sheep’s clothing look like in modern day Jamaica? Neo-colonialism in Jamaica lives in the incredible penetration4 of cellular phone companies such as the Irish-owned Digicel and the British-based Cable & Wireless. All this on an island that can be driven through in a day! The continuation of colonialism in Jamaica can also been seen in the board of directors of Digicel Jamaica, where all members except one are not of Jamaican heritage. Foreignowned and primarily foreign controlled, Digicel bears a striking resemblance to Irish plantation owners who controlled parts of the island until the early 20th century. I think I need not draw comparisons of colonialisms (traditional & neo), for the observations of Edward Long are well-documented and his power on the island easily mirrors that of Cable & Wireless today. For example, during a “liberalization phase”, 5.57 million US dollars5 flooded the island. The power of this kind of investment can be seen in the “full liberalization” of the island’s radio frequency spectrum in March 2004. Movie theatres in which all the movies currently showing are neither made by Jamaicans, nor reflect the Jamaican reality, constitute another arena where neo-colonialism lives (The Gleaner, Sunday December 26th, 2004). Neo-colonialism also lives in the island’s tourism sector, where huge multinational non-Jamaica companies such as RIU Hotels and Grupo Iberostar return the majority of their profits to Spain rather than into the local Jamaican economy. Although there are numerous examples of the materiality of neo-colonialism in Jamaica, my interest lies in uncovering how neo-colonialism works on the 200


people at the level of the idea. Baptiste’s notion of a “cognitive imperialism” suggests that something more than just free markets are being created in Jamaica post 1980. Thus, in attending to the something more of neo-colonialism – the cognitive aspect – we need to think beyond the infrastructure, the policies and the politics of neo-colonialism. As the title of this paper suggests, I am particularly interested in thinking through the term anti-neo-colonialism as a way to illuminate the cognitive and ideological processes suggested by Baptiste. Determining the ideological shift in Jamaican common folk-thought requires more than the conventional tools available to a scholar living and working outside of Jamaica. Thus, I look towards popular culture and tourism because of its close relationship with the United States and because it speaks to a significant number of people through its status as popular. Music, advertising and tourism are three prime locations through which to understand the effects of neo-colonialism on Jamaican peoples. In the music industry, a weak Jamaican infrastructure has encouraged emerging artists to seek recording contracts and distribution deals in the United States. Recently, one of the biggest Hip-Hop music labels in the United States, Def Jam, launched new offices in the Caribbean. Thus, Jamaica’s reggae music, for which it has become internationally known, has been affected by the encroachment of American cognitive imperialism. The launch of Def Jam’s Caribbean division (Island Def Jam) is an indication of the success reggae artists in Jamaica have had in the United States (see collaborative compact disc Def Jam Jamaica). We can see the influence of American music in Jamaica through the frequent collaborations between American and Jamaican artists and through the introduction of new words to the Jamaican lexicon. For example, it is now commonplace to use terms such as “jiggy”, a word of Afro-American origin referring to a manner of dress and dance. Other words such as “bling”, a term derived from the Magnolia projects in New Orleans that indicates wealth and prestige can be found in advertisements and everyday speech in Jamaica (Daily Observer, Wednesday December 29th, 2004). Beyond the surface level we can also find the importation of a foreign mindset regarding sex and sexual acts. While talk of sex and sexual acts has become more prevalent in dancehall music since the 1980s, there has always been a stigma attached to performing oral sex,6 a situation owing to the highly religious nature of Jamaican society. This conservative stance is changing; in the most recent songs dancehall lyrics indicate a more liberal stance on the issue.7 This clearly nonJamaican stance on oral sex has been regarded by one staff writer in the Sunday Gleaner as born from an “imported lifestyle” (Reporter, 2004). This “imported lifestyle” has not uniformly influenced the reggae music industry, as many artists such as Beenie Man or Bounty Killer, have not liberalized their stance on oral sex.8 Clearly, the influence of American cognitive imperialism is located at the most unlikely spots in Jamaican culture, and thus requires tireless excavation and analysis of even the most minute crevices of cultural life. A quick look at any local Jamaican newspaper, such as the Observer or the Daily Gleaner reveals that the advertisements speak volumes of neo-colonial 201


rhetoric. For example, if one were interested in attending a movie at Odeon Cineplex or Palace Cineplex, your viewing options would consist of six Hollywood movies that involve no Jamaican actors and are of no relevance to Jamaican life9 (The Gleaner, Tuesday December 28th, 2004). Furthermore, if one cannot immediately afford the movie, the advertisement indicates that credit cards are accepted, encouraging the growth of immediate gratification (we is of course not solely a colonial flaw). If partaking in American culture via the cinema is not enough, one can catch one of three “non-stop flights from Kingston” to Miami any day of the week. Through articles and advertisements in the Daily Observer (V. 11 No. 16, Wednesday December 29th, 2004) we find evidence of the encroachment of American cognitive imperialism. The idea of conspicuous consumption is evident in the article “Mixed Yuletide” by Steven Jackson where he discusses a “last-minute splurge at MegaMart” and reports on the increased sales of non-food items such as footwear, clothing and household goods (Jackson, 2004, B14). Also evident was growth of the idea of immediate gratification as seen through the increasing credit card debt of Jamaicans that has reached $7.4 billion Jamaican dollars (Staff, 2004). For a country built largely upon agricultural income and monocrop culture, patience built on waiting for a crop yield and the subsequent sale of produce, was an essential part of the agricultural lifestyle. Under the guise of “modernization”, the production and stimulation of desires through foreign advertising has encouraged Jamaicans to buy now and pay later, to purchase based on desire rather than need or utility. Tourism, the backbone of the Jamaican economy, is the closest thing to the colonial plantation owner in present-day Jamaica. Huge multinational corporations, such as the Spain-based RIU, extract wealth from the island without stimulating the local economy by re-circulating a significant amount of their profits. Besides importing a significant portion of the food they serve, all-inclusive hotels in Jamaica also facilitate the importation of foreign values and ideas. Workers in these resorts are in daily contact with “foreigners” and, firsthand, witness excessive consumption at buffets and at the bar. It is difficult to determine just how much of what resort workers see is internalized, but we can be sure that by simply witnessing the all-inclusive consumption – worry-free continuous consumption – the native Jamaica’s own ideas regarding consumption are affected. Resorts such as RIU Negril are places where tourists and workers alike are cut off from the rest of the country, so that out of 24 television channels available on the resort, zero are Jamaican. In this circumstance it becomes clear is that the native Jamaican cannot influence (with the same force as the tourist) the interaction between tourist and local dues to their invisibility in certain media. Tours, resorts and tourist sites are undoubted arenas where foreign, and in specifically American, ideas and values enter the country. Existing scholarship on “media imperialism” has already brought into focus for us one of the multifaceted ways in which neo-colonialism operates. Media imperialism has been defined as “the operations in the developing world of transnational news agencies, transnational advertising companies, and conglomerates in print and in the recording industry” (A. Brown, 1995, p. 57). Clearly then, 202


the issue of media imperialism is an extension of the American neo-colonialism project and the cultural dependency theory. Cultural dependency has been conceptualized as a “process in which an exogenous system of meaning and symbols (culture) is learned by another society and their indigenous culture . . . subordinated and demeaned” (H. Brown, 1995, pp. 61–62). This definition has been challenged as being oblivious to the cultural exportations of the Caribbean region as seen especially through music. Hilary Brown (citing Dunn, 1993; Nettleford, 1978, 1993, p. xi, amongst others) has made clear the international success of both Reggae and Calypso music, forcing us to rethink the impact of the dependency theory. Nevertheless, the idea of cultural dependency allows us to think about how culture and ideology are informed by neo-colonial relationships. In the mid 1980s, US television programs reached 76% of Jamaicans (H. Brown, 1995, p. 57). Research conducted on Jamaican students, shows that there existed a positive relationship between high levels of media consumption and a “pro-Foreign sentiment” (H. Brown, 1995, p. 76). Viewed from another angle, erosion of Jamaican national sentiment was positively correlated to the influx of American media. While Aggrey Brown (1995) argues for us not to imagine the Caribbean, through the cultural imperialism lens, as a docile body ready and willing to accept foreign cultural encroachment, it is important that we are cognizant of the production and stimulation of desires that accompany the material products that flood the region. If we understand that in the “process of neo-colonization . . . the individual is an actor in the ongoing formation of his/her subjectivity” (Dei, 2000, p. 43), then the adolescents that took part in Hilary Brown’s study indicate a troubling trend. If the formation of these youth’s subjectivities are increasingly exposed (almost exclusively) to American media how might this affect their subjectivity? One can only imagine the array of values and mores transmitted through radio, television and advertising. These may not all be foreign to Jamaican life, but clearly ideas such as immediate gratification and conspicuous consumption are two quick ways in which one can imagine Jamaican culture to be impacted by American media imperialism. Jamaican sociologist Rex Nettleford has suggested a solution to the problem of media imperialism by developing “a unique and distinctive sensibility, capable of coping with difference without resort to intolerance or deterioration into psychic despair” (Nettleford, 1993, p. ix, as cited in H. Brown, 1995, p. 77). What I find interesting is that Nettleford does not look towards the oral culture of Jamaica, although he is well versed in this type of indigenous knowledge, evident in his editing of Miss Lou’s 1966 publication Jamaica Labrish. Even more interesting is how Hilary Brown, in her study of the impact of American media, used the presence of “West Indian proverbs” as an indication of a lack of cultural dependency (H. Brown, 1995, pp. 77–78). Thus, in a very anti-colonial way, Brown’s study hints at the possibilities of resistance that exist in indigenous knowledges. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, in the classic work Decolonising the Mind, has advanced our thinking around the psychological impact of colonialism. Thiong’o helps us think of the potentialities of indigenous knowledge where Nettleford has failed. Thiong’o, in recognizing the fight needed to protect the native’s psychology, as203


serts that those fighting against neo-colonialism must confront neo-colonialism and “wield . . . the weapons of the struggle contained in their cultures” (Thiong’o, 1986, p. 03). What might these weapons be in Jamaican culture? Use of the “nation language”, fables, folk tales, and proverbs are cultural weapons that contain the necessary “ethnoscience” strategies useful in the battle against neocolonialism. Here I am using “ethnoscience” in a fashion similar to Cajete (2000), meaning “the methods, thought processes, mindsets, values, concepts and experiences” by which Afro-Jamaicans negotiate their knowledge of the natural world (Cajete, 2000 as cited in Battiste, 2000, p. 40). Thiong’o’s focus on language highlights how “language, any language, has a dual character: it is both a means of communication and a carrier of culture” (Thiong’o, 1986, p. 13). In speaking of “borrowed tongues”, Thiong’o makes clear how the colonized has become alienated from him/herself – through the borrowed cultural baggage of these “borrowed tongues” that operate to deny all aspects of the native culture. In Jamaica, the native tongue has borrowed from many cultures, but it is inside the classroom where the Queen’s English effectively discredits the mélange of languages we come to know today as patois. To be successful in Jamaican society once meant one had to borrow the Queen’s tongue, so to speak. Thiong’o’s work is useful for it allows us to think about the other side of neo-colonialism, beyond structural adjustment and import substitution policies. THE PROCESS OF RE-ACTIVATING THE DORMANT AND DISPLACED, OR THE BATTLE TO AVOID “AMPUTATION OF THE PAST”10

The Jamaican oral tradition is a reservoir of cultural capital dating back more than 200 years into slave society. As I have shown, words such as “duppy” and “yard” hold special ideological significance in Jamaican society going back to the late 1700s. In order to assert historical agency, as McIssac has suggested, we must heed Dei’s advice (in working with the Fanonian conception of amputation) to avoid an “amputation” of the past. It is in the past where other ways of knowing lay dormant, buried by the onslaught of American imperialism through advertising, music and tourism. Why have these ways of knowing remained buried and inactive in contemporary society? In what ways can we seek to make these notions and ideas working concepts again? Part of the problem of utilizing indigenous knowledge in Jamaica has been the inability of the nation’s peoples to take their own culture seriously. The folklorist work of Miss Lou has incited considerable laughter, but if we are to see the potentialities in indigenous knowledge and successfully utilize them, a critical gaze is necessary. Although in 1963 Mervyn Morris wrote a piece called “On Reading Louise Bennett Seriously”,11 the problem still persists of Jamaicans not taking themselves and their cultural products as information through which to live their lives. Part of the reason why some proverbs and fables are overlooked in contemporary society is because their characters and themes may no longer accurately represent Jamaican society. For example, there are some who believe the spider hero Anancy/Anansi’s days are over due to the prevalence of video 204


game s and television (Lindsay, 2001). Many proverbs and fables take place in rural settings and involve animals that many contemporary Jamaicans may no longer see or interact with on a regular basis. Likewise, the increasingly urban character of Kingston and the parish of St. Andrew operate to distance many young people from proverbs set in rural areas. The problem of reading Louise Bennett seriously, or taking Jamaican culture seriously, stretches much further than it merely being a matter of topical congruence or relation. At a conference on regional education in Jamaica, attended by two hundred local teachers, the folk hero Anancy/Anansi came under attack as having “caused adverse effects on the minds of many” (Lindsay, 2001). Calls to “ban” Anancy/Anansi were made by these teachers, a vivid example of how to not take Jamaican culture seriously. At play here is more than a concern over Anancy/Anansi’s lack of morals, as rightly pointed out in some Gleaner editorials written in response to the March 18 article,12 for there were no similar calls for the removal of other fictional animation characters, such as Bugs Bunny, that could be seen as lacking morals.13 Keep in mind that Bugs Bunny and other animated characters regularly drop anvils and physically harm one another. Underneath these calls to ban Anancy/Anansi is a deep-seated inferiority complex, especially if it involves anything African. We must ask, as one editorial comment has already posed, “is this call [to ban Anancy/Anansi] another case of the self-devaluation which is part of the legacy of the colonial period” (Lomax, 2001). Nevertheless, for all the self-doubt and inferiorization of the African elements in Jamaican culture, there exist numerous sites of resistance. For example, scholars, dramatists and playwrights have all taken up Anancyism as a “philosophy of survival” that allows one to . . . “tek serious tings mek joke”. It is through the laughter caused by the joke that mechanisms of coping and reflection on the tragedies of the situation take place (Egglestone, 2001, p. 12). Taking one’s culture seriously involves more than a close analysis of the situation at hand; it also requires self-reflection on the ways in which one may be implicated in the situation. If, according to Dei (2000), we can reclaim and challenge local knowledge to “rethink questions pertaining to pedagogy and classroom instruction”, I am confident we can rethink our own subjectivities in society (Dei, 2000, p. 65). It is not enough to simply critically interrogate; we must give primacy to “local epistemologies” in order to de-center western science (Hanlon, 2003, p. 30). How might this be accomplished? If we conceptualize indigenous knowledge through Foucault’s concept of “subjugated knowledge” the project of neo-colonialism can lose its authoritarian grasp in Jamaica. Foucault describes subjugated knowledge as those that have been disqualified as inadequate and which sit low on the hierarchy of knowledge (Foucault, 2003, p. 7). It is the historical knowledge that has been buried and disguised for the benefit of the dominant group. Indigenous ways of knowing in Jamaica, as expressed through proverbs, fables and folktales are subjugated knowledge. Since proverbs, fables and folktales are autonomous because their “validity is not dependent on the approval of the established regimes of thought” (Foucault, 1972, p. 81), they provide vital tools that present alternative visions of society. Notions 205


of consumerism and consumption that pervade contemporary Jamaica stand in stark contrast to the following: Darg hab four foot, but him can’ walk four different pass. (Anderson and Cundall, 1972, p. 41) This proverb literally translates to mean a dog has four feet but can only walk in one direction. This implies that the limits of being human cannot be overcome regardless of the materials we may have on hand: we are bound to the limits of our being. If we consider this proverb vis-à-vis the increased sales in clothing and footwear alongside the abundance of luxury SUVs in Jamaica, the futility of overspending becomes clear and the limitations of consumption are illuminated. The limitations of being human are clear in this proverb and instructive for those bombarded with imperialist ideologies of human progress and human worth. If four legs do not allow the dog to walk in four different directions, having a bigger automobile will not prevent car accidents, just as the purchase of material goods fails to increase one’s wealth. The human condition includes the body as a nonrenewable resource that cannot become renewable under different circumstances, such as through the accumulation of materials. In the face of increasing credit card debt, if we remember the rhyming proverb which states: Man in debt like bird in net, (Anderson and Cundall, 1972, p. 37) the consequences of purchasing on credit can be seen as significantly confining. The loss of the bird’s freedom, as tied to the net of credit card debt, needs little interpretation to become applicable to Jamaican society. In thinking about consumption and the increasing debt that can accompany conspicuous consumption, it is instructive to think of a proverb which instructs us that: Four-foot no always ketch train, or that Half-a-foot dey eberywha. (Anderson and Cundall, 1972, p. 55) Thus, those that think having more, be it material or money, will necessarily bring what one desires, are instructed by the proverb to rethink strategies of “catching a train”? so to speak. If we read the train as symbolizing progress, and “four-foot”14 as those numerous endeavours a nation undertakes to “modernize”, then the seemingly seamless connection between one’s efforts and progress, as espoused by the idea of the protestant work ethic, is placed in doubt. Likewise for those who have very little and believe the rhetoric of capitalism which scorns the poor, the proverb “Half-a-foot-dey eberywha” is instructive for it teaches that people everywhere have faults or crosses to bear. Unlike neocolonial/ capitalist rhetoric, this proverb does not blame those with faults, nor does it instruct one how to become better as is suggested though the marketing of products. It suggests an acceptance of one’s inadequacies as part of life, inadequacies everywhere people exist. Another proverb, “Fisherman neber say him fish ’tink”15 suggests a more critical disposition on the part of those nations who are encouraged to liberalize their markets and are receiving “aid” (Grant, 1917, 206


p. 316). Thinking through a proverb such as this leads to the posing of important questions such as why is the IMF so eager and or interested in restructuring aid packages? This proverb suggests that the rhetoric of neo-colonialism will never say anything to persuade people to believe any notions that are contrary to the positions espoused under neo-colonialism. Thus, the liberalization of markets, the sale of digital spectrum, and the power to purchase via credit cards all support the existing neo-colonial relations. It is not in the interests of foreign companies investing in “Third World” nations to highlight the destructions of cultural folkways or indigenous knowledge, for this may compromise their investment and profit potential. In order to avoid “amputation” of the past, we must resuscitate fables and proverbs that are both instructive for the present while maintaining ties to the past (Dei, 2001, p. 9). Similarly, if we look to stories of the “Ashanti-Spider god” Anancy, a connection to the past becomes immediately clear, as Anancy came out of Ashanti oral history. More importantly, Anancy’s clever maneuvers are instructive to the oppressed who must navigate amongst society’s more powerful groups. For example, in a story called “Anancy an De King Daughta”, the spider hero outsmarts the more prestigious and powerful King as well as the more physically dominating Tookooma (Bennett, 1979, pp. 3–4). Careful consideration of another Anancy fable, “Anancy An Dawg”, shows the potential of these fables to subvert oppressive situations as well as illuminate the need to preserve existing ways of understanding oppression. In the two above mentioned Anancy stories, what becomes clear is a way of understanding one’s subjugation outside of the dominant modes of thought. Because, Anancy has no relationship to American imperialist thought, these stories hold the potential to help us think liberally and potentially subversively, about how to overcome the prevailing systems of oppression. By juxtaposing Jamaican proverbs and fables against American Imperialist thought, what I have tried to do, in a very Nietzschean16 way, is place these two interpretations in competition so that the more relevant and logical interpretation will supercede modern conventions of thought. Anancy is instructive because he sits outside of western thought and thus has little at stake in critiquing the contemporary system of thought in the west. Likewise, Jamaican proverbs are gifts from Jamaica’s rural era; they too have little at stake in contradicting or critiquing western thought. Part of the problem in activating these local knowledges is that the scenarios and settings of these tales and proverbs do not reflect the modern urban capitalist lifestyle of much of Jamaica’s youth. Another problem with attempting to institute these local indigenous knowledges as new systems of thought is that they have been disqualified by the British school system and western thought. In using these local knowledges, contemporary society must overcome the stigma and inferiority purposefully assigned to then by western oppressors. By illuminating Afro-Jamaicans’ 400 year existence on the Spanish and then British controlled island, I have tried to position Afro-Jamaican folk culture as an indigenous culture. Furthermore, I have discussed at length the merits of Jamaican oral culture that provide many clues as to how to think differently – outside of current capitalist/western modes of thought – about Jamaican existence in neo207


colonial relations. In looking at neo-colonialism in Jamaica, I have tried to make clear the crisis that exists in Jamaican culture and the ensuing oppression that has followed the increased desires designed and inserted in the minds of Jamaicans via Western music advertising and tourism. Many of ideas and values of western society stand in stark contrast to Jamaican indigenous knowledges. By juxtaposing these two systems of thought, I have tried to illuminate the inherent bias and potentially oppressive patterns of thought embedded in western thought. In order to effectively utilize indigenous knowledge in Jamaica, we must first take seriously the alternative ways of understanding Jamaican life found in proverbs, folktales and poems. We must be vigilant in challenging western and Jamaican indigenous thought systems, and we must also critically analyze the lessons of yesterday in these proverbs and folktales. Locating American cognitive imperialism requires that we interrogate the crevices of Jamaican life where neocolonialism exists, and continuously question what is at stake in the rhetoric of conspicuous consumption and immediate gratification. In this last stage of imperialism, as Battiste (2000) frames it, what is at stake for Jamaicans is their very freedom of thought, the very ideological pluralism President Reagan worked hard to eliminate. Further analysis is needed of Jamaican proverbs, folktales and other oral folk traditions as they apply to the cognitive imperialism Jamaicans now face. Also, more research is needed to examine the ways in which cognitive imperialism operates as well as the values and ideas embedded in western “free market” ideology that seek to bury indigenous knowledges and continue the destructive trends of neo-colonialism. Thus, if “studyration beat eddication” (Crooks, 1933, p. 142), then careful observation and study of the trends of neo-colonialism is necessary to defuse its educational project which suggests there are “benefits”, “rewards” and “purchasing power” through subscription to “free market” ideology and the use of credit products.17 To dismantle US cognitive imperialism in Jamaica, utilizing indigenous ways of knowing, suggests we follow an indigenous Afro-Jamaican proverb which instructs us to “Tek time, watch ants, [to] see how him mek” (Bates, 1896, p. 39).

NOTES 1 See Brathwaite (1984, p. 13). 2 In particular, I am referring to the time after Jamaica’s independence in 1962. For example, the

Queen’s English could not convey with the same potency the symbolism of a “meager dog”. The dog is a very common metaphor used in rural Jamaican households to denote a variety of both good and bad situations. 3 See Kwame Nkrumah’s Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism for a detailed analysis of the strategies of “aid”. 4 Digicel was surprised by their ability to attract 100,000 users in their first 100 days of operation. Their target was to obtain 100,000 users in their first year of operation. In 13 months of operation they quadrupled this figure (see for more information). 5 This amount was spread between three companies: Cable & Wireless, Digicel and Centennial. See “Jamaica: Minister expects telecoms liberalization to yield investments, choice”, in BBC Monitoring Americas – Political London: March 4, 2003, p. 1.


INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE IN JAMAICA 6 Dancehall star Beenie Man has recorded earlier in his career the phrase “mi naw nyam princess nor queen”, a direct disavowal to performing oral sex on women. 7 See “Dancehall stance shifts on Thorny issue” in The Sunday Gleaner, December 26, 2004, E7. 8 In “King of the Dancehall”, Beenie Man remarks “She fi know di sex limits stop at sixty eight”. In this Beenie Man is referring to his unwillingness to perform certain sexual positions that involve him providing oral sex to his partner. 9 These movies are: “Blade Trinity”, “The Polar Express”, “The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie”, “After Sunset”, “Christmas with the Kranks” and “The Incredibles”. 10 Dei has developed Fanon’s notion of amputation to deal with the loss of culture and cultural tradition. See Fanon, “The Lived Experience of the Black”, in (ed. Robert Bernasconi) Race Oxford, 2001, pp. 184–202 where Fanon refuses to “resign himself to his colour”, he refuses this amputation (p. 200). Also see George Dei, “The ‘Resistance’ to ‘Amputation’: Spiritual Knowing, Transformative Learning and Anti-Racism” presented at Perspectives on Social Inequality: Issues of Race, Class and Gender Worldwide, York University, Toronto September 14, 2001. 11 See Morris (1967). 12 See Pat Roxborough (2001). 13 See Andrew Lomax’s editorial from The Gleaner, March 21st, 2001. Via, accessed on 02/17/05. 14 Four-foot can be read as more than one individual possesses or needing the assistance of another individual. Literally something exceeding the limits of the individual human being. 15 This proverbs translates to “The Fisherman never says his fish stink”. This is to say that Fisherman has a vested interest in selling this product/service and thus will not highlight its unmarketable aspects. 16 I say Nietzschean for I am thinking of Foucault’s reference to the war-like clash between forces that he calls Nietzsche’s hypothesis. See Foucault (2003, p. 16). 17 See Scotiabank’s advertisements for its new Magna MasterCard Credit Card for details of these rhetorical strategies.

REFERENCES Anderson, I. and Cundall, F. (1972). Jamaica proverbs and sayings. Shannon, Ireland: Irish University Press. Baptiste, M. (1986). Micmac literacy and cognitive imperialism. In J. Barman, Y. Hebert and D. McCaskill (Eds.), Indian education in Canada: The legacy. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, Vol. 1, pp. 23–44. Bates, W.C. (1896). Creole folk-lore from Jamaica. I. Proverbs. The Journal of American Folklore, 9(32), 38–42. Battiste, J.Y.H. and M. (2000). What is indigenous knowledge? In Protecting indigenous knowledge and heritage. Saskatoon: Purish, pp. 35–56. Bennett, L. (1966). Jamaica labrish. Kingston: Sangster’s Book Stores. Bennett, L. (1979). Anancy and Miss Lou. Kingston: Sangster’s Book Store. Bennett, L. (1982). Selected poems. Kingston: Sangester’s Book Stores. Bennett, L. (2003). Auntie Roachy Seh. Kingston: Sangster’s Book Store. Brathwaite, E.K. (1984). History of the voice: The development of nation language in Anglophone Caribbean poetry Port of Spain. New Beacon Books, p. 13. Brown, A. (1995). Caribbean cultures and mass communication technology: Re-examining the cultural dependency thesis. In H.S. Dunn (Ed.), Globalization, communications and Caribbean identity. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Brown, H. (1995). American media impact on Jamaican youth: The cultural dependency thesis. In H.S. Dunn (Ed.), Globalization, communications and Caribbean identity. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Cabral, A. (1970). National liberation and culture. (Trans. M. Webster). Syracuse University. Campbell, C. (1993). Social and economic obstacles to the development of popular education in post-emancipation Jamaica 1834–1865. In H. Beckles and V. Sheperd (Eds.), Caribbean free-


CAMPBELL dom: Economy and society from emancipation to the present. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, pp. 262–267. Crooks, K.B.M. (1933). Forty Jamaican proverbs: Interpretations and inferences. The Journal of Negro History, 18(2), 132–143. Davies, C.B. and Jardine, M. (2003). Imperial geographies and Caribbean nationalism: At the border between “A dying colonialism” and U.S. hegemony. The New Centennial Review, 3(3), 151–174. Dei, G. (2000). Local knowledges and educational reforms in Ghana. Canadian & International Education, 29(1), June. Dei, G.J.S., Hall, B.L. and Goldin-Rosenberg, D. (2000). Introduction. In G.J.S. Dei, B.L. Hall and D. Goldin-Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 3–17. Dictionary of Jamaican English (2 edn.) (1980). New York: Cambridge University Press. Egglestone, R.M. (2001). A philosophy of survival: Anancyism in Jamaica pantomine. Paper presented at the Society for Caribbean Studies Annual Conference Papers. Fanon, F. (1967). Toward the African revolution. (Trans. H. Chevalier). New York City: Grover Press. Foucault, M. (1972). Two lectures. Lecture one: 7 January 1976. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977 by Michel Foucault. New York: Pantheon Books, pp. 78–108. Foucault, M. (2003). 7 January 1976. In M. Bertani and A. Fontana (Ed.), Society must be defended: Lectures at the College de France, 1975–1976. New York: Picador, pp. 1–22. Grant, C.F. (1917). Negro proverbs collected in Jamaica, 1887. Folklore, 28(3), 315–317. Hanlon, D. (2003). Beyond the English method of tattooing: Decentering the practice of history in Oceania. The Contemporary Pacific, 15(1), 19–40. Iseke-Barnes, J.M. (2004). Politics and power languages: Indigenous resistance to colonizing experiences of language dominance. Journal of Thought, 39(1), 45–81. Jackson, S. (2004). Mixed yuletide. Business Observer, 11(10), B1, B14, Wednesday December, 29th. Kincheloe, J.L. and Semali, L.M. (1999). What is indigenous knowledge and why should we study it? In J.L. Kincheloe and L.M. Semali (Eds.), What is indigenous knowledge? Voices from the Academy. New York: Falmer Press. Libby, R.T. (1990). The United States and Jamaica: Playing the American card. Latin American Perspectives, 17(1), 86–109. Lindsay, P. (2001). Ban Anancy. Jamaican Gleaner, 20010408/letters/letters20010401.html, accessed on Feb 20010416, 20012004. Lomax, A. (2001). Letters of the day in defence of Brer Anancy. Jamaica Gleaner,, accessed on Feb 20010316, 20012004. Morris, M. (1967). On reading Louise Bennett seriously. Jamaica Journal, 1(1), December. Nkrumah, K. (1973). Revolutionary path. London: Panaf Books. Reporter, S. (2004). Dancehall stance shifts on thorny issue. The Sunday Gleaner, E7, December 26. Roxborough, P. (2001). Ban ‘Anancy’ – teachers. Jamaica Gleaner, (Internet), March 18., accessed on 02/17/05. Scott, D. (1999). Refashioning futures: Criticism after postcoloniality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Staff (2004). Credit card debt at $7.4-billion. Business Observer, 10B–11B, Wednesday December 29th. Thiong’o, N. w. (1986). Decolonizing the mind: The politics of language in African literature. London: Portsmouth.




We need a new understanding of what it means when we talk of world development, global transformation and social justice for all humanity. We must begin to learn, to rethink, to reconceptualize and deconstruct the hegemonic ideas of development and the development process (Dei, 1993, p. 18) As Kwara‘ae villagers often say, ‘I want a rural development model that will help me do something for myself here in the village, because this is where I am going to live and die’ (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 401)

How are international “development” workers – and, in turn, hegemonic international “development”, itself – (re)produced in the North? Within the context of an anti-colonial discursive framework, is it possible to conceptualize an anti-colonial “development”? If so, what features would shape it? What would it look like in praxis? This chapter works with these questions in its exploration of the different worlds of “development”. Using a broad comparative approach analyzing two programs involving youth and “development”, the overarching aims of this essay are threefold: to critically interrogate hegemonic “development”, to consider the theoretical and applied possibilities of an anti-colonial “development” and to discuss the implications of this work, with particular attention to the applied context of a Northern undergraduate training program for future international “development” professionals. This work is informed by anti-racist and anti-colonial discursive scholarship, critical development theory, postdevelopment scholarship and my own insights and reflections as someone who is located squarely within the Northern international “development” community. At the outset, it is important to mention the conceptual and semantic limitations and complexities in the use of the term “development”. For the sake of convenience and understanding, and for lack of a better term, it is used in this essay. Single quotations are employed throughout this introduction and implied throughout the body of this text to remind the reader of both its faulty foundations and conceptual limitations. This is at once a personal and political project. It marks my ongoing interrogation of the international “development” industry and my own participation G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 211–242. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


in it and represents a cross-sectional snapshot of my continuing thinking about how best to incorporate anti-racist and anti-colonial practice into my own life and work. This is a “coming of age” story, in a sense, part of a personal “taking stock”, an assessment of my own contradictions. A White1 woman from a working class background in Thunder Bay, I am no stranger to the benefits of racial privilege, both in everyday life and via the ongoing colonization and oppression of the nations and bodies of the South in which the international “development” sector is embedded. As a younger educator and Northern development worker, my skin tone afforded me opportunities to live and work in places like Ramallah, Palestine (summer, 2001), Chiang Mai, Thailand (1999–2000), Asmara, Eritrea (1994–1996), Monteverde, Costa Rica (1994) and Tokyo, Japan (1989–1990), not to mention numerous short “field visits” in my current position. For the past five years I have been coordinating a program in development studies with an international co-operative component (hereafter referred to as the “Development Studies Program”) at a major Canadian postsecondary institution, which, for the purposes of this paper, shall be referred to as Clareholm University. Although I have deliberately “stayed here” in Canada for the past five years (it would have been much easier to give myself over once again to the allure of Memmi’s worryfree, profitable, glamorous and, even moral, overseas lifestyle in spaces of the South), I will be clear that I make no claim to innocence in my current location. As my role involves identifying, negotiating and monitoring 8–12 month co-op work placements in spaces of the South, I am still clearly implicated in my current level of participation in the international “development” industry. In some ways my current participation is worse in its support and facilitation of the mass production of future “development” workers. For the same reason, my current location strikes me as an effective site at which to interrupt global racial domination – at its institutionalised, intellectual roots.


Setting the Discursive Context It will be helpful here to briefly consider dominant development discourses and the mechanisms that quietly support them in maintaining, upholding and perpetuating racial privilege in the international development power dynamic, in both spaces of the North and South. Here I work with Tucker’s (1999, p. 1) definition of the development discourse as: part of an imperial process whereby other peoples are appropriated and turned into objects. It is an essential part of the process whereby the “developed” countries manage, control and even create the Third World economically, politically, sociologically and culturally. It is a process whereby the lives of some peoples, their plans, their hopes, their imaginations, are shaped by others who frequently share neither their lifestyles, nor their hopes nor their values. The 212


real nature of this process is disguised by a discourse that portrays development as a necessary and desirable process, as human destiny itself. Development discourses are at work on multiple levels to organize the way in which we come to know ourselves, as individuals and as Canadians. As Barbara Heron notes in her doctoral study of White Northern female development practitioners, “development workers ‘commitment’ to development is even more the effect of the ongoing legacy of the formation of a white, middle class in the era of empire and the always-incomplete process of the making of white bourgeois selves” (1999, p. 91, italics in original). It is difficult to resist the ubiquitous, compelling and overwhelmingly accessible “nation-producing narratives of [Canadians as] ‘good guys’ of the world” (Heron, 1999, p. 221). To take a recent dramatic example, these self-aggrandizing narratives have been evident in our self-portrayal of the Canadian response to the Asian tsunami of late December 2004, as reflected in mainstream media, politics, civil society and common parlance. Buying into dominant, self-congratulatory narratives of ourselves as compassionate, caring, model international citizens results in “an identity that is profoundly racially structured” (Razack, 2002, p. 155). In this way, we construct ourselves as open-hearted, generous and socially conscious people “who are called upon to look after . . . the uncivilized Other” (ibid., p. 155). As Césaire points out, this is an “extremely valuable hierarchy” (1972, pp. 54–55); after all, as we will see in the context of hegemonic international development, it positions we Northern development practitioners as the beneficiaries of a world of opportunities for ourselves in laudable and prestigious careers and lifestyles. Inherent to this almost imperceptible notion of racial superiority, are discourses of “help” popularized in the language of Canadian international engagement. Volunteer sending agencies, and the broader development sector in which they are situated, at once depend upon, cultivate and support notions of the hapless/helpless South while securing our self-depicted innocence and superiority as “saviours”. In a related analysis of Canadian international peacekeeping, Razack (2004, p. 55) makes an important point: the paradigm of saving the Other . . . precludes an examination of how we have contributed to their crises and where our responsibility lies. It is a paradigm that allows us to maintain our own sense of superiority. With its emphasis on pity and compassion, saving the Other can be a position that discourages respect and true belief in the personhood of Others. Heron (1999, pp. 225–226) makes explicit the pervasiveness, centrality and normalization of the racial assumptions that underpin development work: From informing our planetary consciousness, to giving meaning to our obligation to intervene elsewhere in the world, to producing our views of the Other as available for amelioration and social relations, to generating our desire for these relations, racialized assumptions circulating in Northern discourse are rendered so normal as to be undetectable by white subjects. 213


The Machinery of Difference Borne along by the colonialist apparatus, they do every day in reality what they condemn in fantasy. (Memmi, 1965, p. xxv) An anti-colonial discursive framework “acknowledges the role of societal/institutional structures in producing and reproducing endemic inequality” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 300). It is informative to make explicit a few examples from the host of supporting mechanisms that works to enforce dominant discourses of innocence, morality and “help”, holding them firmly in place. This will serve to emphasize the degree to which mainstream development and its messages almost imperceptibly permeate spaces of the North and South, virtually unquestioned. The media are consistently identified as perpetuating, legitimizing and affirming racial domination in the most subtle and insidious manner. Heron (1999, p. 69) notes that: “the media have been effective in repeatedly demonstrating that the Third World remains a place of . . . terror and chaos (for the White man), and is therefore in need of rescue from itself”. In “Teaching Community”, bell hooks speaks to the power of conservative mass media’s insistence that Otherness must be acknowledged, hunted down and destroyed: “The voice of dominator hegemony was heard around the world via the lessons taught by imperialist, White-supremacist capitalist patriarchal mass media . . . the world outside was busily teaching people the need to maintain injustice, teaching fear and violence, teaching terrorism” (2003, p. 8). This theme echoes now more than ever, especially in light of the Bush administration’s post 9/11 global directives. hooks reminds us that “no one, no matter how intelligent and skilful at critical thinking, is protected against the subliminal suggestions that imprint themselves on our unconscious brain if we are watching hours and hours of television” (ibid., p. 11). Public institutions overwhelmingly support the same racialized assumptions, with their unquestioningly high value placed upon Euroamerican knowledge and the positivist science in which it is grounded. hooks points to the academy as one example. As bell hooks points out, “if we examine critically the traditional role of the university in the pursuit of truth and the sharing of knowledge and information, it is painfully clear that biases that uphold and maintain white supremacy, imperialism, sexism, and racism have distorted education so that it is no longer about the practice of freedom” (1994, p. 29). These racialized assumptions are also passed along via socialization. It is difficult to argue against the virtue or morality of helping those in need or those less fortunate than ourselves. These common social values of community service are woven through families, religious groups and secular communities the world over. It is when these moral values (with their accompanying notions of pity, compassion and superiority) converge, unproblematized, with the Southern landscape, that a troublesome dynamic can result. Finally, it is also important to note that these discourses and mechanisms may be equally upheld and enforced in spaces of the South. Sardar points out that “. . . Eurocentrism is not simply out there – in the West. It is also in here, the non-West. 214


The West has colonized the intellectuals in non-European societies . . . intellectuals, academics, writers, thinkers, novelists, politicians and decision-makers in Asia, Africa and Latin America use the West, almost instinctively, as the standard for judgements and as the yardstick for measuring the social and political progress of their own societies. The non-West thus promotes Eurocentrism, both wittingly and unwittingly, and colludes in its own victimization as well as in maintaining the global system of inequality” (p. 44). So we see that “racism is built into the system” (Memmi, 1965, p. xxiii). Case Study One: (Re)Producing Development One protector sends [her], another welcomes [her], and [her] job is already waiting for [her]. (Memmi, 1965, p. 46) Northern conceptualizations and practice of international development are thriving in contemporary times and the Development Studies Program at Clareholm University could easily be viewed as a microcosm of both the Northern-driven development sector and, more broadly, North-South geopolitical power relations. Comfortably located in a prestigious and well-resourced Northern postsecondary institution, this élite program has a restricted entry of 20 students per year and is recognized as the undergraduate “training grounds” for future international development professionals. The curriculum, which is unique in Canada, is interdisciplinary and features courses in both technical (water, soil, forestry) and social (anthropology, political science, economics) aspects of development, along with a language and culture requirement and an applied course in project management. In setting up the curriculum in this manner twenty years ago, the thinking was that it would facilitate the production of well-rounded generalists who could speak intelligently to “either side of the field”. In the fourth year of study (of five in total), as part of the program requirements, Development Studies students undertake an 8 to 12 month co-op work placement in a “development setting”, under the shared auspices of the University, a partner organization (a Canadian NGO, research institute, United Nations agency or World Bank group) and in most cases also a local (in-country) partner organisation. Throughout the years, these placements have been co-financed by the University through a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the respective Canadian or international NGO program partners. Basic living costs are covered by the Development Studies Program and participants continue to be regarded as fulltime students of Clareholm University during the placement year overseas. In addition to working within some aspect of international development, twenty per cent of the time spent overseas is allocated to a research component; all Development Studies students are required to complete a fifth-year seminar course and thesis in conjunction with their placement experience. Placements have occurred in over 75 countries. Program graduates go on to work in international and community development in Canada and around the world. While students do not acquire professional accreditation, per se, from this program, they do receive a desig215


nation of “Specialist Certification in International Development Studies” on their transcripts. A complete critique of the Development Studies Program, student motivations and attitudes, curriculum and faculty demographics and perspectives, would make for a separate undertaking, or, at the very least, a much larger paper, and will not be addressed in any depth here. Neither do I endeavour to explore the perspectives of our Canadian, Southern or local program partners. Rather, this is a reflective case study grounded in five years of experiences and observations working with the program. With a focus on the international co-op placement aspect of the program, this case study provides the beginnings of a framework for understanding the structural persistence of racial domination via hegemonic international development and points to both the absurdity and irony of the sector’s proclaimed goals of striving for global social justice and equity for all. While I locate the Development Studies Program soundly in the middle of contemporary development discourses discussed earlier, I will be clear from the outset that I find blanket critical standpoints problematic; as in the broader sector, every year I see instances of positive placements in which local placement supervisors report that students make meaningful and substantive contributions to locally-initiated and -driven projects, within the existing hegemonic model. This is evidenced in the fact that the students are frequently hired directly back by the local organisation at a local salary upon graduation from the program. Moreover, I recognise the degree to which international development is entrenched in the global infrastructure, and acknowledge that it is not about to disappear overnight. Finally, it could be argued that NGOs are taking up issues of Northern complicity by dealing with situations in the South that are otherwise being completely neglected, or only symbolically attended, by governments of the North, such as the HIV/AIDS issue in Africa and its resulting impacts. However, none of this is to say that the program (or the sector) is beyond critical interrogation; I raise these points here to highlight the importance of nuanced discussion. The Development Studies Program both avails itself of existing inequalities between societies and feeds into them. The degree to which privilege is assumed is evident in the fact that no one questions that undergraduate development studies students from the North (irrespective of their purity of intent or level of education, experience or interest) have the universal right to intervene in spaces of the South. Heron (1999, pp. 67–68) asserts that “concepts of superiority, such as inhere in the modernization paradigm, authorize Northern intervention in the ‘Third World”’. This assumed sense of global entitlement and authority to engage with the terrain of the South, on Northerners’ terms, is in clear evidence in this undergraduate program and spills into attitudes prevalent in a whole camp of professional international development workers, who quite simply view a short-term (2–3 year) volunteer stint in Sierra Leone, Indonesia or El Salvador, as just another contract that they are fulfilling as a teacher, an engineer or a physiotherapist, perhaps between jobs back home; in other words, the world is viewed as the Northerner’s employment marketplace. “Framed within discourses of borderlessness and benevolence”, the Southern placement experience allows Northern youth to 216


produce themselves as respectable moral citizens while rationalizing their own positionality and resulting complicity (Nestel, 2002, p. 244). It is these discourses of innocence, morality and goodness which allow international development practitioners “to defer any implication in the North-South relations of global inequity” (ibid., p. 244). The Development Studies Program can be characterized as unidirectional and quite literally, top-down, in that it involves sending students from the North to spaces of the South, with no reciprocal arrangement.2 While it is important to problematize the categories of “North” and “South” here (of course neither is finite, essentialized, homogeneous or completely separate and distinguishable from the other) it is important to note that the Development Studies Program functions exclusively North-South, in the tradition of the dominant sector and the larger power dynamic in which it is comfortably nestled. It would seem that one way to combat the dominance inherent in the unidirectionality within the context of the Development Studies Program at Clareholm University would be to prioritize the diversification of the student body. While it has to be said that Development Studies students are a heterogeneous bunch in terms of gender/race/ethnicity/nationality/language/sexuality/religious background and other dimensions, this diversity encompasses a scant 10–15% of the student demographic; the overwhelming majority of students in the program are White and female. Possibilities for recruiting Southern nationals into the Development Studies Program are limited by global economic realities and birthright; at the time of writing, subject to approval by the university’s governing council, it is expected that tuition and other required University fees for the Fall and Winter Sessions of 2005–2006 will be approximately $16,770 for international students. With health insurance, the total fees for international students will be approximately $17,302. The addition of co-op fees each term will bring the total closer to $18,000. Moreover, there are huge conceptual challenges to attracting minoritized, racialized students, from Canada or elsewhere, to a program that many would consider problematic in principle. Even if diversity were to be ameliorated within the student demographic of the Development Studies Program at Clareholm University, I have informally observed that all of the students in the program, irrespective of their subject locations here in Canada, take on attributes of the dominant while undertaking co-op work placements in the South, simply via their positionalities in hegemonic “development” It should be noted that the ways in which minoritized students engage said positionality may vary from those of the dominant). Future research would confirm both hypotheses. It is informative to briefly consider the nature of the placement process. The beginning of the placement process is formally signalled in April of the second year, when I meet with the second-year cohort to provide an overview of the process, conduct a résumé workshop and assign pre-tasks for the summer. In September of the third year, there is another group placement meeting, including a fifth-year panel and peer-conferencing of “master” cover letters and résumés. I 217


also schedule one-hour individual meetings with students to talk about their ideas about development, what they hope to learn on placement, their placement preferences in terms of region(s) and sector(s), organizations of interest, future career goals and other considerations. I take this opportunity to challenge any racialized assumptions about development that emerge and check expectations generally. That said, the program and our NGO partners do their best to accommodate student preferences in what is increasingly seen as a highly tailored and “serviceoriented” environment, a theme to which I will return a bit later. Throughout the fall months, several of the program’s major NGO partners conduct employer briefings for the third-year pre-placement cohort, in which they typically present an overview of their organization’s history, development philosophy and approach, core regions and sectors of focus and provide details of their particular recruitment process and any possibilities for the upcoming year. Throughout the fall months and the entire academic year, the program collectively submits interested students’ cover letters and résumés to partners in Canada and around the world through program networks. Placements are arranged through a dynamic group of program partners, mostly, but not exclusively, Canadian volunteer-sending agencies and other NGOs involved in development work in the Global South. The approach to placing students varies from organization to organization. Some partners work in an openly-acknowledged “supply-led” fashion; that is, head offices in Canada will approach overseas country offices, who will, in turn, approach existing or potential local partner organisations to explore whether there might be a “match” between a student’s background and interests and a local partner’s needs or existing projects. When an initial match is identified, a detailed placement description is then worked up to correspond to the student’s résumé. In other cases, country offices or their local partner organisations work from an existing position description (intended for a 2–3 year contract for a professional development worker) and “relax it for an intern”, adjusting it to an appropriate level of skill and experience. For yet other partners, absolutely no differentiation is made between Development Studies students and mainstream applicants; in effect, the students’ applications are viewed in direct comparison with the whole pool of applicants from Canada, North America, or the world. These are just a few examples of how different program partners approach the placement process. As in the broader field, the international co-op work placements oftentimes allow Northern students to take on expansive professional experiences, sometimes far beyond their level of training. In the current placement year, for example, while overseas, two Development Studies students were “thrown into” the positions of Assistant Country Director and Acting Country Director, respectively, for major international NGOs. Such positions would be absolutely beyond the realm of possibility for undergraduate students seeking international employment through normal channels. On some occasions an overseas placement student will report to the Program that she is experiencing what she perceives as a difficult or challenging placement; perhaps her supervisor has little time or her role is somewhat vague. In following 218


up on such complaints with contacts in the Canadian or local NGO, it sometimes emerges that the local partner organization agreed to take the student on in order to maintain positive relations with the NGO’s country office or Canadian-based head office, the source whence funds flow; in this way, the student unwittingly becomes caught up in the intricate web that is the international development power dynamic. When Development Studies students encounter resistance to their presence from local colleagues, they sometimes position themselves as victims of “racism” or “reverse racism” which makes clear to me that they have insufficient understanding of the nature of this dynamic, their positionality in it, or their lack of neutrality and innocence. In most cases, it can be safely said that the benefits students amass on the placement year abroad far outweigh their contributions. Students in the Development Studies Program are consistently well-rounded and high-calibre and almost all have had some prior exposure to life in the South. For most, however, the international co-op work placement is students’ first entry-level professional experience, not to mention that it takes place in a different cultural context and provides perhaps the first glimpse of working within the embrace of one or more institutions. In other words, much learning is taking place. Without embodied knowledge of the local context, students and employers alike recognize that students’ capacity is limited (there are, of course, exceptions in which students are returning to their home country for placements; these placements carry with them different sets of perceptions and issues). Some of the students do recognize this and have pointed out, uncomfortably, that many local people could be doing the jobs they are doing, and in fact, could be doing them much better. There are inherent tensions in this work aspect, on all sides. From the perspective of the local employer (and/or in-country field office/Canadian NGO), some type of substantive outcome is normally expected – after all, they have gone to the trouble of identifying a role, developing a job description, training, orienting and supervising the student and paying some type of salary. Fee-paying students, on the other hand, can have very set ideas about what they want to “get out of the experience”, which do not always mesh with the thinking of their local employers. This fundamental incongruence can lead to some rather unpleasant outcomes. Moreover, even for those students with whom both the local organization and placement partner are extremely pleased, it is difficult to ascertain whether students’ work has contributed to locally-defined and -articulated visions of development. It is informative to examine the benefits accrued by students from the Northern Development Studies Program engaging in spaces of the South. Albert Memmi said back in 1965 that: “the idea of privilege is at the heart of the colonial relationship – and that privilege is undoubtedly economic” (1965, p. xii). The need to reproduce such privilege has been demonstrated through history. It is not an exaggeration to say that the development studies program is steeped in privilege and contributes to the perpetuation of a system of global inequities. The notion of “profit” is central to these international co-op work placements. In the most literal sense, while students’ earnings on placement would be, by Northern standards, considered a modest monthly stipend or living allowance, it is important to note 219


that they are oftentimes quite generous by local standards, particularly in the context of the local employment and pay rates as well as students’ aforementioned lack of embodied knowledge and limited work experience. Additionally, depending on the NGO partner, students may be provided with generous pre-departure allowances to equip themselves and/or resettlement allowances upon completion of their contracts, proportionate to their length of “service”, which are intended to facilitate their re-entry into the North. Further, students’ investment in this shortterm co-op placement experience, at a local salary, ensures grander international salaries later in their careers, should they choose to pursue this path. Linked to “profit” is the notion of career development. To begin, the international co-op work placements open doors to worlds that an average undergraduate student could never dream of accessing, such as: a refugee camp in rural Tanzania, indigenous communities on the most remote islands of Timor Leste, a women’s organization in Lebanon, rural Western Kenyan farmers’ homes and farmlands, a UN office in Sarajevo and an indigenous research centre in the Perúvian Amazon, to name just a few examples from recent years’ placements. But beyond time spent in “exotic” locations in faraway places, students derive a lot of discursive mileage out of their co-op work placement experiences which extends well beyond the placement. Upon emerging from their undergraduate degrees, they possess: a year of international work experience in a Southern setting with a major Canadian NGO, whole sets of project management skills, demonstrable language and intercultural communication abilities and sometimes even specialized technical skills, such as soil fertility testing, social research or environmental impact assessment, to name a few. Together these cumulative rewards have a high value back here at home, and together with strong personal references, are held in high accord by potential employers and graduate programs’ selection committees, who often adhere to the dominant development discourses discussed earlier. Among observers here in Canada/the North, the overseas placement experience tends to ensure that Development Studies’ graduates’ résumés land on the top of the pile. The overseas experience evokes a curious and admiring, almost reverent or nostalgic feeling among prospective employers/graduate supervisors, who view these youths’ experiences in spaces of the South as noble, even brave, something they perhaps wish they could have done when they were younger. The on-thejob training that the international co-op placements provides serves to build the young Northerner’s résumé, and in turn, I would argue, in tracking graduates’ activities on our alumni database, results fairly consistently in increased economic opportunity upon return to the North. Additionally, co-op students automatically gain access to the Development Studies alumni network of 200+ development professionals, which translates into instant access to insider networking and professional opportunities in the sector for promising young graduates. At a very young age (mid- to late-twenties, for example) it is not atypical for young alumni to be holding down professional-level (managerial) posts in the development sector, both here at home and internationally, jumpstarted, in many cases, by the international co-op experience and networking benefits of this program. 220


The Southern placement experience also offers students an opportunity to undertake a piece of original research in the South, which in turn, occasionally allows some of them to (co-)publish before graduating from their first degrees, and consistently furnishes all students with research, analysis and writing skills and experience that are considered an asset in applying to graduate programs. It is important to note that, while they are briefed on research issues and, under select faculty members’ initiative, are sometimes required to submit a detailed research proposal from overseas and obtain consent forms from participants, students do not undertake the stringent formal ethical review processes required by Clareholm University. Memmi’s words still ring true today in his description of the European pursuing a career in Africa, setting out on “a voyage toward an easier life” (Memmi, 1965, p. 3). In addition to partaking of local socializing as part of all that the placement experience has to offer (female students readily availing themselves of the “honourary male role” that their outsider status may afford them, in many cases), students in major centres sometimes dabble in the Western expatriate social scene, whether it is the Australian Club swimming pool in Vientiane or Lusaka nightclubs. They also describe meeting up over [Northern, Christian] holidays with other students in the same region to celebrate together in the manner of international jetsetters. Almost all entertain visiting family, friends and/or partners from back home at some point over the course of their placements, some playing host to a steady stream of visitors. As Heron points out in her discussion of “the euphoric effects of whiteness” in a related context: there is a carnivalesque fabulousness that permeates participants’ accounts of experiences in the overseas context, and that essentially accrues to us because of the privileges and status of whiteness. In the words of Memmi: ‘. . . daily one experiences [his or her] power and importance’. (1963, p. 2) (1999, p. 171) Students also reap what could be termed psychological or moral benefits from the placement year abroad. Memmi wrote: I have seen many immigrants [to Algeria and Tunisia] who, having recently arrived, timid and modest, suddenly provided with a wonderful title, see their obscurity illuminated by a prestige which surprises even them. Then, supported by the corset of their special role, they lift up their heads, and soon they assume such inordinate self-confidence that it makes them dizzy. (1965, p. 47) Following their overseas placement experience, students return to the University with renewed (or newfound) confidence, having succeeded in their mission, conquered their space in the South and benefited tremendously from the encounter. As is asserted in Heron’s study, development workers’ “self-confidence is a sign that we are positioning ourselves as dominant” (1999, p. 235). As has been demonstrated here, individual students direct these colonizing encounters to a great extent; in effect, they are made-to-order Southern experiences, which reduce Southerners to mere pawns in a large international game with predetermined winners. Although it is difficult to observe or measure with any degree 221


of accuracy, it is possible to speculate that the rewards experienced by Southern host colleagues or communities do not compare with those experienced by Northern participants or are negligible. As Sheryl Nestel (2002, pp. 249–250) notes in a related discussion, “This unequal exchange is at the heart of transnational logic. ‘Whether the gift is worth the price for which the receiver has to pay’, Minh-ha T. Trinh has commented, ‘is a long term question which not every gift giver asks”’. Nestel argues that to do so “would unveil the reigning ‘mystique of reciprocity”’, revealing that the development worker’s innocence is no more than an illusion (ibid., p. 250). The Development Studies Program is a complicated site in which to encourage students to problematize their positionalities and to introduce any new ideas, including anti-racist and anti-colonial discursive frameworks, indigenous knowledges and alternative models of development (nevermind alternatives to development). As hooks so aptly notes, “the primary goals of institutions are to sell education and produce a professional managerial class schooled in the art of obedience to authority and accepting of dominator-based hierarchy” (2003, p. 20). The whole notion of student as consumer is predominant in the Development Studies Program, even heightened because, on top of regular tuition, students pay a substantial co-op fee each term. Because of this, students feel they have a “say” in what their curriculum and programming should involve; in effect, to introduce new ideas into either domain (but perhaps especially non-academic dimensions of the program), there almost has to be “buy in” from the students. If any element of the learning that students encounter in their formal or nonformal curricula (e.g. pre-departure preparation) does not appeal to their sensibilities, they have the ultimate power to change or eliminate it, and are unafraid to go to the highest levels of authority at Clareholm University to do so. As hooks put it, “colleges and universities rely on students ‘buying’ the commodity ‘courses’ to survive” (2003, p. 4). As a result, the challenging of dominant development discourses almost has to occur in a way that is palatable to the student-consumer, so that it is perceived to have some direct relevance to their placement experience. Part of a larger trend in higher education, international experiences in the South for Northern undergraduate students have become commodified units of education that are part and parcel of the rights-based consumer culture of Canadian students. This is obviously highly problematic; moreover, it results in a tricky atmosphere in which to introduce different ways of thinking about development that, in some cases, directly challenge young people’s ideas about self, nation and world. PART 2 – A VIEW FROM THE SOUTH: A CONSIDERATION OF AN ANTI-COLONIAL DEVELOPMENT

In this section, I explore the theoretical and applied possibilities of an anti-colonial development, as conceptualized in this analysis. Here, I discuss the major themes which emerge from an analysis of four foundational and contemporary anticolonial texts; namely, The Wretched of the Earth (Fanon, 1963), The Colonizer and the Colonized (Memmi, 1965), Discourse on Colonialism (Césaire, 1972) and 222


The Power of Social Theory: The Anti-Colonial Discursive Framework (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). These texts were selected on the basis of their prominence and reflection of the spectrum of early and modern anti-colonial thought. Working with these themes, I conceptualise some broad dimensions of an anti-colonial development. Following this brief theoretical section, these dimensions will be brought to life through an analysis of Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo’s (2002) contemporary case study of the `Oka village youth group. Please refer to the bibliography here and see the original article for a full discussion of this fascinating case. Dimensions of an Anti-Colonial Development As a starting point, each of these four anti-colonial works centres and analyzes the colonial question. Memmi, Fanon and Césaire write in “classical” colonial contexts (that is, from the location of national struggles for independence from Europe), with a clear image of the colonizer at hand; similarly, Dei and Asgharzadeh firmly situate the anti-colonial discursive framework in the context of the colonial experience, as “an epistemology of the colonized”, rooted in “the indigenous sense of collective and common colonial consciousness” (2001, p. 300). I work here with Dei and Asgharzadeh’s conceptualization of colonial as including: “all forms of dominating and oppressive relationships that emerge from structures of power and privilege inherent and embedded in our contemporary social relations . . . colonial is defined, not simply as foreign or alien, but more importantly as dominating and imposing” (ibid., p. 308). This definition resonates with all of the texts analyzed. Tied to the centrality of the colonial question, and coming through strongly in all four major works analyzed, is a strong emphasis on historical processes, most importantly colonialism and imperialism, and the desire to reclaim and reinterpret these histories from alternative perspectives, namely, those of the colonized. All four works serve to “name” colonialism, make explicit its effects and implications and, in so doing, bring the processes of history under scrutiny and serve them up for critical examination and re-claiming. I take up Dei and Asgharzadeh’s conceptualization of imperial as “political/institutional structures that sustain the relations of domination” (2001, pp. 300–301). An interesting subtheme within the centrality of the colonial question that bears mentioning is the dynamic that exists between colonizer and colonized, which is both explicitly and implicitly addressed in each of the four works analyzed. Memmi, Césaire and Fanon not only dedicate a substantive amount of space to the effects of colonization on the colonizer (I return to this theme below), they also discuss and allude to the material and psychological effects of the nature of the relationship and, particularly, the ways in which colonizer and colonized are bound together. Memmi’s description of the “alliance” between colonizer and colonized, in his “portrait of the colonizer”, remains remarkably applicable to the broad geographical areas of North and South today, forty years on: He finds himself on one side of a scale, the other side of which bears the colonized man. If his living standards are high, it is because those of the colonized 223


are low; if he can benefit from plentiful and undemanding labour and servants, it is because the colonized can be exploited at will and are not protected by the laws of the colony; if he can easily obtain administrative positions, it is because they are reserved for him and the colonized are excluded from them; the more freely he breathes, the more the colonized are choked. (1965, p. 8) Dei and Asgharzadeh work with the constant presence of the colonizer as informing and shaping the colonial consciousness: “the colonized has always had a (theoretical and practical) conception of the colonizer and based on such a conception they have engaged in social and political relations with the colonizer” (2001, p. 300). Interestingly, this duality, tension and interrelationship between colonizer and colonized is evidenced within each of the author’s respective social locations – each originates from a colonized context/history; each has had indepth exposure to the colonizer, through hegemonic education, living and working in the metropolis for lengthy periods of time and in some cases, marriage. Memmi explores this idea in some detail. The first major understanding of an anti-colonial development then, is that it would seek to centre the colonial question. This would necessarily involve unpacking the origins of hegemonic development, identifying and exposing development discourses and making explicit the nature of Northern-driven development as a colonizing project. In so doing, an anti-colonial development would argue that contemporary hegemonic development actually works to reinforce and perpetuate the very inequities that it claims to combat. An anti-colonial development would seek to set the historical record straight by casting aside dominant “civilizing” histories and reclaiming/rewriting histories from the multiple perspectives of the colonized. The key questions for probing then become the what, how, why and for whom of development. Economic motives are consistently identified in the four works analyzed as being the primary rationale underpinning Northern impositions into the Global South. Césaire points to the West’s insatiable capitalist appetite as the main reason for the colonial project: the decisive actors here are the adventurer and the pirate, the wholesale grocer and the ship owner, the gold digger and the merchant, appetite and force, and behind them, the baleful projected shadow of a form of civilization which, at a certain point in its history, finds itself obliged, for internal reasons, to extend to a world scale the competition of its antagonistic economies. (1972, pp. 10–11) This theme is echoed in Memmi, who clearly states that: “the idea of privilege is at the heart of the colonial relationship – and that privilege is undoubtedly economic” (1965, p. xii). Memmi in fact presents the entire mythical portrait of the colonized (as a lazy and indolent weakling, who is backward, evil, thievish, sadistic, lacking in desire, poor and ungrateful, etc.), as ultimately grounded in the colonizer’s economic and basic needs, which shape and explain each of the traits he has assigned to the colonized. In the final analysis, as Memmi points out, these representations are all economically advantageous to the colonizer (ibid., p. 83). 224


In contemporary times, Dei and Asgharzadeh’s work touches upon the continuing saliency of economic hegemony, stating that an anti-colonial discursive framework is “an affirmation of the reality of re-colonization processes through the dictates of global capital” (2001, p. 301). The authors point to the fact that the majority of the planet’s population continues to live under “the colonialist and imperialist conditions of bondage and dependency” (ibid., p. 306). An interesting subtheme here that comes up in all of the foundational works analyzed is the notion of “the barbaric West following the path of the civilized African” (Kelley, 1999, p. 3). Early anti-colonial thinkers, and Fanon in particular, make explicit the implications of this economic relationship. He notes that Europe has very obviously availed herself of all the riches of the colonial countries – gold, diamonds, oil, silk, cotton, wood, exotic goods – and it is through the extraction of these very items that she has fortified and “developed” herself (Fanon, 1963). Fanon sums up this subtheme best with what is perhaps his most famous quotation: “Europe is literally the creation of the Third World. The wealth which smothers her is that which was stolen from the under-developed peoples” (ibid., pp. 80–81). In addition to blatant theft of raw materials and natural resources, a very broad analysis of “economic” motives for colonial undertakings is also inclusive of exploitation of aspects of nonmaterial economics, politics and culture. In an earlier work, Césaire refers to Europe’s extraction of the nonmaterial indigenous knowledges and practices, spirituality, values and customs of the colonized: The men they took away knew how to build houses, govern empires, erect cities, cultivate fields, mine for metals, weave cotton, forge steel. Their religion had its own beauty, based on mystical connections with the founder of the city. Their customs were pleasing, built on unity, kindness, respect for age. No coercion, only mutual assistance, the joy of living, a free acceptance of discipline. (Césaire in Kelley, 1999, p. 3) In a clear anti-colonial assertion, Fanon demands a shift from this frame: “the well-being and the progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow races. We have decided not to overlook this any longer” (1963, p. 76). The second major understanding of an anti-colonial development then, would view hegemonic development as thinly veiled economic domination, intended to secure the positionality of nations of the North and South. An anti-colonial development would view Northern-driven development as a natural extension of “classical” colonization and would demand redress for historical economic injustice borne by Southern nation states to their ongoing detriment. An anti-colonial development would call for a halt to repayment of all outstanding “debt” and “interest” on crippling international loans and, further, might demand compensation from the international financial institutions and nations of the North which have not only directly profited from this gross imbalance and resulting structural poverty, but have also simply exited former colonies in the Global South without so much as an acknowledgement of the centuries of thievery of labour, resources 225


and ideas that has taken place in many colonial contexts. An anti-colonial development would turn the economic agenda upside down and ask that Northern countries not only acknowledge economic imperialism but also actively take up issues of accountability and compensatory action for past wrongs inflicted on the Global South. Lastly, an anti-colonial perspective on development would seek to directly name and speak to the precise nature of the colonial relationship; that is, Europe’s dependency upon the colonies to ensure its own advancement. A contemporary anti-colonial development would critically interrogate and expose Northern “dependency” upon the Global South through the ongoing exploitation of human, intellectual, material and natural resources – the same resources of which Fanon spoke 50 years ago! – to facilitate and secure its continuing comfortable advancement. Each of the early anti-colonial thinkers notes the colonizer’s adeptness in producing a local élite to aid the enforcement of colonial rule and the Eurocentric agenda. In his introduction to The Wretched of the Earth, Sartre explains how the European colonizers set about doing this: They picked out promising adolescents; they branded them, as with a red-hot iron, with the principles of western culture; they stuffed their mouths full with high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck to their teeth. After a short stay in the mother country they were sent home, whitewashed. (Fanon, 1963, p. 7). Similarly, Césaire notes that: “Europe has gotten on very well indeed with all the local feudal lords who agreed to serve, woven a villainous complicity with them, rendered their tyranny more effective and more efficient” (1972, p. 24). He cites all manner of Southern officials – governors, bankers, prefects, politicians, judges, journalists, academicians, ethnographers, theologians and intellectuals – as complicitous in the colonial project (ibid). Césaire links the function of the native élite back to a colonialist agenda for economic domination: “All of them tools of capitalism, all of them, openly or secretly, supporters of plundering colonialism, all of them responsible, all hateful, all slave-traders, all henceforth answerable for the violence of revolutionary action” (ibid., p. 34). Each of the anti-colonial works touches upon a critique of hegemonic knowledge production and seeks to centre indigenousness. Dei and Asgharzadeh (2001) set the contemporary discursive context. The authors explain that the anti-colonial discourse emphasizes the varying positionalities of individuals, groups and communities within structures of power and domination. An anti-colonial approach encourages an understanding and interrogation of both the interlocking systems of oppression and domination and the ways in which the colonized are kept under control by the colonizer. An anti-colonial discursive framework critiques the Eurocentrism that is ubiquitous in the dominant academy. As opposed to using Western models of analysis, conceptualization and theorization, an anti-colonial approach to knowledge production centres “alternative, oppositional paradigms based on the use of 226


indigenous concepts and analytical systems and cultural frames of reference” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 301). Dei and Asgharzadeh work with a conception of indigenousness as: “knowledge consciousness arising locally and in association with long-term occupancy of a place” (2001, p. 302). Further, indigenousness encapsulates social norms and values, mental constructs, as well as ways of living and making sense of and navigating their world (ibid., p. 304). They view indigeneity as a political site, as well, a site for empowerment and revitalization and resistance against the imposition of hegemonic knowledges and ideas. They advocate: “the use of indigeneity to resist colonialist agenda of assimilation and annihilation” with an illustrative example of how Kurdish intellectuals and activists in Turkey and Iran have successfully revitalized their indigenous identity, language, history, culture and tradition as important tools to resist and subvert colonialist agendas. Beyond the interrogation of hegemonic Eurocentric knowledge production and validation, Dei and Asgharzadeh’s conceptualization of a contemporary anticolonial stance: “fosters the idea that intellectuals should be aware of the historical and institutional structures and contexts which sustain intellectualism” (2001, p. 301). Dei and Asgharzadeh offer a subtle critique of the hegemonic production of knowledge and practice: Our intention . . . is not to reify theory, but to problematize a conception of theory that has little or no bearing on the lived realities of peoples whose academic and political interests are in contradiction to hegemonic social orders. Our goal is to contribute to the reformulation of an anti-colonial discursive framework that offers an understanding of social reality and practice as understood from the vantage point of the marginalized and subordinate. (2001, p. 298) The fourth dimension of an anti-colonial development, then, would reject positivist, Eurocentric knowledge production and promote a multicentric approach, which would centre indigenous understandings and articulations of development and allow the subjects of development practice to become the theorists informing such work. Similarly, it would centre contemporary non-hegemonic development discourses and narratives, with a focus on multiple centres of knowing. An anticolonial development would question the very essence of the Northern-driven development project and would oblige Northerners interested in “helping” to conform to and centre local Southern agendas and ideas in the planning, financing and implementing of any development aid and projects and allow the subjects of development practice to become theorists informing such work, as will be exemplified in the second case study later in this chapter. Just as an anti-colonial stance defines itself in opposition to a colonial stance, an anti-colonial development then, would position itself in direct opposition to hegemonic development. The fifth dimension of an anti-colonial development would be a deep appreciation for and value of “traditional” modes of thought and practice. Here I work with Dei’s definition of “traditional”, which denotes “a continuity of cultural values from past experiences that shape the present” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, 227


p. 84). To offer one early example of this reverence for traditional values, consider Césaire’s words about “our old societies”: They were communal societies, never societies of the many for the few. They were societies that were not only ante-capitalist, as has been said, but also anti-capitalist. They were democratic societies, always. They were cooperative societies, fraternal societies . . . They were the fact, they did not pretend to be the idea; despite their faults, they were neither to be hated nor condemned. They were content to be. In them, neither the word failure nor the word avatar had any meaning. They kept hope intact. (1972, p. 23) It is important to mention that this deep appreciation for “traditional” ways, while it embodies a sense of longing for cherished societal values, entails neither a romanticization of early times nor a call for a return; each of the anti-colonial scholars analyzed here simply centres these common values with reverence and positions them as a basis for the cultivation of indigeneity, political awareness and liberation. Each of the works analyzed emphasizes the history of Africa’s accomplishments (Kelley, 1999, p. 13) and strives for a future-oriented and modern approach that is rooted in “traditional” values and lifestyle. Césaire’s position in Discourse is unequivocal: “For us the problem is not to make a utopian and sterile attempt to repeat the past, but to go beyond. It is not a dead society that we want to revive. We leave that to those who go in for exoticism . . . It is a new society that we must create, with the help of our brother slaves, a society rich with all the productive power of modern times, warm with all the fraternity of olden days” (Kelley, 1999, p. 14). The importance of a self-defined path, which centres local experience, is a strong theme in all the works analysed and as such constitutes the sixth key dimension of an anti-colonial development. Robert Kelley, in his introduction to the third edition of Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, aptly notes that both Fanon and Césaire warn the racialized peoples of the world “not to follow Europe’s footsteps, and not to go back to the ancient ways, but to carve out a new direction altogether” (1999, p. 18). Fanon points out in the concise example below that development must be organic; that is, originating from the local people and embodying indigenous knowledges and experiences. He also works with the concept of local “ownership”. Despite the colonial slip herein, this quote is highly relevant to both this theme and the topic of this paper and bears including here: If the building of a bridge does not enrich the awareness of those who work on it, then that bridge ought not to be built and the citizens can go on swimming across the river or going by boat. The bridge should not be ‘parachuted down’ from above; it should not be imposed by a deus ex machina upon the social scene; on the contrary it should come from the muscles and brains of the citizens. Certainly, there may well be the need of engineers and architects; but the local party leaders should be always present, so that the new techniques can make their way into the cerebral desert of the citizen, so that the bridge in whole and in part can be taken up and conceived, and the responsibility for it 228


assumed by the citizen. In this way, and in this way only, everything is possible. (Fanon, 1963, p. 160) A key subtheme here is the emphasis on the collective agency of the minoritized to address local problems, theorize development, and provide a site for resistance to outside interference. The anti-colonial discursive framework firmly locates marginalized groups as subjects of their own experiences and histories. Dei and Asgharzadeh work with Bhaba (1995) to set the contemporary terrain here: The anti-colonial discursive framework acknowledges the power of local social practice and action in surviving the colonial and colonized encounters. It argues that power and discourse are not possessed entirely by the colonizer. Quite the contrary, the colonized has also the power to question, challenge, and subsequently subvert the oppressive structures of power and privilege. Discursive agency and power of resistance also reside in and among colonized groups. (2001, p. 300) The seventh dimension of an anti-colonial development would be the impact of colonization upon both the colonizer and the colonized. All three of the early anticolonial authors invest in a considerable analysis and discussion of the impact of colonisation upon the colonizer. Through an illuminating critical exposition of quotations from colonial conquerors, politicians, writers, academics, preachers and crusaders, Césaire demonstrates how colonialism works to dehumanize and decivilize the colonizer, as in his description, here, of what he terms “the boomerang effect of colonization”: colonization . . . dehumanizes even the most civilized man . . . colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt, inevitably tends to change him who undertakes it . . . the colonizer, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and tends objectively to transform himself into an animal. (Césaire, 1972, pp. 19–20) By committing acts of torture, violence, racism and immorality, the colonizer is weighed down and pulled deeper into barbarism, ultimately resulting in the degradation of Europe itself (Kelley, 1999). All of the founding works analysed provide extensive discussion of the impact of colonization upon the colonized. Césaire refers to this process as “thingification”, while Memmi describes the “depersonalization” or “objectification” of the colonized, through myriad techniques: the perpetuation of racist stereotypes about the colonized, the employment of the “mark of the plural”, in which the colonized is referred to as a derogatory whole, and finally, through the denial of liberty through imposed colonialism (1965, pp. 85–86). Memmi explains that at the end of this process the colonized is no longer an ego: “He is hardly a human being. He tends rapidly to becoming an object. As an end, in the colonizer’s supreme ambition, he should exist only as a function of the needs of the colonizer, i.e., be transformed into a pure colonized” (ibid., p. 86). 229


The Dei and Asgharzadeh piece broadly addresses the impact of colonization upon the colonized; for them, an anti-colonial discursive framework “emphasizes the saliency of colonialism and imperialism and their continuing effects on marginalized communities, for example in the form of reproduction of imperial relations, economic poverty, and so forth” (2001, p. 301). Dei takes up the psychological and spiritual impacts of hegemonic racism upon contemporary racialized bodies in another recent work (2004). Notions of violence and revolution are a strong focus in each of the works analysed and, as such, constitute the eighth and final dimension of an anticolonial development. To begin, the colonial context is seen as setting the stage for violence. Fanon explores the nature of violence as a learned behaviour: He of whom they have never stopped saying that the only language he understands is that of force, decides to give utterance by force. In fact, as always, the settler has shown him the way he should take if he is to become free. The argument the native chooses has been furnished by the settler, and by an ironic turning of the tables it is the native who now affirms that the colonialist understands nothing but force. The colonial regime owes its legitimacy to force and at no time tries to hide this aspect of things. (1965, pp. 65–66) Each of the early anti-colonial thinkers explores the various possibilities of the colonized and ultimately reaches the identical conclusion: violence and revolution are the only possible response to the dilemma of colonialism. In Memmi’s words, “[t]he colonial situation, by its own internal inevitability, brings on revolt” (1965, p. 140). To live, the colonized needs to do away with colonization: “The only cure for the pathological condition that colonization inflicts on colonized and colonizer alike is national liberation . . . the colonial condition cannot be adjusted to; like an iron collar, it can only be broken” (ibid., p. 129). In the time of Fanon, Memmi and Césaire’s early writing, “revolt was in the air” (Kelley, 1999, p. 2). Fanon articulates the positionality and revolutionary fervour of the colonized: “Europe has laid her hands on our continents, and we must slash at her fingers till she lets go” (Sartre quoting Fanon, 1963, p. 11). Here, the inextricably interconnected “portraits” of the colonizer and the colonized come into play once again. Fanon describes the “circle of hate” (1963, p. 70) that is colonization and the armed struggle: The violence of the colonial regime and the counter-violence of the native balance each other and respond to each other in an extraordinary reciprocal homogeneity. This reign of violence will be the more terrible in proportion to the size of the implantation from the mother country. The development of violence among the colonised people will be proportionate to the violence exercised by the threatened colonial regime. (1963, p. 69) Revolutionary themes, language and imagery are echoed in Dei and Asgharzadeh’s contemporary articulation of an anti-colonial thought, which recognizes the necessity of solidarity and collective struggle against hegemonic colonial relations; “in other words . . . anti-colonial thought rejects the Nietzschean view of the world that calls upon its followers to ‘rest their swords’ 230


and remain indifferent to oppression and injustice” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 312). Within the metaphorical allusion to a taking up of arms lies an important discursive message that encapsulates the central aim of a contemporary discursive context for Dei and Asgharzadeh, which is: “to provide a common zone of resistance and struggle, within which variously diverse minoritized, marginalized, and oppressed groups are enabled to ‘come to voice’, and subsequently challenge and subvert the hegemonic systems of power and domination” (ibid., p. 317). Case Study 2: Surviving Development . . . Perhaps we should shift the focus from the discussion of failures to the few success cases of communities and how local peoples are utilizing their own creativity and resourcefulness to address their daily problems. (Dei, 1993, p. 19) This second case study considers an example of a locally-conceived and -articulated community development initiative in the Solomon Islands, the `Oka Village Youth Project, which is documented in the article: “Whose Knowledge? Epistemological Collisions in Solomon Islands Community Development” (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002). The `Oka Village Youth Project was conceived in the early 1980s on Malaita Island, by a crossgenerational group of men who were concerned about growing numbers of male youths leaving the island to find employment as a result of maldevelopment in the Solomons. A bit of historical context will be illustrative at this point. Gegeo and WatsonGegeo describe Malaita as “the least developed of the six major islands in the Solomons” (2002, p. 383). They identify the persistence of a modernization paradigm, imposed by British colonial rulers, post-independence administration and NGO players alike, as the central reason for its historical and ongoing maldevelopment (ibid., p. 409). Under the British, Malaita was passed over for major agriculture development, primarily because its soil and climate conditions were not suitable to the cultivation of European-style crops. Instead, the colonial administration capitalized upon male labour from Malaita, exporting them first to neighbouring countries such as Australia, Fiji, Samoa, and New Caledonia and subsequently to Guadalcanal and the other parts of the Solomon Islands. These male labourers were typically paid low wages or given in-kind consumables such as food and tobacco, such that large remittances back to Malaita were not possible (ibid., p. 383). Even after the Solomon Islands gained independence from Britain, these practices persisted to the point that “Malaita has provided most of the labour for national development in the Solomons, while Malaita itself has remained relatively undeveloped” (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 383). The new national government, following the model of its British predecessors, grounded its development efforts in a centralized, top-down approach, focusing on large-scale, centralized, export industries and reliance on outside funding, in the belief that a strong central government would produce a “ripple effect” that would spread 231


out to the 85% of Solomon Islanders practising subsistence agriculture in rural settings (ibid., p. 378). As a result of this lingering colonialism, for many decades now, male Malaita youth have wandered into urban centres, either in search of employment or simply attracted to the excitement of the city (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 384). With little education, employment opportunities proved limited and many Malaita youth, well beyond the reach of community, have become involved with drugs, alcohol and crime. Numerous local development initiatives have been undertaken on Malaita in order to attempt to combat this lack of development and its resulting impacts; the `Oka Village Youth Project is one example of such an initiative. It “involved young men in sports, cultural activities, and income-generating work, parallel to the integration of sports, culture, and work in the traditional men’s house of the past” (ibid., p. 385). Its central aims were to: “try to keep male youth on Malaita, give meaning to their lives, develop skills for earning a living, and increase their sense of self-worth and cultural rootedness” (ibid., p. 384). The authors describe how the group started out with a soccer/cultural dance activity, in which older group members coached younger ones in soccer. Eventually tournaments were organized and area teams were charged a small fee to play. Parallel to the development of soccer skills, elders taught youth kastom, or traditional dances, which they performed at the soccer matches. Snacks and drinks were sold to spectators. Enthusiasm for the soccer/dance club was generated from the excitement of learning as well as the small profit generated from the matches/performances (Gegeo and Watson Gegeo, 2002, p. 385). “Together, the soccer and culture dimensions of the project were called iut ‘youth, youth group”’ (ibid., p. 385). The authors explain that semantically, “iut connoted a focus on youth, but also doing things that were under one’s control using primarily indigenous knowledge and indigenous epistemology” (ibid., p. 392). Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo’s analysis of the `Oka Village Youth Project highlights many important Kwara‘ae concepts that underpin a Kwara‘ae indigenous understanding of the world and conceptualization of development. The authors point out that there are over thirty-two terms that discuss the characteristics of development. A couple of examples include: talau‘anga, ‘being on one’s own’, literally, ‘following the path cut by oneself and doing things one sees fit to meet one’s purposes and needs’; bulaofaolo‘anga ‘growing anew’; lafuta‘ilana tua‘a, ‘the lifting or rising up of the family’ from the inside; fuliru‘anga, ‘establishing things (not just talking about it), bringing to fruition. (2002, p. 393) The authors point to the significance of the fact that Kwara‘ae understandings of development are rooted in indigenous concepts, that these concepts are in the youths’ own language and also within group members’ “epistemic horizon” (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 393). In other words, youth group members: “understood the terms and their meanings and knew how to apply them in contrast to introduced English modernization terminology such as independence, self232


sufficiency, and self-reliance, which formed the core of community development terminology introduced into Kwara‘ae by previous failed projects” (ibid., p. 393). From the beginning, the `Oka Village Youth Project viewed itself as emerging out of “an alternative conceptualization and praxis”, its members deliberately seeking “to emphasize that their vision was different – that it was anchored in traditional culture, drawing on the positive aspects that could prepare youth for today’s challenging world” (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 393). Building on the success of the soccer/dance activity, the club decided to branch out into several additional small projects, including establishing a bakery; planting Chinese cabbage, corn, pineapple, sweet potato and peanut gardens; and launching a copra project (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, 385–386). Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo’s discussion of the youth club’s decision to diversify their activities shows how indigenous epistemological strategies inform local development practice. The authors work with indigenous epistemology as: “a cultural group’s way of thinking and of creating, (re)formulating, and theorizing about knowledge via traditional discourses and media of communication, anchoring the truth of the discourse in culture” (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 381). They identify three epistemological strategies that group members make use of here. First, the youth group wanted to capitalize on expertise within the group, giving each person a role, as in a family, which is the manner in which they conceptualized their group (ibid., p. 389). Second, the youth group diversified its activities in order to keep each individual activity manageable, and also to prevent the failure of the whole youth project should one or two activities not do well (ibid., p. 389). The third reason for diversification is grounded in agricultural practices. Here the authors make the important distinction between diflopmen “development”, which is seen as “‘alive’ because carrying out its activities requires indigenous knowledge rather than outside information” (ibid., p. 390) and bisnis “business”, which is seen as “‘dead’ because it involves introduced activities – such as a bakery – that come with their own body of knowledge and epistemology” (ibid., p. 390). Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo go on to explain that “the most important distinguishing characteristic of diflopmen in this respect is that a project so labelled saka ma‘i m¯ana or fa‘asia limana ngwae ‘emerges out of one’s own hands”’ (ibid., p. 389). The club continued successfully with its small projects over several years and in the late 1980s decided to initiate a rice project as part of its activities. Members had no expertise among them in this area and, after several requests for financial assistance to the Solomon Islands government went unacknowledged, community elders wrote to the Japanese embassy in Honiara to request some start-up assistance. A volunteer from Japan came to work with the club for two years (ibid., p. 386). With this example, Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo illustrate Kwara‘ae villagers’ application [italics those of original authors] of indigenous epistemology in approaching new activities that incorporate “introduced information” (and outsider participation at the request of the local community). The central idea here is that youth club members built upon experience and knowledge they had accumulated 233


from activities they already knew something about (2002, p. 400). This is made clear in the discussion of how Kwara‘ae youth group members work with the new “information” from the Japanese volunteer on the rice-growing project: The villagers listened to the Japanese volunteers and followed their directions as to how rice is grown in Japan. But even as they were following these directions they were already thinking about how the techniques would need to be altered to fit the local environment, local schedules, and other contextual factors. They were observing the progress of the rice sections they planted, which ones performed better than others, and comparing their observations with previous attempts to grow rice in the immediate area as well as with experiences planting other introduced crops. (Ibid., p. 398) It is interesting to note youth group members’ openness to “introduced” knowledge and outsider participation: “When they were ready for the rice project, they did not hesitate to seek outside guidance, and welcomed the Japanese volunteers who came to assist them” (ibid., p. 400). The `Oka Village Youth Project had been successfully growing for 10 years, when Jack Tagi, a retired government official, returned to the village and tried to gain control of it. His intentions were to fold the youth project into a broader community development project based on a modernization approach that he had learned from his formal (Western) education, training and his professional background working with outside agencies (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 409). Tagi’s orientation to community development was entirely economic and did not address the problems of village youth. His approach centralized leadership and decision-making, introduced contextually-inappropriate practices that violated local norms, privileged Anglo-European knowledges over indigenous knowledges and experiences and encouraged the use of outside funding sources; in other words, he implemented an Anglo-European, modernization vision of what the village project should be (ibid., p. 394). `Oka village youth group members did not passively accept this imposition; rather, they actively resisted Tagi’s interventions at multiple sites. In discussing the youth group members’ resistance to Tagi’s takeover attempts, the authors quote one elder in a village meeting: We in the youth group do not need any highly educated person meddling in our affairs. We do our planning according to how we know; our plans are local [i.e., indigenous ways of knowing and doing]. They cannot be turned into your high [Anglo-European large-scale] plans. You have no experience with local planning. Local planning is a different thing altogether. It has its own power [ngasingasi‘anga “power, efficacy”] . . . Do something in which you can apply your experience in high-level planning. We will stay with our project which seems to be doing just fine being run according to our local plans. (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 395, square brackets in original) Despite the attempts of the club members to maintain control of their project, they ultimately found that the time and energy they were investing in defending 234


themselves outweighed the time they were working productively on youth group activities. Members arrived at a collective decision to give up the `Oka Village Youth Project altogether (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002, p. 397). Tagi’s imposition of a modernization framework not only resulted in the dismantling of the `Oka Village Youth Project, but in the very thing the project was originally designed to combat. Kwara‘ae youths were left feeling disempowered and disillusioned and drifted, once again displaced, into the urban centre of Honiara (ibid., p. 403).


. . . the relevance of a theory should be seen in how it allows us to understand the complexity of human society and to offer a social and political corrective – that is, the power of theories and ideas to bring about change and transformation in social life. (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 298) The simple exercise of considering these two case studies makes clear the worlds of difference between Northern and Southern experiences of development, including what is at stake, what is invested and what rewards are available to whom. In the discussion that follows, I will explore: emerging themes, pedagogical implications for the Development Studies Program and imperatives for the Northern-driven development sector.


The simple exercise of considering two programs involving youth, development and the creation of identities makes clear the worlds of difference between Northern and Southern experiences of “development”, including what is at stake, what is invested and what rewards are available to whom. In the discussion section that follows, I will explore: emerging themes, implications for the Northern postsecondary Development Studies Program, imperatives for the Northern-driven development sector and the theoretical and practical possibilities of “anti-colonial development”. The Different Worlds of Development The distance between worldviews and conceptualizations of development in these two case studies is perhaps illustrative of the dissonance that characterizes the failures of the Northern-driven development project. The Development Studies Program, reflective of both the wider sector and the dominant discourses in which it is situated, positions itself as providing academic and practical training for future development workers, facilitating their smooth entry into the profession of “helping” and “making a difference” on a global scale. However, a different reality is reflected in the deconstruction of the international co-op placements; as 235


has been shown, students reap multiple rewards from these colonizing encounters, while it can be safely assumed that, for the most part, their contributions are markedly less profound. Let us consider the Northern students’ gains. In undertaking their 8–12 month international co-op placements, students not only fulfill one of the key program requirements that leads to their certification as specialists in Development Studies, they gain professional experience and transferable skills, which, in turn, build their résumés. They are exposed to incredible networking opportunities that facilitate their entry into this competitive and highly coveted sector, locking them into future employment opportunities. Students get an upclose, firsthand look at development through their Southern experience (which, in itself, adds substantively to their marketability), enjoy a taste of power in highstatus roles and acquire language skills and money. On a personal level, students gain friendships and passions (sometimes even spouses) and they are given an opportunity to live and work in another part of the world at no personal expense. Moreover, the international placement offers them an opportunity to explore who they are and “sample” future career directions. The `Oka village youth project case study, as laid out by Gegeo and WatsonGegeo (2002), offers a living example of an anti-colonial development, as conceptualized here, an alternative to dominant models that claim to improve people’s lives through their interventions. Those who participate in hegemonic development have much to learn from this case. The authors contextualize present problems on Malaita within the colonial history of development in the Solomon Islands, the Pacific region and Global South. The intergenerational impact of colonialism, in its many guises, is a strong theme of this case. The `Oka Village Youth Club itself emerged in direct response to the intergenerational effects of colonialism. The colonizers’ economic motives are clearly cited as the major reason for the lack of development initiatives on Malaita. Jack Tagi is a textbook representation of the manufactured Southern élite, indoctrinated into the modernization framework via his dominant education and work experience with outside agencies, for which he has clearly been amply rewarded. Moreover, the deferential treatment that Tagi receives from a significant following in Kwara‘ae village signals the colonization of the mind that has filtered into this remote Pacific community over time. This case study clearly addresses the manner in which formal, Western education has failed to meet the needs of Kwara‘ae youth; instead, it has created a glut of educated young people for whom there is no employment opportunities and resulted in some youths’ complete disengagement from school and community. This case focuses upon the importance of locally defined needs and paths as well as the centrality of indigenous knowledges, epistemology and critical praxis in local development initiatives. Of particular interest is group members’ effective use of outside assistance or ‘expertise’ – at the request of the local community and on its terms. The youth club’s resistance at multiple sites to Jack Tagi’s interference could be interpreted as a non-violent form of “revolutionary” action. Putting all of these concepts into action, the `Oka Village youth project is a strong example of the transformative power of an anti-colonial development, as conceptualized in this paper. 236


Creating Persons through Development Both of the cases presented herein involve creating youths’ identities and developing modes of personhood in the world. The selective and élite Northern Development Studies Program attracts young people who want to “help” out of a sense of imbalance in the world, a notion of service or a vague desire to “give back”, among other motivations, in keeping with dominant discourses of goodness, innocence and morality. These powerful development narratives and the apparatus of domination that works to invisibly support them, evidently override any critical development content that students encounter in the curriculum. Students believe in the goodness of development to eradicate poverty and ameliorate world crises, the goodness of the program to provide them with a theoretical and experiential understanding of development, and the goodness of themselves as moral participants in the development process. Central to Northern youth who participate in the Development Studies Program (and this is particularly manifested through the Southern co-op work placement) is students’ strong need to believe that they have helped in the developing world, made a tangible contribution, made a difference. Strategies for rupturing these messages will be addressed shortly. In the Solomon Islands case, the Kwara‘ae conceptualization of development is an encompassing totality that involves creating people socially, spiritually and cosmologically. For Kwara‘ae youth club members, the `Oka Village Youth Club was an organic, local movement focused upon fostering self-esteem and a sense of identity, strengthening community from the inside, reinforcing indigenous roots, and regenerating relevant economic livelihoods grounded in local knowledges and experiences. For members, the youth group was a matter of the recovery and healing of individual, community and collective identities that have been, and continue to be, damaged by colonialism (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo, 2002). The impact of Tagi’s takeover attempt, with its modernization approach, speaks to the destructive effects of unwanted imposition, as well as the short- and long-term damage done by well-intentioned outsiders. Control over the Production of Knowledge and Meaning These two cases raise the importance of control over the production of knowledge and meaning, one of the many institutionalized mechanisms of the colonialist apparatus that works to secure Northern dominance. In Dei’s words, “There is a long history of Euramerican dominance of what constitutes valid knowledge and how such knowledge should be produced and disseminated internally and internationally” (1993, p. 110). The Solomon Islands case presented here affirms that sophisticated theoretical indigenous constructs about learning and education thrive in the contemporary Pacific (Huffer and Qalo, 2004, p. 100). Anti-colonial approaches strengthen local people’s capacity to search for solutions to their own problems. The `Oka village youth project highlights how local subjects can become theorists in conceptualizing their own development, thereby ensuring the sustainability of development initiatives, as a viable alternative to the existing hegemonic models. 237


Additionally, there are prominent bodies of indigenous knowledge, emerging from within (the not unproblematic) spaces of the dominant academy, to affirm and build upon indigenous knowledges. Dei (1993, p. 19) advocates analysis of “indigenous factors (e.g., the cultural resource base of African peoples) . . . for their contribution to development in Africa” and for micro-level, localized studies in Africa in order to: “study the impact of national policy changes on [rural] communities, as various constituencies such as women, age and socio-economic groups in the quest to build a self-sustaining base for African societies” (ibid., p. 9). Sardar (1999, p. 60) sums it up well: the problem of development . . . is . . . the problem of knowledge. It is a problem of discovering Other ways of knowing, being and doing. It is a problem of how to be human in ways Other than those of Europe. It is also a problem of how the West could liberate its true self from its colonial history and moorings. Constructing a Political Agenda As we have seen in the youth group’s activities, “discursive agency and power of resistance also reside in and among colonized groups” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 300). In the Pacific region, Huffer and Qalo (2004) call for a broader political use of knowledges such as those articulated by Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo in the Solomon Islands case, noting that these are “building blocks to a Pacific wide ethic that must be better understood and publicized so that it becomes part of the national agenda of Oceanic societies” (p. 107). These building blocks of local knowledges are important for upholding and (re)constructing identity, on individual, community and national levels, as well as for networking and sharing experiences with regional and global neighbours.


When viewed through Memmi’s frame, the absurdity of what the majority of hegemonic development educators and practitioners perceive as development is blatantly clear: international development ends up being a colonizing project. Like the colonizers described in Memmi’s day, the Development Studies Program at Clareholm University, which feeds directly into Canadian and international pools of development practitioners and scholars, grooms students for the politics of contemporary colonizing, training them in the extraction of multiple rewards that tangibly contribute to their own personal, professional, academic and material development, rather than the so-called development of Southern nations/bodies that they profess to be helping. What is more, the students’ efforts are celebrated and rewarded! Irrespective of students’ perception of the quality of the placement experience, it is their own identities and futures that are built up and strengthened as a result of these racialized encounters on placement, not those of their Southern counterparts. As in the macro-context of the Northern development industry, the 238


Development Studies Program relies upon ongoing global inequities to sustain and perpetuate itself. Keeping in mind the degree to which development discourses are institutionalized, how can the space between these two worlds of development be negotiated? Despite the obvious structural faults of the Development Studies Program at Clareholm University, Canada, and the power of the structures that uphold it, I do see some possibilities for positive change within the program, which will be discussed here. To begin, I have faith in the critical capabilities of the young people with whom I work. As Rahnema (1997, p. 379) puts it: “The tragedies and traumas that have resulted from the launching of development world-wide have helped many of the earlier believers to revise their positions”. With exposure to the foundational myths of development (Tucker, 1999) and living examples of anti-colonial development practice, I have every confidence that Development Studies students will take the initiative to educate themselves and make their own informed decisions about the nature and legitimacy of (hegemonic vs. anti-colonial) development work. From my ongoing interactions with students before, during and after their overseas co-op work placements, it is clear to me that some do engage critically with what they are learning and experiencing in both their coursework and on their co-op placements. Self-implication, acknowledgement of complicity and responsible action are a short step away. The Northern development studies program is firmly located within the Western academy, with all of its positivist and rationalist trappings. Although not a focus here, the core curriculum of the program, with its emphasis on the technical and social aspects of development, is itself grounded in a modernization paradigm; this, in turn, naturally contributes to the (re)institutionalization and (re)production of a modernization approach to development. Dei and Asgharzadeh observe that “race and racism are still at the core of any valid and sensible analyses concerning social inequality” (2001, p. 309). One important exercise in decolonizing the Development Studies curriculum would be to broaden it by moving beyond critical development theory, toward inclusion of indigenous knowledges and alternative perspectives on development, including anti-colonial approaches. Further, within individual courses, it is incumbent upon Development Studies faculty to bring more focus onto Southern and indigenous scholars and nonhegemonic perspectives into all aspects of curriculum, such as the selection of relevant course materials, pedagogy and individual interactions with students. Tucker draws on Said in stating that rethinking development calls for “a plurality of discourses, a plurality of audiences and a plurality of terrains”, in order to accommodate the diversity of experiences and rationalities (1999, p. 15). It is through these small but fundamental changes that important conversations will take place. If a faculty member’s pedagogical approach is respectful of the diversity of Clareholm University’s campus, open to non-dominant perspectives and encouraging of self-reflection and self-interrogation, it will have a positive impact



upon how Development Studies students engage their positionality in both spaces of the North and South. Linked to this, in addition to increased diversification in the student demographic discussed earlier in this paper, improved representation in programrelated staff and faculty hires is essential. Thinking expansively, the Development Studies Program could restructure existing resources (or identify new funding sources) in order to allocate funds to bringing Southern students and scholars to the institution to study, teach and research, even if it were to result in a slightly-reduced overall student enrolment. It should be emphasized that these suggestions are contingent upon an ongoing commitment to learning and openness to change, which in and of itself, presents an ongoing challenge within the program, faculty and institution. On a microlevel, as the program coordinator, my challenges include creating spaces in which diversity is respected and centred, working from an anti-racist and anti-colonial stance, opening up space to centre alternative ideas about development and identifying sites and best practices for the effective rupture of dominance. It also means fostering, in students and self, a sense of humility and respect for ways of being, knowing and doing, including those that embrace an anti-colonial agenda. This reciprocal exchange should occur through the flow of individual interactions with students and permeate all aspects of programming. The importance of ongoing learning for all cannot be underemphasized. IMPERATIVES FOR THE NORTHERN-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT SECTOR

A common expression among international development circles is that we should be “working ourselves out of jobs”. This metaphor has run out of steam. In actual fact, quite the opposite has occurred; the manner in which Northern-driven development has been and continues to be constructed ensures the perpetuation of global inequities, and in turn, a lifetime of opportunities for ourselves. First and foremost there is a Northern educational imperative: we Northern development educators and practitioners, irrespective of our physical locations in spaces of the North or South, need to educate ourselves about the system within which we are operating, the myths upon which it is built, and the effects of our ongoing participation in our various sites.3 We need to ask ourselves, for whose benefit are our interventions? What impacts are our actions (or inactions) having on those we purport to “help”? If we do elect to participate, how can we approach our work in ways that centre local communities and their agendas? Self-implication, towards humility, and a shift toward locally-centred approaches, would mark a positive and attainable change in the development practice. Dei (1995, p. 148) sums it up succinctly: “development practitioners have to be prepared to assist local people on their own terms”. Linked to this, just as Southern scholars have identified a “need to scrutinize the images and the representations that [they] have inherited or are creating” (Thaman, 2003, p. 5), so, too, must Northern development scholars and practitioners scrutinize the discourses of innocence and morality in which we are immersed. 240


We must examine how these narratives shape our understandings, values, lives and behaviours. I echo calls by Tucker (1999) and others for making explicit the founding myths upon which development exists and, as in this paper, shifting the focus from Other to Self. This must be encouraged in all sites of development education and praxis as a key starting point. It strikes me that Tucker’s (1999) call for mutual critical dialogue is a constructive and workable first step in exposing and dismantling development discourses that takes into account both the persistence and growth of globalization and issues of Northern complicity, accountability and responsible action. Tucker (1999, p. 24) observes that the struggle against domination and exploitation “must extend to action in the political and economic arenas” in order for effective change to occur. Aside from responding to world crises, this signifies Northerners/Northern states must acknowledge histories, locate ourselves in those histories and take up an active responsibility, being mindful, in so doing, to avoid (re)producing dominance.

NOTES 1 In identifying myself and other Northern development workers/educators/students of development studies here as “white”, I borrow from Sheryl Nestel in “signalling our positionality as the beneficiaries of numerous social privileges that accrue to those whose appearance, comportment, habits and behaviours are construed as white in the wake of specific historical processes. Whiteness is not an essential, immutable identity, but rather a relational one. Its privileged status can be compromised and its attendant privileges diminished when its bearer transgresses the boundaries of gender, class, sexual, religious, or bodily normativity. It is nearly impossible, however, to divest oneself of white privilege in an environment highly structured by racial meanings and hierarchies” (2002, p. 289). 2 The broader Northern volunteer-sending sub-sector of the development field has attempted to address this imbalance by initiating South-South “partnerships”, South-North volunteer exchanges, and national volunteering initiatives in Southern countries, although rarely are these efforts proportional to North-South engagement. 3 This process would be facilitated by more enlightened provincial curricula that reflect a multiplicity of knowledges, histories and discourses and by actively combatting dominant development discourses.

REFERENCES Césaire, A. (1972). Discourse on colonialism. New York and London: Monthly Review Press. Dei, G.J.S. (1993). Towards an African view of development we must listen to the voices of the African people. Focus Africa, November/March. Dei, G.J.S. (1995). Indigenous knowledge as an empowerment tool for sustainable development. In V. Titi and N. Singh (Eds.), Empowerment for sustainable development: Toward operational strategies. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing Limited. Dei, G.J.S. (2000). African development: The relevance and implications of ‘indigenousness’. In G.J.S. Dei, B.L. Hall and D.G. Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledge in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Dei, G.J.S. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: The anti-colonial discursive framework. The Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3), 297–323. Esteva, G. and Prakash, M.S. (1997). From global thinking to local thinking. In M. Rahnema and V. Bawtree (Eds.), The post-development reader. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering development: The making and unmaking of the Third World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


MOFFATT Fanon, F. (1963). The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove Press. Gegeo, D.W. and Watson-Gegeo, K.A. (2002). Whose knowledge? Epistemological collisions in Solomon Islands Community Development. The Contemporary Pacific, 14(2) (Fall). Heron, B. (1999). Desire for development: The education of white women as development workers. Doctoral Dissertation, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. hooks, b. (2003). Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. New York and London: Routledge. Huffer, E. and Qalo, R. (2004). Have we been thinking upside-down? The contemporary emergence of Pacific theoretical thought. The Contemporary Pacific, 16(1) (Spring). Memmi, A. (1965). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Nestyl, S. (2002). Delivering subjects: Race, space and the emergence of legalized midwifery in Ontario. In S.H. Razack (Ed.), Race, space, and the law unmapping a white settler society. Toronto: Between the Lines. Rahnema, M. (1997). Afterword towards post-development: Searching for signposts, A new language and new Paradigms. In M. Rahnema and V. Bawtree (Eds.), The Post-development reader. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. Razack, S. (2004). Dark threats and white knights. The Somalia affair, peacekeeping, and the new imperialism. Toronto/Buffalo/London: Clareholm University Press. Sachs, W. (Ed.) (1992). The development dictionary. A guide to knowledge as power. London: Zed Books. Sardar, Z. (1999). Development and the locations of Eurocentrism. In R. Munck and D. O’Hearn (Eds.), Critical development theory. London: Zed Books. Thaman, K.H. (2003). Decolonizing Pacific studies: Indigenous perspectives, knowledge, and wisdom in higher education. The Contemporary Pacific, 15(1) (Spring). Tucker, V. (1999). The myth of development: A critique of a Eurocentric discourse. In R. Munck and D. O’Hearn (Eds.), Critical development theory. London: Zed Books.




In this chapter, I critique the methodology of my Master’s thesis, the fieldwork for which I undertook in Brazil (Hales, 2004), from an anti-colonial perspective. I do this for two reasons. The first is related specifically to my own research work, both in the past and for the future. By critiquing my Master’s thesis methodology, I want to reveal and critique that which is colonial in it and explore and raise questions about ways in which I can conduct research differently in the future. My other reason for writing on this topic is broader than my MA thesis. I am concerned with research methodology in general, particularly that which is conducted by researchers in dominant positions on/with/for subordinate, minoritized groups, such as research conducted by white Northern researchers in Southern contexts, and question the way in which much academic research is conducted: Why is the research done? How is it done? Who defines, initiates and conducts the research. On/with/for whom is the research carried out? What topics are addressed? Who benefits and how? Who interprets for whom and who represents whom? How is research written into texts? Who does the writing and in what language? Who has the authority to define what knowledge is considered legitimate, important and worthy? An anti-colonial critique of methodology is thus concerned with processes of knowledge production, procurement, interrogation, validation and dissemination. In this sense, I critique, from an anti-colonial perspective, what exists in terms of my methodological knowledge and practice to this point, and attempt to address what could or should be (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001) both for me personally in my future research decisions and practices and for methodology in a larger sense. Specifically, I address issues of epistemological racism and white privilege in research. I conclude the chapter with a discussion of some of the implications of an anti-colonial lens for research methodologies in a broader context. My overall goal is to gain a broader and more critical understanding of ways in which research “can be more respectful, ethical, sympathetic, and useful” (Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999, p. 9), and ways in which it can be conducted with greater researcher, particularly dominant researcher, responsibility and accountability.

G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 243–256. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


I begin by outlining those aspects of an anti-colonial framework through which I view and critique research methodology. Using an anti-colonial framework, Dei and Asgharzadeh (2001): define the term ‘colonial’ to include all forms of dominating and oppressive relationships that emerge from structures of power and privilege inherent and embedded in our contemporary social relations . . . Colonial is defined not simply as foreign or alien, but more importantly as dominating and imposing. (p. 308) Defining colonial in this way allows one to see the ways in which all social relations, including those in research processes, can be colonial. Thus, an anticolonial framework allows for the revealing and critiquing of that which is colonial in research methodology. For example, the research relationship between the researcher and researched can resemble that between the oppressor and the oppressed (Fine, 1994) or the colonizer and the colonized (Memmi, 1969). Control of research projects is typically in the hands of the researcher, not the research participants. Researchers are usually the ones who alone define the problem of the research, initiate the research, choose the research methods and questions, analyze and interpret gathered data, write the resulting research texts, represent or speak for or on behalf of their participants, define researcher accountability and research validity in their own terms and choose how findings will be distributed (Bishop, 1998; Fine, 1994; Graveline, 1998; King, 1997; TuhiwaiSmith, 1999). Researchers thus often have the assumed authority not only to produce knowledge, but also to define which knowledge is legitimate (Bishop, 1998; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999). Generally, it is the researcher’s time and investment in the research process that is rewarded, not those of the researched (Patai, 1988; Stanfield, 1993a). The colonial nature of the relationship between researcher and researched can be exacerbated when the researcher conducts research among groups less powerful economically, politically and socially than the researcher (Bishop, 1998; Patai, 1991; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999). Many scholars also argue that there is an inherent racism in mainstream research (Fine, 1994; Scheurich and Young, 1997; Stanfield, 1993a, 1993b), which occurs when the researcher sets up a Self-Other separation between her/himself and the researched (Fine, 1994; Graveline, 1998; Stanfield, 1993b). An anti-colonial framework also critiques the way in which false status, privilege and authority, all issues of discursive and authorial control, can be given to white researchers as knowers of the “Other” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001; Stanfield, 1993a, 1993b). An anti-colonial framework also allows for the challenging, resisting and even interrupting of that which is colonial in research methodology, for the opening up, resuscitation and creation of alternative approaches to methodological theory and practice and for the strengthening of local people’s capacity to undertake their own research (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001; Fine, 1994; Graveline, 1998; Bishop, 1998; Stanfield, 1993a, 1993b). While research can be seen as powerful and dom244


inating, those traditionally colonized by research also have the power to oppose and subvert this power and domination (Bishop, 1998; Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). According to Dei and Asgharzadeh (2001), “anti-colonial theorists seek to work with alternative, oppositional paradigms based on the use of indigenous concepts and analytical systems and cultural frames of reference” (p. 301). An anti-colonial framework is thus an indigenous epistemology, or an indigenous way of knowing, thinking about, understanding and interpreting the world. An indigenous approach to research challenges the locus of power and control of the research process and agenda being in the hands of outsiders (Bishop, 1998; Cole, 2002; King, 1997). Instead, research is epistemologically based within and is organized and conducted according to local “cultural aspirations, understandings, and practices . . . Further, the associated research issues of initiation, benefits, representation, legitimization and accountability are addressed and understood in practice . . . within the cultural context of the research participants” (Bishop 1998, p. 202). An anti-colonial framework also sees “race and racism . . . at the core of any valid and sensible analysis concerning social inequality” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 309). While viewed as an independent category, race also “interrelates and interconnects with such other autonomous sites as class, gender and sexuality” (p. 309). Dei and Asgharzadeh (2001) introduce the notion of “critical gaze” (p. 312): that . . . could be maintained on any single category such as race, class, or gender, [and] at the same time can refrain from subduing or subordinating other categories and sites of oppression. Such a gaze is not concrete or fixed. It is fluid and transparent. It constantly sees and observes colonial relations of power and domination, shifts from one site onto the other, resists all of them, but maintains relatively heavier presence on any chosen category in a strategic gesture to be more effective. (pp. 312–313) In research methodology, then, an anti-colonial framework compels researchers “not to ignore the interdependence and interrelatedness of sites like race, gender, class, sexuality, age, (dis)ability, and all other categories that serve as potential areas for oppression” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 317).


I am a white, middle-class, English-speaking Canadian female of British descent. This positioning afforded me a certain power and privilege in the context of the research I conducted with women in Brazil. As I write in my thesis, Brazil is a Southern country with a European colonial history and is simultaneously situated in the contemporary neo-imperial context of unequal North-South relations. As a white Northerner doing research in Brazil, I am aware that my practices and analyses must be situated within the context of the contemporary world order. (p. 44) 245


I do not speak Portuguese. This is significant for the research, undertaken in Brazil, because it meant that the research interviews had to be conducted in English through a translator with the resulting text written in English. English is a language of power and privilege in today’s world, and is a language not accessible to the majority of the research participants. While the women I interviewed in Brazil all are middle class, as I am in Canada, I do not assume that being middle class in Canada is the same as being middle class in Brazil. The very fact that I could afford both the time and the money to spend one month researching in Brazil shows the privilege I have in this respect. As Patai (1991) clearly notes, “it is the very existence of [such] privilege that allows the research to be undertaken” (p. 137). I am also positioned as a Northern feminist. As a feminist, I see gender relations as ones of power, and I challenge the subordination of women and inequalities based on sex, race, ethnicity, skin colour, age, sexual orientation, class, place of origin and other social factors. While my “critical gaze” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 312) may be placed on gender in this research, I do not see gender as an autonomous or independent category, but rather as interconnected with, influencing and influenced by other social categories or sites of oppression such as race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, education level, region of origin and English language ability.


The Research Topic and My Decision to Take on the Research I conducted the fieldwork for my Master’s research in Brazil. The research was initiated by the Brazilian director of a Brazilian non-governmental organization (NGO), who asked me to conduct a study of Brazilian women’s experiences with the NGO’s environmental education program. The program, called the International Training in Environmental Leadership (ITEL), has been offered to the Brazilian public annually since 1994, and brings Brazilians to Canada for two weeks as part of its education program. The director wanted to learn about ways in which the program has impacted on women participants, who have constituted an average of 86% of the program’s participants over ten years. She was particularly interested in knowing if the program had resulted in any emancipatory learning for the women. At the time of inviting me to conduct the study, the director also suggested that I could use data from the research for my MA thesis. Being invited to conduct the research was key in influencing my decision to accept the project. However, I was initially hesitant. I had not been to Brazil before participating in this research, I knew little about the region and I do not speak Portuguese. I was also aware of and concerned about the ways in which white Western/Northern women can, even unknowingly, misuse their positions of power and privilege as white, usually materially well-off women coming from the Western/Northern, so-called “First World” when conducting research with or on women from the South (Basu, 1995; Bose and Acosta-Belén, 1995; Haw, 246


1996; Mohanty, 1991, 2003; Singer as cited in Alvarez, 1994; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999; Wolf, 1996). I saw these misuses of power as exacerbating the colonial nature of the relationship between “researcher” and “researched”. During several meetings about my potential role in the research, I raised my reservations with the director who repeatedly said she would like me to do the research and that she had asked me for clear reasons: I had practical and theoretical knowledge of the pedagogy1 which she used in her program, I had academic knowledge of feminism and gender issues, I had previously lived and volunteered in Southern countries so had some understanding of some Southern contexts and, as a Canadian, I would have a different perspective to offer. I was honoured that she asked me, and I subsequently agreed to take on the project. Not only would I be able to conduct research that could be of potential use to an organization which wanted the research done and which could not afford to hire a researcher,2 but I would also be able to conduct research that genuinely interested me and use aspects of it to write the credentialing text for my Master’s degree. However, being “invited in” by the NGO director and doing research that she wanted done did not resolve my initial concerns or lessen the importance and necessity of developing research strategies that would be as respectful as possible of, and as sensitive as possible to, the research participants, Brazilian history and culture, the NGO and the director and the research process itself. While I attempted to put in place practices that would best ensure this respect and sensitivity, I ended the research project and the writing of my thesis with questions and discomfort. I could see ways in which I, as an outsider who did not speak Portuguese or know the culture well and who was limited by time (I was able to spend only one month in Brazil), was reproducing potentially colonial practices. It is these practices, as well as others that have come to my attention since finishing the research, that I address in subsequent sections. I would like to note here that, while an anti-colonial critique of methodology would include those aspects of the methodology that appear or are actually considered anti-colonial, I have decided not to include those aspects in this chapter. This chapter focusses on those aspects of my methodology which are considered colonial and colonizing, and specifically on those aspects which I have come to realize are colonial and colonizing while preparing for and writing this chapter. The Methodology I utilized qualitative, critical and feminist approaches to methodology, drawing on the work of scholars such as Glesne (1999), Lather (1991), Mohanty (1991 and 2003), Quantz (1992) and Tuhiwai-Smith (1999). I employed three methods or techniques for gathering evidence: single, semi-structured interviews with twentytwo Brazilian women who were previous participants of ITEL, the environmental education program, document analysis, and observation of components of the educational program in Brazil and Canada. I conducted eighteen of the interviews entirely through a translator. Four of the participants spoke English and I was able to conduct those interviews mostly in English and partially through a translator. 247


Because I conducted interviews in three different Brazilian cities and at a variety of times and places within those cities, I needed to work with four different translators.


Critiquing my MA thesis methodology through an anti-colonial lens means that one of the things I do is to look for ways in which my methodology is colonial and colonizing in the sense of being dominating and impositional (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). I know that aspects of my methodology reproduce colonial relations. These are aspects of the research with which I struggled at various points throughout the research process – in preparation, during fieldwork in Brazil and while analyzing and writing in Toronto. Furthermore, my main methodological technique, the semi-structured, one-on-one interview, in itself can be colonial. It is particularly so when it occurs between a foreigner (myself), who does not speak the local language or know the local culture, and a local woman through a translator. I was also acutely aware of the way in which the research was not collaborative or participatory. While I collaborated with the director at all stages of the research, I had no collaboration or involvement with participants at any stage of decision-making, preparation, planning, execution or implementation of the research. I spent a month in Brazil, conducted a total of twenty-nine interviews with twenty-eight different people3 and returned to Toronto to begin transcription and analysis. I truly felt like the outside “consultant” or “expert” who flies in and out of a place, barely having a chance to get to know it in any meaningful way. It was I who prepared the interview questions, it was I who analyzed and interpreted the data, it was I who decided upon methods of establishing validity, it was I who chose what themes to include (although I discussed these with the director) and it was I who wrote the text in English, representing the women’s stories from my perspective and in a language foreign to them, thus increasing the distance of the Self-Other hyphen between us. The colonialism in these aspects of my methodology is clear. I critique these aspects in my thesis and explain how each is a limitation in my research. I now realize that an anti-colonial framework requires the critique to go to a deeper level than what I provide in my thesis. The literature I have recently read in preparation for writing this chapter has revealed to me that my methodology is colonial in ways I had not previously considered. The literature has compelled me to look in new and more critical ways at the way in which my Western Euro-North American epistemology and my race and white privilege make my research methodology colonial (Bishop, 1998; Cole, 2002; Foster, 1994; Graveline, 1998; Hanchard, 2000; Patai, 1988; Scheurich and Young, 1997; Stanfield, 1993a, 1993b; Twine, 2000; Warren, 2000). It is in the areas of epistemological racism (Scheurich and Young, 1997) and race and white privilege, particularly in the Brazilian context (Hanchard, 2000; Patai, 1988; Twine, 2000; Warren, 2000) that the most significant learning has occurred for me in the writing of this chapter. I 248


also realize now that I cannot do an anti-colonial critique of those aspects of my methodology that I discuss in the preceding paragraph without critiquing epistemology, race and white privilege. Epistemology guides, influences and shapes the methods we choose to use and research issues of interpretation, validation, control, legitimization, collaboration, benefits, representation, accountability and knowledge production. If the epistemologies we predominantly use in research are racially biased, as Scheurich and Young (1997) argue they are, then it would follow that other aspects of our research – such as methods, validity, interpretation, legitimization, representation, accountability – are also racially biased and thus colonial. Epistemological Racism Epistemology refers “to the meaning of life and the physical environment that undergirds how we think and what we think and how we interpret what we think about” (Stanfield, 1993b, p. 14). Others refer to epistemology as a collective consciousness or a worldview, describing it as a set of images and assumptions that we have about the world (Graveline, 1998). Our epistemologies, our assumptions about the world and reality, arise from the civilizations from which we descend and of which we are a part (Scheurich and Young, 1997). Different civilizations have different epistemologies, assumptions or ways of knowing (Graveline, 1998; Scheurich and Young, 1997). One consequence of this is that different racial and cultural groups do not necessarily see and interpret the world in the same ways (Stanfield 1985 as cited in Scheurich and Young, 1997). According to Scheurich and Young (1997), the epistemologies that we typically use in educational research have arisen within and from the period of contemporary Western Euro-American civilization. As they explain: The name for the Euro-American culture’s construction of ‘the world’ or ‘the Real’ . . . is modernism. Modernism is an epistemological, ontological, and axiological network or grid that ‘makes’ the world as the dominant western culture knows and sees it . . . Beginning with the modernist period, European colonial and territorial expansion was typically undertaken under the rationale of the supremacy of White civilization . . . Widely circulated racial hierarchies and exclusions . . . became, then, a central feature in the emergence of western modernism and modernist thought, and, consequently, White racism or White supremacy became interlaced or interwoven into the founding fabric of modernist western civilization. (Scheurich and Young, 1997, p. 7) Scheurich and Young (1997) argue that the range of epistemologies that are typically used in educational research – including positivism, post-positivism, the critical tradition and postmodernism/poststructuralism – are “racially biased ways of knowing” (p. 4) because they arise out of the social history of the dominant white Western culture and are used and legitimated in educational research to the exclusion of the epistemologies of other racial and cultural groups. This exclusion has profoundly negative consequences for those of other racial cultures (Bishop, 249


1998; Foster, 1994; Scheurich and Young, 1997; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999). Scheurich and Young (1997) refer to this as “epistemological racism” (p. 4). With respect to my research methodology, I did not consider that the research epistemologies I was using may be racially-biased ways of knowing. This is perhaps unsurprising given that epistemological assumptions are so deeply embedded that they tend to be seen as natural or normal and are thus rarely questioned (Graveline, 1998; Scheurich and Young, 1997). As explained above, I used qualitative, critical and feminist approaches to research methodology. They helped to form the theoretical/conceptual framework through which I viewed, analyzed and interpreted the research data. I was particularly drawn to critical and feminist methodological approaches because of the ways in which they compelled me as the researcher to attend to imbalances of power and inequalities based on categories such as gender, race and class. While the critical and feminist traditions oppose racism and other prejudices, such as sexism, they nonetheless arise from white Western social history, are created mainly by white scholars (Bishop, 1998; Scheurich and Young, 1997) and have been “repeatedly cited for their racial biases” (Scheurich and Young, 1997, p. 10). As a result, these research traditions are not necessarily the appropriate epistemological frameworks for all research undertaken in all racial and cultural contexts. As Bishop (1998) argues, with respect to the Maori cultural context: “positivist and post-positivist frames of reference perpetuate problems of outsiders determining what is valid for Maori. This occurs by the very process of employing non-Maori methodological frameworks and conventions for writing about such research processes and outcomes” (p. 211). Epistemologies arise from specific cultural, racial and social contexts. I do not know what epistemologies have arisen out of the Brazilian context among Brazil’s racially and culturally diverse population. It is very likely that the research epistemologies I used, and my own way of knowing and interpreting the world, did not fit with those of the Brazilian women I interviewed. While some of these women are white of solely Western European descent, the majority, including the director of the NGO, are a mix of African, indigenous and/or European backgrounds. I cannot and do not assume that any of them share my epistemological framework. What does this mean? Does it mean that the methods I employed, my interpretation and representation of the women, the way in which I legitimized knowledge are racist and thus colonial? Potentially, yes it does. According to an anti-colonial framework, research epistemologies should be the epistemologies of the indigenous, which, in the case of my research, would be those of the Brazilian women I interviewed, and not mine. This realization leaves me with more questions than answers. Does being invited in somehow justify the use or imposition (even unknowing imposition) of a foreign, racially biased epistemology? Is it acceptable to be invited in and conduct research without considering, learning and using the epistemological frames of the people one is researching? Is it even possible for someone immersed in her own civilization’s epistemology to learn and use another’s? If it is possible, how would it be done? How long would it take? Or does it mean that an outsider simply cannot conduct research on/with/for another racial and cultural group? If 250


this is the case, then what does a researcher say when invited in by a member of that other racial and cultural group? Would the researcher be reproducing epistemological racism and white cultural domination if she or he accepts? Or are there ways to conduct research cross-culturally and cross-racially that do not reproduce the power and hegemony of the dominant? Are there structures that can be put in place, such as creating participatory, collaborative research environments, in which the research participants are co-researchers and control and guide the research process and agenda according to their concerns and interests, and in which the outsider researcher’s role is determined collaboratively and according to the cultural norms, values and practices of the participants? These are important questions to raise and to consider deeply and critically for, without doubt, they will influence and shape my future research decisions. This discussion on epistemological racism and white Western epistemological hegemony in research leads me to a discussion of my race and white privilege in the research I conducted in Brazil. Race and White Privilege Following the advice of feminist and critical researchers (Lather, 1991; Maguire as cited in Glesne, 1999) and my various feminist professors at OISE/UT, I duly wrote in my research proposal that I would attend to power imbalances and the intersections between gender, race and class, and subsequently would incorporate analyses of them into my thesis. While my critical gaze was on gender, I was also aware of the interconnections between gender, race, class and other categories or sites of oppression. I quickly learned that to write that one is going to attend to the intersections of gender, race and class is one thing. To do so is completely another. And to attempt do so in a culture that is not one’s own is another thing altogether. I look back now on my departure to Brazil and realize how little prepared I was to deal with all of these issues in my research. I realize that I was particularly unprepared to discuss race in my interviews and, subsequently, to bring an analysis of race into my thesis. It was in Toronto after the fieldwork, during and after transcribing the interviews, that I read and learned in more depth about the complexity of Brazilian race issues (Hanchard, 1999; Nobles, 2000; Pravaz, 2002; Reichmann, 1999). With my limited understanding of race issues in Brazil, I decided not to include an analysis of race in my thesis. Not only did I believe that an analysis of race was beyond the scope of the data I collected, but I also felt that any analysis I did do would likely misrepresent the women I interviewed. As Stanfield (1993a) claims, researchers’ lack of knowledge about racial issues tends to “reproduce traditional racial stereotypes [more] than it facilitates adequate data collection and interpretation” (p. 34). While I was not assuming that race issues did not exist in the research, I felt that removing race from my thesis was the most responsible thing to do given my lack of understanding about the subject, and explained this as a limitation of the research. However, my decision not to include race in my analysis, and thus not to talk about race at all, now leaves me questioning if, in doing so, I have effec251


tively erased race completely from the research. While I may not have been able to adequately discuss race issues related to the Brazilian women I interviewed, what about, at the very least, discussing my race, the ensuing white privilege it brings me, and implications of these for the research? Even though I state at the beginning of my methodology chapter that my positioning as a white middleclass Canadian accords me power and privilege, I nowhere discuss anything about my whiteness, its influence on the research or how it also brings me power and privilege. Twine (2000), Warren (2000), Hanchard (2000) and Patai (1988) are all North American researchers who travelled to Brazil to conduct research, as I did. Twine is a black American woman, Warren is a white American man, Hanchard is a black American man and Patai is a white American woman. While Warren (2000) and Patai (1988) both discuss the ways in which they were given status and legitimacy as white researchers in Brazil, Twine (2000) and Hanchard (2000) detail completely different experiences as black researchers. As Twine explains in the following three quotations, she was “rarely perceived to be a credible researcher” (p. 18) in Brazil: Negotiating a symbolic terrain in which my body was so disagreeable was difficult and emotionally challenging. And even more disquieting was confronting the fact that some of the Afro-Brazilians I knew assumed that I shared their valorization of whiteness simply because my partner, Jonathan Warren, who accompanied me to the field, was white. (Twine, 2000, p. 2) I had expected to be treated as a professional researcher and was not prepared for the assumption by Brazilians of color that I was a maid, the illegitimate sister of my white partner, or his whore. (Twine, 2000, p. 3) Although Brazilians are materially and symbolically marginalized on account of their ancestry phenotype, Brazilians of salient African descent do not typically possess a different political standpoint from whites when questioned about definitions of racism, and racial disparities . . . Thus, rather than mistrusting a white researcher, racial subalterns in Brazil may be more likely to identify with them . . . Moreover, prestige hierarchies and the valorization of whiteness resulted in some Brazilians of color preferring to be interviewed by my white research partner. (Twine, 2000, pp. 15–16) According to Warren (as cited in Twine, 2000), “whiteness is valorized [in Brazil] . . . whiteness is associated with intelligence, prestigious pedigree, and middleclass positions of authority” (p. 20). Furthermore, Warren (2000) writes that “the tendencies indicate that there exists a general opinion (amongst both whites and Afro-Brazilians) of the ‘inferiority’ of blacks and the ‘superiority’ of whites” (p. 138). While I was aware of racial inferiority/superiority issues in Brazil, I did not see myself as part of these issues, nor did I consider how the status and authority that I was given as a researcher in Brazil was related to my being white. The director of the NGO explained to me well after the fieldwork was finished that one of the reasons she asked me to do the research was because I was from the 252


North. She believed that Brazilians would respect and valorize me as a Northerner more than they would a Brazilian researcher. As she said “it’s related to the myth of knowledge and style of life from North America . . . There are people [in Brazil] who believe everything there [in the North] is amazing” (Hales, 2004, p. 63). Twine (2000), Warren (2000), Hanchard (2000) and Patai (1988) have strikingly brought to my attention that the status and authority I was given as a researcher in Brazil was not only because of my position as a Northerner, but was also because I am white. In fact, given that Twine (2000) and Hanchard (2000) are Northern and yet were not given the same status and authority as researchers in Brazil as I, Patai (1988) and Warren (2000) were, it seems that the status and authority a researcher receives has more to do with being white than being Northern. This makes me wonder if a white Northern researcher would be given more status than a white Brazilian researcher, or if the director would have asked a black Northern researcher to conduct the study despite her belief that Northern researchers garner more respect and authority in Brazil. Regardless of the answers, what this discussion highlights is the saliency of race in research conducted in Brazil, and in this case in particular, of the saliency of the race of the researcher and the privilege accrued when the researcher is white. When using an anti-colonial framework to critique research methodology – or public schooling or whatever – the white researcher must discuss her/his white privilege and what it affords her/him in both society and the specific context of the critique. This highlights three things for me: (1) the significance and saliency of race as a methodological issue – and by race I mean the race of the research participants as well as the race of the researcher, (2) that white researchers are largely silent or ignorant about, or tend to minimize the significance of, their race and white privilege in research contexts and (3) that white researchers need to responsibly and seriously reflect on and make explicit the ways in which they are privileged racially in research. If white researchers do not pay attention to race in these ways, and examine the ways in which white supremacy functions in research, then they may “misread and misrepresent the ways in which racism operates” in their specific research contexts (Warren in Twine 2000, p. 20).


For Me What are the implications for me of the learning I have undergone from this anticolonial critique of my MA research methodology? In general, I believe it means that I will have to become more self-aware, responsible and accountable as a researcher, more versed in anti-colonial theory and practice and more prepared to resist and challenge hegemonic practices. I will need to reflect seriously and critically on the questions I raise in the previous section on epistemological racism. I will need to learn about alternative race-based epistemologies different from the ones I know and from those that are part of my social history as a white Western 253


woman (Asante, 2003; Bishop, 1998; Cole, 2002; Collins, 2000; Graveline, 1998; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999). Part of my role in the future may be to promote and support the legitimization of alternative epistemologies in mainstream academic spaces, to resist and disrupt dominant approaches which tend to confer hegemonic authority and status on white scholars and to challenge the normally taken-for-granted assumptions of research and dominant researchers. I will also need to examine and learn about the ways in which white privilege operates in my life and the lives of other white people and critique and challenge it when I see it in practice, for example, when I see it working for my or other white researchers’ benefit in research. For Research Methodology in General What I have learned from an anti-colonial critique of my MA research methodology also has implications for research methodology in general. As Stanfield (1993a) argues, research must be democratized in terms of how it is practised and taught and also in terms of “who is involved and the ways in which their rights must be protected” (p. 32). Dominant, hegemonic research epistemologies and practices need to be challenged, interrupted and changed (Graveline, 1998; Scheurich and Young, 1997; Stanfield, 1993a). White scholars need to become more aware of and familiar with different race-based work and research (Scheurich and Young, 1997). The Western academy as a whole needs to encourage, promote and legitimize alternative race-based epistemologies – epistemologies that fit the social history of people of colour and other cultural groups, rather than supporting an exclusive epistemology arising from the social history of the dominant white race (Foster, 1994; Scheurich and Young, 1997). In methodology courses, professors need to teach and legitimize these alternative race-based epistemologies by, for example, adding research literature by nonwhite scholars and from race-oriented journals to their reading lists (Scheurich and Young, 1997). Given the racial and cultural diversity of students in Western academies such as OISE/UT, methodology professors need to respect the particular epistemological frames of students of colour, both Canadian and international, and not expect these students to use white, Western research epistemologies in their own cultural contexts, or at all. Scholars and researchers of colour need to be legitimized and rewarded in the academy in ways that are equitable with white scholars and researchers. White researchers need to become more self-aware of and critique the effects of their race, life history and privilege on research and other aspects of social life (Bentz, 1997; Graveline, 1998; Stanfield, 1993a). For example, white researchers need to critique their acceptance (blind or known) of the false authority, privileges and status they are given in research contexts and in the academy (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001; Stanfield, 1993b). An anti-colonial critique allows for the theorizing of these possibilities. Let us hope that it can also allow for their realization in practice in the not-too-distant future.


AN ANTI-COLONIAL CRITIQUE OF RESEARCH METHODOLOGY NOTES 1 The ITEL environmental education program follows the pedagogy of global education as

theorized and practised by Graham Pike and David Selby (2000a, 2000b). 2 The NGO is completely run by volunteers and I was not paid to conduct the research. Apart from my airfare (covered by a travel/conference grant) and my room and board (I stayed with NGO volunteers), I covered all costs, including translation costs, while in Brazil. 3 I interviewed twenty-two women who were previous participants of the environmental education program, and also interviewed six Brazilian feminists not associated with the program in order to gain an understanding of Brazilian feminism and gender issues from a Brazilian feminist standpoint.

REFERENCES Alvarez, S. (1994). The (trans)formation of feminism(s) and gender politics in democratizing Brazil. In J.S. Jaquette (Ed.), The women’s movement in Latin America: Participation and democracy, 2nd Edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Asante, M.K. (2003). Afrocentricty: The theory of social change. Chicago: African American Images. Basu, A. (1995). Introduction. In A. Basu (Ed.), The challenge of local feminisms: Women’s movements in global perspective. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Bentz, M. (1997). Beyond ethics: Science, friendship, and privacy. In T. Biolsi and L.J. Zimmerman (Eds.), Indians and anthropologists: Vine Deloria Jr. and the critique of anthropology. Tuscon, AZ: The University of Arizona Press. Bishop, R. (1998). Freeing ourselves from neo-colonial domination in research: A Maori approach to creating knowledge. Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(2). Bose, C.E. and Acosta-Belén, E. (1995). Introduction. In C.E. Bose and E. Acosta-Belén (Eds.), Women in the Latin American development process. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Cole, P. (2002). Aborignalizing methodology: Considering the canoe. Qualitative Studies in Education, 15(4). Collins, P.H. (2000). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness and the politics of empowerment, 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge. Dei, G.J.S. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: The anti-colonial discursive framework. Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3). Fine, M. (1994). Dis-stance and other stances: Negotiations of power inside feminist research. In A. Gitlin (Ed.), Power and method: Political activism and educational research. New York: Routledge. Foster, M. (1994). The power to know one thing is never the power to know all things: Methodological notes on two studies of black American teachers. In A. Gitlin (Ed.), Power and method: Political activism and educational research. New York: Routledge. Glesne, C. (1999). Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction. New York: Addison Wesley Longman. Graveline, F.J. (1998). Circleworks: Transforming Eurocentric consciousness. Halifax: Fern Publishing. Hales, J. (2004). Learning gender, attaining capital, and demystifying the North: Brazilian women’s experiences with the international training in environmental leadership. Master’s Thesis. University of Toronto. Hanchard, M. (1999). Introduction. In M. Hanchard (Ed.), Racial politics in contemporary Brazil. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Hanchard, M.G. (2000). Racism, eroticism, and the paradoxes of a U.S. black researcher in Brazil. In F.W. Twine and J.W. Warren (Eds.), Racing research, researching race: Methodological dilemmas in critical race studies. New York: New York University Press. Haw, K.F. (1996). Exploring the educational experiences of muslim girls: Tales told to tourists – Should the white researcher stay at home? British Educational Research Journal, 22(3). King, C. (1997). Here come the Anthros. In T. Biolsi and L.J. Zimmerman (Eds.), Indians and anthropologists: Vine Deloria Jr. and the critique of anthropology. Tuscon, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.


HALES Lather, P. (1991). Getting smart: Feminist research and pedagogy with/in the postmodern. New York/London: Routledge. Memmi, A. (1969). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Mohanty, C.T. (1991). Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. In C.T. Mohanty, A. Rosso and L. Torres (Eds.), Third World women and the politics of feminism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Mohanty, C.T. (2003). Feminism without borders: Decolonizing theory, practicing solidarity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Nobles, M. (2000). Shades of citizenship: Race and the census in modern politics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Patai, D. (1988). Brazilian women speak: Contemporary life stories. London: Rutgers University Press. Patai, D. (1991). U.S. academics and Third World women: Is ethical research possible? In S.B. Gluck and D. Patai (Eds.), Women’s words: The feminist practice of oral history. New York: Routledge. Pike, G. and Selby, D. (2000a). In the global classroom, Book 1. Toronto: Pippin. Pike, G. and Selby, D. (2000b). In the global classroom, Book 2. Toronto: Pippin. Pravaz, N. (2002). Performing mulatice: Hybridity as identity in Brazil. Ph.D. Dissertation. Toronto: York University. Quantz, R.A. (1992). On critical ethnography (with some postmodern considerations). In M. Le Compte, W. Millroy and J. Preissle (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research in education. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Reichmann, R. (1999). Introduction. In R. Reichmann (Ed.), Race in contemporary Brazil. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. Scheurich, J.J. and Young, M.D. (1997). Coloring epistemologies: Are our research epistemologies racially biased? Educational Researcher, 26(4). Stanfield, J.H. (1993a). Epistemological considerations. In J.H. Stanfield II and R.M. Dennis (Eds.), Race and ethnicity in research methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. Stanfield, J.H. (1993b). Methodological reflections: An introduction. In J.H. Stanfield II and R.M. Dennis (Eds.), Race and ethnicity in research methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. Tuhiwai-Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. London: Zed Books. Twine, F.W. (2000). Racial ideologies and racial methodologies. In F.W. Twine and J.W. Warren (Eds.), Racing research, researching race: Methodological dilemmas in critical race studies. New York: New York University Press. Warren, J.W. (2000). Masters in the field: White talk, white privilege, white biases. In F.W. Twine and J.W. Warren (Eds.), Racing research, researching race: Methodological dilemmas in critical race studies. New York: New York University Press. Wolf, D.L. (1996). Situating feminist dilemmas in fieldwork. In D.L. Wolf (Ed.), Feminist dilemmas in fieldwork. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.




A little more than two years ago, I began the slow and difficult process of waking up from a deep and long sleep. It was not a literal waking, but rather a journey of spiritual, emotional and mental awakening that carried me from a place of ignorance and pain, to a space of awareness and action. Although my journey to this space began a long, long time ago, this process of coming to consciousness was realized as a result of my experiences as a diverse student in social work education. What I experienced and what I witnessed during this education was the silencing and side-lining of certain bodies within the classroom. I struggled to understand what I was seeing and feeling, given that the profession of social work rests upon the values of anti-oppression, social justice and diversity. Moreover, I felt that what was happening in the classroom surely spoke to what was happening with the clients and the communities that we as social workers serve. That is, if historical relations of power and oppression based on perceived difference (e.g. race, class, sexuality, gender, ability, language, etc.) were replicated and not addressed in the classroom, the same is most likely happening between social workers and their clients in the community. In my attempt to make sense of my educational experiences and my desire to create something different for those students who would come behind me, I found myself enrolled in a course examining anti-colonial thought and pedagogical challenges. In this course I received language that not only spoke to what I had been seeing and feeling in the classroom, but also spoke to strategies for creating change. In this chapter I examine my experiences in social work education and apply an anti-colonial lens in order to problematize the current state of social work education in the Western context and provide suggestions for actualizing change.


While I was not officially provided the title of “diverse student” on admission to the social work program, it was a role I found myself relegated to by default, in relation to the surrounding dominant bodies and knowledge systems. Born of mixed race (Anishnaabe and white), I had grown up walking in two worlds, however, in the social work classroom these two worlds were often brought crashing into G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 257–269. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


painful conflict. What I found, was that the Anishnaabe traditions and knowledge that I had been raised with were not really welcome in the classroom. At best, my stories or suggestions were met with polite smiles or blank stares and a quick change of subject. At worse, they were met with intolerance and racism, veiled to varying degrees. On the other hand, the dominant (Eurocentric) knowledge and values I had also been raised with were considered normative, acceptable and were encouraged. It was as though I was being asked to split in two and share only the part of me that would not create any discomfort in the classroom. I knew in my heart that there was much to be shared and much to be learned from the Anishnaabe teachings that I had received in relation to being a helper (social worker), though it was also clear from the reactions of instructors and peers that these teachings were not considered valuable or valid knowledge. Battiste and Henderson note: [f]or most Indigenous students in Eurocentric education, realizing their invisibility is like looking into a still lake and not seeing their reflections. They become alien in their own eyes, unable to recognize themselves in the reflections and shadows of the world. In the same way Eurocentric thought stripped their grandparents and parents of their wealth and dignity, this realization strips modern Indigenous students of their heritage and identity. (2000, p. 88) It was incredibly painful to share lived experiences and ideas that I valued so highly, only to be ignored. Without the support of peers and a few instructors who had experienced similar incidents, I would surely have chosen to submit to silence and invisibility than risk being hurt again. The possibility of hiding or “passing” was certainly open to me as my light skin lends itself to a perception of similarity to dominant bodied students and staff. This perception of similarity has no doubt privileged me in my educational undertakings. James notes that “[t]hose who are perceived as similar are more likely to be liked, helped, treated fairly, and to be supported with social and material resources” (2004, p. 51). Because of this assumption of similarity, it became even more imperative to find a way to have my voice heard and to challenge the privileging of the dominant norm at the expense of those at the margins. In order to do this, I needed to develop a strong understanding of how and why power and oppression relations were being played out in social work. DIVERSITY AND SOCIAL WORK – HISTORICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The field of social work in North America emerged over one hundred years ago, when wealthy and educated white women began working with those who were considered foreign (Sakamoto, 2003). Sakamoto (2003) examines how social work has defined foreignness and how such definitions have shaped the profession and shifted over time to reflect changes in the political, cultural, societal and historical contexts. While social work developed in response to the need to provide aid to and facilitate the assimilation of an influx of immigrants, Sakamoto (2003) also discusses how access to social services depended heavily upon the perception 258


of individuals as similar or dissimilar to social workers. Similar others are described as those who had lighter skin, and similar language and/or similar cultural practices to the social workers, while dissimilar others are described as differing from the workers in one or more of these aspects (Sakamoto, 2003). Sakamoto (2003) points to the importance of examining these historical relationships as the construction of the foreign in present social work practice seems to change on the surface, while similar dynamics operate underneath. She asserts that social work, both historically and currently, embodies a fundamental dilemma in that it is: . . . constantly defining the foreign – that is, constructing it, while trying to eradicate it by breaking down the inequality between foreigners and natives. If social work helps those who do not somehow meet the standards of society, it simultaneously reinforces those standards and necessitates a group that does not reach them. It seems that social work needs the foreign to construct itself, but at the same time constructs itself through ‘correcting’ foreignness. (Sakamoto, 2003, p. 240) Social work has also played a significant historical role with the Aboriginal population. Early social workers have been acknowledged as having been complicit with government colonial actions, used as “pawn[s] to further enact state policy towards native people” (Sinclair, 2004, p. 50). This complicity occurred through the participation in the removal and transfer of Aboriginal children from their home to residential school and through participation in the assimilation policies of child welfare – policies which saw Aboriginal children fostered or adopted into non-Aboriginal homes (Sinclair, 2004). The impacts of colonial relations and assimilation policies continue to persist in the lives of Aboriginal people today, evident in the ongoing experiences of racism, exclusion, marginalization and oppression (Sinclair, 2004). Social work as a whole must undertake to move from a state of complicity with this status quo oppression, to action in order to dissemble it. This movement requires the bringing forth of new ways of thinking into social work education, research and literature to enable social work practice capable of resisting oppression and recreating the role of social work in the lives of the oppressed.


In 1999, George and Tsang described social work as entering a new era, noting that: . . . its future is under scrutiny in schools and communities all over the world. During the last few years, social work in the West has been critiqued for its Eurocentric theories and practice models and encouraged to be more sensitive and responsive to the changing realities of its diverse client base in order to sustain its relevance. (1999, p. 57) In response to the recognition of an increasingly diverse client base, social work literature reflects efforts to incorporate the diversity of client backgrounds and 259


experiences into the education and practice of social workers (George and Tsang, 1999). Diversity is generally defined in social work discourse as the attributes of individuals and groups that mark their identity, such as race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, language, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, age, religion and spirituality (Lee, 1992; George et al., 1998; George and Tsang, 1999; Roberts and Smith, 2002). Diversity has also been conceptualized as a valuedriven and socially constructed concept which involves the exercise of power by a dominant group or body over the diverse other (George and Tsang, 1999). Accordingly, it has also been asserted that the imperatives of identifying and responding to issues of diversity in social work rest in the core social work values of equity, anti-oppression and social justice (George et al., 1998). In attempting to understand how the notion of diversity has been taken up in social work, it is necessary to review the literature addressing diversity that has been produced by the profession. Spender (1981) emphasizes the power of literature in establishing the parameters in which discussion occurs in a discipline by defining the terms of the debate. Legitimation is seen to come through publication, in that the kind of literature published speaks to the knowledge and ideas that are considered valuable and valid to the profession of social work (McMahon and Allen-Meares, 1992). I will review the areas of social work literature where the concept of diversity appears most often: (1) social work practice with diverse clients; and (2) teaching diversity in social work education. I will also consider how the ideas and knowledge generated in these areas impact upon the experiences of diverse students in social work education. Two main approaches to working with diverse clients that are commonly advanced in social work literature, the cultural sensitivity approach and the cultural competence approach (Lee and Greene, 1999). The cultural sensitivity approach proposes that social workers recognize they will have much in common with all of their clients, regardless of their cultural background, while also recognizing that all people have different worldviews (Fukuyama, 1990; Ibrahim, 1991; Lee and Greene, 1999). It has been described as a “universalistic” approach, in which social workers first focus on developing and utilizing the basic clinical skills required for effective practice with all clients, while also keeping in mind that each client has her/his own values, norms and ways of interpreting reality that must be considered for clinical work to be effective (Fukuyama, 1990; Lee and Greene, 1999). The cultural competence approach to clinical practice with diverse clients focuses on developing knowledge of a particular cultural group and techniques from within a specific context (Lee and Greene, 1999). This approach seeks to understand such things as how a given culture views the helping relationship and how problems traditionally solved within that culture (Nwachuku and Ivey, 1991; Lee and Greene, 1999). The cultural competence approach builds on an understanding of the culture, moving to the definition of concrete skills and techniques for operationalizing the theory (Lee and Greene, 1999). The goal of this approach is to reduce negative stereotyping and develop a more complex understanding



of other cultures, as opposed to an oversimplification of those cultures (Lee and Greene, 1999). While these approaches certainly represent the efforts of the discipline to respond to its diverse client base, it is necessary to interrogate the extent to which they effectively engage with diversity, not only as a concept that denotes difference, but as the value-driven, socially-constructed concept that speaks of the exercise of power over the diverse other by a dominant group or body (Stainton and Swift, 1996; George and Tsang, 1999). In their content analysis entitled “Is Social Work Racist?” McMahon and Allen-Meares, assert that “the literature of a profession is the text of what that profession believes is important for knowledge and practice” (1992, p. 537). Their analysis, which examined 117 articles on Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans and Native Americans, found that the majority of articles construed a naïve and superficial approach to anti-racist social work (McMahon and Allen-Meares, 1992). More specifically, most articles revealed practice which attempted to understand minority clients acontextually, without reference to the social processes (i.e. racism, poverty, ableism, etc.) effecting their lives (McMahon and Allen-Meares, 1992). In addition, articles promoting ethnic-sensitive practice did not focus on change in the client or their external social conditions, but instead focused on change in the social worker (McMahon and Allen-Meares, 1992). The largest category of articles in the literature surveyed, addressed social work practice with African Americans, and disturbingly, almost all of these articles presume that social workers are white! (McMahon and Allen-Meares, 1992). In summarizing their findings, the authors concede that given the role of literature in representing and promoting knowledge and values for practice, the naive and superficial treatment of anti-racist social work found in the literature infers that the profession operates at the same level (McMahon and Allen-Meares, 1992). Literature addressing the teaching of diversity content in social work education is arguably discouraging. Diversity has been seen as presenting numerous challenges to the institutions of social work education, in terms of efforts to create diverse faculty, diverse administration, a diverse student body, as well as developing student faculty support systems, generating financial aid funds and altering the core curriculum (Persico, 1990; George et al., 1998). And while much of the response to the challenges of diversity has occurred in the area of curriculum change, a review of schools of social work accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work, suggests that the incorporation of diversity content into the curriculum has had only limited success (Aponte, 1995; Christensen, 1996). Garcia and Van Soest (1997) acknowledge the demands upon and discomfort of faculty in raising diversity content in the classroom, in terms of encountering student resistance and heightened emotions. Despite the recognition that discussions of diversity stimulate personal issues for students, and that such discussions may lead to the reproduction of relations of oppression in the classroom, there appears to be very little literature which explicitly explores the experiences of diverse students in relation to diversity content in their social work education (George et al., 1998; Miehls, 2001). 261


I found few articles that explored the experiences of diverse students in social work education; however those that I found did speak to what I had been experiencing. Weaver (2000) explores the experiences of Native Americans in social work education, utilizing a qualitative survey to explore the challenges faced by Native American social work students. This survey was developed to identify factors for consideration in the efforts of educators and administrators to make social work education more accommodating to these students (Weaver, 2000). Several themes emerged from the survey results, including: (1) a lack of meaningful cultural content or the inclusion of only token amounts of diversity; (2) the expectations that students act as experts or spokespersons on cultural issues; (3) reliance upon external support through Native American organizations, professors and mentors; (4) the importance of peer support; (5) the expectation of assimilation of values; and (6) encounters with stereotypes and racism (Weaver, 2000). The author asserts that if a client were to encounter the difficulties that these students encountered in their social work education, the cultural competence of the social worker would be challenged (Weaver, 2000). Weaver (2000) also warns that lack of attention to cultural issues or the expression by some students and faculty of negative attitudes towards diversity can lead students to devalue their cultural heritage and ultimately, themselves. The issues identified in this article reflected my own experiences in social work education. First, diversity content – especially regarding Aboriginal issues, most often appeared in a token or piecemeal manner, if at all, and was most likely to be taken up in a superficial fashion. The second issue, the expectation of student as expert/spokesperson was something that I experienced to a lesser extent, though I noticed that it occurred more often for those students who were easily visibly identifiable as Aboriginal (or any identity considered to fall outside the norm, for that matter). The third issue, the reliance upon supports external to the program (i.e. Aboriginal supports, professors and mentors) became a key to my academic survival. These connections not only provided me with immense support, but assisted me to understand my experiences within a broader context of historical relationships and institutional and societal issues. These supports helped me to recognize the insidious nature of the dominant (Eurocentric) knowledge in displacing my own experiences, and provided me with the strength and guidance to reclaim and re-center my knowledge and lived experience. The fourth issue, peer support, was also integral to survival. I was not alone in my experiences and I found several of my peers who, through various pieces of their identity, also found themselves to be “diversified” (otherized and marginalized) in the classroom. A slow informal network of peers arose based on shared experiences of silencing, otherizing, delegitimizing and otherwise oppressive acts of power in the classroom and the faculty. It is immensely powerful to realize you are not alone. Though our identities and experiences varied, we all faced the same underlying dynamics of oppression. One student was asked by a professor “What are we calling you [black people] now?”. Shortly before graduation, this student was also told by a faculty member that she had done such a good job assimilating 262


that the faculty member did not know she was an international student. There was no mistaking the value placed on assimilation and the positive social reception based on being perceived as similar and non-foreign. In addition to the expectation of assimilation, Weaver (2000) also points to the subjection of students to stereotypes and racism within their social work education. While the examples of the stereotypes and racism I have witnessed or experienced first hand during my social work education are numerous, perhaps what has been most striking is the lack of response by both students and faculty. It is excruciatingly painful to sit in a classroom where oppression is held in place by silence. In his discussion of the need to support Aboriginal learners in social work education, Bruyere describes that the problem occurs [. . . ] when Aboriginal people, including myself, ask ‘Why does this hurt?’ ‘Why does it feel wrong?’ ‘Why do I feel that other non-Aboriginal students and faculty who say they want to hear us are in effect giving us the message that they do not want to hear us?’ ‘Why do I feel so angry at colleagues and non-Aboriginal students who I want to believe are good human beings?’ (1998, p. 174). The original concept of this chapter grew out of a place of hurt and anger. I felt very angry at knowing that there were many voices being silenced and many teachings being lost in the classroom because of longstanding imbalances of privilege and power took priority over substantive and transformative change. I was frustrated that I could not see any efforts being made to address these issues. I was also angry that when I presented my concerns to the social work curriculum committee – that classes were being taught as if everyone was the same, and as such students were disengaging from an education that did not reflect or engage their lived experiences and knowledge and that this disengagement was a loss for all involved, I was told that I was not behaving like myself. I was then pulled aside by a faculty member who stated that I must have recently experienced some sort of personal shock that would account for my “unusual” behaviour, and that if I had experienced intolerant comments in the classroom that I should not take them personally, as they were not intended to hurt my feelings. Why bother with the message, when you can pin it on the messenger? Bruyere also speaks to this experience, stating: [s]ome students and teachers are also not very good at hiding their frustration at having to hear yet again about the Aboriginal perspective, or to hear demands for its inclusion, personalizing the issues as an individual deficit rather than an institutional form of exclusion. (1998, p. 175) While my feelings of hurt, anger and frustration motivated me to make change, they did not exactly provide me with the tools and knowledge for creating that change. I needed something to help me move from a question of understanding to a process of change, to move from asking “So what?” to asking “So, what next?”. 263


By the winter term of my final year, I had enrolled in a graduate seminar in sociology and equity studies examining anti-colonial thought and pedagogical challenges. Feeling almost choked by silence and overwhelmed by the weight of what seemed to be an unchangeable status quo of dominant knowledge and oppressive classroom practices, I had turned outside of the social work faculty to make sense of what I had been experiencing. The anti-colonial seminar acknowledged and validated what I had been experiencing in social work. More importantly, the anti-colonial framework was not simply focused on analysis but transformation. Anti-colonial thought, in its contemporary form, is built upon the decolonisation movements that occurred at the end of the Second World War, as colonial states fought for independence from European countries (Dei, 2004). In my application of anti-colonial thought I primarily utilize the anti-colonial discursive framework advanced by Dei and Asgharzadeh (2001). This framework is designed as: [. . . ] an epistemology of the colonized anchored in the indigenous sense of collective and common colonial consciousness. [. . . ] The anti-colonial discursive framework allows for the effective theorizing of issues emerging from colonial and colonized relations by way of using indigenous knowledge as an important standpoint. [. . . ] Its goal is to question, interrogate, and challenge the foundations of institutionalized power and privilege, and the accompanying rationale for dominance in social relations. (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 300) The framework reconceptualizes colonial as that which is imposed and dominating, and not simply that which is foreign or alien (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). This reconceptualization of the term “colonial” arises from a critique of post-colonial theory, which supposes a break between the colonial past and the post-colonial present, that the colonial has ended, or at least changed (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001; Dei, 2004). The critique problematizes the narrowness of the post-colonial definition of colonial, in that it is centered on the “historical fact” of European colonialism (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2000). It is asserted that this narrow view is “. . . incapable of addressing the problems of the majority of the globe’s population who still continue to live under the colonialist and imperialist conditions of bondage and dependency” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 306). As such, Dei and Asgharzadeh expand the colonial to include “all forms of dominating and oppressive relationships that emerge from structures of power and privilege inherent and embedded in our contemporary social realities” (2001, p. 308). This broadened definition enables the anti-colonial discursive framework to encompass and engage with the continuously changing social realities of our world (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). The use of indigenous knowledge within the anti-colonial framework is seen not only as a site of resistance to colonial oppression, but also as a way to “[. . . ] help resuscitate oneself and one’s community from mental bondage” (Dei and 264


Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 302). Indigenous knowledge is defined as “[. . . ] the social norms and values, and the social and mental constructs which guide, organize, and regulate a people’s ways of living and making sense of their world” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 304). In addition to the use of indigenous knowledges as sites of resistance, the anti-colonial discursive framework also emphasizes the importance of developing a common zone of resistance, in which “[. . . ] variously diverse minoritized, marginalized, and oppressed groups are enabled to ‘come to voice’, and subsequently to challenge and subvert the hegemonic systems of power and domination” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 317). The anti-colonial discursive framework also recognizes the interlocking nature of oppressions and refuses the privileging of any one site of oppression over another (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). Instead, the framework proposes a critical gaze that is transparent and fluid and able to shift from site to site, while also strategically lending a heavier presence where necessary to evoke effective action (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). It is the offering of hope through the prospect of change that caused me to embrace the possibilities of anti-colonial thought and to apply these possibilities to my experiences in social work education. Beginning with the history of social work in North America, it is undeniably clear that the profession has actively participated in colonial relations. The matter of access to social services based on similar and dissimilar bodies speaks to social work’s complicity in race-based oppression that continues today. The anti-colonial discursive framework acknowledges that race “[. . . ] has been and continues to be socially constructed in order to pave the way for some form of colonialist and dominating ambitions of one kind or another” and that such construction of race involves privilege, rewards, liabilities and punishments associated with such factors as colour of skin, language, religion, nationality, ethnicity, etc. (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 308). The framework also speaks to the role of societal and institutional structures in creating and recreating endemic inequalities (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). This is an ironic role for social work as Sakamoto (2003) points to the profession’s aim to correct social inequality by assisting those who somehow do not meet societal standards, at once reinforcing those standards and requiring a group that does not meet them. Casting a gaze from this perspective, it is not then surprising to find in current social work literature that addresses the concept of diversity, the persisting construction of a racialized other as client and the corresponding presumption of a white social worker. Anti-colonial thought asserts the power of the colonized as resting in the ability to “[. . . ] question, challenge and subsequently subvert the oppressive structures of power and privilege” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 300). In this way, I have come to view social work literature as playing a powerful role in maintaining the power and privilege of certain valued bodies and ways of knowing. In attempting to destabilize that power, I think it important to examine and to problematize the use of the term “diversity” in social work literature. Bannerji (2000) suggests the language of diversity serves as a coping mechanism for dealing with a conflicting heterogeneity. Diversity, she asserts, does not 265


speak to class struggle and formation, deep and active racism, racialized class production of gender, or the history of colonization, instead, it is the erasure and occlusion of social relations of power (Bannerji, 2000). Bannerji (2000) suggests that the result of using a de-politicizing term such as diversity allows for the avoidance of hard socio-political questions and basic structural changes, and therefore maintains the status quo. She elaborates on the importance of naming and notes: [. . . ] there is much invested in the fact of naming, in the words we use to express our socio-political understandings, because they are more than just words, they are ideological concepts. They imply intentions and political and organizational practices. Calling people by different names, in different political contexts, always produced significantly different results. These names are, after all, not just names to call people by, but rather codes for political subjectivities and agencies. (Bannerji, 2000, p. 550) In advising against the use of the term diversity to identify oneself, Bannerji (2000) suggests that one should instead seek to define oneself in terms which are distinctly politically and socially grounded. She asserts that such striving for political self-definition is not only an act of deconstruction of difference, but also, a “self-conscious anti-oppression task of historical recovery” (Bannerji, 2000, p. 556). I identify as an anti-colonial Anishnaabe woman, and as a mixed race Anishnaabe woman for the comfort of those who crane their necks for a second glance. Naming has not been an easy undertaking. One destructive impact of colonial policies and practices towards the Aboriginal peoples in Canada has been the internalization of racism. The question of who is Native is immensely politicized given the social benefits and detriments attached through the colonial context. I was raised with my grandmothers teaching me my connection to the Mother Earth and the Creator and with teachings of traditional medicines and ceremonies. I was raised within a community where, due to the high percentage of mixed race (Native/White), being Native had no connection to how one appeared. However, when I left my home community at the age of sixteen to attend school in a small city, I came to understand that identifying as Native had far more ramifications in my new life than they had in the life I had come from. I experienced racism in many forms both within the mainstream society and the Native community. The pain of these experiences led me to turn away from myself and to subsist through passing as only white. For nearly ten years I ignored who I was, coming out from time to time, only to withdraw quickly back to safety. By the time I began my social work education, I had become aware enough to realize that I had been hiding within myself. The choice to pass had not been a conscious act of seeking comfort, but a subconscious instinct for survival. The first assigned in the social work program I attended was Gord Bruyere’s (1998) article: “Living in Another Man’s House: Supporting Aboriginal Learners in Social Work Education”. Bruyere (1998) speaks of the need for the academy to make room and accord equal respect for multiple ways of knowing, while examining the unique challenges faced by Aboriginal students. When I read the article, I saw my experience reflected and I could no longer deny who I was or who I would 266


be in the context of social work education. I bubbled over with emotion while discussing the article in class, angrily pointing out that while Bruyere’s remarks were quite valid with regard to the challenges faced by Aboriginal learners, that other students also faced similarly hard challenges based on their identity and lived experience. Over the two years of the program, I grew to understand that initial anger as having come from hurt I had experienced through exclusion – exclusion for which I was in part responsible. My two year journey through social work education was a tremendous undertaking, I awoke to find the difficulties I had sought to avoid were eagerly awaiting me and were no less challenging. Nonetheless, it forced me to put my feet on the ground and find my way back to the good red road. The process of coming to identify as an anti-colonial Anishnaabe woman was a trying task of remembering and returning to where I had come from. My name and my being were given to me by my creator and my ancestors, they are not to be superseded by colonial forces and practices. Identifying as an anti-colonial Anishnaabe woman captures where I have come from, where I am and where I am going. It clearly communicates that I acknowledge and challenge the presence of colonial forces and practices; it is reclamation of language, culture and being wrapped up in a handful of words. At the end of my program, I had found great love and comfort in the Bruyere (1998) article. However, I still feel that my criticism was valid (though not my initial anger), having witnessed the pain of my non-Native peers who somehow varied from the dominant norm, found their lived experiences being discussed as though they were not present, being asked to speak as a cultural expert or experiencing devaluation of any knowledge/traditions that strayed from the norm. The basis of all of my close friendships formed during my social work education was the common experience of oppression in the classroom, whether it was on basis of race, class, ability, gender, sexuality, language, nationality, religion or spirituality. A knowing look across the room, or shared shock at an intolerant comment buoyed hope that you were not alone. It was through sharing these experiences and supporting one another that the informal network of peer support began. This amazing group of peers provided those within it with emotional, intellectual and spiritual support, and fostered a growing consciousness among one another. With this consciousness came energy that was able to shift from site to site, from discussions of diversity content and the marginalization of minoritized students in the classroom, to the organization of seminars to address subjects inadequately addressed in curriculum, such as accessibility and Aboriginal knowledge, to a committee addressing the needs and challenges of international students and again to an alumni diversity committee. Without these peers, I strongly doubt that I would have made it to graduation. However, the efforts of the students needed to be met equally by the faculty, its staff and its practices. While efforts have been made to make change, there is a tremendous amount of work left to be done. The silencing, otherizing and marginalizing of non-dominant students in the classroom is nothing short of a reproduction of colonial relations. The failure of social work education, research 267


and literature (and therefore, practice) to reflect the voices of these students, their families, communities and ancestors is an unacceptable act of complicity in an ongoing status quo characterized by grossly imbalanced privilege and oppression. These voices must be heard, they must be honoured as valid and valuable, and be recognized for the teachings they carry. Anti-colonial thought insists that a discursive integrity must be accorded to colonized bodies and their accounts, histories and cultures in order to destabilize the colonial norm (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). Perspectives on social work knowledge and practice therefore require a critical approach to the history of the profession and to the histories of the people it serves. Social work also requires models for research and practice that reflect the knowledge and traditions of the many communities its serves, to be taught in a way that gives voice as opposed to imposing silence. This is not to say that such models do not already exist, but rather that the dominant practices of gatekeeping – whether in literature, education or practice – that presently hold such models at the margins, must be dismantled. Memmi asserted that “[the] most serious blow suffered by the colonized is being removed from history and from community” (1969, p. 91). In order to resist colonization, we must resist this removal. By remembering our history, reconnecting to our communities and bringing forth the teachings from these into social work, we rupture the hegemony of knowledge production while at the same time working to decolonize our minds, bodies, hearts and spirits. Further, we must foster these connections to our communities and keep in mind that our knowledge production should be for their communal benefit and contribute to decolonisation. In discussing the process of indigenizing the academy, Justice proposes the test of asking “How does my work honour my ancestors? And will it help or hinder those to come?” (2004, p. 103). In Anishnaabe teachings, the processes of remembering and creating are inseparable. Our Creation Story contains our lessons for strong, healthy lives and for cultural survival. Through shared memory of creation teachings, our culture has withstood the unimaginable pain and loss resulting from colonization. Decolonizing social work education will mean that we will no longer be remembering to survive, but we will be remembering so that we may thrive.

REFERENCES Aponte, C.N. (1995). Cultural diversity course model: Cultural competence for content and process. Arete, 20(1), 46–55. Bannerji, H. (2000). The construction of multi-cultural Canada and ‘women of colour’. Women’s Studies International Forum, 23(5), 537–560. Battiste, M. and Henderson J.Y. (2000). Protecting indigenous knowledge and heritage: A global challenge. Saskatoon: Punch Press. Bruyere, G. (1998). Living in another man’s house: Supporting aboriginal learners in social work education. Canadian Social Work Review, 15(2), 169–176. Dei, G.J.S. (1996). Anti-racism education: Theory and practice. Halifax: Fernwood. Dei, G.J.S. (2004). Anti-colonial thought and pedagogical challenges. SES 3914 Course Notes, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Winter Session.


REMEMBERING, RESISTING Dei, G.J.S. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: The anti-colonial discursive framework. Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3), 297–323. Fukuyama, M.A. (1990). Taking a universal approach to multicultural counselling. Counselor Education and Supervision, 30, 6–25. Garcia, B. and Van Soest, D. (1997). Changing perception of diversity and oppression: MSW students discuss the effects of a required course. Journal of Social Work Education, 33(1), 119–130. George, U. and Tsang, A.K.T. (1999). Towards an inclusive paradigm in social work: The diversity framework. The Indian Journal of Social Work, 60(1), 57–68. George, U., Shera, W. and Tsang, A.K.T. (1998). Responding to diversity in organizational life: The case of a faculty of social work. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 2(1), 73–86. Ibrahim, F.A. (1991). Contribution of cultural worldview to generic counseling and development. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 13–19. James, K. (2004). Corrupt state university: The organizational psychology of native experience in higher education. In D.A. Mihesuah and A.C. Wilson (Eds.), Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming scholarship and empowering communities. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Justice, D.H. (2004). Seeing (and reading) red. In D.A. Mihesuah and A.C. Wilson (Eds.), Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming scholarship and empowering communities. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Lee, B. (1992). Family services for all: A study of family services for ethnocultural and racial communities in metropolitan Toronto. Toronto: Multicultural Coalition for Access to Family Services. Lee, M.Y. and Greene, G.J. (1999). A social constructivist framework for integrating cross-cultural issues in teaching clinical social work. Journal of Social Work Education, 35(1), 21–38. McMahon, A. and Allen-Meares, P. (1992). Is social work racist? A content analysis of recent literature. Social Work, 37(6), 533–539. Memmi, A. (1969). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Miehls, D. (2001). The interface of racial identity development with identity complexity in clinical social work student practitioners. Clinical Social Work Journal, 29(3), 229–244. Nwachuku, U.T. and Ivey, A.E. (1991). Culture specific counseling: An alternative training model. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 106–111. Persico, C.F. (1990). Creating an institutional climate that honours diversity. In G. Stricker, E. DavisRussell, E. Bourg, E. Duran, W. Hammond, J. McHooland, K. Polite and B. Vaughn (Eds.), Towards ethnic diversification in psychology education and training. Washington: American Psychological Association. Sakamoto, I. (2003). Changing images and similar dynamics: Historical patterning of foreignness in the social work profession. In R. Saunders (Ed.), The concept of the foreign: An interdisciplinary dialogue. Lanham: Lexington Books. Sinclair, R. (2004). Aboriginal social work education in Canada: Decolonizing pedagogy for the seventh generation. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 1(1), 49–61. Spender, D. (1981). The gatekeepers. In H. Roberts (Ed.), Doing feminist research. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Stainton, T. and Swift, K. (1996). ‘Difference’ and social work curriculum. Canadian Social Work Review, 13(1), 75–88. Weaver, H.N. (2000). Culture and professional education: The experiences of native American social workers. Journal of Social Work Education, 36(3), 415–431.




Today I arrived at university, eager to undertake graduate studies only to be blatantly reminded that I must make a space as no place has been given to me. Not in what was said, but rather in what was not spoken. It was a reminder that visions of blackness were not couched in the warmth of my heritage, but rather mangled in the violent representations of those who do not know me. I was to be that which they dreaded, feared and loathed. Emerging from this prison, once again rests within the spirituality of my being, the knowing that, that which knows me, has fashioned me and strengthened me is capable of raising me above representative fables. It reminds me of those who have gone before me to create that space: visionaries, who have also walked the path. I am endowed with courage to speak, name and stand. (Journal Entry, September 6, 2003) Institutions of higher learning have long been applauded for their contributions in generating and disseminating progressive knowledge. However, what remains least acknowledged are the ways in which epistemology as ideology and practice within post-secondary routinely “settle” or colonize academic spaces, thereby imposing spiritual injury upon minoritized bodies. In Race, Space and the Law, Razack (2002) characterizes settlement as a physical and psychological dispossession of inhabited spaces. As conceptualized, settlement requires the production of mythologies surrounding the origin, purpose and consequences of imposed habitation and requires the domination of a Eurocentric worldview in opposition to indigenous knowings, knowledges, and tellings. It is my contention that while post-secondary institutions may facilitate the expansion of students’ intellectual capabilities, these sites are also spaces of contention in which indigenous bodies struggle against the discourse of settlement and its attempt to dehumanize, deny and dislodge any claims to an indigenous certainty. This writing is, therefore, a project of resistance, and one that is engaged in to reclaim lost territory and Serequeberhan’s understanding of temporality. It is a repositioning of real time issues which speak of, and to, epistemological understandings that challenge the façade of wellness, uniformity and settledness within the realm of academia. This chapter is consequently, theorized from an anticolonial framework, as this orientation not only provides the tools to interrogate this alienation, but equips one with the insight necessary to proclaim and position G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 271–292. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


the existence of counter stories (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001). It is therefore, my intention in this essay to speak and by speaking, to expose, threaten and dismantle the hegemonic systems which imprison and actualize violence against subjugated bodies. In making visible the processes by which violence is embedded within and with hegemonic structures, I wish also to unsettle the illusionary rhetoric that knowledges as presented and enacted within post-secondary institutions are divorced from racialized conceptions of humanity, difference and belonging. With this in mind, I have chosen to use poetry as an oppositional narrative to proclaim, alongside other anti-colonialists, that colonization has never ended but exists within the present in a myriad of shapes and disguises. By allowing readers to hear my personal reflections while attending graduate school, I hope to convey a sense of immediacy and the depth of brutality that is proffered within the context of higher education. The use of poetry is cathartic and liberatory, as it permits the author to creatively imagine, express and mould traumatic experiences into contestable forms. In the current context, poetry is therefore, a crucial discursive weapon that allows the author to name the invisible and as such, it is as Lorde (1984) contends, “not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of [my] existence” (p. 4). Consequently, while many of the poetic excerpts in this paper are painful to recount, their presence is necessary to withstanding the fragmentation that so often occurs within post-secondary institution. In conjunction with narratives attesting to the curative aspects of an anti-colonial praxis, these vital accounts assist readers in understanding the violent struggles that are waged in intellectual arenas over the right to reclaim a human presence and “tell the world” (Césaire, 1972, p. 76). These personal experiences are not a-typical or trivial but rather, affirmative of scholars’ accounts which report that spiritual injury is an entrenched consequence of hostile post-secondary institutions (Calliste, 2000; Hill Collins, 1995; Hooks, 2003; Shields, 2003). Viewing these experiences as otherwise would reinforce the myth of substantive progress and thereby, shelter individuals or systems that are implicated in these assaults. Additionally, failure to name and recount these incidents would also serve as a denial of history, a history which is quickly being dismissed by discourses of post-modernism and practices of neo liberalism. Furthermore, abandoning the opportunity to counter the “story-telling” would dishonor the valiant resisters within the intellectual academy who courageously continue to center alternate truths in an effort to reposition and reclaim the soul of existence. This paper will begin with the author positioning herself within the present work as a racialized and spiritual being. This aspect is crucial to understanding the rationale underpinning this paper and the reasonings for adopting an anti-colonial lens. The legacy of colonialism will then be situated within the discourse of settlement and, in so doing, provide a historical, political and racialized accounting of violence as a foundational characteristic. The presence of domination and invisibled violence will then be traced through institutional practices within university settings. Specific attention will be directed toward detailing how conceptions of knowledge sanction the exclusion of an indigenous presence. In particular, linkages will be made between epistemological discourse and practices 272


that foster spiritual injury, or that which denies humanity and the representation of marginalized bodies. Crucial to the task of interrogation, will be a discussion of the distinction between anti-colonialism and post-colonialism, as the latter, if emphasizing politicized locations of identity, has the potential to maim and paralyze those made visible by identifiable discourses of racialization (Parry, 1995). Subsequently, I then take up anti-colonialism as a living, tangible and offensive methodology that creatively testifies to and examines the realities that exists between and amongst the discursive accounts of progress and achievement within higher education. Given that anti-colonialism is oriented towards social and political action, the paper will then move towards discussing how violence is and may be resisted by those wishing to adopt an anti-colonial framework.


Each day I am reminded of my blackness and otherness. It is thrown at me like an emblem of disgrace and shame. Yet, I choose to wear my unique ebony skin with pride and growing awareness. Awareness that comes from the adornment of truth. Truth that we are the strong – yet perpetuated to be weak. That were are the knowledgeable – yet we are portrayed as stupes,1 Waiting to be filled and gifted with wisdom. (Journal Entry, October 2003) Within post-modern societies, the politics of identity continues to be an arena of deep contestation and deliberation (Fernandes, 2002; Shohat, 1995; Nkrumah, 1963; Zeleza, 1997). Those engaged in the battle wrestle for the right to center more accurate and culturally affirming representations amidst shifting and discounting portraits and images (Cabral, 1970; Césaire, 1972; Loomba, 1998; Smith, 1999). The act of self-identification in the opinion of the author is therefore, a political endeavor, and one that is capable of unsettling foreign descriptions that are devoid of truths and experiences. It is also an act of remembering and of validating spaces of importance which have shaped and given meaning to my life as an individual and collective being. As such, in the present paper, I choose to identify myself as a spiritual African Canadian woman of West Indian and First Nations descent. This multiple identity is complex and its many meanings continue to be redefined through discovery and contemplation. For example, as a Black woman, who has been schooled, raised and trained “through Western eyes”, my maturing consciousness compels an alert participation in “the struggle over representation” (Shohat, 1995, p. 166). The struggle to take back and decree is an ongoing project of decolonization to erase the mark of “whiteness” and thereby reveal that civility must be demonstrated rather than claimed. Each day is entered into with an awareness that I must either speak or risk being spoken for by those whose knowledge is framed within deviant constructions of difference. A process which necessitates that I actively challenge readings of the world by “writing myself” into the histories of the present. While 273


this task is arduous, it is necessary to reclaim an accurate and healthy self- and communal representation as Smith (1999) states: To resist is to retrench in the margins, retrieve what we were and remake ourselves. The past, our stories local and global, the present, our communities, cultures languages and social practices – all may be spaces of marginalization, but they have also become spaces of resistance and hope. (p. 4) By defining myself as a spiritual person, I choose to connect with theorists such as Palmer (2003) Stewart III (1999), (Bridges, 2001), Grassi (2003) and Dantley, (2003) who regard spirituality as a unifying force which connects self to others and allows one to interact with and understand the interconnectedness between the seen and unseen worlds. I concur with Asante (1988) who writes that “we do not have to make absolute distinctions between mind and matter, form and substance, ourselves and the world . . . Neither materiality nor spirituality are illusory” (p. 81). Similar to Freire, (2001) and Dei et al. (2000), I see spirituality as an empowering and influential entity having the potential to prompt individuals to critically reflect upon practice, act responsibly and combat injustice with the intent to produce greater social and political inclusion. Thus, choosing to live a spiritual life requires a dedicated attentiveness towards wholeness, healing and transformative practice. I attach Christianity as a descriptor of my spirituality and am fully cognizant that by do so, I cannot divorce myself from the Eurocentric oncology which denies the presence and pertinence of other worldviews and expressions of existence. I am compelled, and rightly so, to own the horrific heritage which used Christianity as a hegemonic tool to eradicate, dismiss and displace the humanity of others. Consequently, by adhering to a Christian spirituality, I am what Memmi (1969) refers to as a “colonizer who refuses” and thereby, recognize that while my spirituality has proven to be a liberatory force, proclamations of empowerment do not privilege me to ignore or dismiss the impact of a monotheistic philosophy. Within the space of my cultural and spiritual existence, I realize by virtue of the skin that I speak and beliefs that I possess, I hold captive and am captivated by, contradictory discourses of privilege, presence and place. This realization stems from the growing awareness that my way of viewing the world may at times be through the eyes of those who have written out the relevancy of others. A knowing, that I may “see the world through the oppressor’s eyes and interpret the interactions and actions of the other as he would” (Dei et al., 2004, p. 140). Cognizant of the former, the act of speaking for myself and naming myself within these identifiers is crucial, as it is demonstrative of the contradictions which nourish and simultaneously entangle the lives of individuals. Additionally, this characterization also mirrors the complexity of post-secondary education and the present reality that while higher educational settings offer students opportunities to expand their intellectual capacities, the act of learning or teaching within precarious environments often impairs and wounds the spirits of individuals. In the following section, I argue that this reality must be attended to in order to abolish the violence that frequently occurs within the boundaries of academia. 274


However, this task is not without risks, as a critical consciousness demands that one boldly confront the legacy of colonialism and the ensuing conditions of violence which plaque its manifestation.


Within the discourse of civility, it is surprising how conceptualizations of violence are constructed a-historically and a-politically such that minoritized bodies are assigned weighted subjectivities which bear the full responsibility for the presence of brutality. (Journal Entry, February 5, 2004) In institutionalized education, we only grant respect to “the text, the expert, and only those who win at competition. We do not grant respect to students, to stumbling and failing . . . We don’t grant respect to silence and wonder . . . We are afraid of hearing something that will challenge us and change us”. (Palmer, 2003) Attempts to define what colonialism has been and continues to be, run the risk of essentializing and obscuring its manifestations. However, for the present paper, I will attempt to point out some of the defining features which those engaged in anti-colonialism have chronicled. I begin with Césaire (1972) whose Discourse on Colonialism poignantly contours the legacy of colonialism by situating it as a hegemonic entity which ultimately becomes entangled by its own making. Colonialism, as a practice of European imperialist philosophy, is seen as the geographical, literary, social and imaginative hijacking of native spaces that intently erases the authenticity of indigeneity and proclaims unitary knowledges as universal. This imposed situatedness speaks with Razack’s (2002) conceptualization of “settlement” as colonialism metaphorically trespasses upon property and claims coerced ownership as consensual and redemptive. Colonialism, as revealed by Césaire, denies the legitimacy of an honorable past for indigenous peoples and acclaims the present as a progressive artifact of modern existence. Its deliberate displacement of indigenous historicities and its perseverance in acknowledging only that which is fabricated as beneficial, obscures othered realities through verbalizations which attest to and proliferate the myth of advancement and inevitability. Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and his seminal work Black Skin, White Masks provide further description of colonialism as a physically and psychologically lethal weapon that viciously scars, subjugating and subjugated bodies (Fanon, 1966, 1967). In particular, Fanon’s (1966) careful analysis of associated psychological trauma, reveals how colonialism as settlement necessitates the mandatory migration of bodies, minds and spirits away from familiar and connected territories of self and community. Violence forces and enforces a shattering of the self and in turn induces what Fanon (1967) sees as a pathological fragmentation, a condition which disconnects individuals from rightly seeing, remembering and acting. Consequently, those claiming indigenous citizenship 275


are coerced to renounce their identity and adopt othered misrepresentations that conceal and remake them into unrecognizable images and phantoms of their true selves. Alfred’s (2004) account in Warrior Scholarship: Seeing the University as Ground of Contention affirms readings offered by Fanon and Césaire. He writes: the true meaning of ‘colonialism’ emerges from a consideration of how we as Indigenous peoples have lost the freedom to exist as Indigenous peoples in almost every single sphere of our existence . . . it is the fundamental denial of our freedom to be Indigenous in a meaningful way, and the unjust occupation of the physical, social and political spaces we need in order to survive as Indigenous peoples . . . Colonialism is not a historical era, nor is it a theory or merely a political and economic relationship. It is a total existence, a way of thinking about oneself and others always in terms of domination and submission that has come to form the very foundation of our individual and collective lives. It is a vast unnatural and exploiting reality that has been imposed on the world. (p. 89) An understanding of colonialism as an annihilating force, also embraces Cabral’s (1996) conceptualization of colonialism as a culturally oppressive agent having the ability to appropriate one’s identity and selfhood. Colonialism is understood as violence, and through Cabral’s reading we are able to understand how imperialist doctrines force individuals to renounce claims of an indigenous citizenship in favor of immobilizing characterizations. Similar accounts are offered by Battiste (2000) and Shohat (1995) who collectively suggest ways in which colonialism unremittingly compresses individuals into caricatures of another’s making. In effect, as Singh (1996) asserts, colonialism must be understood as a territorial and political weapon. In addition, anti-colonial literature offers prolific sketches of colonialism as a dehumanizing catalyst. Colonialism as predicated on the belief of Eurosupremacy, relegates indigenous peoples and their worldviews to marginalized spaces of existence and importance (Césaire, 1972; Loomba, 1998; Abbott Mihesuah and Wilson, 2004; Nkrumah, 1963; Shohat, 1995). In this fashion, colonization inserts artificial hegemonic barriers between people and silences minoritized cultures, philosophies and traditions, forcing scripted and exotic representations as “the other” (Fanon, 1967; Said, 1993; Smith, 1999). Understanding this repositioning is crucial to recognizing how colonialism usurps the humanity of indigenous peoples through discourses which disaffirm their civility. If violence is construed as that which denies the spirit and presence, it is not difficult to imagine that colonialism was and continues to be, an icon of violence. Colonialism symbolizes a potent destructiveness and willingness to detrimentally usurp and disregard the presence, purpose and knowledge of others. Violence is present in colonialism’s blatant disregard of the right of non-white others to exist and define their lived existence in their own terms. Further, violence is observable in the rejection of others’ voices and the arrogant belief that the “othered” people may be spoken for, about and to. It lingers through the tangible acts and dis276


courses of hatred which consumed the colonists and presumed the worthlessness of “othered” lives. It is the author’s view that colonialism represents the deliberate denial of spirit, that is, the rejection of consciousness that humanely connects self to others in an effort to gain at the expense of another’s loss. Colonialism as violence must not be underestimated as its presence continues to be experienced within society and its institutions (Smith, 1999).


I do not know how to begin or really where to end. Things must end. I am overwhelmed when I recount the violence that I have endured at the hands of those most meaningful. Well meaning professors, students who through their convoluted reports and presentations continue to perpetuate the present. There are days when I am amazed that I am able to sustain the violence against my spirit. (Journal Entry, February 2004) Contrary to what is sometimes naively assumed by us and propagated by universities themselves, universities are not safe ground. In fact, they are not even so special or different in any meaningful way from other institutions; they are microcosms of the larger societal struggle. But they are the places where we as academics work, they are our sites of colonialism. And, they are our responsibility. (Alfred, 2004, p. 89) To say that all institutions of higher learning exist as colonial strongholds would be an essentialist characterization that wrongfully engulfs all post-secondary institutions and departments into a hegemonic cesspool, irrespective of their mandate, orientation, program or faculty. Such an assertion would be utterly irresponsible and would serve to negatively affront those staff members and students who diligently work to resist and decolonize the academy in an effort to reconnect and instill spirit and humanity. I am not speaking of post-secondary institutes and departments where faculty members engage in transformative practices which allow the curriculum to emerge within and with the lives of students. Nor I am referring to academic territories which utilize intellectual spaces to listen to inaudible voices in an effort to “unmap” spaces of settlement that impose intellectual genocide and paralysis. Making this distinction is significant as it is these very sites and bodies which provide for and encourage students and faculty to dialogue around contentious issues in an effort to develop working knowledges and insight that will help promote equity as the basis for further discussion and social change. By outlining the type of institution that I am referring to and the ways in which knowledge, understandings and discovery processes are organized and practiced within these settings, I hope to vindicate those who conceptually and practically engage in transformative movements that are curative and re-creative, as their work is not only inspiring but essential. 277


The post-secondary sites which I speak of exist as colonial strongholds because they obstruct or deny the former; that is, they refuse to willfully acknowledge and de-center Eurocentrism and its associated trailings within the academy. Whether through omission or commission, these spaces of learning repeatedly encourage and support the erection of restrictive organizational, discursive and epistemological boundaries in an attempt to maintain a semblance of order, the mythology of progress and the centrality of a European ethnocentric worldview. These boundaries not only make indigenous-centered work difficult, devalued and contentious but also assault and threaten those who choose to engage in transformative undertakings, or suggest the existence and viability of alternate worldviews. Examining these strongholds is therefore crucial to exposing the divide between progressive promises of change and the reality of continued domination within the academy. Indigenous and non-indigenous scholars have repeatedly documented the existence of a colonial occupation within university settings (Alfred, 2004; Battiste and Youngblood Henderson, 2000; Calliste, 2000; Dei et al., 2000; Hill-Collins, 1990; Hooks, 2003; Lattas, 1993; Abbott Mihesuah and Wilson, 2004; Ram, 1999; Schick, 2002; Smith, 1999). Their decolonizing efforts have proven that colonization within the academy is often expressed through epistemological and discursive control, which deliberately and fortuitously manages and manipulates the form and content of intellectual spaces. What is of interest is an exploration of the processes which enable colonialism to emerge within the academy and the ways in which spiritual assaults are rendered and made invisible.


Smith’s (1999) highly acclaimed Decolonizing Methodologies traces the materialization of colonialism within the intellectual arena and its subsequent connections to knowledge production, ownership and dissemination. Within the present context, Smith’s work is remarkable in that it chronicles how colonialism’s Eurocentric emphasis deliberately structures the artificial classification and hierarchical ranking of races. This reading is also significant in that it links racialization to epistemological assumptions. In particular, her work contextualizes how Europeans assumed globalized ownership of knowledge production; that is, it explores how Europeans positioned themselves as the subjects and creators of universal knowledge, while relocating non-white peoples to objectified spaces of existence. The displacement of non-whites from their role as inventors of knowledge to that of receptacles of another’s knowledge, is a critical turn in that it serves to explain and reinforce the continued isolation and disregard for indigenous knowledges within the academy. As Smith (1999) suggests, the commodification and: Globalization of knowledge and Western culture constantly reaffirms the West’s view of itself as the centre of legitimate knowledge, the arbiter of what counts as knowledge and the source of ‘civilized’ knowledge. This form of global 278


knowledge is generally referred to as ‘universal’ knowledge, available to all and not really ‘owned by anyone, that is, until non-Western scholars make claims to it. (p. 63) The rhetoric of colonialism, as noted in Ashcroft et al. (1989) is formative in that it establishes the structures within which possibilities may emerge. Situations, interpretations and experiences occurring outside these established parameters are questioned and deemed to be unscholarly and anti-intellectual. By virtue of the fact that scholars of European descent “settled” postsecondary institutions and utilized Western orientations to explore and interpret European and Indigenous experiences, acknowledgement of the existence of Indigenous knowings are distanced from the locus of intellectual formations, and thereby diminished in significance. Indigenous peoples seeking to speak and name their knowings are in the words of Calliste (2000), many times “infanticized, inferiorized and publicly humiliated” (p. 147) in their efforts to assert an indigenous presence. As such, while fully acknowledging that alternate discourses exist and are presently emerging, the intellectual arena continues to centre scholarship and teaching on that which coincides with the Eurocentric view of the world. Colonialism as an epistemological stronghold consequently establishes and assigns weighted reinforcement that stipulates who is capable of bearing knowledge, and within which disciplines “real” knowledge resides. Regan (2000) makes several assertions about the presence of this ethnocentrism and notes that its existence may also visible through the individual “biases, prejudices and assumptions of the scholar” (p. 4). THE VIOLENCE BETWEEN: DISCURSIVE STRONGHOLDS IN THE ACADEMY

Colonialism as “between” is meant to suggest that within university settings, discourse is an operative link that seeks to connect and confine indigenous subjectivities, histories and readings to disciplinary forms which reinforce intellectual imperialism and refute the saliency of indigenous knowledge and worldviews. It is, according to Lattas (1993) a policing of knowledge production whereby what is discussed and researched is deemed sound and progressive only to the extent that it functions to ensure the continuance of colonialism. Ashcroft et al.’s (1989) work in The Empire Writes Back documents how language and literature were used as imperial weapons to dominate and subjugate colonized peoples. They contend that: One of the main features of imperial oppression is control over language. The imperial educational system installs a standard version of the metropolitan language as the norm, and marginalizes all ‘variants’ as ‘impurities’. Language becomes the medium through which a hierarchical structure of power is perpetuated, and the medium, through which conceptions of ‘truth’, ‘order’, and ‘reality’ become established. (p. 7) The significance of discourse in cementing and fostering colonialism is further documented in the writings of anti-colonial scholars (Briggs, 1988; Césaire, 1972; 279


Memmi, 1969; Shohat, 1995; Singh, 1996). Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism demonstrates how linguistic mythologies were used to bolster imperialist philosophy and fabricate the appearance of humanity in opposition to a destructive history of savagery and brutality. Similarly, discursive narratives were equally critical in erasing the humanity of Indigenous peoples in favor of disturbing images which marked individuals’ identities in terms of that which was to be feared, abhorred and abandoned (Shohat, 1995). This act of composing subjective identities through discourse, not only prescribes the parameters of knowledge location but also organizes knowledge according to racialized beliefs (Briggs, 1988). For example, if knowing is linked to racialized identities, as was discussed in the former section, then it becomes clear how knowledge as a racialized product binds and is bound by conceptions of racialized understandings. Regan (2000) notes that within the academy, racialized discourses continue to dominate practice, while dominant bodies stringently negotiate what constitutes legitimate discourse, research and practice. Regan (2000) notes that ethnocentric discourse governs the academic process of knowledge production as knowledges which are deemed worthy of discussion, analysis and study, typically exclude non-Western traditions. Scholars remaining loyal to global discourses are often inhibited in their efforts to “indigenize the academy” through reinterpretations of history, unstable claims to universality, and hence, questions of the relevance of non-indigenous interpretations of world occurrences and events. To understand the materialization of discourse and its effects, one needs only examine Briggs’ (1988) analysis in Discourses of ‘Forced Sterilization’ in Puerto Rico: The Problem with the Speaking Subaltern, in which the discourse around forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women as reinforced by dominant feminist scholars, is used to subvert indigenous concerns and perspectives and foster paternalistic perceptions of indigenous bodies as weak and disempowered. A more recent and germane example which examines the role of discourse in the academy may be found in Lattas’ (1993) account in Essentialism, Memory and Resistance: Aboriginality and the Politics of Authenticity. Lattas’ analysis convincingly illustrates how critiques of essentialism are used by Eurocentric intellectuals to “police” and impose paternalistic constraints on Aboriginal bodies and minds. The instances as described by Lattas (1993) demonstrate how dominant discourses of essentialism, under the guise of political correctness, are used to reject and redefine Aboriginal resistance and thereby restrict not only what counts as good Aboriginality but also what may be considered intellectual knowledge. This censoring of authenticity, Lattas (1993) contends, is illustrative of an “internal colonialism” that is present within post-secondary environments. In particular, the former scholar contends that within this “new culture of terror” invitations are extended to Indigenous bodies to deny identifiable differences by affirming identities as absolute fragmentations that must be read individually and momentarily. As Lattas (1993) writes:



What academics often have difficulty with is people imaginatively embracing their bodies – the horror and censure which such academics voice is part of a hegemonic process which is predicated on dividing people from themselves and especially from their bodies. (pp. 258–259) Lattas (1993) attributes the struggle over authenticity to an Indigenous commitment to reconnect the personal and the political. This represents a desire to disclose the continuance of domination and resist the alienation of self that is present within society and its institutions. The engagement in the politics of identity is therefore a discursive weapon as they not only have much to lose but also are at risk of being exposed and convicted. As Lattas (1993) exclaims, they have: A fear of difference and a fear of subordinate others producing and claiming some essential autonomous otherness. This fear of essentialism is also a fear by Whites of themselves and of the monstrous acts of murder and imprisonment which they have historically perpetuated in the name of essential differences. (p. 260) Ruled by fear and the aching realization that indigenous bodies are eager to redefine their existence and experiences, discourse becomes an invincible weapon that dislodges essentializing claims to resistance under one’s own terms. VIOLENT SPACES: VIOLENCE AS MATERIALIZED PRACTICE

The violence which I am marked by is visible only to those who choose to gaze with critical insight, as even subjugation does not provide one with the experience of truly ‘seeing’ such brutality. By ‘seeing’ I refer not to the physical act of looking, but to the conscious act on knowing how hegemonic relations are bounded by historic ideologies of civility, truth and righteousness. Seeing thus requires that one be cognizant that there will always be more to tell the world. (Journal Entry, January 2004) The earlier sections, in the opinion of the author, document the organizing constraints of colonialism within the academy. The present focus builds upon this foundation by documenting how colonialism, as racialized hegemony, is located within habits and happenings of academia. It is not meant to undermine what was previously discussed but rather to accentuate the previous testaments by locating the colonial among materialized practices and habits. To understand the extent to which practices embed and solidify colonialism, one needs only refer to the extensive literature available on oppression within university settings (Bannerji et al., 1991; Ram, 1999). In Impossible Identifications: The University and ‘Women of Difference’, Ram (1999) locates colonialism within academic organizations and speaks to ways in which difference is inserted in and among stringently defined intellectual spaces. Ram (1999) reflects upon the invitation to deliver the keynote address about academic knowledge at the Women and the Culture of the Universities Conference as a “woman of difference” and provides an accounting of how the intellectual 281


arena, while embracing difference, simultaneously alienates and constrains the parameters of its existence. Ram’s (1999) analysis recognizes how the opportunity to represent is at first glace progressive, but interrogates the topical guidelines used to conceptualize her contribution to objectify rather than reflect, her multiple identities and thereby further compound the oppression she experiences as a non-Western academic. In thinking about the project of colonialism, I interpret the act of insertion as a colonial happening, in that it serves to legitimize the perspective and knoweldges of Indigenous peoples only to the extent that it validates representational understandings. Colonialism among the spaces of intellectualism is seen to value indigeneity and difference within the artificial arena of acceptability. A similar account is provided by Schick (2000), whose study records how the materialization of colonialism exists within universities as sanctioned spaces of segregation. More specifically, Schick (2000) suggests that while non-Western discourses continue to emerge within university settings and are accorded space, these places are “outer” and distanced from the mainstream of academia. As “outer spaces” Schick (2000) notes that such things as mandatory courses on diversity and affirmative action programs are conditioned places that allow minoritized scholars to introduce, discuss and analyze systemic issues within the confines of intellectual activity. However, Schick (2000) argues that while their presence is necessary and habitual, these markers of difference are rarely accorded comparable weightings with the potential to impact systemic structures and policies. Further, these settings are seen to nurture colonialism within the academy by allowing injustice to reign under the pretense and illusion of equity. Calliste (2000) further describes colonial violence in terms of race and gender-based practices of discrimination. These enacted forms of domination, she contends, are not only inherent to university structures, but are everyday happenings that are supported by masked “social closure processes” such as “gatekeeping and sponsorship mechanisms; the application of rules, including seniority rules; and the construction and maintenance of barriers, which make it very difficult for ‘outsiders’ to maximize their potential to be productive” (p. 145). The happenings to which Calliste (2000) refers are often hidden from view, however, as various scholars report their impact is not unfamiliar (Davis et al., 2004; Hooks, 2003; Abbott Mihesuah and Wilson, 2004; Sarich, 2001) nor inconsequential to Indigenous bodies which attempt to negotiate a permanent and meaningful presence within the academy. The colonial constraints of exclusion and domination, discourse and practice within universities are strongly embedded in conflicts which are marked by dichotomies of superiority and inferiority. The struggle to solely center dominant knowledges is set against the indigenous resistance of those who know and speak of alternate philosophies and images. How does this legacy of violence produce and reinforce spiritual injury? For an anti-colonial interrogation, the emphasis on racialized knowledge unavoidably means that violence is present and as such, so are spiritual concerns and the immanent potential for injury to one’s spirit (West, 1999). By analyzing the patterns of cultural ethnocentrism, spiritual injury is also 282


instigated through acquiescence to the status quo. This may be seen through the conscious and subliminal acts of students, professors and those in authority, who fail to critically challenge comments, minimize alterity and ignore students’ participation and presence. Individually and collectively, these silent acts of violence threaten the establishment of a healthy cultural and personal identity. As the academic realm is dominated by invisible constraints of Eurocentricity and “whiteness”, which implicitly suggest a Western and racialized ownership of intelligence, violence is also perpetrated on non-white subjects through the fallacy of anti-intellectualism. This belief asserts that individuals with coloured, gendered and/or alternative subjectivities are incapable of generating and grasping meaningful readings of the world. This discourse is taken up through diminished expectations which assault students’ sense of self-worth by denying them the humanity generously afforded those with greater currency. The violence which occurs within institutes of higher learning must continue to be subverted. The following section discusses anti-colonialism as a framework for addressing, arresting and decolonizing the violence which is regularly perpetrated in the academy.


Today, I am prompted to recall how disparaging comments were accepted as collegial opinions rather than being seen as appendages of colonialism and markings of racializations. That words which maimed others were left unchallenged and afforded equal footing with remarks that noted the ongoing continuance of domination and how insight was quashed and labeled rudimentary simply because students failed to confirm another’s reading of the world. (Journal Entry, February 2004). I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. (Lorde, 1984, p. 40) The previous sections attempt to demonstrate the ways in which violence is predicated and implicated within intellectual spaces. Through systemic structures, discursive practices and programmatic academizing, violence was shown to be embedded within the everydayness of higher education and predicated upon epistemological standpoints that are intimately tied to elements of culture, namely race. While this surveying has been advantageous in plotting the dimensions by which spiritual injury is incurred, I am conscious of three interrelated emergings. First, that I am speaking and as such, refusing to be silenced by the appearance of calmness, and a system of which I am both part and product. Secondly, by framing these materializations within a discourse that centralizes race and implicates Western epistemological underpinnings, I realize that I am alienating those within the “prestigious” field of post-colonial studies who are desirous of extending the foundational elements of cultural analysis beyond the rudimentary and essentialized constructions of identity as homogenous (Bhari, 1995, p. 15). Furthermore, 283


that by virtue of naming the ideological process by which violence is conceived, applied, sanctioned and dismissed as Eurocentric, I have explicitly contoured the discussion of settlement to entail a more concerted focus upon tangible cultural identities and away from prominent discourses which characterize such markers as illusionary, shifting and divisive (Suleri, 1992). Such movements are deliberate, as in this paper I have adopted an anti-colonial stance and have chosen to move beyond the examination and explanation of intersecting relations to suggest that while one’s identity is comprised of multiple identifiers, inequalities continue to be propagated against identifiable and collective bodies. In asserting the former, I am not intending to diminish the fruitfulness of post-coloniality, as the strengths of such theorizing lie not only in evidencing identity as a fluid and shifting entity, but in revealing the complex discourses which shape the social, political, racial, sexed and gendered subtleties of one’s objectification. However, while such commentary is valued for its ability to unearth the complexities of colonialism, post-colonial theorizing is dangerously ambiguous as it stands, for it has the potential to endorse misperceptions, dismiss prudent meta-narratives of race, and quiet the history and prevalence of resistance against the globalizing advance of neo-colonialsm (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001; Zeleza, 1997). Furthermore, a reliance upon deconstructing essentialized notions of identity, as is common in the post-colonial project, ignores that while individuals may possess multiple subjective identifications, visible identifiers such as race may mark or release individuals from experiencing physical and psychological oppression (Fanon, 1966; Shohat, 1995). The removal of this table as is predicated in post-colonial studies, displaces a very important foundational benchmark in the reclamation of marginalized peoples’ humanity, as it positions their accounts under the scrutiny of relativity. In effect, while seemingly attempting to make a space in which to celebrate differences, post-coloniality, as a “discursive weapon of containment”, dismisses claims to authenticity and compounds the oppression of minoritized intellectuals who rebel against the banter of anti-essentialism and the continuance of colonialism in new and distinct forms. For example, Banerjee et al. (2000) and Dirlik (1994) are quick to point out that post-colonialism perpetuates the myth of temporal distancing; that is, the belief that the colonial is not only a fixed and readily defined historical era, but that its influence is confined to the parameters of the colonial age. This artificial separation, Banerjee et al. (2000) argue, creates further disparity by suggesting that recovery and progress are irrefutable. The resultant outcome for subjugated bodies will be an effort to reclaim that which was lost. Even if not conceptualized as a temporal space, the post-colonial’s concern with dismantling essentialist notions is limiting in its ability to adequately interrogate and respond to colonialism within the context of post-secondary settings. I am reminded by Parry (1995) and Loomba (1998) that the rhetoric of post-colonialism’s invariable gaze upon fragmented subjectivities, obscures the collective identities and resistance of marginalized individuals in imagining, confronting and recreating the contradictory circumstances in which they are 284


entwined. Loomba (1998) makes this point by exclaiming that the discourse of post-colonialism does “not allow us to conceptualize agency, or to define subjects who are the makers of their own history” (p. 233). Instead, Loomba (1998) argues that post-colonialism as “an inflexible theory of subaltern silence, even if offered in a cautionary spirit, can be detrimental to research on colonial cultures by closing off options even before they have been explored” (p. 235). In essence, I concur with other scholars (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001; Parry, 1995; Zeleza, 1997) who argue post-colonialism imposes a unidirectional interpretation of colonialism and a micro-subjective discursive analysis. This analytic framework essentializes the agency of individuals through characterizing constraints which assign passivity and deny the presence of individual agency and collectivisism. In effect, post-colonialism, while able to critique the discursive boundaries of sanctioned legitimacy, relegates the subject to an objectified location where she is unable to speak, act or resist. As Benita Parry (1995) contests: a post-colonial re-writing does not restore the foundational, fixed and autonomous individual; what it does resort to is the discourse of the subject inscribed in histories of insubordination produced by anti-colonial movements, deciphered from cryptic cultural forms and redevised from vestiges perpetuated through constant transmutation in popular memory and oral traditions. (p. 173) Drawing on the seminal works of Césaire, Nkrumah, Fanon, and Memmi, whose anti-colonial critiques have proved most beneficial in locating the violence of colonialism as an inherent relation of post-secondary institutions, and the literary advancements of present day anti-colonial theorist (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001; Parry, 1995; Serequeberhan, 2000; Zeleza, 1997) who reject the saliency of postcolonial discourse, I invoke anti-colonialism as a vital theoretical weapon. Relying upon Dei and Asgharzadeh’s (2001) definition of an anti-colonial discursive framework as a: Counter/oppositional discourse to the repressive presence of colonial oppressions . . . an affirmation of the reality of re-colonization processes through the dictates of global capital. It is a way of celebration of oral, visual, textual, political, and material resistance of colonized groups, which entails a sole preoccupation with victimization. (p. 301) This reading, in contrast to a post-colonial one, violently rejects the consideration of a colonial past and forcefully marks its continued existence. It is, as Loomba maintains, “a struggle to represent, create or recover a culture and a selfhood that has been systematically repressed and eroded” (p. 217). Further, I assert that anti-colonialism as a discursive theory and practice is capable of boldly interrogating and countering the colonial project to expose and consciously oppose embedded domination. Anti-colonialism as defined through the lives, writings and actions of theorists, leaders and resisters is a spiritually creative and imaginative paradigm having the capacity to unsettle and displace dominating processes which mitigate, obscure and even prevent alternate realities. Consequently I choose to characterize it as an intuitive paradigm having the 285


potential to equip individuals with the necessary armor to identify, withstand and contest visible and invisible oppression. As a framework that is capable of explicating and splicing together shattered representations into recognizable and meaningful assemblages, anti-colonialism is in effect, a spiritual approach that embodies resistance and a determined focus to facilitate wholeness, healing and opportunities for “disordered” fragmentations to be meaningfully fused. Through its emphasis on confronting and rectifying injustices which injure the spirit, body and mind, its re-creative powers reorder bodies and construct completeness amongst the ashes. Its discursive framing restores an “indigenous identity, and subsequently dispels the myth of fragmentary identities” (Dei and Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 302). Quite similar to Césaire (1972), who challenges colonized peoples to reclaim their humanity, an anti-colonial stance not only re-humanizes those coming from indigenous spaces, but places creative agency within subjective and collective locations and therewith imaginatively facilitates the birthing of possibilities by those within marginalized locations. The emphasis away from victim, towards recreative actions of productive empowerment thereby renounces meta-narratives that inscribe passivity as a historical reflection of those living and working with colonized settings. I choose not to position this theory as absolute, or to ignore past critiques concerning the ways in which anti-colonialism has been narrowly recorded and exclusively defined. Further, I do not seek to attempt to forge what Loomba considers “imaginary communities” but rather to offer this framework as a means of interrogating and answering back to the colonialism that invisibly imprisons marginalized bodies within higher educational settings. In resisting the call to forget, I wish to recognize the value of an anti-colonialism framework in subverting and countering hegemony so that other representations may emerge and reclaim prominence.


Excitement, Expectation, Racism, Confusion Familiarity – Defense Disillusionment Distance Community Renewal, Inspiration Action Liberation (Journal Entry, March 2004) When we wore rings, characterizations of cannibalism, savages and “uncivilized” flourished. Yet, you sport them, pay for them, wear them with pride and 286


it is fashion. The irony . . . to usurp and claim them as your own. Let us now wear ourselves, our customs and our lives, risking ridicule . . . otherwise they will become a lie, and cease to remain what we know as meaningful. (Journal Entry, April 2004) Within the context of higher education, the tentacles of colonialism are intertwined in the structures, policies and daily practices which enable these institutions to be considered bastions of learning. To embark on the process of disentanglement is to enter into a contradictory realm that is marked by discourses of progress, regression and contention. While it is quite clear from Césaire (1972), that the discourse surrounding colonialism set the stage for its ongoing demise, the significance of the former anti-colonialists in subverting reports of civility and progress can not be forgotten. It is their purposeful agency and imaginative undertakings which continue to affront vicious enslavement, rape and violation of indigenous peoples. As such, as the battle wages within, between and amongst institutional climates, the force of anti-colonialism is necessary and vital to the establishment of educational contexts that nurture rather than maim. What pertinent lessons can we take away from anti-colonial theorists for the development of inclusive educational settings, and what does it mean to practice from an anti-colonial framework? In this last section I hope to contribute to the ongoing dialogue within the field of education by offering some practical suggestions for those students, staff and faculty wishing to assume an anti-colonial praxis. I choose to begin with Serequeberhan (2000) who states that, “To exist as a human being is to temporalize, but the colonized as colonized only passively does time and subsists in a history of which he is not a participant” (p. 243). Like Nkrumah (1973) who cautions against the perils of falling asleep, Serequeberhan (2000) challenges those adopting an anti-colonial viewpoint to remain alert and consciously engaged in the steadfast battle of reclaiming one’s humanity and presence. Rather than allowing time to be told and interpreted for indigenous bodies, we are encouraged to daringly proclaim our existence and offer up autobiographies which speak for and with our realities. In practice, then, an anticolonial praxis must consciously resist the tendency to forget and discount local and Indigenous knoweldges, which we know to be significant and meaningful to our existence. Those interested in disrupting the legacy of violence and colonialism must choose to actively align themselves with allies. It means that we must become engaged in reaffirming the linkages which characterize our cultural identities yet be cognizant of engaging in essentializings that support an anti-colonial project. Engaging others in dialogue as an active strategy of anti-colonialism is paramount to countering violence. This dialectic must be encouraged and practiced, even with those whose ideas and tactics differ from our own. We must search for the intersections between different sites of oppression, and be prepared to stand for and with those suffer differently. Partnership in this relationship cannot mean that 287


they are “leaders” but rather followers and supporters of those in more knowledgeable and authentic locations. Allegiance also requires intellectuals to adopt projects which allow the voices of marginalized bodies to be heard and represented through avenues which impact and engage their communities. Our work must extend beyond the parameters of post-secondary learning, and engage those living and working in the field. As a transformative project, I see anti-colonialism as a process which invites and unites external interests in discovering and transcending the institutional barriers that impede their success and authenticity. As such, it is informative, liberatory and accessible. Equally as important is the act of assuming a critically vulnerable stance. Through retellings, Césaire (1972) charges us to think dangerously by considering and naming the process by which colonization is enacted and settled within the realm of academia. His call is for us to engage in a conscious disregard for our well-being and a heartened realization that well being depends on one’s ability to reclaim humanity. Césaire’s work forcefully argues for the act of remembering and the will to resist the tendency of forgetting not only the violence, but the meanings that gave birth to curative and creative imaginings. It is only when we engage in the re-creative act of humanization that we are truly whole and healthy. As anti-colonial practitioners we are to be mindful of accepting the progressive doctrines which are heralded within university contexts without demanding a critical account of violent offenses that have transpired and continue to occur within post-secondary settings. An anti-colonial framework demands individuals to respond critically to persistent acts of oppression. Rather than remaining silent, an anti-colonialism framework challenges individuals to recognize their agency and underscore the power inherent in their positionality. Acts of seeing and speaking are viewed as purposeful expressions of resistance. Through an anti-colonialist project, the act of engagement is necessary in decolonizing the academy and therefore individuals are prompted to name rather than own the assaults. As Smith notes, an anticolonial project (1999), “is necessary then, for us to have the kind of resistance that keeps us alive. It is necessary that we know how to resist so as to remain alive” (p. 74). Likewise, it is equally important that we resist the urge to abruptly respond to acts of violence. We must decide that while all battles are worth confronting, we must strategically embark upon an in-depth analysis in order to counter the repeated assaults and longstanding effects of domination. Further, the adoption of an anti-colonial gaze assists us in understanding our own complicity. Knowing thyself is critical for those who are invested in challenging and disrupting colonizing knowledges and systems. Knowing thyself demands that we understand the complexity of our identity. As Freire (1998) states “the real issue is to understand one’s privileged position in the process – so as not to, on the one hand, turn help into a type of missional paternalism and, on the other hand, limit the possibilities for the creation of structures that lead to real empowerment” (p. xxix). In the project of resisting violence, those engaged in the battle must critically reflect upon their/our own understanding and place so as to enable a continual decolonization of assumptions and practices. 288


I now turn my attention to those placed in formal positions of power as I believe that they are strongly implicated in this violent struggle. Anti-colonialism demands that instructors and administrators within academic contexts realize the historical and colonial legacy of their position. The imperative of this action is strongly echoed through Rogers and Dantley’s (2001) paraphrased assertion of Palmer (1998), that “teachers’ selfhood is a legitimate topic in education, for if the teacher does not know herself, how can she know her students or her subjects . . . ?” (p. 595). Consequently, scholars and professors must come to see that rather than being producers of knowledge, they are creators of political understandings which serve to empower/disempower and affirm/disaffirm. As positioned authorities, these bodies must also be prepared to give up control so that “when soul enters the room, [they] listen in a new way. [They] listen to not only what is spoken, but also to the messages between the words, tones, gestures, the flicker of a feeling across the face. When soul is present in education, attention shifts. We concentrate on what has heart and meaning” (Rogers and Dantley, 2001). Instructors must therefore create places for all voices to be heard and represented as an anti-colonial stance demands an affirmation of Shields’ (2004) “communities of difference” and a willingness to mediate humane concerns against the generic requirements of academia. As anti-colonialists interested in spiritual recovery, professors, staff and students must challenge the production of knowledge through a critical examination of their epistemological practices. This engagement is necessary in an effort to understand how their positionality influences and shapes what they choose to research, teach, accept and deny within classroom settings. With the context of educational settings, it is also vital to engage in “counter-violence” (Serequeberhan, 2000) by hijacking the vehicles of colonialism and utilizing their capability to expose and center other truths. I refer also to Césaire’s usage of the French language to communicate the unique heritages of African peoples. In regards to the field of academia, practising appropriation necessitates that we must use the tools of the academy to produce, exclaim and reclaim the realities that are presently overshadowed by bludgeoning images of cultured uniformity. More specifically, we must regard research, as well as instructional and evaluative dimensions of practice, as opportunities to usurp the domination of Eurocentric viewings and create an indigenous infrastructure that acknowledges, supports and affirms other epistemological frameworks. CONCLUSION

Contrary to the heralded banter of post-colonialism and the seemingly progressive advancements being made within post-secondary institutions, I have attempted to identify the materialization of colonial violence within post-secondary institutions. Throughout, I have contended that violence is at present a myriad of structural, political and practice-based happenings that reaffirm the preeminence of Eurocentricity and deny the currency and recognition of indigenous knowledges and world views. Higher educational spaces, as replicates of social order, 289


often facilitate hegemony through organizational, epistemological and practicebased situatedness that firmly cement reality as universal, and invisibly perpetuate a spiritual violence against those espousing different historicities, and knownings. Through personal accounts that speak in concert with “othered” experiences of minoritized bodies within post-secondary settings, I hope to have exposed the ways in which imposition and domination are made invisible through cultural positionalities which nurture the insurgence of violence through dismissive acts of constraint, silencing and conditioned acceptance. Anti-colonialism has been presented as the discursive lens by which one may strategically view, interrogate and respond to the pervasiveness of invisibled violence and spiritual injury within academia. This framework was shown to not only illuminate a path of resistance for minoritized students, but as an approach which serves to offer dominantly positioned subjects, the practical tools to successfully expose this violent reality and move towards a spiritually corrective practice. In discomfort we remain unbalanced, yet poised in assuming and reclaim our right to comfort. Against all odds, the impossible continues to evade the elusive assertions of the temporal. (Journal Entry, August 2004)


This chapter is dedicated to Professors Dr. George Dei, Dr. John Portelli and Dr. Jim Ryan and colleagues who make the time to engage, encourage and inspire through and with the anti-colonial. The tightrope you walk upon while violently dangerous provides an avenue whereby we too may cross over and remain whole.

NOTE 1 Stupes is a Nova Scotian West Indian term used to represent individuals who are devoid of rationale thought process and actions.

REFERENCES Abbott Mihesuah, D. and Wilson, A.C. (Eds.) (2004). Indigenizing the academy: Transforming scholarship and empowering communities. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Adamson, W. (1990). The problem of cultural self-presentation. In S. Harasym (Ed.)., The postcolonial critic: Interview, strategies, dialogues. New York: Routledge, pp. 50–58. Alfred, T. (2004). Warrior scholarship. In D. Abbott Mihesuah and A.C. Wilson (Eds.), Indigenizing the academy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Asante, M. (1988). Afrocentricity. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. Ashcroft, B., G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (1989). The empire writes back: Theory and practice in postcolonial literatures. New York: Routledge. Bannerji, H., Dehli, L.C.K., Heald, S. and McKenna, K. (1991). Unsettling relations: The university as a site of feminist struggles. Toronto: Women’s. Battiste, M. and Youngblood Henderson, J. (2000). Protecting indigenous knowledge and heritage. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Purich Publishing.


INVISIBLE VIOLENCE & SPIRITUAL INJURY WITHIN POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS Briggs, L. (1988). Discourses of ‘forced sterilization’ in Puerto Rico: The problem with the speaking subaltern. Differences, 10(2). Cabral, A. (1970). National liberation and culture. In The 1970 Eduardo Mondlane Lecture, Program of Eastern African Studies of the Maxwell School Citizenship and Public Affiairs. Syracuse University. Cabral, A. (1996). Identity and dignity in the context of struggle. In M.K. Asante and A.S. Abarry (Eds.), African intellectual heritage. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Calliste, A. (2000). Anti-racist organizing and resistance in academia. In G.J.S. Dei and A. Calliste (Eds.), Power, knowledge and anti-racism education: A critical reader. Halifax, NS: Fernwood. Césaire, A. (1972). Discourse on colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Dantley, M. (2003). Critical spirituality: Enhancing transformative leadership through critical theory and African American prophetic spirituality. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 6(1). Davis, M., Dias-Bowie, Y., Greenberg, K., Klukken, G., Pollio, H.R., Thomas, S.P. and Thompson, C. (2004). A fly in the buttermilk: Descriptions of University life by successful Black undergraduate students at predominantly White southeastern University. The Journal of Higher Education, 75(4). Dei, G. and Asgharzadeh, A. (2001). The power of social theory: Towards an anti-colonial discursive framework. Journal of Educational Thought, 35(3). Dei, G., Hall, B. and Goldin Rosenberg, D. (2000). Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Dei, G., James, I. Karumanchery, L. Wilson-James, S.J. and Zine, J. (2000). Removing the margins: The Challenges and possibilities of inclusive schooling. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press. Dei, G., Karumanchery, L. and Karumanchery-Luik, N. (2004). Playing the race card: Exposing White power and privilege. New York: Peter Lang. Dges, F.W. (2001). Resurrection song: African American spirituality. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. Dirlik, A. (1994). The postcolonial aura: Third World criticism in the age of global capitalism. Critical Inquiry, 20. Fanon, F. (1966). The wretched of the earth. New York: International Publishers. Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Press. Fernandes, L. (2002). Transforming feminist practice: Non-violence, social justice and the possibilities of a spiritualized feminism. San Franscisco, CA: Autn Lute Books. Freire, P. (1998). Pedagagoy of freedom: Ethics, democracy and civic courage. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Grassi, J. (2003). Informing the future: Social justice in the New Testament. Mahway, NJ: Paulist Press. Hill-Collins, P. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge. Hooks, B. (2003). Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. New York: Routledge. Loomba, A. (1998a). Colonial and postcolonial identities. In Loomba, A. (Ed.), Colonialism/postcolonialism. London: Routledge. Loomba, A. (1998b). Challenging colonialism. In A. Loomba (Ed.), Colonialism/postcolonialism. London: Routledge. Lorde, A. (1984). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press. Memmi, A. (1969). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Nkrumah, K. (1963). Africa must unite. London: Heinemann. Nkrumah, K. (1973). Revolutionary path. New York: International Publishers. Palmer, P. (1998). The courage to teach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Palmer, P. (2003). The grace of great things: Recovering the sacred in knowing teaching and learning. Available at (November 6). Parry, B. (1995). Problems in current theories of colonial discourse. In B.A. Thiophene, G. Griffiths and B. Hall (Eds.), The post-colonial studies reader. New York: Routledge. Ram, K. (1999). Impossible identifications: The university and ‘women of difference’, Communal/Plural, 7, 2. Razack, S. (2002). Race, space and the law: Unmapping a white settler society. Toronto, ON: Between the Lines.


RUCK-SIMMONS Regan, T. (2000). Non-Western educational traditions: Alternative approaches to educational thought and practice. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Rogers, J.L. and Dantley, M.E. (2001). Invoking the spiritual in campus life and leadership Journal of College Student Development, 42(6). Said, E. (1993). Culture and imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Sarich, V. (2001). The institutionalization of racism at the University of Berkeley. Academic Questions, 90/91. Schick, C. (2000). Keeping the ivory tower white: Discourses of racial domination. In S.H. Razack (Ed.), Race, space and the law: Unmapping a white settler society. Toronto, ON: Between the Lines. Serequeberhan, T. (2000). Colonialism and the colonized: Violence and counter-violence. In E.C. Eze (Ed.), African philosophy. London: Blackwell. Shields, C.M. (2000). Learning from difference: Considerations for schools as communities. Curriculum Inquiry, 30(3). Shields, C. (2003). Schools as communities of difference. In C. Shields (Ed.), Good intentions are not enough: Transformative leadership for communities of differences. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, pp. 31–56. Shohat, E. (1995). The struggle over representation: Casting, coalitions and the politics of identification. In R. De La Campa, E.A. Kaplan and M. Sprinkler (Eds.), Late imperial culture. London: Verso. Singh, J.C. (1996). Cultural narratives/cultural dialogues: Discovery of India in the language of colonialism. New York: Routledge. Smith, D. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books. Stewart III, C. (1999). Black spirituality and Black consciousness: Soul force, culture and freedom in the African-American experience. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. Suleri, S. (1992). Women skin deep: Feminism and the postcolonial condition. Critical Inquiry, 18(4). West, T.C. (1999). Wounds of the spirit: Black women, violence and resistance. New York: York University Press.




The sociology of knowledge highlights how power relations operate in the construction of knowledge and its legitimization in society and its institutions (Foucault in Gordon, 1972). The exclusion of women (and other marginalized groups) from the annals of power – the academy, the professions and formal politics’suggests that the traditional western canon of knowledge is substantively and cognitively dominated by, and biased towards, the interests of privileged white men. Whereas feminism challenges gender bias and the “partial” knowledge of the disciplines of science, history, philosophy, literature, etc., the emerging scholarship on indigenous knowledge challenges racial bias. According to Dei (in Dei et al., 2000) “All knowledges exist in relation to specific times and places. Consequently, indigenous knowledges speak to questions about location, politics, identity, and culture, and about the history of peoples and their lands” (p. 4). As a general observation, indigenous knowledge systems tend to eschew feminism as irrelevant, or as posing a threat within indigenous communities. Similar denigration of feminism persists in the west, as evidenced by the anti-feminist backlash waged by neoliberals and the conservative religious right that construe feminism as a threat to nationalist or religious fundamentalisms. Whereas the early feminisms overlooked cultural differences among women, if the feminist movement is to live up to its intent of inclusiveness, it is important to recognize the diverse positionings of women from different cultures (and at different times) and to take their perspectives into account. This paper examines the convergences and divergences between indigenous knowledges and feminism, and aims to address the contested terrain within and between them, with particular reference to African writers. The purpose of engendering indigenous knowledge is to explicate women’s contribution to indigenous knowledge systems and to identify how women are differentially affected by colonialism and its aftermath, that is to make women visible in this field of knowledge. At the outset, I declare my location as a Zimbabwean-born women of Irishimmigrant parentage. Being of Irish ancestry, I grew up within a milieu that was critical of British colonialism and hateful conflict in the name of ProtestantCatholic religion. I acknowledge my position of relative privilege. My personal history embodies privilege as a white person connected to Africa as my birthplace and where I spent my formative years. I know the majesty of the African landscape, the scorching sun and the shade of the baobab tree, the irrepressible spirit of the people and the resonance of the drumbeat. I straddle both worlds belonging to neither. As an immigrant to Canada, Africa continues to evoke a G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 293–308. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


longing for “home”. For me, Africa is associated with the innocence of childhood and emergence into political consciousness. A critical/feminist anti-racist theoretical orientation informs my work and everyday life. African writers are my point of reference, since they are closest to my experience and provide an entry point into indigeneous knowledges. The emerging field of indigenous knowledge offers a cogent critique of colonialism and the imposition of imperialistic relations that expropriate from and exploit indigenous peoples. This critique challenges the dominance of eurocentrism and western science, and provides an opening to alternative ways of knowing and being. It also offers a counter-discourse to the contemporary “monoculture” (Shiva, 1993) of neoliberal globalization. As situated knowledge, indigenous knowledges from various locations are diverse, although they share certain qualities in common that arise from a people’s longstanding connection with the land (or sea) and a profound understanding of the local environment and its resources. Although feminism is also diverse, many aspects of indigenous knowledge converge with the aspirations of the international women’s movement, to legitimize and make visible subjugated knowledges and experiences that have traditionally been excluded from the western canon and the academy. The sense in which feminism is used here is as a counter-hegemonic global movement that is aligned with civil and environmental rights movements in the struggle for socioeconomic transformation and justice for all. A working definition of feminism is taken from Nigerian sociologist, Ifi Amadiume (1987) as “a political consciousness by women, which leads to a strong sense of self-awareness, self-esteem, female solidarity and, consequently, the questioning and challenging of gender inequalities in social systems and institutions” (p. 10). The intersection of gender and colonial relations is articulated in Lattas’ (1998) proposition that colonialism itself is a gendered process of “feminization” of indigenous people: Whites here are rendered as running their own men’s house cult, the secrets of which serve to masculinize them while feminizing Melanesian men. (p. 73, italics added) Alluding to inequitable gender relations, Lattas suggests a comparable politics of derision at work in the feminization of women and the emasculation of indigenous men, both of which involve denigration and subjugation. Compelling as this proposition appears to be on the surface, an androcentric preoccupation with the emasculation of indigenous men underpins Lattas’ account of Kaliai cargo cults. In reexamining cargo cults in Papua New Guinea, the incorporation of mimetic practices and the appropriation of the female-spirit principle are recast, not as backward or mad as formerly proposed by the anthropological establishment, but as a covert subversive movement in opposition to colonialism and the imposition of western culture. Although Lattas sees the “super-eroticization” and “fetishization” of women in Censure’s cult, the manipulation of women and the impact on women’s lives is glossed over. Gender blindness is also evident in Lattas’ interpretation of gang rape used to punish disobedient women in Batari’s 294


cult as male-bonding, following the militarization of the region by Japanese and Australian colonists (p. 41). Rather than reifying gender, the self-reflexive turn in anthropology can better be achieved by re-turning the gaze onto the west, and drawing parallels with western cults under charismatic leaders, like Charles Manson whose similarly messianic aspirations led to tragedy. In his attempt to subvert the anthropological gaze, Lattas runs the risk of glorifying male resistance at the expense of women’s bodies. The absence of a gender lens ignores the problem of partial testimony based largely on male informants to the exclusion of women’s subjectivities. What would the women cognizant of Censure’s or Batari’s cults have to say? This omission highlights the importance of taking gender into account in understanding indigenous knowledges, not just as reified ideas, but as lived experience. Gender consciousness capable of expanding feminism to be more inclusive toward the myriad of social positions of women in different non-western contexts is more likely to emanate from the writings of indigenous women. One reading with an explicit gender focus is given by the Nigerian sociologist Oyeronke Oyewumi (1997), who describes colonialism in Africa as two interlocking processes of inferiorization: The first and more thoroughly documented of these processes was the racializing and the attendant inferiorization of Africans as the colonized, the natives. The second process . . . was the inferiorization of females. (p. 152) The “inferiorization” of indigenous peoples connotes a double jeopardy for women: not only were they relegated to a subordinate position as the “other” by the colonizers, but they also suffered the loss of social position within their own communities with the advent of European colonization. Thus Oyewumi, like many African women, rejects feminism as a white construct associated with western theories and as a handmaiden to colonialism. Whereas the linguistic and cultural diversity of black women in Africa mitigates against forming an organized continental movement, black women in the US have redefined a black feminist identity (Davis, 1981). Due to the legacy of colonialism and slavery, black women hold more in common with their men than they do with white bourgeois feminists (hooks, 1981). Hence, Alice Walker (1983) coined the term “womanism” to differentiate the particular concerns of black women and women of colour from white feminists. The fourth in her multi-part definition evokes the distinction poetically: “Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” (p. xii). A womanist is one who appreciates and prefers women’s culture, emotional flexibility, and strength, and one who is committed to the survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female (p. xi). Yet Walker has been admonished for disloyalty in representing black men as violent in her novels, and for her opposition to the practice of female circumcision as culturally sanctioned control over women’s sexuality (Oyewumi, 2003b). This draws attention to the complexities of divided loyalties for black women exposed to the interlocking oppressions of racism and sexism, as well as the gulf between indigenous African women and the diaspora over claims of authenticity. 295


Whereas empowerment to speak out and resist male violence against women is a central tenet of feminism, black women not only risk ostracization for breaking the conspiracy of silence, but also face accusations of colluding with the oppressor. The furor that ensued from Diane Bell and Topsy Neslon’s (1989) article on “intra-racial” rape, based on Nelson’s testimony and experience as an aboriginal women, epitomizes the taboo against exposing male violence. Unlike violence against men, violence against women is usually perpetrated by family members or persons known to the victim, a situation that inhibits women coming forward. The feminist slogan, “the personal is political” expresses feminist praxis as daring to reveal women’s personal lives and experiences and to expose asymmetrical gender relations at the core of family and social structures. Even though Bell and Nelson co-authored the original text, Nelson’s autonomy, courage and integrity get lost in the fray, adding insult to injury. The ensuing debate, however highlights the question of power inherent in research that objectifies the “other” while assuming the objective neutrality of the observer. The loaded term “intra-racial” rape implies that it occurs in racialized communities, as if white communities were immune. To disrupt the anthropological gaze and avoid perpetuating the stereotype of black men in particular as violent, it is important to make self-reflexive links with domestic violence, rape and misogyny in white communities. One poignant tragic reminder is the Montreal massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique on December 6th, 1989, when 14 women students were killed by a lone gunman simply because they were women.1 Feminist activists deserve credit for naming and drawing attention to genderbased violence as a human rights issue that affects women globally, across differences in race, ethnicity and socio-economic status. Instrumental as Lattas has been in the self-reflexive turn in anthropology, the absence of a gender violence analysis enables him to rally behind Gillian Cowlishaw’s contention that drinking and unruliness constitute acts of resistance, without considering links between alcohol abuse and domestic violence that negatively impact upon women and children. Likewise, feminists (white and/or western-educated) must beware of imposing western norms and values, and mis/interpreting differences in gender relations through a colonialist lens. This does not mean disengaging from indigenous women’s experience and knowledge of their communities when it is contentious, but standing alongside locally led efforts to improve the everyday lives of women. To turn a blind eye is to be complicit with oppression. The question is how to work together in feminist anti-racist projects that are mutually beneficial and respectful of difference. While Oyewumi (2003a) scorns feminist “sisterhood” as universalizing and intrusive, Amadiume (1987) sees the political advantage of working together: Black women are not refusing White women’s support and alliance, for there are massive campaigns in which White women can help without leaping into the forefront and usurping a people’s struggle and anger. (p. 10) The important caveat is to avoid “usurping a people’s struggle”, by showcasing the “other” or perpetuating a politics of derogation. The Bell and Nelson 296


controversy foregrounds issues of representation and asymmetrical power relations in academic research, and in society at large. Contestation revolves around the intersection of race and gender: Who speaks for whom? Can the subaltern speak (Spivak, 1988)? These questions raise the issue of how feminist academic researchers and political activists can support and participate meaningfully in local struggles. To facilitate empowerment within local communities in their own terms, feminist praxis must engage in self-reflexivity and expand outside the box, so as to include diverse indigenous perspectives on gender relations. This process may be referred to as indigenizing feminism in ways that can sustain mutually respectful cross-cultural dialogue to bring about socio-economic change. The contribution of the third wave of feminism was to recognize that women are not a monolithic category possessing the same universal needs and experiences. But this does not mean disengaging from perceived injustice, or retreating with feigned apology; it means starting with “doing our homework” in naming white privilege, recognizing whiteness as the cultural norm, and questioning taken-for-granted assumptions about “colour blindness” (Kenny, 2000, p. 111). White feminists can use their position of relative privilege to challenge the policies of national and international institutions that perpetuate sexism and racism. Accordingly, contemporary global issues that feminists have taken on include trafficking in women, such as the international sex trade and mail-order brides from third to first world countries2 (mainly from rural regions of South East Asia) that are linked to physical and emotional abuses of women. Entering into local struggles however, is more fraught with the peculiar mix of intimacy and enmity that is rooted in colonizer-colonized relations. Indigenizing feminism thus calls for humility – but not timidity – and attunement to the various ways gender relations operate in different historical and socio-political contexts; it cautions against privileging theory over subjective experience. In theorizing gender relations, the feminist construct of patriarchy explicates the power of men over women. The centrality of the patriarchy in feminist theory is thrown into question by Oyewumi (1997) who argues that pre-colonial Yoruban culture was not structured by gender but by seniority, thus disputing the universality of patriarchy and the subordination of women: [I]n pre-British Yoruba society anafemales, like anamales, had multiple identities that were not based on anatomy. The creation of ‘women’ as a category was one of the very first accomplishments of the colonial state. (p. 124)3 Her claim of equal status for the genders relies largely on linguistic analysis of traditional Yoruban language. It is argued that gender did not exist in their lexicon since gender was not encoded in the original language: most names were not gendered, and there was an absence of third person singular pronouns (he/she), and of nouns that identify relations by gender (for example, the generic sibling rather than brother/sister, and offspring rather than daughter/son). Granted, nuances may be lost in translation; but based on Oyewumi’s argument there are contradictions that without more thorough hermeneutical analysis might sug297


gest a gender-blindness that by default favours males. Drawing on Amadiume’s (1987) anthropological research into the indigenous social structure of polygamy in which some women assumed roles as female-husbands or as male-daughters, Oyewumi postulates fluidity, flexibility and choice in gender roles irrespective of sex. But who conferred male roles upon anafemales? Apparently men did not occupy lower positions in the social hierarchy as “co-wives” to anafemalehusbands. In a polygamous society, where women’s status in the family compound was determined by date of entry as “wife” (aya), even children born prior to that date (to other wives) had higher status. This suggests a particular form of patriarchy intersecting with seniority that actually disadvantaged women’s social position by chronological age. Without historical or contemporary testimony of women’s experiences, it is difficult to extrapolate from reified language analysis to its meaning in the lives of women. The contribution of Oyewumi’s work however, is first, to explicate alternative social structures indigenous to Africa that differ from the contemporary constellation of the nuclear family in the west, in which women are isolated from each other; and second, to reinforce how gender relations change across localities and over time. Intriguing as her central thesis is, of disengaging gender from sex/anatomy, she does not go so far as to liberate sexuality from anatomy. Rather, Oyewumi (2003a) shows signs of homophobia in her denunciation of Audre Lorde’s interpretation of gender relations in indigenous African culture: What I am concerned about here, however, is the representation of Africa by black lesbian feminists as a paradise in which lesbianism is not only accepted, but is institutionalized in women’s everyday relationships. (p. 14) Whereas Lorde venerates same-sex marriages and the androgeny of ahonsi female soldiers in the Dahomean army (depicted as “Amazonians” in the western imagination) as historical exemplars for lesbians, Oyewumi denies the possibility of lesbianism in ana-female-husband (i.e. female only) households, and accuses Lorde of unsubstantiated extrapolation to justify her own sexual orientation (p. 16). Rather than being non-patriarchal, I would argue that pre-colonial Yoruban social structure constitutes a particular form of patriarchy in which men (and some women) benefited from having multiple wives in the subordinate position of performing the domestic work of maintaining the household and raising progeny. In terms of feminist analyses of the gendered division of domestic labour, women’s work seems not to have been valued highly enough that men performed traditional female roles (as aya); nor do women seem to have benefited from the option of multiple sexual partners at their disposal within the compound. Given Oyewumi’s privileged location as a Yoruban princess, daughter of the king and his senior royal wife, for whom the palace was the “vantage point from which to view this dynamic world” (1997, p. xvi), she is unlikely to question class entitlement or to relate to the everyday lives of ordinary people, the majority of whom could not afford the luxury of multiple wives. Like Princess Anne, Mrs. Thatcher, or Mrs. Bush, male-identified women benefit from ideological alignment with patriarchy 298


and male-dominated projects of nation-building, and are oblivious to asymmetrical gender relations. The same could be said of the celebrity volunteers and charitable ladies of the upper classes; their “good deeds” may quell their liberal guilt and temporarily alleviate suffering, but actually serve to perpetuate dependency relations and to maintain hierarchies of privilege and power (Alexander and Mohanty, 1997). The predominance of salaried and appointed male-chiefs, who colluded with “colonial logic” (Moore, 1997) and benefited in post-colonial states at the expense of their community members, attests to power relations governed by a gendered ruling elite. The struggles against colonial authority at the Kaerezi Resettlement Ranch in Zimbabwee (formerly Rhodesia) demonstrates women’s agency: The colonial government didn’t suspect women involving themselves in politics. One day Rhodesian soldiers arrived at our home and we covered our chief, Rekayi, with grass. When the soldiers saw that there were only women present, they saw us as ‘politically helpless’ and they went away (Davis, cited in Moore, 1997, p. 100) Angela Davis’ story demonstrates the resistance of ordinary women against the patriarchy of colonialism, and her story continues with the ongoing struggle against the patriarchy of “traditional” authority and state power in postindependence Zimbabwee under Robert Mugabe. This is a far-cry from the tokenism of “queens” endowed with symbolic power (like Queen Elizabeth II) or of “first ladies” whose authority resides with attachment to their military husbands. Queens and first ladies can serve to mask inequitable gender relations, with negligible improvement in the lives of ordinary women. Angela Davis’ story raises the saliency of class in social analysis. Referring to the contemporary context of Nigeria, Mama (1997) identifies “femocracy” by a few privileged women as working against feminism and perpetuating essentialist notions of women: Femocracy has affected the gender politics of the nation, but not in the way that one might have hoped. It cannot be said to have enhanced gender equity or to have in any way challenged conservative attitudes to women. Instead, eight years of femocracy has generated promises to appoint token women, and has made the parading of expensively attired wives into a political tradition. (p. 97) Whereas Oyewumi (1997) claims that patriarchy was introduced by colonialism, Amadiume (1987) recognizes the complexities of gender relations in indigenous religious-political structures that helps to explain how the patriarchal order could so readily be assimilated and reiterated in contemporary post-colonial states in Africa: As political administration was embedded in the religious structure, we find both patriarchal and matriarchal ideologies juxtaposed in the indigenous political structure of Nnobi. (p. 52) From a more female-centred perspective, the traditional Nnobi social organization of co-wives is perceived as encompassing the dual aspects of competition among women for favouritism of the husband (or father), as well as solidarity 299


among women. Peer control among co-wives operated to enforce compliance and industriousness; but the domestic work of “cleaning, cooking and head-loading” could also be turned into political agency by women going on strike and “refusing to cook or have sexual relations with their husbands” (p. 65). Women’s collective resistance to subordination thus seems to have had a long history in Africa. Feminist critiques of the institutions of marriage and motherhood expose how the patriarchal construction of these institutions benefit men, while honouring women first and foremost as mothers, without regard for other aspects of their identities (Rich, 1976, 1980). This imposition of a biological determinism on women is represented in fertility symbols that occur across many pagan religions (and desexualized in the Virgin Mary). Women’s bodies are construed as vessels of procreation. While childbirth and childrearing may be a shared experience for many women, feminism contests the institutional imposition of motherhood. This is not to devalue motherhood, but to advocate for genuine free choice for women, and also for control over own bodies, including access to health services, contraception and abortion. Shifting the perspective, Oyewumi (2003a) maintains that motherhood is subsumed under wifehood in the west, whereas in Yorubaland, motherhood is the central primary relationship and the source of women’s empowerment. Within small homogenous indigenous communities, where child rearing is shared amongst villagers, and where the private and public realms are intertwined, the desire for socio-economic independence and for access to participation in the public realm may be irrelevant to women. However, in the contemporary context of nation-states encompassing complex heterogeneous societies, representation in societal institutions as reflecting diversity and gender is a paramount issue. In nationalist discourses, veneration of the “feminine” principle as embodied in women’s fertility and motherhood limits their role to reproducers of the next generation. This can work against women in devaluing mothering as unpaid work and restricting women’s full participation in public life. It is particularly destructive to childless (“barren”), unmarried or lesbian women, who do not bear children by choice or by force of circumstance. In patriarchal cultures, the emphasis on women’s “purity” is associated with abuse or asymmetrical punishment to control their sexuality in the interests of securing paternity over children, and/or maintaining family “honour”. The ancient identification of women with nature (and men with culture) fuels men’s fear of women as connected with irrational, supernatural, potentially uncontrollable evil forces. On the other hand, women’s biological connection to the life-giving aspect runs counter to war and death; it offers a foundation for a more female-friendly spirituality than that found in organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Christianity has a history of oppressing women, as exemplified in the witch hunts in Europe during the Middle Ages. Likewise, indigenous peoples were subjugated by the spread of Christianity as integral to colonialist conquest, and the rise of religious fundamentalisms globally continues to fuel war and ethnic strife. Rather than the transcendent skygod of the Judeo-Christian religion, the immanent earth-bound animism of the ecofeminist movement fuses deep ecology 300


with feminism and embraces a nature-based holistic spirituality that informs ethically responsible practice. Ecofeminism stresses the interdependency of living things with a practical component of stewardship over the earth and its biodiversity. In this sense of embodied spirituality as lived practice, ecofeminism converges with indigenous spirituality, but it differs in the disinclination towards orthodoxy, ritualistic ceremony, reified deities, and ancestor worship. Although a non-institutionalized, broad-based grassroots movement that takes various forms, the aspirations of ecofeminism are encapsulated by an early proponent, Rosemary Ruether (1975): Women must see that there can be no liberation for them and no solution to the ecological crisis within a society whose fundamental model of relationships continues to be one of domination. They must unite the demands of the women’s movement with those of the ecological movement to envision a radical reshaping of the basic socioeconomic relations and the underlying values of this society. (p. 204) Women-nature connections are thus at the heart of ecofeminism, together with a political aspect of liberation from domination. Modern science’s preoccupation with dominating and controlling nature is contested by feminists (Harding, 1986, 1991; Haraway, 1991; Shiva, 1997). Similarly, indigenous knowledges tend to be defined in opposition to “western” science, but they also lay claim to being empirical sciences in their own right, based on centuries of trial and error experimentation and close observation of the natural environment (Agrawal, 1995). The pejorative labelling of indigenous science as “ethnoscience” relegates it to secondary status, legitimacy for which is ultimately arbitrated by the scientific establishment (Harding, 1997). The question of what is meant by “western” science requires clarification, given that the disciplines of science and mathematics evolved historically from discoveries not only in Europe, but also in India, the Middle East, Asia, and northern Africa, thus refuting the monopolistic presumptions of the west. Feminism and indigenous knowledge question the epistemological and methodological dominance of science in knowledge production, and proffer alternative ways of knowing (Belenky et al., 1986; Elabor-Idemudia, 2000). Critiques of western science centre on its claims of universality, objectivity and rationality. While feminists emphasize the androcentric exploitation of nature, indigenous knowledge stresses colonialist domination at the expense of local knowledge systems. Both refute scientific “progress” and technological advancement as promoted in international development projects. The alliance between biotechnological science and the project of modernization disregards social and environmental consequences. In order to combat irresponsible scientific progress, and to expand the “partial” knowledge of mainstream science (Haraway, 1991), Sandra Harding (1991) proposes that science should be a subset of social science rather than the other way around, an inversion that would curtail the tyranny of science over knowledge production and hold it accountable to a broader constituency.



It is important to distinguish between fundamental or basic science that has the long term goal of contributing to knowledge, and applied sciences that are increasingly aligned with and funded by the short-term profit-motive of corporations (pharmaceutical companies and agribusiness in particular). The alignment of applied science with transnational corporations (TNCs) in the global economy amounts to the proverbial Faustian deal with the devil. The theft of indigenous knowledge by TNCs, through the appropriation of intellectual property rights over the genetic codes of local varieties of food crops and medicinal plants that have been cultivated over generations, is dubbed “biopiracy” by Vandana Shiva (1997). Much of this indigenous knowledge was developed and is held by women farmers in the third world. It is third world women who have been most negatively affected by globalization (Alexander and Mohanty, 1997), where women are exploited as a source of cheap labour and also bear the brunt of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) imposed by the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Cutbacks to healthcare, education, and social welfare rely on the unpaid labour of women to sustain societies. Women at the forefront of the global justice movement are resisting and proposing alternatives. In sub-Saharan Africa during the 1990s, the growth of a thriving informal sector of the economy comprised of independent traders is a sign of women’s agency in creating viable alternatives to the dominance of corporate globalization, originating from pre-colonial times (Omari, 1997). Across the Atlantic Ocean in South America, an organized movement of factory workers took over closed or abandoned factories and refused to stop working. The documentary film, The Take (Klein and Lewis, 2004) traces the emergence of this Movement of Recovered Factories in Argentina, following the IMF-induced economic collapse of that country in 2001 that lead to an overnight exodus of capital, and massive unemployment. The inversion of traditional trade unionism poses an encouraging alternative to corporate capitalism, in which grassroots activism and direct action generates a cooperative subeconomy under worker control and self-management. This movement began with and is inspired by the agency of women garment workers at the Brukman factory. The global division of labour and the exploitation of “human” resources impacts upon women in export processing zones and “food-basket” centres in the third world. The promotion of large scale farming operations that produce “monocultures” of crops for export, to the detriment of local needs, profoundly affects traditional subsistence farmers, most of whom are women. The devastating environment effects of “maldevelopment”, in which TNCs exploit the natural resources of the third world, are the desertification, deforestation and reduction in the biodiversity of plant and animal species (Shiva, 1993, 1997). Whereas the IMF and WB are beginning to acknowledge the failure of development policies, their appropriation of the discourses on indigenous knowledges and gender equity are cause for concern (Yulat, 1988; Warren, 1991; Mehmet, 1995; Munck and O’Hearn, 1999). For example, Uma Lele’s (1991)4 analysis of the impact of structural adjustment on women farmers in rural Africa proposes a set of recommendations to improve the “effectiveness” of WB intervention policies. 302


Despite a declared equity perspective and the attention given to high levels of poverty among this particular group, the report is biased toward the dominant neoliberal economic paradigm, and is fraught with contradictions. In order for women to “reap the benefits of national growth”, Lele proposes increasing the labour productivity of woman farmers by promoting the utilization of time-saving technology, as well as packaging seeds and fertilizers in smaller amounts; this is supposed to free up time for child rearing and hence improve the “quality of the population” (p. 50). Aside from the maternal role, the role of women as farmers is deemed to be promoted by providing rural women with access to microcredit loans, encouraging them to be less “risk-aversive” and to engage in high-tech farming practices. Such recommendations target women for the same – but scaled-down – policies that by the WB’s admission have not succeeded (Warren, 1991). These policies are likely to exacerbate the spiraling debt in African countries, to perpetuate dependency, and to increase even further the gap between the rich and the poor. The co-optation of equity discourse bestows a deceptive beneficence on the WB, IMF and their structural adjustment policies. It draws attention to the contradictions between the discourses of equity and neo-liberal economics. Acknowledgement of women farmers as “experts” in local indigenous knowledge and their participation in policy decisions that affect their lives would contribute towards breaking the hegemony of WB policies. African governments colonized into following the dictates of global financial institutions, aided and abetted by Women in Development (WIN) in a token “consultation” capacity, continue to operate under the illusion of the modernization paradigm. To counteract western “progress” and reclaim identity, indigenous knowledges advocate a return to the past as a means of resisting its amputation and avoiding erasure of cultural heritage. Whereas spaces for identity politics are important, especially for marginalized groups (including women) to theorize positions and formulate strategies of resistance, there is a risk of becoming entrenched in mutually exclusive enclosures, constructing a nemesis in the “other”, and policing identities according to an essentialized notion of authenticity. Any simple dichotomy between tradition and modernity must be subjected to closer scrutiny. Feminism challenges traditional and religious ideologies of the past that conspire to disempower women. Rather than searching for a golden age in the past, feminist praxis focuses on creating possibilities conducive to a more humane and egalitarian society for women and other minoritized groups. The search for gynecentric cultures (Gimbutas, 1974) in pre-history may be part of an exploration into alternatives to patriarchal cultures, and may provide exemplars of matrilineal social structures of inheritance and leadership, matrilocal marriage, metronymy and goddess worship. However, most feminists do not advocate matriarchy, or replacing one type of gender asymmetry for another, but for egalitarian social relations. Feminists’ ambivalence toward the past may be attributed to historical injustices perpetrated in the name of religion and tradition. Rather than a return to past beliefs and practice, feminism calls for critical self-reflexivity. Similarly,



emphasizing indigenous knowledges as living traditions counteracts tradition as static, fixed and frozen in the past. Within the contemporary context of globalization, two contradictory tendencies are occurring: on the one hand, the women’s movement has been instrumental in loosening the grip of traditional values and leadership structures over women’s social roles, while on the other, fundamentalist movements have tightened the grip and closed ranks. Yuval-Davis’ (1997)5 exploration of the intersectionality of gender, ethnicity and nationalism explicates feminist ambivalence toward nationalism as male-dominated projects that inscribe particular notions of manhood and womanhood into citizenship (or identity). Since women reproduce nations biologically, culturally and symbolically, they are inevitably enlisted into nation-building projects. Moreover, women suffer in specific ways from the militarization and war that often accompany nation-building. Particularly pertinent is the distinction between nation-states and nationalist projects that exist within and across nation-states. Blindness to patriarchal assumptions inherent in nationbuilding replicates gender domination; these assumptions can take various forms that make women invisible or deny their full participation in society. However, women’s proactive agency resists rules and regulations (as well as perceptions and attitudes) that are specific to women as bearers of collective honour, and hence subjected to various forms of control under the pretext of “culture and tradition”. Yuval-Davis thus draws attention to identity as complex and multi-faceted, especially for women. The importance of a politics of identity for marginalized groups that have been objectified as the “other” (including women) is to create culturally specific spaces for decolonizing, theorizing and organizing. In the early stages, the focus is to reclaim self-definition by the group in its own terms and to promote collective healing. To avoid essentializing identity by reduction to some generalized fixed “core” or authentic essence that denies internal differences, Gayatri Spivak (1988) coined the term “strategic essentialism”. This encapsulates two crucial aspects: first, the temporal or provisional aspect within the context of multiple identifications that are contingent and relational, changing over time; and second, the political purpose of engaging in resistance. In a series of interviews, Spivak later equivocated on the term because of misinterpretations of the key aspect of “strategic” that gave carte blanche to “generalized” essentialism. The tension resides in formulating a collective identity that leaves room for individuality: If one is considering strategy, one has to look at where the group – the person, the persons, of the movement – is situated when one makes claims for or against essentialism. A strategy suits a situation; a strategy is not a theory. (Spivak, 1993, p. 4) The concept of strategic essentialism remains pertinent to the process of decolonization and to counter-hegemonic praxis. Feminists and anti-racist activists alike affirm the cultural and political relevance of essentialism in resistance politics. Empowerment and the formulation of alternative discourses require collective action. The distinction lies in using essentialism for political emancipation, ver304


sus entrapment by attributions assigned (and/or internalized) according to the dominant politics of derision, or glorification conditional on compliance. A case in point is the cultural politics of the tourist industry that capitalizes on the commodification of essentialized indigenous identities arrested in the past. Indigenous women in particular are appropriated in advertising exoticism and in the selling of local services and wares; whether dancing and entertaining, waiting and serving, making arts and crafts, or performing rituals, these “authentic” encounters staged for tourists entrap indigenous peoples in a cycle of dependency and as objects of spectacle that mitigate against cultural and economic advancement of local communities in their own terms. The whimsy of tourism is such that one negative news report is sufficient to shut down tourism in a given area, leaving people without means to a livelihood upon which they have come to depend. Moreover, as pointed out by anti-essentialist lesbian feminist, Judith Butler (1990), the perpetuation of stereotypes through the “performativity” of identities can be limiting and exclusionary by internally policing authenticity, censoring representation, and stifling dissent. In social relations, the reiterative performativity of identities renders them believable, acceptable and “normal”, a simulacrum where the copy assumes more importance than the “original”. For hula dancers in Hawaii (Trask, 1993) and indigenous Quitos hotel workers in Ecuador (Crain, 1996) the marketing of indigeneity presents a quandary. The commodification of local culture offers some indigenous women economic independence and a measure of autonomy. But there is a downside. In the case of hotel workers, the dynamics play out in donning “native” Quitos costumes that are a creative invention, and policing “authenticity” so as to retain their control over the job market; this divides urban and rural women. Like female-only spaces (such as proposed by Mary Dally), culturally specific spaces of identity politics do have a place, but also present the problem of separatism and othering, creating mutually exclusive enclosures of disengaged relativity. When an essential identity or a “core” meaning is defined in opposition to the “other” as the devalued other half of a binary, the locus of control still resides externally with the nemesis. This resembles Lattas’ (1992) view of the colonial encounter between colonizer and colonized as a “hall of mirrors”, where white and black identities become unstable reflections of one another (p. 37). A more positive process of identity formation is advocated by YuvalDavis (1997), by transforming identity politics into a “transversal politics” that facilitates women’s empowerment through cross-cultural links. However, the situation for third world women differs from that of indigenous women in the fourth world.6 For many of the women in rural Africa who lack access to communication technologies and the internet, connecting with grassroots indigenous women in other locations is beyond their means. Their relative isolation and self-sufficiency may turn into advantage in the long term, in formulating alternatives that are untainted by neoliberal globalization. The challenge for feminists in indigenous knowledge is creating spaces for a plurality of women-centred exchange – without universalizing sisterhood, policing identities, or privileging some women over others. This suggests a multiplicity 305


of ethnocentric feminisms that address concerns arising out of particular local contexts, as well as opening dialogue and forging coalitions for collective political action. On the ground, this means walking the talk in our everyday lives. Any unifocal lens runs the risk of overlooking various other forms of oppression. Whereas gender may not be the most salient lens for some women living in relatively small homogenous indigenous communities, multiple lenses become significant within the contemporary context of nation-states encompassing complex heterogeneous societies, where the legacy of colonialism, dislocation and migration necessitate negotiating equitable coexistence across difference. Accordingly, just as the scholarship on indigenous knowledges can be enriched by incorporating gender perspectives into its domain, feminism is enriched by incorporating diverse cultural perspectives. Given substantial convergences and complementarities between feminism and indigenous knowledges, continuing the dialogue promises to further the feminist anti-racist project of working toward a just and equitable society.

NOTES 1 December 6 was proclaimed by the Canadian government as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Annual commemoration of this tragedy is a reminder of the need for continuous action to end gender-based violence in all its forms. 2 Use of the term “third world” does not imply a hierarchy; rather it implies a worldview that is distinct from first world capitalist nations and second world socialist nations. This self-designated term originated at the 1955 Bandung Conference of “non-aligned” African and Asian nations, where solidarity against colonialism was the focus. Although these divisions are no longer distinctive, this terminology is used rather than the alternative designations of East and West, or more recently North and South, that are associated with geographic location, rather than emphasizing differences in worldview. 3 The term “anafemale” refers to anatomic females to differentiate between the biological and social categories of sex and gender. According to Oyewumi, social roles in traditional Yoruba society were not gendered or determined by sex. 4 When this article was written, Uma Lele was Manager of the Agricultural Policy Office of the Technical Department in the World Bank. 5 As an anti-racist, anti-fundamentalist peace activist in the Israeli-Palestine conflict in the Middle East, Nira Yuval-Davis focuses on the intersections of race, gender, class and nationalism as they pertain to contemporary notions of citizenship and globalization. 6 The “fourth world” refers to historic nations with distinct cultural entities within nation-states, struggling for international recognition and sovereignty from nation-states that claim jurisdiction over their territory. The term can be traced to George Manuel’s (1974) The Fourth World: An Indian Reality, in which the fourth world is defined as “indigenous peoples descended from a country’s aboriginal population and who today are completely or partly deprived of the right to their own territory and its riches” (cited in Julian Burger, The Gaia Atlas of First Peoples, London: Gaia Books, 1990). It includes for example, Aborigines in Australia, First Nations peoples in Canada and the US, as well as Basques (as distinct from the Catalans) in Spain.

REFERENCES Agrawal, A. (1995). Dismantling the divide between indigenous and scientific knowledge. Development and Change, 26, 413–439.


ENGENDERING INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE Alexander, M.J. and Mohanty, C.T. (Eds.) (1997). Feminist genealogies, colonial legacies, democratic futures. New York: Routledge. Amadiume, I. (1987). Male daughters, female husbands: Gender and sex in an African society. London: Zed Books. Amadiume, I. (1997). Reinventing Africa: Matriarchy, religion and culture. London: Zed Books. Anthias, F. and Yuval-Davis, N. (1993). Racialized boundaries: Race, nation, gender, colour and class and the anti-racist struggle. New York: Routledge. Belenky, M.F., Clinchy, B.M., N.R. Goldberger, N.R. and Tarule, J.M. (1986). Women’s ways of knowing. New York: Basic Books. Bell, D. (1990). A reply from Diane Bell. Anthropological Forum, 6, 158–165. Bell, D. and Napurrula Nelson, T. (1989). Speaking about rape is everyone’s business. Women’s Studies International Forum, 12, 403–416. Butler, Judith (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge. Crain, M.M. (1996). Negotiating identities in quitos cultural borderlands: Native women’s performances for the ecuadorian tourist market. In D. Howes (Ed.), Cross-cultural consumption: Global markets local realities. London: Routledge, pp. 125–137. Davis, A. (1981). Women, race, and class. New York: Random House. Dei, G.J.S., Hall, B.L. and Goldin Rosenberg, D. (Eds.) (2000). Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: OISE/UT Press. Elabor-Idemudia, P. (2000). The retention of knowledge of folkways as a basis for resistance. In G.J.S. Dei, D.G. Rosenberg and B. Hall (Eds.), Indigenous knowledge in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 102–119. Gimbutas, M. (1974). Goddesses and Gods of old Europe: Myths and cult images. Berkeley: University of California Press. Gordon, C. (1972). Power/knowledge: selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977 by Michel Foucault. New York: Pantheon Books. Haraway, D. (1991). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. In Simians, cyborgs and women: The reinvention of nature. London: Free Association Books, pp. 183–201. Harding, S. (1986). The science question in feminism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Harding, S. (1991). Whose science? Whose knowledge? Thinking from women’s lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Harding, S. (1997). Is modern science an ethnoscience? Rethinking epistemological assumptions. In E.C. Eze (Ed.), Post-colonial African philosophy: A critical reader. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 45–70. hooks, b. (1981). Ain’t I a woman: Black women and feminism. Boston, MA: South End Press. Kenny, L.D. (2000). Daughters of suburbia: Growing up white, middle class and female. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Lattas, A. (1992). Skin, personhood and redemption: The double self in West New Britain cargo cults. In A. Lattas (Ed.), Alienating mirrors: Christianity, cargo cults and colonialism in Melanesia. Oceania (special issue), 63(1), 27–55. Lattas, A. (1993). Essentialism, memory and resistance: Aboriginality and the politics of authenticity. Oceania, 63, 2-67. Lattas, A. (1998). Cultures of secrecy: Reinventing race in Bush Kaliai cargo cults. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. Lele, U. (1991). Women, structural adjustment, and transformation: Some lessons and questions from the African experience. In C.H. Gladwin (Ed.), Structural adjustment and African women farmers. Centre for African Studies, University of Florida Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pp. 46– 80. Mama, A. (1997). Feminism or femocracy? State feminism and democratization. In J. Ibrahim (Ed.), The expansion of democratic space in Nigeria. Dakar: CODESRIA. Mehmet, O. (1995). Westernizing the Third World: Eurocentricity of economic development theories. London: Routledge. Moore, D.S. (1997). Remapping resistance: ‘Ground for resistance’ and the politics of place. In S. Pile and M. Keith (Eds.), Geographies of resistance. London: Routledge, pp. 87–106.


KERR Munch, R. and O’Hearn, D. (Eds.) (1999). Critical development theory: Contributions to the new paradigm. London: Zed Books. Omari, C.K. (1997). Women in the informal sector. Dar es Salaam: Dar es Salaam University Press. Oyewumi, O. (1997). The invention of women: Making an African sense of Western gender discourses. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Oyewumi, O. (Ed.) (2003a). African women and feminism: Reflecting on the politics of sisterhood. Trenton NJ: Africa World Press. Oyewumi, O. (2003b). Alice in motherland: Reading Alice Walker on Africa and screening the colour ‘black’. In O. Oyewumi (Ed.), African women and feminism: Reflecting on the politics of sisterhood. Trenton NJ: Africa World Press, pp. 159–185. Rich, A. (1976). Of women born: Motherhood as experience and institution. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Rich, A. (1980). Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 5 (Summer), 631–660. Ruether, R.R. (1975). New women/new earth: Sexist ideologies and human liberation. New York: Seabury Press. Shiva, V. (1993). Monocultures of the mind: Perspectives on biodiversity and biotechnology. New York: Zed Books. Shiva, V. (1997). Biopiracy: The plunder of nature and knowledge. Toronto: Between the Lines. Spivak, G.C. (1988). Can the subaltern speak? In C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (Eds.), Marxism and the interpretation of culture. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, pp. 271–313. Spivak, G.C. (1993). Outside in the teaching machine. New York: Routledge. Trask, H.-K. (1993). Lovely hula hands: Corporate tourism and the prostitution of Hawaiian culture. In From a native daughter: Colonialism and sovereignty in Hawaii. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, pp. 179–197. Walker, A. (1983). In search of our mother’s gardens: Womanist prose. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace. Warren, D.M. (1991). Using indigenous knowledge in agricultural development. World Bank discussion paper 127. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Yulat, Y. (1988). Education and national development: The continuing problem of misdiagnosis and irrelevant prescriptions. Journal of Educational Development, 8(4), 315–328. Yuval-Davis, N. (1997). Gender and nation. London: Sage.




The preceding works demonstrate the broad and varied context in which the anticolonial framework is important. The lessons for teachers and students, from a variety of disciplines, are many. For those against whom education has been used as a weapon and as a tool of dispossession, anti-colonialism calls for the invocation of one’s past and thus place within the present and future. For students of science and history in particular, the analyses herein uncover the strategic function of these disciplines within the colonial project. Anti-colonialism calls for a maintenance of the strategic approach, but only alongside a reversal of its aims. Anti-colonialism asks: How might science, history and education as a whole be tools for decolonization – building agency for and within the learner? For those marginalized within formal and informal learning contexts, anticolonialism sheds light on the intersectionalities and power inequities which characterize different sites of oppression. It highlights the potential role of spirituality in transforming spirit injury into personal agency. The journey of resistance and empowerment is not a solitary one. With regard to education in particular, the anti-oppression struggle of individuals is best taken up as constitutive of a larger, more broad-based resistance. Although there is no monolithic prescription here, working with others is crucial to effecting change, both within the self and in the world in which live. For the individual, disarming oneself for the purpose of hearing and listening to others, can help to cast off the blinders which so carefully prevent us from identifying the way we ourselves participate in, and benefit from, the oppression of others. Following from this, change in education and elsewhere, must be equitably reflective of the needs and directives of as many people as possible.


For teachers, the works on anti-colonialism herein are a call to action. An anticolonial pedagogy asks a great deal from the teacher. For example, it requires teachers to imagine new classroom relations, and to subvert conventional power relations. It calls on us as teachers to be creative and work concretely with ideas to bring avout educational and social change. While not ignoring them completely, teachers must look beyond dominant curricula, non-supportive colleagues and G.J.S. Dei and A. Kempf (eds.), Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance, 309–314. © 2006. Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.


administration, and the problematic resources too often “suggested” for use in our classrooms. The teacher must look to alternative resources and to the embodied knowledges of the different learners in the classroom in order to facilitate transformative inclusive education. This means addressing the histories, strengths and needs of the student. While recognizing the danger implicit in placing emphasis, and thus value, solely on subjectivities, teachers must also at least try to know who their students are, and where they are coming from. Further, this same inquiry is necessarily applicable to the teacher. An anti-colonial pedagogy requires the self-location of the instructor in relation to the course material, the educational facility and the learners. Teachers must be prepared to ask challenging questions, and engage in the consequences of the answers. This means risk, discomfort and sometimes spirit injury. This involves challenging first, oneself and second, the structure in which one works, and perhaps lives. For students often marginalized within “their” educational programs, it is necessary to challenge the body at the front of the class, as well as the structure that empowers that body. For the teacher and the student, identifying others as well as identifying with others who may share your experiences and outlook, is crucial. As we resist, we must build the necessary community to maintain joy and peace in our lives. Anti-colonial teachings should focus on and lead to, the creation of relevant knowledge, not simply reproduction of existing knowledge and practice. This is an intentional departure from a quantitative approach to knowing. The what, why and how of teaching and learning are critical. All education is strategic and must be regarded as such. For the teacher, this means thinking about what she formally and informally conveys to her class, asking what messages, analyses and values she imparts through the whole of her interaction with students. How do teachers structure their relationships with students? Are students shown the respect they are so often compelled to show others? What role does the student play in the classroom? How are power and responsibility articulated, and by whom? What role does listening play in the learning process? These questions are not simply reflections on student or teacher behavior/relations, but rather inquiries that speak to the degree of intellectual, spiritual and personal agency afforded students by instructors. One approach to empowering the learner and improving educational programs is that of collaborative teaching, which values the histories and knowledge contributions of students. Instructors who understand, value and engage their students as knowledge producers, create a critical yet inclusive classroom. The learner is recognized as an agent of history and knowledge, rather than as a spectator, victim or perpetrator thereof. There must be a fine balance between the degree to which students’ education shapes them, and the degree to which students shape their education. The collaborative approach can and should extend beyond the classroom into the development and interpretation of curricula. This means that both the delivery and planning of educational programs should be de-colonizing activities. An anti-colonial pedagogy must also teach resistance. Many educational settings devote a great deal of energy to stemming, discrediting and denying student 310


resistance. It is important to question the necessity of such repression. Discipline and punishment too easily serve as entry points for racist, gendered and otherwise oppressive practices, which culminate in larger issues of student disengagement. What purposes underlie the control mechanisms used by teachers and schools? Resistance is a multifaceted practice that, while quite individualistic at times, can be taught. From critical listening, reading and analytical skills to methods of protest, revolution and reclamation, teaching resistance is crucial to anti-colonial education. One way to start such process is to recognize the ways in which students already do and have resisted, and wherever possible, to respond with praise and reward, instead of scorn and rejection. This is a challenge to the many teachers whose authority rests upon such control. As educators, our authenticity as leaders in the class must not stem from the power to punish or flunk our students. We must find the courage to be wrong, to be open, to be considerate of the student as an equal, and to be humble in our instruction/facilitation. In addition to teaching and rewarding student resistance, we must teach histories of resistance, providing students with the tools to locate and value resistance in their own pasts, as well as those of others. Alongside histories of resistance, we must be sure to speak of the successes of people oppressed currently and historically, in order to counter the narratives of failure often assigned to them. This might range from lessons on the African philosophy which would later be called Greek; to discussions of important present-day initiatives and activities in Africa, which look nothing like the starving people unwittingly made into continental poster children by one charity or another; to the creation of an international anti-capitalist movement by the people of Chiapas; to successes within the communities of students. Community building is decisive in constructing resistance to oppression. Education too often constitutes and/or facilitates a removal and alienation of students from their communities. Instead, education generally and resistance specifically, must be community-building exercises. To speak of the successes of non-dominant people is not simply to engage in strategic re-telling. It is a practice necessitated by the glaring omissions of such accounts in dominant education. Although revolutionary education needs no justification, the degree to which the current politico-cultural climate now fosters and cements societal inequity, makes the need for a revolutionary approach particularly pressing. The impositional nature of corporate/mainstream media is such that revolutionary, liberating pedagogy, is a necessary counter for the empowerment of the learner, for he or she needs not only the shield of a non-dominant knowledge base but also the sword of meaningful critical analysis.


The anti-colonial classroom must always be a de-colonizing space. This is both a physical and intellectual imperative, affecting both the set up and use of space, as well as the delivery of the instructor’s program. The teacher, as well as the students, should address the meanings of knowledge and learning. Within 311


anti-colonial education, the teacher is responsible for presenting knowledge and learning as counters to hegemonic power. The first step in doing so lies within the exchange of knowledge, i.e. the learning process. The teacher/facilitator must not be understood (by herself/himself or by the students) as “in charge” of the knowledge. While she/he may be the custodian of certain knowledges, this by no means translates into ownership thereof. Working with bell hooks’ (1994) understanding of decolonization as a process wherein we depart from our customary paradigms, and reject the ways in which our reality and experience have been shaped by hegemonic cultural discourse, we can arrive at a critical learning moment. The most dangerous of all delusions is to think that your social reality is the only reality worth talking about. To do so is to engage in a colonizing mental exercise, characterized by profound intellectual arrogance. This is the problem with the Eurocentric epistemology that characterizes so much dominant curricula. The subversion thereof is thus an act of mental liberation. To truly embrace and work with a multicentric framework requires axiological, ontological and epistemological de-centering. We must return here to the notion and necessity of humility in the teaching and learning processes. Classroom teaching must begin to interrogate the thinking of both teachers and learners. Wherever we sit in the classroom, we must think and re-think the ways in which dominant knowledge, discourse and practices have shaped our understandings of social power relations; of our relationships with one another; of who we (individually and collectively) are; of who we believe ourselves to be; and of our understandings of socio/political difference in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability and body image. Through such analysis, we may come to better understand the ways in which the embodied knowledge of individual learners (as well as that of the instructor[s]) can be invoked within the learning/teaching process. By viewing the classroom space as one of decolonization, achieved through the evocation of the embodied knowledges we all bring to the space, we can begin to discuss, think and pursue resistance. We can consider the ways in which we can and do assert collectively and individually, our own sense of who we are and where we come from in the face of ongoing, dominating and institutionalized relations of power. This means different things for different people, but we can work collectively within educational settings to arrive at such awareness. The development of a critical consciousness is a major objective in all educational undertakings. By asserting the classroom space is a de-colonizing space, we argue that we are all responsible for our input, for our contributions and for our actions. This is crucial because with such responsibility come the freedom and potential to rupture dominance and oppression, or conversely to sustain and reproduce it. It is also important to reiterate that we are all on the journey of de-colonization. Every space must be an encounter and an occasion for critical self-reflection, as well as an opportunity for transformative learning. All teachers and students enter a given class or space in order to transform themselves. For many, developing the spiritual aspects of this transformation is just as crucial as the development of critical consciousness – indeed these may well come hand in 312


hand. Critical self-reflection, alongside outward critical analysis, can be isolating and painful. Questioning ourselves and the world around us may force mental and social dis/relocation. Spirituality is of great potential importance for the process of healing as well as for the redress of spirit injury. Additionally, spirituality may serve as a connection to our histories, and in so doing help us resist amputation from our past, and thus present and future. Anti-colonial teaching must work with expectations. The establishment of these expectations can be based on mutual need – on a dialogue, which includes students, teachers, parents and other community members. This requires that educators ask questions of the class such as: What do you expect from me? What should/can I expect from you? What do you need from me? What do I need from you? Teachers must also look to colleagues. What can learners and teachers/facilitators/instructors possibly expect from each other and from themselves? We must also look to community. What can teachers expect from the community? To what degree are teachers accountable to the community? How will community inform the classroom and the school as whole? To what degree will students be accountable to the community as far educational achievement? For starters, we can expect teachers to be committed to their students’ needs and concerns. We can expect that teachers want to be there. Students should also expect the teacher to give respect and space, to everyone’s embodied difference, knowledge and voice, in the spirit of creating a space of multiple knowings. Further, all parties can expect that learning will thereafter proceed on the basis of these multiple knowings. Students and teachers can expect an articulation of the meaning of the learning in which they are all engaged. We can expect teachers and students to contribute to a positive learning environment, facilitated by among other things, an engagement with and commitment to, the community. Finally, and the list could of course go on, we can expect that at least for a time, sacrifice and determination will be required to meet these expectations. If we fail in these expectations, if we impose a sense of dominance or appear to be contradicting our own philosophy of learning, we can expect learners to justifiably critique and call us on our dissonance and contradictions. Such a challenge on the part of students would only serve to demonstrate the critical potential of learners. Although conflict is necessarily a part and function of decolonization, we should expect each other to come to this space with a spirit of respect, openness and willingness to listen to voices, knowledges and experiences different from our own. Learning must be a reflexive process of social, spiritual and intellectual enrichment for all involved.


We have already noted the past intellectual debt and depths of anti and postcolonial thought and practice. Anti-colonialism presents the opportunity to pick up where post-colonialism left off; to address issues of identity strategically, with an eye for the power relations underlying the ways in which inequality is 313


constructed along lines of difference. This is not simply a critical undertaking however, as it aims to construct and assist positive (action-oriented) solutions to real problems. From analyses of power imbalances, we must move to assist and participate in power sharing in all areas of our activities. For example, researchers must undertake work with the same de-colonizing aims as those of the anticolonial teacher. This means proceeding with the intention of strengthening local research capacities so that the dominant/researcher v. dominated/subject dynamic, disappears as research and implementation are directed and conducted by local actors. Anti-colonial research must continue to focus on domination studies, on how people understand their own oppression and domination. If students, research participants, local subjects, communities, teachers, academics and others are to contribute to, and be useful within the social and political contexts of our work, then we must seek to better comprehend sources and sites of agency as well as oppression. Analysis of the ways in which people experience these phenomena is one important place to start. Linda Smith’s (1991) notion of “researching back”, breaking away from the parasitic nature of knowledge production and beginning to speak of mutual gain, interdependence, questions of accountability and responsibility, is essential here (p. 7). Anti-colonial practice must be a response (not simply a reaction) to colonial and post-colonial epistemological dictates. In this vein, Smith writes, “research is on of the ways in which the underlying code of imperialism and colonialism is both regulated and realized” (1991, p. 7). Anticolonial practice must thus work to “realize” de-colonization, and to undermine the regulations that fortify colonial domination and imposition. It is incumbent upon teachers, students, parents and academics to search out and explore critical new perspectives in order to undermine the prescriptive hegemonic paradigms that dominate our ongoing colonial encounter. In the Introduction to this collection, George Dei raised a host of questions. We by no means presume to have answered all of them in the precededing pages. We do however, hope to have begun a conversation, one which can involve all of us and of which there is surely more to come.

REFERENCES hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress. New York: Routledge. Smith, L. (1991). Decolonizing methodologies. London: Zed Publishers.