Reshaping the University
Responsibility, Indigenous Epistemes, and the Logic of the Gift
In the past few decades, the narrow intellectual foundations of the university have come under serious scrutiny. Previously marginalized groups have called for improved access to the institution and full inclusion in the curriculum. Reshaping the University is a timely, thorough, and original interrogation of academic practices. It moves beyond current analyses of cultural conflicts and discrimination in academic institutions to provide an indigenous postcolonial critique of the modern university.
Rauna Kuokkanen argues that attempts by universities to be inclusive are unsuccessful because they do not embrace indigenous worldviews. Programs established to act as bridges between mainstream and indigenous cultures ignore their ontological and epistemic differences and, while offering support and assistance, place the responsibility of adapting wholly on the student. Indigenous students and staff are expected to leave behind their cultural perspectives and epistemes in order to adopt Western values. Reshaping the University advocates a radical shift in the approach to cultural conflicts within the academy and proposes a new logic, grounded in principles central to indigenous philosophies.
Kuokkanen is fierce and unflinching in her arguments, and her documentation and bibliography are flawless; her ideas are powerful and necessary. When she speaks of her own experience and uses her own homescape of the Deatnu River to articulate the paradox of an indigenous scholar, she is ... poetic and compelling.
1 The Gift
2 From Cultural Conflicts to Epistemic Ignorance
3 The Question of Speaking and the Impossibility of the Gift
4 Knowing the “Other” and “Learning to Learn”
5 Hospitality and the Logic of the Gift in the Academy
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