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Addressing ontological inequities in the decolonial library


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In the last decade, there has been a surge for the decolonization of education, which many view as a path forward that connects the past, present, and future. While decolonisation can mean different things, it includes a fundamental reconsideration of who is teaching, what the subject matter is and how it’s being taught. This session will look at perspectives on decolonization from both the global north and global south, which typically offer different perspectives.

For the global south, education is a means of self-knowledge, starting from within (the local) and radiating outwards to discover more knowledge of the peoples and world. It means that the global south should exist at the centre, not as an appendix or extension of the global north.

For the global north, it is giving due recognition of the first peoples of the country and to build bridges through recognition. The speakers will look particularly at the role of the library on this journey.

Richard Higgs, Lecturer (University of Cape Town)
Camille Callison, Indigenous Strategies Librarian (University of Manitoba)

Published in: Education
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Addressing ontological inequities in the decolonial library

  1. 1. Addressing ontological inequities in the decolonial library IFLA PRESENTS Moderator: Mimi Calter Stanford University August 2020
  2. 2. speaker Richard Higgs University of Cape Town Twitter: @higgsri
  3. 3. The result of coercing or wedging texts and artefacts into taxonomies that are at best a poor fit and at worst perform ontological violence on people and their narratives. ontological injustice Epistemic injustice: individual’s knowledge is “obscured from collective understanding as a result of structural inequalities that marginalise or exclude certain groups from participating in shared meaning” (Fricker, 2007) CC-BY-SA-NC Richard Higgs
  4. 4. dimensions of exclusion Ethnicity Gender DisabilityClass after Crenshaw, 1989
  5. 5. In libraries and education ontological violence • Privileges of knowledge • Privileged knowledges • Knowledges of privilege • Rights of access • Spectralising the Savage • Nobility • Threat • Reification • Collection • Classification • Display • Engagement A legacy of violence Reduction of Black bodies to extensions of Western man* *Towns, 2020 • Depoliticisation/”neutrality”
  6. 6. a decolonial library? COLLECTION CLASSIFICATION DISPLAY ENGAGEMENT • Access (modes) • Dialogue • Response • Translanguaging • Awareness & advocacy • Accommodation • Co-discovery • Foregrounding silenced voices • Foregrounding silences • Reducing opacity • Navigation • Reviewing classification systems • Parallel classifications • Centering the marginal • Contextualisation • Selection (priority and privilege) • Proportionally amplifying marginalised narratives • Economic support Management structures and ethos
  7. 7. Ethics of care implications for LIS teaching Critical perspectives & approaches • Addressing pain • Affective pedagogy* (pedagogy of the heart) • Marxian • Feminist • Posthumanist • Decolonial REORGANISATION Liminality, discomfort, decoding, de-disciplinarity *Dernikos et al, 2020.
  8. 8. Disruption open dialogue Heterodoxy Critical self- reflection Shared meaning Confrontation Multiple modes of access Recognising pain Ethics of care Active listening Positionality Discomfort
  9. 9. thank you
  10. 10. references • Crenshaw, K.. 1989. Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: a Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum • Dernikos, P., Lesko, N., McCall, S., Niccolini, A. 2020. Feeling education. Mapping the affective turn in education. New York: Routledge. DOI:10.4324/9781003004219 • Fricker, M., 2007. Epistemic injustice: power and the ethics of knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198237907.001.0001 • Towns, A. 2020. Toward a Black media philosophy. Cultural studies. DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2020.1792524