Dis-orienting Western Knowledge

Coloniality, Curriculum and Crisis

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Author: Zeus Leonardo1
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  • 1 University of California, Berkeley zeusleonardo@berkeley.edu
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The decolonization movement is a knowledge project insofar as colonialism was an epistemological form of imperialism. As such, curricular change in the primary grades to university life requires a fundamental reworking of theories of knowledge, if not knowledge itself. To interrogate this problem and pose possible interventions, this article explicates Edward Said’s conceptualization of colonialism as taking place on an epistemic level that orients western knowledge towards non-western ways through a will to dominate. Extending beyond the administrative colonial era, coloniality in the modern era, more appropriately called postcoloniality, transforms as a knowledge relation. Decolonization requires dis-orienting this relationship through Said’s methodology. Finally, the article argues that a ‘travelling curriculum’ poses an alternative against the dominant mode of knowledge that aims to fix and essentialize people, ultimately opening up the known world towards processes of co-existence.

Contributor Notes

Zeus Leonardo is Professor and Associate Dean of Education, and Faculty of the Critical Theory Designated Emphasis programme at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on critical social thought in education. He is the author of Ideology, Discourse, and School Reform (Praeger, 2003) and editor of Critical Pedagogy and Race (Blackwell, 2005). His articles have appeared in Educational Researcher; Race, Ethnicity, and Education; and Educational Philosophy and Theory. His essays include ‘Critical Social Theory and Transformative Knowledge’, ‘The Souls of White Folk’ and ‘The Color of Supremacy’. His recent books include Race, Whiteness, and Education (Routledge, 2009), The Handbook of Cultural Politics and Education (Sense Publishers, 2010), Race Frameworks (Teachers College Record, 2013), Education and Racism (2nd edition, with W. Norton Grubb, Routledge, 2018) and co-editor of The Edge of Race (with Kalervo Gulson and David Gillborn, Routledge, 2018).

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