Speaking in a Chain of Voices ~ crafting a story of how I am contributing to the creation of my postcolonial living educational theory through a self study of my practice as a scholar-educator
Paulus J.M. Murray
School of Business, Royal Agricultural College
As I respond to the Symposium title, How are we contributing to a new scholarship of educational enquiry through our pedagogisation of postcolonial living educational theories in the Academy? held at BERA 04 in Manchester 16-18 September, 2004,
"The Conference supports Maori people and their allies in researching the loss of life, lands and resources at the hands of the New Zealand government. The Conference call on the New Zealand Government to acknowledge the past wrongs of colonialism perpetuated on the Maori people as guaranteed in the Treaty of Waitangi" – Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Conference Regarding ‘holocaust’, September 2000, Wellington, New Zealand.
"Too often the history of Europe is described as a series of interminable wars and quarrels. Yet from our perspective today surely what strikes us most is our common experience. For instance, the story of how Europeans explored and colonised and – yes, without apology – civilised much of the world is an extraordinary tale of talent, skill and courage" – Margaret Thatcher, 1988, Britain and Europe, p.2, Conservative Political Centre.
In the proposal for this Symposium my colleague and postcolonial friend Jack Whitehead wrote and shared with us a proposed statement that included the following extract:
"While we recognise our uniqueness in who we are and what we are doing as individuals influenced by Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Humanistic values and beliefs we also recognise and experience an inclusional (Rayner, 2002) flow of life-affirming energy from each other. We each experience this energy differently in the expression of our embodied, spiritual and other values and recognise a desire in each other to work with each others inclusional ways of being." (Whitehead, 2004)
I supported this statement at the time it was written. I believed, hopefully, that it represented how things could be between us. I also cleave, rather adamantly, to Said’s (1993) belief that intellectuals are responsible for speaking truth to power. This seemed very grand and righteous when I first took this idea seriously in 1997 as a way of explaining my pedagogic relations in the Academy. Though Chomsky’s caution about speaking truth to power chastened me,
"To speak truth to power is not a particularly honorable vocation" (Chomsky, 2000).
I can vouch for this as I reflect on the past two weeks of email exchanges between the four Symposium co-presenters. As I have persisted with my process of speaking truth to what I experience as the power of reluctance and resistance with one of my co-presenters, I am aware that he may be thinking the same about me.
I have been experienced as directing and passionately abusive (personal e-mail exchanges) and as Chomsky says there is nothing particularly honourable in speaking truth to power. That said there may be something necessary, even imperative in the principle of speaking truth to power and Edward Said (1993) gives me compelling enough reasons to retain the principle and improve my practice of speaking truth to power.
As I focus on the challenge of sharing a compelling Symposium with a community of educational practitioners alongside my co-presenters, I am curious about something: How are we speaking to each other through our different expressions of postcolonial living theory in a chain of voices, across time, across experiences, that carry the horror of colonialism, the messy realpolitik of the colonial aftermath, and the reconstruction of identities in postcolonialism that carry hope for the future of humanity?
In my rejection of imperialism’s signifying system (i.e. colonialism) is my hope that the possibility exists of creating an entirely new one as proposed by Franz Fanon (Verges, 1996). By this I mean postcolonialism. My commitment to postcolonialism should be read as my rejection of imperialism’s signifying system. Because I agree with Verges when she suggests that ‘a group can express what is still lacking or still to come only through a redistribution of its past’ (and this applies to the four members of this Symposium group), I need at the very least the explicit solidarity of my co-presenters within the notion of the unredistributed colonial past as ‘holocaust’. If the four co-presenters represent a postcolonial ‘we’ in any sense at all then a celebration of ‘the postcolonial’ in the Symposium title could bring us together in an axiological accord representing a collective knowledge of our postcolonial purpose.
Without this in place I’m left wondering about the provenance of authenticity the ‘we’ that claims to be making a contribution to postcolonial narrative and performance. As I write this I can see that I am engaging with Bernstein’s (2000) theory of pedagogic relations as I try to influence what counts as relational postcolonial knowledge from the grounds of my commitment to a critical pedagogy (Darder, 2002).
I agree with Macedo (in Chomsky) when he suggests that,
"Far from the democratic education we claim to have, what we really have in place is a sophisticated colonial model of education designed primarily to train teachers in ways in which the intellectual dimension of teaching is often devalued. The major objective of a colonial education is to further de-skill teachers and students to walk unreflectively through a labyrinth of procedures and techniques" (p. 3)
My agreement springs reflectively, ironically and frustratingly from the grounds of my experiential knowing, a knowing that is holistic, and is inclusive of my cognitive domain (critical thinking and judgement, independent reasoning ), my conative domain (my embodied action, or activism in the world as I choose to walk, gesture, speak, laugh, and be passionately engaged in ways that bring my bodily presence to those around me as I move myself, physically, and commit myself to a ‘doing’ that takes my body in the direction of a postcolonial living educational theory; my conative commitment to postcolonialism precedes my cognitive commitment), and my affective domain in learning (that is, my emotional immediacy and faculty, my relational and spiritual commitment to a postcolonial education)(Heron 19??)
I imagine that you, the reader, will be able to extend your empathy to my concerns. I think Macedo is correct in his tone, but may carry disrespect in the generalizing strength of his statement as I imagine many educators who recognise Macedo’s analysis, and are acting upon it willfully and transformatively.
This is why I have written this paper and I am at BERA 04: speaking truth to power is a necessary but insufficient condition for a postcolonial practice. The kind of activism that distinguishes my postcolonial living theory from the propositional logic of much postcolonial theory is my belief that one should see an audience that matters, and like Chomsky, the audience is not a passive body to speak at, or to. Instead I imagine the audience as ‘part of a community of concern in which one hopes to participate constructively.’ (2000: 21). This is why I have worked through my male pride, my preciousness concerning a co-presenters singular reluctance and resistance and embraced this space as an educational opportunity. This I think is the hallmark of my postcolonial living educational theory as it carries my embodied values into my educational standards of judgement in a way that I would like to be held accountable as a professional scholar-educator.
However, without guarantees or reassurance, and in the case of one of my Colleagues, the Reverend Je Kan Adler-Collins, with only one direct response offered to my requests, I am prepared to share what I perceive to be the contested terrain of this Symposium platform. As a living educational theorist whose practice is inflected by oscillations between rage and hope, I know that I infuriate and confound some of my friends, colleagues and family members. But for me risk is a concomitant that comes with a postcolonial practice.
As educational action researchers we can all claim to be exploring ‘risk’ in the improvisatory expeditionary nature of educational enquiry, and this is one of Winter’s (1989) characteristics of effective action research. Though I would like to leave the possibility open to revisit Winter’s notion of ‘improvisatory action research’ by suggesting that I am engaged in a ‘performative action research’ that is risky, that is improvisatory, and that is also inextricably interlaced with a fluid and non-essentialist performative identity. In this way I believe identity is centred in the act of improvisation as a quality of agency, choice and a will to meaning. In building on Winter’s notion with a respectful creativity, I hope to encourage colleagues to explore this dimension of their educational lives too, while demonstrating the quality of critical judgement that is key to my doctoral thesis as I write my heart out with a compassionate and critical passion for humanity.
Setting the Postcolonial Theme for Our Symposium ~ In the Rub Al Khali, the sands of Sonora, the Kalahari and the Karoo, you can hear an instant in the wind, and smell the rumour of rain
Terror is in the air.
I am writing this paper in a time of terror for a nomadic educational researcher.
A terrifying time, for me, that places America, Israel and Britain as the most prolific Western neo-colonial nation-states in the world. The (re-)colonization of Iraq has been the culmination of more than ten years of terror for ordinary Iraqi people (Ali, T, 2003). As I draft this paper the terror continues in Najaf around the holy masjid, a living inspirational shrine of the Imam Ali (Praise Be Upon His Name). As a ‘Mixed-Race’ Muslim Briton this is a challenging time for my kind of postcolonial hybridity.
At the launch of this current Western colonial adventure I recall a heated email exchange in which Adler-Collins a co-presenter, and friend whom I try to hold closely with difference, was entrenched with me in a bi-polar passion. My co-presenter believed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and Iraq deserved its ‘come uppence’. I held to the equally trenchant and different view that Iraq had been so tightly constrained by Western bombing for a decade that the concealment of WMD was unfeasible. I suggested that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction or the capacity to damage Britain. The tone of Adler-Collin’s response was livid, conveyed in a register that I translated as a view that a PhD might not be appropriate for somebody with my reasoning in this matter. I was surprised with his response in some respects. Why wasn’t he getting it? Why wasn’t he able to see what I could see?
My premise is that a certain kind of political and strategic knowledge is shared, public and what I call ‘certain’ knowledge: for example, that America, Britain and Israel stockpile weapons of mass destruction. We have experienced America and Britain, with the support of many nations wanting to make political capital out of their solidarity with the axis of neo-colonialism, unleashing WAD’s upon Iraq. By WAD I am speaking of ‘weapons of Arab destruction’. Through all the lies, the deceits, the double-speak the British Government has actively played its part in a humiliating project of re-colonization that has its seeds in new global complexities that defy traditional sociological explanation (Urry, 2002), and appear to be an evolution of a ‘new world order’, with an imperial intent (Hardt and Negri, 2000).
We live in terrifying times. We are scattered in the storm of terror. We don’t know who to believe. We are now receiving DIY terror booklets through our doors. It seems almost apposite that the late Edward Said should have died this year, as if his death marked an exhaustion of his life-affirming energies to fight the racism of the Orientalist’s who had defined the East in their own terms.
There is a contemporary xenophobia towards others, towards difference, and it seems to have its focus on Islam and Arabs.
By way of illustration of my point: the most subtle evocation of xenophobia is the British media’s constant description of the Janjaweed militias of Sudan as ‘Arab’. Those people oppressed by the Janjaweed militias, and the people who comprise the Janjaweed militias themselves share the Arabic language, dress in ‘Dish-dasha’ (i.e. the Arabic word for the flowing ‘dress’ that men wear), and are Muslims. To this extent all Sudani Muslims are influenced by Arab culture whether in Khartoum or Darfur. My Arab friends and family cannot believe that the Western media persist in reinforcing this inaccuracy. Unsurprisingly my friends and family also believe it is connected to a chain of voices in a war of hatred, vilification and humiliation of Arabs and Islam.
I understand this feeling of alienation among my friend and family who, like you and me, simply want to get on with the matter of their lives: their families, their careers, their studies, their pleasures. You see, Sudani people are African people.
It is self-evident that in the north of Sudan there is a very strong cultural identification with Egypt. While in the south and west of the country there are multiple cultural identifications with African cultural groups that have no fixed boundaries, as ethnicities flow through the porosity of those seemingly fixed and interminable colonial borders established by European colonial governments in the continent of Africa. Historically Sudani’s have been ‘forcefully’ settled within borders insensitive to cultural identifications, by their European Colonial masters. This is not to suggest that the current human atrocities are to be explained by blaming Colonialism. Similarly, it is just as inappropriate and dangerous to describe Janjaweed militias as ‘Arab’. But these are the times in which Postcolonial Theory and Studies as a very loosely defined academic discipline, is facing up to the challenge of sustaining its presence in the Western Academy.
This is principally why I am here today. I am educator with a postcolonial mission. I am not a postcolonial proselytizer, or missionary. I am because I am multiculturally alert.
I am a postcolonial living educational theorist who works creatively and hopefully within the colonial aftermath and its impact on what counts as knowledge, whose knowledge counts, and how different knowledge can be legitimized within the Academy.
‘The master’s tools will never dismantle the masters’ house’, is a phrase attributed to Audra Lorde at a conference I believe, and I agree. So we need to fashion our own practical postcolonial tools. We have critique, we have analysis, and we have political alertness. Perhaps in a time of terror we also need a relational axis comprising good people who would not identify themselves as postcolonial, who would feel marginalized by this form of specialised languge. A key postcolonial tool is the simple, yet profound recognition, that I am a postcolonial voice, among many potential postcolonial voices, and that together we can be postcolonial voices in concert. This means, for me, that I have a postcolonial axiology and ontology that I draw upon, a kind of floating platform of embodied values and biographic in my case that helps me to imaginate who I am as postcolonial in ways that are peformative, fluid and forming and reforming as my understanding grows through relationship with people in ideas.
However, in my experience this poses some difficulties. I have experienced many European people who do encounter a kind of ‘stuckness’ when it comes to proclaiming their postcolonialism. Why is this so?
The colonial project was an unmitigated disaster, what the Indigenous Peoples Conference refers to as ‘holocaust’. I find this so easy to accept as an axiological truth that is borne out materially and historically, and emic narrative ways too, in that sense of unfolding from the storied memories and narratives of the colonized, and their descendants, or ‘diaspora’ (I use scares to denote that I am aware as a scholar-educator that this is a highly contested term in this context).
For at the heart of a postcolonial education is a dialectic of master and slave. I am the descendant of those who once were slaves/once were masters. So I embody the dialectics of master and slave, in the sense of bio-logic and bio-graphic. I have found a universalizing spirit within my educative practice that enables me to live hopefully and connectedly with others as together this colonial wound is healed; a wound of profoundly perverted passions and desires that personify the Cartesian schism of the Enlightenment from within which the European White Colonial project of nation states tragically unfolded.
Going back thirty five years, my English literature teacher, Munawar Syed would always ask his class, ‘What do you think Conrad means by the Heart of Darkness?’ We would complicate our responses with ‘the jungle of Africa’, the ‘psyche of the narrator-character’, the ‘evil that is in the world’ and Mr. Syed would smile, ruefully. I remember that I’d been pissing about in class one day, waiting for a football match that evening, when Mr. Syed pulled me out, and called for ‘Timothy’. This was a size eleven plimsol (trainer in today’s English language, and that’s for those who aren’t 52 years young!). I knew what to expect.
At the moment of strike, Mr. Syed halted, and whispered, ‘Let’s not give them the pleasure of a brown person beating another brown person. Sit down and shut up, Murray.’ I did. Ironically, though, Munawar Syed was the first teacher to encourage me to do quite the opposite. Of course, lacking any sense of prudence or Foucault’s care of the self, I haven’t shut up since in matters of the politics of race and supremacy. Munawar Syed has been the only Muslim and brown educator I’ve come across in Britain throughout my school, my two years in further education and in my degree journeys through LSE, UEL, Sheffield Hallam, Bristol, and now Bath. This truth of my lived experience in education is inspirational to my postcolonial practice. Now I understand what Mr. Syed wanted me to understand as the ‘(H)heart of (D)darkness’ and it was in that classroom. For Mr. Syed, an anti-colonial Marxist, it was in the colonial desire of my white mates. Colonialism is the Heart of Darkness that I write into Conrad’s meaning, for Conrad produces a ‘writerly-text’ rather than a ‘readerly-text’ (Sumara and Luce-Kapler, 1993) in which he gives me the room to explore my own meanings as I write into his text. Readerly texts are neatly structured and set out lovely road-maps for the reader, but they are soporific. They dull the wits of a dialogical relationship with the text. What I can see now with a sensitized wisdom after the event is the quality of Munawar Syed’s postcolonial awareness of pedagogic relations as it relates to teacher practice. He was offering us all our first taste of Chomsky’s belief that it is the obligation of any teacher to help students discover the truth and not to suppress information and insights that may embarrassing to the powerful, however defined, and that "true learning comes about through the discovery of truth, not through the imposition of an official truth." (2004: 21). Mr. Syed provided me with my first brush with a postcolonial critical pedagogue of colour. After the event in my story above I met Mr. Syed’s German wife and his ‘mixed race’ children. I felt an affinity with them. Until that moment I had imagined Mr. Syed to be a powerful intellect within a rather cool and austere person. From that moment of meeting his family I tacitly knew that Mr. Syed had envisioned through me his own ‘mixed race’ son’s taking a teacher beating in a white classroom some seven years on. That was 1966. Inscribed in my consciousness from that day was a belief I was to appreciate many years on: that Postcolonialism is a matter of critical passion, where head and heart are one.
Through being alert to my own storied knowledge I embrace in my own account of my scholarship and educative practice what Bullough and Pinnegar suggest here,
"The consideration of ontology, of one’s being in and toward the world should be a central feature of any discussion of the value of self-study research" (p. 319), Bullough, R. & Pinnegar, S. (2004).
Terror can be translated through the ordinariness of our everyday lives as teachers and educators. Because of the experience I have had since June 2004 in repeatedly asking my Symposium colleagues to agree to a shared axiological statement concerning our commitment to Postcolonialism, a move that has been countered with resistance, reluctance and refusal, I now have a different, experiential informed, and understanding of the life-affirming energy Jack refers to.
Lyotard speaks meaningfully to my argument, and he does so within a chain of voices that has the deftness to articulate a particular experience of terror I have in mind:
"Countless scientists have seen their "move" ignored or repressed, sometimes for decades, because it too abruptly destabilized the accepted positions, not only in the university and scientific hierarchy, but also in the problematic. The stronger the move, the more likely it is to be denied the minimum consensus, precisely because it changes the rules of the game upon which consensus had been based. But when the institution of knowledge functions in this manner, it is acting like an ordinary power centre whose behavior is governed by a principle of homeostasis…Such behaviour is terrorist, as is the behavior of the system described by Luhmann. By terror I mean the efficiency gained by eliminating, or threatening to eliminate, a player from the language game one shares with him." (1984: 63).
I have been impressed by my colleagues’ reluctance and resistance to commit to a simple axiological statement concerning postcolonialism. Having invited this, and been ignored, or ‘cut out of the language game’, one colleague made a wan statement concerning postcolonialism, while making it clear in a much more powerful statement that he is not a postcolonialist.
Of course I am alert to the possibility that my co-presenter probably believes that he has done enough in making that statement. That his heart is in the trim of postcolonialism so to speak and that is sufficient. And that my continued criticism of his less than enthusiastic statement is heartless, and hurtful.
I am curious as to what is so difficult about such a statement when the title of our Symposium centres ‘the postcolonial’ in postcolonial living educational theories at the heart of our purpose at BERA 04. In my colleagues’ persistent refusal to share a postcolonial platform with me in an axiological statement on Postcolonialism as a postcolonial critic (i.e. scholar-educator) the kind of life-affirming energy I have been engaging is the kind that strengthens my embodied values as a form of ‘will to postcolonialism’ in seeking to explore educational racism. Adler-Collins’ grudging two paragraph statement paying lip-service to Postcolonial Theory in his Symposium paper (Adler-Collins, 2004, personal email exchange) has stiffened the resolve of my life-affirming energy to find creative ways of working educationally with what I perceive to be a manifestation of educational racism (Scheurich and Young, 1997). This is why my paper is here, and I am/am not. As I write this paper I am some place in-between absence and presence
I genuinely feel discomfiture in sharing a platform in the Academy with a Living Educational Theorist who is unable to subscribe to a postcolonialist way of life but who claims to be contributing to postcolonial living educational theory. I would be comfortable sharing a platform with somebody who does not share my postcolonial position, and is not claiming to be contributing to postcolonial living educational theory. I could even entertain a position, odd as it seems, of working with a co-presenter whose paper suggested that by retaining their anti-colonialism, and not committing to postcolonialism they were contributing to postcolonial living educational theory by holding a dialectical relationship that triggers exploration, rather than supporting a unitary approach. My proviso would be that this would need to be made explicit.
As I imagine the disingenuity that can be read into my co-presenters stance, I experience my ‘I’ as living contradiction (Whitehead, 1993) in which I experience tensions between my values being negated by my colleague’s behaviour. I endorse Jack Whitehead’s insight here:
"In my own development Im am conscious of attempting to overcome the experience of myself as a living contradiction in order to minimize the tensions between, for example, values negated in practice and the current practice. I am also conscious of the need to give a form to my life and of the need for meaning and purpose. If I attempt to describe my development in a purely propostional form I will fail to communicate my meaning because of the existence of ‘I’ as a living contradiction in my development. The central problem is how to present a dialectical claim to knowledge in a publicly criticizable form" (1993: 56)
My challenge in this paper is to present a dialectical claim to knowledge in a publicly criticizable form. I have extended Jack Whitehead’s idea as I see this as a creative challenge for my postcolonial living educational theory rather than a ‘central problem.’ As a storyteller I believe that stories have encompassed dialectical knowledge for centuries in the form of right and wrong and in-between, and the ambiguities carried in ‘perhaps right’ and ‘maybe wrong’ narratives (Bettelheim, 1979).
While in my doctoral thesis I include photographic evidence of dialectical rootprints and a CD Rom of video footage in conversation, in presenting at AERA and in working with my students, which together provide a glimpse into the value of visual methodology for exploring dialectical ways of knowing.
I give meaning to my life and purpose through the delight and challenge of my practice which precedes the story or account of my living educational theory. My theorizing proceeds from my practice as an educator. I am a ‘Mixed Race’ educator.
I come from a family that has lived within colonialism. My embodied values, and political purpose are thus grounded in the rootprints of my biographic rather than my biologic (Cixous and Calle Gruber, 1997). My ‘Mixed Race’ is thus explained through mythos rather than logos.
In the face of resistance and reluctance in my College in the past I have supervised students who have chosen to give meaning to their lives by using their educational journey to write about their colonial experiences as they celebrate their educational choices. I have worked with students who are European colonial settlers and indigenous African students too.
I have chosen to work in a specific area of postcolonialism as I bring myself as an educational resource of postcolonial theory and existential embrace to my students as they develop their postcolonialism through their dissertations as a ‘theoretical resistance to the mystifying amnesia of the colonial aftermath’ (Gandhi, 1998: 4).
How have I come to pedagogise my practice in this particular way?
I can answer this in two ways: I have come to appreciate how I pedagogise my practice as I make a commitment to produce a disciplined account of my practice in the form of a doctoral thesis.
And as I write my thesis I recognise how I bring an ontological security from my experience of the loving warmth of three related postcolonial families to my students. I call on the stories and memories, the heartbeat and pulse of my birth family, the family I have sustained with Asma Hamud Al-Kindy, my Omani wife, for the past thirty four years, and my extended family in Arabia and South Africa. These family connectivities’ of loving values supports the choices I make in explaining the pedagogisation of my practice as an act of human warmth, respect, and love.
I will try to recreate a little of my meaning as I share with you some stories from my family in this paper.
I would like to ‘Set a Postcolonial Theme’ running at this Symposium as I bring evidence in this paper that it is my postcolonial endeavour and abhorrence of colonialism expressed in a productive educational life that enables me to create and unfold my postcolonial living educational theory in the Academy.
As I look to my educational life as powerfully productive, I intend to show how I pedagogise my educative practice in terms of Bernstein’s notion of pedagogy, and how I believe Bernstein’s project has helped me to focus my understanding of ‘what it is I claim to do’ as a professional in British higher education.
However, because I am a dialectical scholar-educator I also intend to show how Bernstein’s pedagogic analysis provides an important cognate model that does not migrate terribly well into the practicality of my pedagogic practice. Instead I have found inspiration for developing my postcolonial living educational theory in the Academy in critical pedagogy through my longitudinal appreciative engagement with bell hooks, Augusto Boal, Henry Giroux, Peter McClaren and Donald Macedo, for example.
I bring my appreciation of Bernstein and critical pedagogy to bear in the analysis of educational racism as reluctance and resistance, and that I have encountered in preparing for this Symposium, showing where Bernstein ‘stops’ and ‘critical pedagogy’ takes over. Racism is an ugly word for an ugly act. So I would like to make clear that I am talking about educational racism, not institutional racism, direct and indirect racism and so on. I believe that educational racism can be practised by people in ways that are beyond the individual’s awareness. It takes time and patience, sometimes years in my experience, of working with colleagues and students before visible breakthroughs and change can be achieved. However, the project of confronting educational racism in order to work productively with it requires changing conversations held in a willingness to acknowledge our commitment to exploring a language of change in our communications and relations with others (Shaw, 2002; Watzlawick, ???).
Recognizing these conversations as pedagogic within Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic rules has been crucial in my development in three ways I would like to share,
a) understanding my practice, b) making sense of what I am doing, and
c) moving forward in self-reflection by asking questions of the kind, How can I improve my practice? and How can I improve what I am doing here as a postcolonial scholar-educator?
According to Scheurich and Young, racism is a critically significant problem in educational research.
While Christian (2004) reminds us of what George Fredrickson suggests in his book White Supremacy: "white supremacy refers to the attitudes, ideologies and associated policies connected with the development of white European domination over ‘dark’ populations" (p.303).
How do I know?
As a scholar-educator my knowledge is my stock-in-trade. But what kind of knowledge do I have in mind when I write and claim, ‘I know’, so emphatically?
I know from the grounds of my critical judgement. Take the Margaret Thatcher citation at the head of this paper that cleaves to a notion of white supremacy in her adulation of European colonialism, without a care in the world for the history and dignity of her British co-citizens who are outraged by the colonial ‘holocaust’. This is one way that I know racism, cognitively, if you like. This is the way that I have been acculturated to ‘know’ something in the Western tradition of propositional logic.
Because I also know racism from the grounds of my subjective or lived experience, Scheurich and Young’s assertion has a precious, dialogical and hermeneutic truth (Saukko, 2003).
I do not need ‘Spectator theory’ - as Dewey referred to objectifying theories in the Quest for Certainty - to tell me what racism is, or what it does, or how it distorts the humanity of our fellow human beings. Instead I am custodian to a narrative of my Coloured South African family, my Griqua Great-grandmother’s narrative of living as an indentured farm labourer in Colonial South Africa, and these narrative sources are a more accurate, authentic, real, and vivid aesthetic for my knowledge of racism.
I have Asma's Arab narrative of racism and colonial experience of the British Government. And, of course, I have both my sons’ stories of being ‘dark’ in a white country in terms of their experiences of racism, in employment, in the street, and in the Academy.
Drifting seamlessly into story…. I can recall watching a Coca-Cola Cup semi-final against Bolton Wanderers in the early 1990’s. My son had been racially abused throughout the game by Bolton fans (his team was playing away) with monkey chants, banana’s, and ‘fuck off home n----r. Midway through the second half after enduring racist taunts for sixty minutes he took a bad knock on the knee. He was strapped up, injected and insisted on continuing. He hobbled about like a lame camel for the next six weeks, and it took him five minutes to walk from his car to the front door the next morning. Why did he subject himself to this pain? Where did he find the life-affirming energy to continue in the face of this passionate racist abuse? Well, I left a small point out of my story. When my son was injured, Swindon Town’s traveling fans, a sparse couple of thousand in a crowd of about eighteen thousand, joined in a chorus of solidarity for one of their own, even one of their dark, black, ‘mixed race’ own, and sang, ‘One Eddie Murray, there’s only one Eddie Murray’. Imagine the mixed emotions of pride, pain, elation, joy, confusion and overwhelmingly, recognition that my son felt. Surrounded by hateful jeering Bolton racists for forty five minutes, and then serenaded by caring, compassionate, brotherly Swindon supporters; the Janus-head complexity of racism. …drifting seamlessly out of story.
I recount my son’s story as I unfold my story of preparing for this Symposium. Whitehead (2004) writes with a life-affirming energy that embraces me as the Swindon Town fans did my son. This is the life-affirming energy of nurture and growth. While the resistance of the Bolton Wanderer’s fans to my son’s humanity and postcolonial and multiracial reality is echoed in my experience with Adler-Collins. My experience with him generates an altogether different kind of life-affirming energy but one that feeds the earthy, primordial instinct for survival. Another kind of life-affirming energy that is related to this is a dialectical energy, and as such is oppositional. I believe it is the life-affirming energy of holding one’s self in opposition to that which negates one’s humanity. This is the energy that my brothers and sisters in colonized countries have had to call upon in order to claim their emancipation, and I include the ANC’s military struggles, the ‘chimurenga’ of Zimbabwe, Mau-Mau in Kenya, and the continuing resistance of my Muslim brothers and sisters in Najaf, Fallujah and Basra in the face of a racist neo-colonial oppression by American and British military personnel.
But I have in mind another form of life-affirming energy and this is the transformational energy that is my creativity when I write my heart out with love and critical compassion - two of my living ontological and epistemological standards of practice and judgement to which I hold myself accountable.
As I reframe the knocks and difficulties I encounter and dish out from being ‘missed opportunities’ into framing them as wonderful opportunities for bringing myself to others as an educational resource, I can sense a transformational possibility for my life-affirming energy.
Drifting seamlessly into story…Looking back, the abuse of the Bolton Wanderer’s fans was not a necessary and sufficient reason to dampen my son’s spirits and self-belief. Yes, he despises white supremacist behaviour that lurks behind racism. But in the non-racial response of the Swindon fans (who would do as the Bolton fans would do to an opposing Black player, I’m sure!) my son discovered meaning and purpose to dig deeper and play not against, or through the pain, rather with the pain flowing through him as he directed it in a life-affirming way that attracts a universal recognition of our common humanity (Gaita, 199??) And it is within a personal, subjective, lived narrative of racism that we can see the heuristic of its complexity in a manner and form that ‘spectator’ theories of racism cannot get close to representing. Although I was not at Bolton on that night my narrative of racism and the warrant for my claim is held in the tears that dropped onto my cheeks as my son told me his story.
I imagine as you read this that you will be thinking of contexts other than football: classrooms, seminar groups, supervision. These educational spaces are multiracial and ought to be postcolonial too. I want to encourage colleagues in the Academy through an engagement with my doctoral thesis to imagine ways they can be influenced by postcolonialism to be practical, to be creative, to be fearless, to be prudent, and above all to be in touch with the possibility that the colonial aftermath impacts student and colleague identity’s.
I do not intend to discount ‘spectator theory’ altogether as it helps me analyze the rootprints of racism in colonialism and empire, how it has become institutionalized in British society, and how it plays out in education, especially in the part where I work, higher education. "Spectator" theories offer a way of formalizing, generalizing and legitimizing theories of racism in the Academy that, as yet, narrative accounts are unable to match. Narrative accounts of racism, however, are memorable and touch the existential and ethical in people. But watch this space as there is a radical change afoot. And that is why I wanted to be here today with my colleagues, but feel excommunicated from being here by the powerful arrogance of educational racism. To talk, with you, about the ways that racism is directly linked to colonialism and empire, and how white supremacy is the key to understanding racism today. To explore, tentatively and openly, how living educational theory accounts of racism in higher education can deepen our appreciation of ‘postcolonialist’ educational practices that can make a difference to social justice at the crucial point of relationship with students and colleagues.
But I have to admit, prior to moving my account on, that "Spectator theories" of racism lack the gripping, stomach-churning ‘truth’ for me because my life, identity and experience is an act of creative performativity mediated within a ‘whiteness-centered’ society (Ifekwunigwe, 2001). I am the product of a ‘mixed-race’ father and white mother choosing in the 1950’s to cross (transgress according to my maternal family!) the sexual borders of mythological ‘race’ purity. Racism is also a poignant truth for me because of my encounter with racism among educational colleagues of the Bath Action Research community. What I would like to bring to this BERA Symposium is an account of my living theory of educational racism among educational action researchers. By deconstructing my experience from within a living theory form of critique that is potentially dialogical, I believe that I can show you how I pedagogise my postcolonial living educational theory.
In setting the theme, I would like to be held accountable for the effectiveness of my contribution to living my standard of judgement held in my manifest intention to presence "the postcolonial" within the title of our Symposium, ‘postcolonial living educational theory’. I do this in a storied way, and in complete communion with Fusco’s (2001) sentiment here,
"So why would I turn to this childhood memory now? I do so because that story represents my personal link to a very political history of colonialism, and that history has shaped a very specific relationship between mind and body for colonized and enslaved peoples and their descendants." (p.xiv)
Francoise Verges speaks of ‘Chains of Madness, Chains of Colonialism’ and like Andre Brink (1982) I want to be held accountable as a postcolonial scholar-educator for weaving my voice into the chain of voices that is colonialism, its aftermath, and a postcolonialist and hopeful future. For the alternative is a form of madness, and this is a chain I would like to interrupt with my voice. I claim in my thesis that I know when to be an interruptive educator, that this is an integral part of my educational influence, it is part of the repertoire of my performativity as an educator. In the matter of colonialism there is no neutrality by definition, and so I choose when to enact rupture as part of a holistic performativity of my self as a compassionate, loving and critical educator. Love and critical judgment, including criticism, are not mutually incommensurable in practice. They are part of the richness that is difference. They are part of the variegation of the other. Thus, self-knowledge of my presence as a voice in a chain of colonial and postcolonial voices is a crucial standard of judgement that I bring to my educative practice, as I bring myself to working with my students, as I enter fully into my collegiate role as College Diversity officer, that I am bringing to BERA 04, and that I am writing into my account of my postcolonial living educational theory.
Oasis One: Why am I here? ~ Why am I not here?
I believe(-d) I had a commitment to participate with three colleagues in helping to explain how we are contributing to a new scholarship of educational enquiry through our pedagogisation of postcolonial living educational theories in the Academy?
I am here because of a word. That word is vital and it is ‘postcolonial’.
I have placed scares around ‘postcolonial’ because I believe it is a contested term, and is open to the particular ambiguity of multiple meanings, and also because it is a contentious term in these harrowing days of ‘empire’ in the shape of the American project of imposing a new world order.
I am here because I have something to say, something I want to share that could be insightful, and because I want to influence a dialogue within BERA about Postcolonialism and its implication for British education. I am not here if I am unable to believe that my colleagues have something serious to say about ‘the postcolonial’ in their claims to be pedagogising their postcolonial living educational theories.
I will be here if my colleague Adler-Collins responds to the questions I ask of him below -
"So instead it may be better for me to be in the Symposium audience and ask my question of you, which serves the purpose, but gives you more of a chance to respond. Here is my question:
'Having read your paper would you now explain to us HOW you pedagogise your postcolonial living
educational theory when you claim not to be postcolonialist? I understand
that living theory can contain exceptions to the Popperian rule on good
theorising containing contradiction, in that propositional logic cannot cope
with the presence of a living logic, but the conundrum that is your claim,
Je Kan, is even beyond me as a dialectical living theorist. I am curious to
know if you can help me see you epistemologically and ontologically in this
contradiction, and how you may pedagogise this experience of contradiction
in terms of the growth of your educational knowledge with particular reference Murray's (Symposium paper, 2004) meaning of postcolonialism in his account of what he means by postcolonial living educational theory, Gandhi's idea of the colonial aftermath, and Scheurich and Young's notion of educational racism?'
Mind you, Je Kan, if you care to unpick that question with me, in e-writing, it could be that the excommunication carried in your living educational theory paper could be dissolved by those mutual life-affirming energies 'we' refer to in our Symposium proposal. What do you think? And in this way i am given a let out, reprieved, offered a way of attending the Symposium without feeling oppressed by you. i imagine this is as emotionally appealing to you as it is for me. How about having a go at doing that if you truly care about my presence in this Symposium? "(personal email, 25th August 2004)
I am not here if this group of living educational theorists cannot collaborate through a series of email conversations in order to find the grounds of our common purpose. The will to meaning is all, according to Frankl (19??).
Because I am concerned as a Postcolonial scholar to ensure that our participation would have a very clear postcolonial warrant, and by this I mean that our participation would be a credible contribution to the field of Postcolonial studies, the integrity of an axiological statement concerning our Postcolonial commitments (personal emails to colleagues June-August 2004). I imagine that some readers will understand my concern but differ with me over the process I am using to explore it.
I am here because what I suggested might be included in the statement – that colonialism was an unmitigated human disaster; that the European colonial project has left its residual impact on contemporary British (and European) society in predominantly negative ways; that colonialism, empire and contemporary racism have a shared cultural lineage that has been socially constructed; that the colonial project was a ‘holocaust’; that colonialism has mediated the nature of White privilege (i.e. Whiteness) in the West – has been agreed among us. I am here/I am not here (strike through whichever does not apply) because of the conversational realities that exist between us as living educational theorists who are not postcolonialists (Shotter, 1994)
In this matter my ethical disposition has been influenced by the Statement of the Indigenous People’s Conference regarding ‘holocaust’ agreed in Wellington, New Zealand in 2002. The Statement can be retrieved fromhttp://www.converge.org.nz/pma/tstat.htm
though here is an extract that is closely aligned with my embodied values:
"The Waitangi Tribunal in its report of the Taranaki claim found that Maori people had suffered the effects of colonization and invasion by New Zealand Government colonial forces. The word used by the Tribunal to describe the magnitude of the suffering by Taranaki tribes was a ‘holocaust’. The Right Honorable Tariana Turia, a Maori member of Parliament…compared the effects of colonization on Maori people as a ‘holocaust’. This Conference having substantial experience of the effects and processes of Imperialism and colonization throughout Asia, Africa, the America’s, Australia, Hawai’i, Greenland, Artic, Aotearoa, agree with the Waitangi Tribunal and the Member of Parliament, Tariana Turia…The limited definition that Pakeha politicians and commentators place on the term ‘holocaust’ indicates a denial to face up to the injustice perpetrated on Indigenous Peoples by colonization and therefore a reluctance to find meaningful long terms solutions and remedies. Limiting definitions such as ‘holocaust’ is a manifestation of racism. "
For me, an axiological warrant for a Postcolonialist life is a pre-condition of participating at this BERA Symposium given our Symposium title and purpose. Though it also an act of solidarity, an act that indicates how we are working in Postcolonialism. It would also be the kind of statement that carries the spirit of togetherness and solidarity in the above Statement.
I find the energy and commitment to continue my postcolonial educational practice from an ‘imagined’ solidarity with postcolonial theorists whose ideas I engage as a scholar, and through my work with appreciative students, where I meld their needs, with my insights to produce an improvisatory pedagogic practice. I find my life0-affirming energy drained and neutralized when I am working to a postcolonial objective with a colleague whose grudging axiology is to state that all Buddhists are anti-colonial.
What I have not sensed in the growth of my educational knowledge is a quality of openness to the postcolonial possibility within the Bath educational action research community (personal emails between Murray and Whitehead 1999-2004).
In seeking a postcolonial axiological statement with my European white co-presenters I know I was setting my hopes rather high in expressing in my request my desire for equity in understanding. It is a daunting task to travel alone, from oasis to oasis, but by imagining I am contributing to a stream of disciplined postcolonial theory and studies I have been able to sustain myself (personal email exchange with Nceku Nyathi, a friend, postcolonial co-researcher, and doctoral candidate in postcolonial theory and critical management studies at Leicester University, 25th August 2004).
Yet I continue to set my sights very high. I am hoping, if not imagining, that my colleagues will in time come to see the importance of this statement from my standpoint, personally and politically, even if we all have rather different individual ‘rootprints’. My fear is that gaining this kind of in/out-sight may require an elephantine gestation period. In which case I am not here today at the Symposium. The signal importance of such a covenant would herald a break with the dominant discourse of the Western Academy that is steeped in an uninterrogated Whiteness.
I intend to interrogate Whiteness as a construct of power relations in my doctoral thesis within an analysis of Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic communication, and critical race theory to help me explain how I can work creatively within Whiteness, and move from ‘interrogation’ of a construct, to providing evidence of a different form of ‘living’ power relations that I refer to as ‘postcolonial living educational theory’ (Rodriguez and Villaverde, 2000; Murray and Whitehead, 2000; Dyer 1997). This is my primary claim to an originality of mind in my doctoral thesis that is one of the Bath criteria for the award of a PhD in education.
I am here if we can together move in the direction of Gabriel Marcel’s quality of consciousness. He specified two kinds of consciousness: first reflection and second reflection. As Brown, Collinson and Wilkinson (1998) explain,
"In first reflection a person might mentally stand back from, say, a direct relationship or friendship, in order to describe and objectify it. This, according to Marcel, is to separate oneself from the relationship and treat it as a problem in need of explanation. In ‘second reflection’ the immediacy of the relationship is restored, but additionally there is an awareness of participation ion Being: the recognition that we inhabit a ‘mystery’; that it is not our prime task to separate ourselves and objectify this condition and that ‘Having’, that sense of owning one’s body, talents, abilities, must be transformed into ‘Being’ (p125-6).
If this challenge is beyond our creative capacity to live our values of humanity more fully is beyond us, I am not here. There is no blame or accusation in this, only recognition of mutual responsibility.
This may point to an important step for the pedagogisation of embodied values in the form of a postcolonial living educational theory.
Oasis Two ~ Testimonio
I, Paulus Murray, am a European-Griqua ‘mixed race’ person. I am descended from those who once were slaves, as well as those who once were masters. I proudly carry my dark, African Griqua inheritance if not on my skin, then in my mythos. For me race is not a matter of biology and phenotype: it is a matter of auto-bio-graphic. My father is a working class immigrant from South Africa, a Coloured South African in the social structuring of ‘race’ in apartheid South Africa. He has been around from my birth into my adulthood. His colonial stories have become the inspiration for my postcolonial narrative. I have a lovely white English birth mother who has not been around in my life at all, other than as a name or figure of speech. I met her when I was twenty-one and my son was born. I needed to find out what I felt I didn’t know, and revealed to myself that I had known all along. She was good, warm, mother of three children, two white and one ‘mixed race’. Two her husband’s and one her lover’s child. From my birth mother’s East London origins I have socially constructed my allegiances to West Ham United as meaningful to my Cape Town/Muscat/East London identity. I am hybrid: I do not belong here or there, and yet I belong here and there, as well as in-between. I am a liminal mixed origins person. I celebrate my life as the meeting ground for my master/slave inheritance, and I know what it means to be ‘mixed race’. I know how colonialism affects the ‘one drop rule’, and how I am affected by that. I know how white supremacists and racialist theorists viewed ‘mixed race’ as impurity, as abomination, as racial, social and sexual degeneracy, and how I and my loved ones are affected by that paradigm until today. I married a ‘mixed race’ Arab-African girl in 1970 when we were both eighteen and to do this I converted to Islam by saying that I believe in Allah and his prophet Mohammed. This took place in a room in Southsea, Portsmouth on a sunny July evening surrounded by men who encouraged me, helped, me, celebrated with me, and made me feel that I had come home. I felt belonging with them and they gave me hospitality and generosity. I have come to understand how my ontological value of generosity has been nurtured in me by my extended Arab family, as a value that I now embody, and that I pedagogise through my living epistemological standards of judgement as I practice them over and again with my students in supervision, and in ways that I can show you how I judge the validity of my contribution to postcolonial living educational theory. My Roman Catholicism meant a lot to me but not enough to risk losing Asma. Together with Asma I nurture and sustain a beautiful, loving, successful, and vibrant ‘mixed race’ extended family that doesn’t work to Western European rules of family, and with our dark sons, and two white grandchildren upon whom I pour the love of my life together with Asma, I experience life-affirming energies that are positive, productive and meaningful, and which in turn support my postcolonial educative practice. This is who I am for now.
Oasis Three: Being nomadic in Postcolonialism
Postcolonialism has, not surprisingly, been described as a sprawling subject in a contested terrain that some authors want to order, while others want to extend into the sprawl (Dhanda, 1999; Ashcroft et all, 2000; San Juan, 1998).
Postcolonialism is a field of study that represents a response to the colonial aftermath that is ameliorative of the epistemological violence in the colonial encounter (Gandhi, 1998). While Said (1994) focuses on the power relations in the clash between cultures and imperialism resulting in the narrative of the colonized being blocked, not being allowed to emerge. In my engagement with Said’s work, I am reminded that the fascination with the postmodern debunking of grand narrative can deflect focus from the importance of grand narratives of freedom and emancipation from colonial oppression for inspiring and sustaining independence and anti-colonialist movements.
Postcolonialism is often presented in ambivalent geographies of displacement, dispersion, and diaspora (Lavie and Swedenburg, 1996) or are set obliquely within a backdrop of identity, feminism, Nativeness, and whiteness (Harper, 2000). Harpers study is fascinating because it touches on issues raised in this paper. She focuses her account on ‘Robin’ whose story or experiences frame Harper’s account. Robin is depicted as being in a sense-making experience is which she works with her notions of whiteness, Nativeness, femininity, masculinity and a radical teacher identity that (has an ) organized educational discourse in Canada (p. 128).
Egerer (2001) approaches the dilemmas of the hyphenated identity, such as Mexican-American, Asian-British, African Caribbean-British, ‘European~Griqua’ (scholar-educator, nurse practitioner-educational theorist) and suggests that these are at the heart of postcoloniality:
"...the sense of rootlessness engendered by immigration, forced or voluntary, the fluidity and uncertainty of identity, national and personal, the erosion of the nation state and the conflicting demands of the local in an increasingly globalised world order." (p.15)
Writers like Egerer point to the matter of liminality and hybridity as key to exploring postcoloniality. Hybridity is often seen as the ‘in-between’ space that carries the burden and the meaning of culture within cultural practices (Bhabha, 1994), and I alight on this work as it is important to the pedagogisation of my own postcolonial educative practice as I supervise students from non-western countries within Britain from the grounds of my own hybridity, who can often be in the first dramatic, confusing, sometimes convulsing throws of experiencing their own hybridity. My own experience flows through my relational way of working and I need to be aware of this for me, for my students, and for my own accounts of my practice.
Sardar (1998) makes an innovative contribution to postcolonial thinking and potential for activism when he suggests that:
"Colonialism was about the physical occupation of non-western cultures. Modernity was about displacing the present and occupying the minds of non-western cultures. Postmodernism is about appropriating the history and identity of non-western cultures as an integral facet of itself, colonizing their future and occupying their being" (p.13)
I relate to Sardar’s assertion directly from my postcoloniality as educative activism. I have embodied my commitment to scholarship. Postcolonial critique is one facet of my scholarship, while drawing on this scholarship to account for how I live my postcoloniality as an educational activism in practice is another facet.
The hyphenated ‘scholar-educator’ points to a tension and a wonderful opportunity. Within the interstitial breath of the hyphen ( - ) a pedagogic act occurs where postcolonial theory and writing as critique – mysteriously transforms – into an educational activism that finds epistemological discipline within theorising, and improvisatory activism as an educational expression of the postcolonial self, with others. This is what I mean when I name myself ‘scholar (hyphen) educator’. In this process there is alchemy at work.
Over the past ten years of my life I have gradually awakened to, and accepted, that I am speaking, one way or the other, under the influence of postcolonial theory (Lupton, 1999); though I extend Tanesini’s idea. I speak in multiple ways from within a chain of voices that echo, peal and reverberate a postcolonial present and future. I am a swirling dialectic of material historical truth, storied biographic, and accidental biologic as a European-Griqua ‘Mixed Race’ person and this anti-essentialist account is at the heart of my claim to be accounting for my postcolonial living educational theory. As I explain the influence of postcolonial theory in my life as scholar-educator I am struck by how Young’s historical grasp of colonialism appeals to me, strongly:
"To sweep colonialism under the carpet of modernity, however, is too convenient a deflection. To begin with, its history was extraordinary in its global dimension, not only in relation to the comprehensiveness of colonization by the time of the high imperial period in the late nineteenth century, but also because the effect of the globalization of western imperial power was to fuse many societies with different historical traditions into a history which, apart from the period of centrally controlled command economies, obliged them to follow the same general economic path. The entire world now operates with the economic system primarily developed and controlled by the west, and it is the continued dominance of the west, in terms of political, economic, military and cultural power, that gives this history a continuing significance. Political liberation did not bring economic liberation – and without economic liberation, there can be no political liberation." (p.5)
Because I do not wish to be lost in the sprawl, and because a nomadic epistemology demands a personal willingness to sprawl in the swirling confusion of knowing/unknowing, I try to bring my human openness to learn, to be surprised, to feel engulfed in that confusion that comes in the split second of sure bearings being lost when I imagine things to be clear in my head and my practice.
In this paper I want to present, modestly and selectively, only one key idea within this sprawl, explore it a little, point to how I will be developing this in my doctoral thesis through a process of pedagogisation, and indicate why I believe my idea is central to my claim to demonstrate originality of mind in my doctoral thesis. Let me begin.
Young (2001) asserts that,
"Postcolonial theory is distinguished from orthodox European Marxism by combining its critique of objective material conditions with detailed analysis of their subjective effects" (p.7)
Colonialism still deeply, but often tacitly affects cultural practices in the West, and in particular, Britain. Cultural practices have political significance. Cultural practices are reproduced in schools and institutions of education. If a colonial past is influencing the present in this way then I can see in practical ways why postcolonial theorists like Young suggest that the colonial legacy is deeply held in the university:
"What makes it [postcolonial critique] distinctive is the comprehensiveness of this research into the continuing cultural and political ramifications of colonialism in both colonizing and colonized societies.
I relate to how Young points to the fact that postcolonial critique has as its purpose the deconstruction of the colonizing societies. This is why I do not go with the hyphenated form of "post-colonial" suggesting as it does that postcolonial theory is a moment of junction, or departure, or cessation, a marking of the ‘after’ moment. This somewhat anachronistic and simplistic view is not indicative of my paradigm of postcolonialism. As a ‘Mixed-Race’ Muslim Briton, and I name myself as educational researcher and scholar from time to time too, I am as concerned with exploring the nature of contemporary colonizing societies such as Britain (Ireland, Gibraltar, Iraq) as I am the societies colonized by Britain. Because of this I do not embrace the hyphenated form of postcolonial with its unhelpful imbrication of ‘after-ness’.
This speaks to my affinity with Spivak’s (1999) important development of the idea of the subaltern, and a condition of subalternity, and my current epistemography is focusing on Spivak’s work for my doctoral thesis. I am particularly interested in her philosophical analysis and her use of Hegel’s notion of ‘self-knowledge’:
"According to Hegel, there are three moments in a work of art. The form or Gestalt, the content (Gehalt or Inhalt), and the meaning or Bedeutung. The true meaning, not only of a work of art, but also of any phenomenal appearance, is the situation of the spirit on the graph of its course towards "self-knowledge". (p.40)
Given the question we ask in the Symposium Hegel’s idea of "self-knowledge" has an important implication for the projects of the co-presenters of this Symposium.
Yet, the one idea I wish to extract from the sprawl and focus my attention on in this paper is the nature of the distinctive project that is postcolonial critique for the process of archaeological retrieval. Yet my experience of my commitment to retrieval does not follow a propositional logic of objective science. My act of retrieval is a human act, a conscious act, a living act in that sense. I am not talking of a ‘Spectator theory’ as Dewey does, or of Marcel’s notion of a ‘Spectator truth’. I am acknowledging, quite differently, that the starting point for my postcolonial critique is in (the/my) human situation, the experience of being-in-the-world.
And my experience of the subjective effects of the objective material conditions of colonialism for my being-in-the-world can be most creatively represented in the living form of validity that story enables me to explore, poised within an exercise of critical judgement and analysis that is traditional postcolonial critique. In this way I distinguish postcolonial living stories as a form of living educational theory from an established postcolonial literature represented by Salman Rushdie, VS Naipaul, Witi Ihimaera, Chinua Achebe, Carlos Fuentes, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Abdul Razak Gurnah, Hanif Kureishi, Toni Morrison, and Ben Okri in his latest novel, In Arcadia (2002) in the character of Lao. That postcolonial project of literary critique and creativity named after Ashcroft et al’s (1989) work as ‘The Empire Writes Back’.
I aspire through my doctoral thesis to contribute a ‘postcolonial living story’ to both augment established postcolonial critique, to enhance practitioner awareness of the importance of the social, political and cultural contextualisation of living educational theory accounts, and through the exercise of this critical judgement learn something useful about the human dimensions of facilitative process in being a link in a chain of voices that have a permeable resonance through these academic borders.
Thus my place of work is, quite literally my (archaeological) site of struggle within cultural practices in which I come gradually to a consciousness of contributing through my educative practice to an alternative cultural practice, and this seems to be inevitable. In this sense I embrace the significance of decolonizing methodologies for my practice (Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999)
The wonderful opportunity at this point of struggle in objective terms is where the ‘rubber’ of my postcolonial subjectivity hits the road. My doctoral thesis is where I explore and assert what I have come to know through my life: that postcolonialism requires a softening, accessible, and grounded subjectivity in the lived experiences of those of us who are living our lives in postcolonialist ways, informed by postcolonial theory and yet driven by something more that ‘just’ postcolonial theory.
Something earthy, primordial and deeply emotional; and thus something intrinsically ‘untrustworthy’ to the Academy, I imagine. I admire the way that Ifekwunigwe in her project of new ethnicities (2004, 20001, 1999) grounds her remarkable book, ‘Scattered Belonging’s’ in the telling of ‘Mixed Race’ lives in Bristol. The scattered belongings of my multiple, mixed and hybrid life with others provide the epistemological warrant for my doctoral thesis, especially when framed through a critical appreciation of how I take responsibility for the pedagogisation of my postcolonial living educational theory with reference to Bernstein’s work, the field of Critical pedagogy, the pedagogy of Whiteness, and a ‘living pedagogy’ of a postcolonial educational life presented as a living educational theory account.
Central to my doctoral thesis is that living educational theory can be enhanced not only by the very idea of ‘postcolonialism’, but by the analytical rigor required in the historical and material analysis of colonial/postcolonial tensions, and that in my view this material historical grounding is often ‘lost’ in living educational theory accounts as they assume a ‘transcendental ‘posture where new age, humanistic, and spiritual claims seem to abstract the living theory account from realpolitik. I believe that postcolonial theory can speak usefully to living educational theory, and there is mutual reciprocity here. My work, border-crossing the two fields, is a vital link in contributing to a more ‘subjective postcolonial theorising’ with a living timbre and texture, while contributing simultaneously to the importance of hardening living education al theory accounts if they are to achieve Jack Whitehead’s avowed commitment to influencing the social formation of the Academy. I know this insight is not lost on Jack Whitehead in the same way that I suspect it has not yet dawned on my of my action research, and living educational theory colleagues.
In the past I have imagined this in my own desire to be understood as a tension. I now recognise in it a golden opportunity to bring my life as an educational resource to the openness of others to want to learn, to engage, to reframe their thinking too.
It is this conceptual awareness that is key to my originality of mind as a postcolonial~living educational theorist, where ~ represents both the melding moment and my voice as a link in a chain of voices that can ameliorate Verge’s depressing, but highly resonant notion of ‘Chains of Madness, Chains of Colonialism’.
My nomadic epistemology accounted for in an account of my postcolonial living educational theory is my originality of mind. This is what I mean when I refer to Being nomadic in postcolonialism. I wonder how you relate to me in my idea.
I live my educative practice as a subjective experience of colonialism and postcolonialism. In this sense I am the site of struggle, on the front line so to speak, though the front-line also flows through my biologic and biographic too.
I am a living embodiment of historical materialism in a Marxian sense, and Gabriel Marcel’s existentialist idea that I take your (and my) experience very seriously as an educator. I am finding a link between my approach to supervision of students and counselling and psychotherapy in the idea that I allow myself to be transformed by the dialogue. This is an idea (though perhaps not the experience) that I first encountered during 1993/95 when I was training to become a counsellor at Bristol University. I came across Marcel’s (1935) formulation of this idea later when I became interested in existential therapy and philosophy and related warmly to Van Deurzen’ s (1998) expression from that gaze of recognition from my own experience of student supervision, that we need as existential beings a ‘mutual readiness for what the future holds in store’.
I have noticed that for this to happen I have to subordinate my critical judgements concerning the material historicity of colonialism to the crucial act of ‘being with’ the student other. I consider this insight to inform my understanding of what I mean by a ‘postcolonial’ educative practice. There is a process of existential ‘bracketing’ that I need to take care of, without interrupting presence, or rupturing the possibility of a future mutual presence. This is a delightful tension as my creative melding of psychotherapeutic ideas and postcolonial theory enables me to ‘see’ my life differently, as a life of activism held in my relationships with students and colleagues. Like Young, I believe that:
"Postcolonial critique is a form of activist writing that looks back to the political commitment of the anti-colonial liberation movements and draws its inspiration from them, while recognizing that they often operated under conditions very different from those that exist in the present" (p.10)
This is an illustration of the importance of postcolonial theorising as activism. Young’s argument suggests to me that there is an important subjectivity, a key existentialist moment in postcolonialism, where the present is recognized as a different, new possibility and hope. This is one of the reasons I choose to identify with Postcolonialism, rather than anti-colonialism that focuses on the past without seeing the activism of present and future encapsulated in ‘postcolonial’, and not ‘post-colonial’.
While I understand Gandhi’s assertion that her task is an ameliorative one where she is making a contribution to thinking ‘a way out of the epistemological violence of the colonial encounter’, I do not agree with her. I remain open to the existential possibility she insights in her work, yet I believe that there has been insufficient acknowledgement of the colonial encounter as holocaust to focus energy and effort on finding a way out of the epistemological violence of the colonial encounter. Though I agree with her sentiment that postcolonialism is not a form of epistemological revenge either. There is a delicate balance here between Gandhi’s ameliorative aim, Chomsky’s notion that in speaking truth to power there is honour and that the important issue is connecting with an audience in a community of participation, and Young’s reminder of a hateful/hurtful truth:
"Both colonialism and imperialism involved forms of subjugation of one people by another." (p.15)
Postcolonialism is also a highly contested term. It seems to mean different things to different people. For some the ‘post’ in post-colonial refers to the period ‘after’ independence, or following the withdrawal of a colonial power. For others it suggests that ‘colonialism is a thing of the past and is now officially ‘over’.
As a postcolonial living educational theorist I understand postcolonialism to be an existential stance towards a material and historical past in which European nation states carried out a systematic political, military, commercial and cultural subjugation of indigenous peoples with a purpose to settle the land the indigenous people inhabited. The result was a white/black~brown stratification of social class and inequality that migrated well from colony to metropolitan centre in geo-spatial terms, and has in a longitudinal sense deeply inscribed contemporary racisms in Britain, and more generally, among Western nation States.
The consequences of this endeavour that I refer to as the colonial project, and which others call the colonial encounter, were an unmitigated disaster for the colonised.
As a European-Griqua (Ross, 1976) I endorse the Indigenous People’s Conference statement agreed in New Zealand in 2000 that the colonial project involved slaughter, oppression, and what today we call ethnic cleansing. Thus colonialism is a holocaust in the wider meaning of this term (IPC, Wellington, New Zealand, 2000)
The colonial project also had a more subtle purpose and that was to crush indigenous language and thus culture (Said, 1994). I am curious that Christian European people could have subscribed to colonialism at all given their embodied commitment to a religious code that expressed equality in Christ. This is the universal transcendental spirituality at the heart of Christianity. So I ask the question, ‘How could Christian European people who were Christian subscribe to colonialism?’ I ask a similar question of Muslim Arabs and the monstrous historical practice of slavery in East and Central Africa.
This question has an ironic resonance as it is related Adler-Collin’s implied criticism of "postcolonial writers" (i.e. writing, theory and critique) when he writes,
"I am also at a loss to see what your postcolonial writers are going to replace colonialism with. I see and hear the criticism of everything but that is easy. What I fail to see is the living practice of that theory…" (Personal email exchange Adler-Collins, 25th August 2004)
My educative practice is one representation, a study in singularity (Bassey, 1995), of my modest contribution to the living practice of my activist postcolonial life through Self-Study. The alternative to the life-affirming energies of postcolonial writers is a sterile ‘whitewashing’ silence, yet another form of subalternity perhaps, another expression of the hegemony of Whiteness? Having begun my exploration of postcolonial theory and scholarship I am more tentative about lambasting its weaknesses, more cautious and prudent in taking into account its complexities for the graph of my "self-knowledge". I am humble in the face of the flow of this stream of knowledge while mune to my own sense of critical alertness that needs to be brought to the evaluation and consideration of postcolonial writing, as I would any field of scholarship. I have some difficulty with Adler-Collins response that takes me to the very edge of my faculty of availability needed to achieve the right sort of encounter as co-presenters. I make no bones about feeling challenged to find within me Marcel’s notion of drawing close to Adler-Collins in the "mutual availability for what the future holds in store" (Van Deurzen, 1998, p.49) when he writes in the above tone. The way that he uses ‘your’ in the phrase ‘your postcolonial writers’ suggests a discretist, separatist language-game that could merely be a ‘Freudian slip’, tacit and unaware, or an unconscious ‘Othering’, using ‘your postcolonial writers’ as a marker for how my work is not his work, when I am suggesting in this paper (and my life) that postcolonial work is for all of us to consider.
Care of the self and fearless expression are part of the dialectics of academic freedom and point to what it takes to keep academic freedom alive when conservative and powerful discourses in society, and in the Academy, are working to very different ends. This is where I imagine solidary logic to be very helpful for mutual, collective co-support in our different but related projects in the academy. For if Adler-Collin’s professes to be concerned about the colonial nature of the university, after Young above, then I would also imagine that his awareness of political solidarity and collective consciousness would be more acutely honed. My concern about what gets jettisoned, left behind, forgotten (in a political, social, hegemonic sense) when an ‘I’ takes on a spiritual transcendental quest and become ‘free’ in another dimension is growing as I explore the nature of "self-knowledge". The respite of calm in the complex nature of the new world order that selective amnesia of the social and political realities could provide is tempting: it exacts a high price of delusion. In this regard the liberation theologists of Latin America and Booth’s Salvation Army seemed to have considered the danger of the transcendental ‘I’ cut adrift from social and political groundings, and collective solidarity. Is there political naivety here? Perhaps this is yet another illustration of how ‘seeing’ and not seeing are related to our rootprints as being-in-the-world.
With equal passion, I make no bones about wanting to explore all possibilities for mutual availability with Adler-Collins who is not an adversary, but rather a ‘difficult friend’ to whom I have offered many, many hours of activism in my writing in trying to make myself as transparent as I can, rather than standing in the way of an encounter, as Van Deurzen rather beautifully expresses her own practice. Of course, I am acutely aware that not all of my writing as activism has carried the invitation of mutual availability for what the future holds in store.
However I believe it is in the way Adler-Collins asks his above question that I experience a manifestation of Whiteness, and in this context I experience this is an expression of ‘educational racism’, and would invite him to reflect on my insights, with the aid of the following quote:
"My whiteness (and my maleness) is something I cannot escape no matter how hard I try. I come to terms with my whiteness in living my own life as a traitor to whiteness. I cannot become lazy; if all whites are racist at some level, then we must struggle to become anti-racist racists" (Conversation with Peter McLaren, Multiculturalism as Revolutionary Praxis, retrieved June 2004, from http://www.perfectfit.org/CT/mclaren5.htm
Walking in the Shade of the Oasis ~ come, pick dates with me ~ demonstrating the potential for innovative postcolonial critique in my living educational activism
When Adler-Collins writes,
"I see clearly that as usual there exists a deep mis-understanding between us that actually is the opposite. I feel closer to you than ever and that we, if we can find a way of unifying both positions, could bring an amazing insight to BERA. To do this we need to be in the same space, not necessarily the same content. I think we enrich each other as part of a process…I am also at a loss to see what your postcolonial writers are going to replace colonialism with. I see and hear the criticism of every thing but that is easy. What I want to see is the living practice of that theory…" (Personal email exchange between Adler-Collins and Murray, 25th August 2004),
I experience contradiction. I feel his desire to communicate with me in ways that I can embrace him in difference, but in solidarity too. Though the contradictory tensions I feel come from Adler-Collin's 'loss to see'. I wrote a reply, and I share the following extract to explore my sense of confusion:
"Since June I have practised an active, action orientated, activist postcolonial education with you, Sarah and Jack. I took the first step in influencing the shift in the Royal Agricultural College’s consciousness regarding the offensiveness of the so-called 'Colonial Society' in name,
in its constitution and in its agenda. I led the validation in 1996 of a Masters in Management Studies using action research approaches. I have now supervised 9 masters and undergraduate supervisions where the students have chosen Postcolonial Theory to frame their enquiry, where four of these explore their own racism as they construct their white identities, four choose Postcolonial theory to explore the racism in whiteness, and one explored the construction of a mestiza identity in terms of women's voice and feminist theory, and so I am surprised when I read in your email,
"I am also at a loss to see what your postcolonial writers are going to replace colonialism with. I see and hear the criticism of every thing but that is easy. What I want to see is the living practice of that theory…"
How is it that Je Kan can't see any of the above as examples - living, practical and activist examples - of the 'conative’ (i.e. doing aspects) of my postcolonial practice? How is that Je Kan is unable to 'see' my own writing to 'us' in recent months, in this very email, as postcolonial practice? In The Writer as Activist, (edited by Landfers and Kothandaraman, 2001, Africa World Press) they write when referring to South Asians, "They tend to feel closer to Ngugi (wa Thiong'o) than they do to British writers, and they express themselves accordingly, drawing on what they perceive as a commonality of shared historical experience...Instead, they prefer to employ postcolonial reading practices diverse and different from the Western critical approaches." (personal email exchange, Murray and Adler-Collins, 25th August 2004)
I am impressed with the way that Adler-Collins uses ‘see’ in his email writing. There is a sense that there is so much and see so little that we can see at any one time. There is no panopticon gaze other than in Foucault’s writings, and the shopping mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol. My gaze is partial, waivering, occluded, partisan, and selective. In my desire to explore the possibilities for healing the misunderstanding between us I refer to Macedo’s insight in conversation with Chomsky (2000):
"This social construction of not seeing characterizes those intellectuals whom Paulo Freire described as educators who claim a scientific posture and who ‘might try to hide in what [they] regard as the neutrality of scientific pursuits, indifferent to how [their] findings are used, even uninterested in considering for whom or for what interests [they] are working." (2000: 19)
In working with the Bath Educational Action group, and with Adler-Collins, I am able to imagine how a scientific posture can be substituted with a humanistic posture, a liberal posture, a spiritual posture all of which are perceived to be in some way transcendent. I have often wondered if members of that group confuse, perhaps conflate, transformational and transcendent. Taken to an extreme, I believe this transcendent mythology of the Bath educational action research group can actually hinder one’s ability to see class, gender, and race in their starkness at the intersections of society. Consequently this intersectionality in power, privilege and difference in British society is hardly evident in the analyses of any of the Living Theory theses referred to in Whitehead’s Symposium paper. Do visit the web page and brose the theses and bring your own standard of critical judgement to the theses in this respect.
It is my view that Adler-Collins in holding to his belief in the transcendental quality of his disciplined spirituality is in some way affecting his ability to ‘see’ my point of view. A transcendental spirituality that tacitly, or implicitly negates class, gender and race and power, privilege and difference, somehow conspire to keep us from becoming critical pedagogues. In the unity of transcendence there might be a moment of losing one’s grip with the ugly realities of contemporary life. Similarly, liberal commentators often imagine that their liberal precepts bestow on them immunity against the contagion of racism within Whiteness. The difficulty for poetic liberal’s (Rorty, 1989), and I believe for humanistic and spiritually transcendental liberals too, seem to arise for them when invited to accommodate McLaren ‘s expression of complicity in racism, and the attendant ‘crisis of guilt’ that this brings forth. I can feel the power in this compelling argument as I look back and feel the doubled edged sword of anger, outrage, and unresolved guilt carried in an email response to my writing about the problematic of liberal values, as a Bath colleague wrote in her email to me, ‘I hope that you are now happy in your Mixed Race!’
In Adler-Collins (2004) paper there is no evidence of a critical (self-reflective) pedagogy at work in respect of race, class, gender and postcolonialism. At the very least I would expect some awareness of Moon’s (1999) expression of the importance of reflection in learning and professional development, perhaps some appreciation of a critical multiculturalism within his role as associate professor in a Japanese University (McLaren and Torres, 1999), and hopefully some engagement with how Ellsworth’s (1997) explication of the power of mode of address migrates into one’s teaching position:
"Mode of address is not a neutral concept in film analysis. It’s a concept that came out of an approach to film that is interested in how filmmaking and film viewing get caught up in larger social dynamics and power relations…Most film scholars have liked some of the subject positions offered in popular films, and they haven’t liked others. Those working from, for example, Marxist, feminist or humanist perspectives have used the concept of mode of address to "prove" that most popular films repeatedly offer a narrow and systematically biased range of subject positions." (p. 28)
I am looking for evidence of how Adler-Collins is contributing to the creation of new forms of knowledge through an emphasis on interdisciplinary (contextualised) knowledge that helps his students to open up to the possibility of, grasp the nettle, and work from within their own chosen subject positions. I believe that I show the form of evidence I have in mind in the stories of student supervision in my doctoral thesis, and I provide an insight to this process of working through the mode of address, and teaching position to ‘initiate’ a dialogue about subject position(s) in story four below.
Instead Adler-Collins singular focus on living epistemology and pedagogy of the healing nurse and the problematic of embedding this in a nursing curriculum in Fukuoka University becomes decontextualised, rather than recontextualised and thus to some extent, reified too. I am not criticising Adler-Collins. I am playing with academic critique. What I am trying to get at here through my writing as a process of improvisatory educative practice is a form of pedagogisation-on-the-hoof.
I want to see evidence of questions being raised about the relationships between the margins and centers of power in educational systems and institutions. In what way is a ‘colonial education’ in Macedo’s terms imbricated within Japan’s colonial and imperial history, and its aftermath in terms of the social stratification and processes of contemporary Japanese society? As a putative international educator and co-presenter in a Postcolonial Symposium I would expect Adler-Collins to ‘see’ this connectivity for himself.
Influenced by Giroux’s project of critical pedagogy I would like all of the co-presenters to show how we are making curriculum knowledge responsive to the everyday knowledge that constitutes peoples lived histories differently.
One swallow does not make a summer, so I have been wary in selecting Adler-Collins e-writing above though it is indicative and symptomatic, possibly representative even of his commitment to a spirituality of transcendence that leaves him ethereal and ungrounded in the ‘bread and butter’ issues of colonialism, racism and postcolonialism in contemporary society. By drawing attention to this I am focusing on the cautionary tale. I am (self-)aware of a tendency among Muslims to move to a transcendental spirituality at the expense of reaming grounded in objective material conditions, and I have been close to this myself. Where in placing my faith in the One Spirit (in my case, Allah) I have deflected my gaze from how I choose, in my agency to work out His will for me in my life project in the day to day ordinariness of my work. I am wondering with as open a mind as possible if a primacy on transcendence tacitly or implicitly leads to a subordination of the secular gritty and stomach-churning messiness that can part and parcel of the generative, in transformations.
I can see how transcendence could become a defensive strategy, though this could be a projection on my part too.
Put at its most elementary, I would like to see some evidence from Adler-Collins of the kind of human willingness that McClaren (2004) shows to critically interrogate one’s own whiteness, and that Whitehead is ding with me, as a first step to appreciatively engage with the reality that so many postcolonial writers and critics still feel the need to communicate with their imagined audiences in the first place. If there was a shared axiology, then perhaps transformation would easily precede the kind of revolutionary ‘ball-breaking’ educative writing that critical and radical teachers, educators and researchers feel compelled to produce in 2004. Perhaps postcolonial writers and practitioners of critical pedagogy don’t wish to ‘hide’ in the apparent neutrality of transcendental spiritual pursuits. Perhaps, also, I am not alone in encountering this spirit of reluctance and resistance held in constructions of whiteness and the cultural practices the produce that I have continued to explore with Whitehead out of our AERA 2000 paper.
I believe that if Adler-Collins can analyze his claim to a spiritual transcendental posture within the dialectic of our own mis-understanding as a category of Chomsky’s notion of mis-education, I would then feel truly embraced within his life-affirming hopefulness. Alongwith spirituality, respect, love and all of these potentially beguiling epithets for human goodness I turn my gaze to try to hold, simultaneously, refracted through an eco-feminists loving eye, a critical spin:
"Critical educators must always ask themselves tough questions: what is the hidden history of otherness contained within our narratives of liberation? Whom do they exclude, marginalize, repress? How can we regather what has been lost and fill the empty space of despair with revolutionary hope? Hope stipulates an Other who stands before us." (McLaren, 2004)
I am curious about the hidden history of otherness contained within Adler-Collin’s narrative of spiritual transcendence as liberation, and whether or not it could be this that disenables him from seeing how he is excluding, marginalizing and repressing my voice? I believe Bernstein‘s theory of pedagogic communication may also be pertinent for deconstructing what has been taking place between us.
We live in a multiracial (or perhaps multiply-racialised) society in the UK though I endorse Ifekwunigwe’s description of Britain as a ‘whiteness-centred society’. I work in a British HEI where there is not one Black or Asian member of academic staff, no member of academic staff of any other religious group, and only three British Black, Mixed-Race, and Asian students in a college of six hundred students. The answer to this kind of ‘habitus’ rests in a colonial aftermath, a kind of taken-for-granted white supremacy assuming this is the way it is rather than ‘how could it be?’, that could be interpreted to be a form of institutional racism. This is an exemplar of what Ifekwunigwe means by a whiteness centred society. It is in this context or milieu, what Bourdieu refers to as ‘habitus’ that I actively pedagogise my postcolonial living educational theory.
I bring my ‘Mixed Race, Post Race’ (Ali, 2003) presence as an educator to influence the social formation of my college in the direction of social justice in matters of ‘race’ and ethnicity.
I bring my conscious awareness of postcolonial scholarship into my curriculum development in a level 3 module ‘Critical Issues in Organization’ where identity, mixed race, whiteness, racism and postcolonialism are addressed.
I bring my existential life-affirming energy, what Frankel (1985) calls the ‘will to meaning’ into my supervision of student’s dissertations on taught Masters and undergraduate programmes (Hunt, 2004; Phillips, 2004; Madziva, 2000; Massamba, 2000; Nyathi, 1999; Llanes-Canedo, 1999). I also bring my critical judgements to bear in how the students frame their work in facilitating with them an exploration not only of epistemology, but their ontological and axiological understanding, beliefs even about colonialism and racism. It is in the practice of my supervision that I see how I listen to and notice how I become mune to those inner and outer arcs of attention that delicately influence one’s educational and human judgements (Marshall, 2001). Let me give you brief example, as I drift once again into story…Working with Nceku Nyathi in 1999 as an undergraduate (Nceku is now a doctoral candidate in organization studies and postcolonial theory at Leicester University), I returned from an AERA conference in Montreal having participated in a seminar with Dr. L. A. Napier, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and assistant professor of education in the University of Colorado. She had been the lead researcher exploring problematic issues of leadership theories as an area that could impact the common good and her own personal development (1999, p.4).
Dr Napier engaged her audience that afternoon as the spring sun set on the Laurentian waterway in Montreal in a story of how she had recognized the dreadful irony that she was analyzing the leadership theorizing of the descendants of those who had sued their leadership knowledge to ethnically cleanse her people, and Meso-American culture in general. From my standpoint looking back, a vantage point of a sort, I imagine that Dr. Napier revealed to herself an existential inner contradiction in her predicament, her complicity in a sense and through that disjuncture found a response to Eugene Ilyenkov’s (1974) interesting question:
"If any object is a living contradiction, what must the thought (statement about the object) be that expresses it? Can and should an objective contradiction find reflection in thought? And if so in what form?" (Contradiction as a Category of Dialectical Logic, in Dialectical Logic, 1974, retrieved July 2004, from http://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essay10.htm
"Why", Dr Napier seemed to be asking herself, with us as witnesses, "am I complicit in the theorizing that condemned us to a history of ‘internal colonization’? What about the kind of leadership knowledge that is appropriate to our needs as Native American people?"
This shared insight excited and captivated me. I contacted Nceku on return to the UK and told him this story. He was being encouraged by a course director to drop ‘that African stuff’ and bring Michel Porter’s Five Forces to an analysis of a business context. I can understand my colleague’s response at one level: Nceku was registered on a business management degree programme, and how would this topic fit within business and management? Nceku emailed me at home on a Sunday night. He was furious, railing and frustrated…’Fuck Porters Five forces...’, and his email shouted at me, "I want to know why people are so concerned to get me to write from within the dominance of Western management theory, and why like Napier I am being asked to be complicit with this dominant discourse?"
Well that led us off into a conversation about Foucault on power and knowledge that extended my cognitive range. But for Nceku there was this critical moment that was both ontological and epistemological. Nceku suddenly saw how the Western Academy conspires in the subordination of the possibility of non-Western approaches to management theory (Peruvemba, 2001). For me there was a critical moment when I was caught between my colleague’s desire to get a dissertation ‘sorted’, the extension of my poetic and imaginative consciousness, what Anzaldua calls ‘facultad’, an aware space in consciousness as I sought to hold this out to Nceku, and Nceku’s own realization. It was a magical moment that also had an organization or bureaucratic tension within it. But we ignored that together, and Nceku found the inspiration for his own dissertation in Napier’s work.
Now in all of this I think I demonstrate something of the quality of the enquiring university teacher (Rowland 19??). Though I believe I extend Rowland’s powerful contribution as I seek to use my storytelling to insight and inflect the pedagogisation of my understanding of what I am doing as a scholar-educator. To be an enquiring university teacher is an exciting way of being responsible. Though to know why and how I do what I do as a contribution to a postcolonial and ‘post-race’ future makes a compelling case for the teacher as aware of the intersections of privilege, power and difference (Johnson, 2001). To know why I enquire as a process of my pedagogic development, of my activism as critical pedagogue, and from my own axiology of postcolonialism as a ‘Mixed Race, Post Race’ university teacher is to be able to grasp the significance of the growth of my educational knowledge, to know why I ask a question of the kind, How can I improve my educative and scholarly practice as an expression of my pedagogisation in Bernstein’s sense, and as a commitment to Critical Pedagogy?
For me, this is a moment of ontological and epistemological intersection where I can say ‘I know’ and I can bring my knowledge to my ontological commitment and name myself, ‘postcolonial living educational theorist’.
As I weave my meanings in this section of the readers map I am clear about the axiology of my commitment to postcolonialism as a practice, a way of life, as ‘how it is for me’, and as a field of scholarship. In the above story of working with Nyathi (1996-99) I have given you a glimpse of one of the ways I pedagogise my living educational theory as a postcolonialist. This is what I mean by a postcolonial living educational theory: it is a living educational theory, an account of one’s educative practice, as a postcolonialist.
The reason I emphasize this is because there is currently a movement in the US Senate to have postcolonial studies removed from within the American Academy on the grounds that it is anti-American and incites hatred of American foreign policy, and thus the idea of America itself:
"Testimony provided by Dr Stanley Kurtz…portrays areas studies as contributing to unpatriotic anti-Americanism. Dr Kurtz focuses, in particular, on post-colonial theory and the work of Edward Said in Orientalism in which "Said equated professors who support American foreign policy with the 19th century Enlightenment intellectuals who propped up racist colonial empires…Kurtz asserts that the rampant presence of post-colonial theory in academic circles, with its bias against America and the West, has produced a corps of professors who refuse to instruct or support (with FLAS grants) students interested in pursuing careers in the foreign service and/or intelligence corps…How effective was Dr Kurtz’s presentation? The committee not only believed everything Dr. Kurtz claimed, but also implemented most of his suggestions including the ‘advisory board’."
(Stop Congressional Policing of Curricula in Area Studies, Michael Bednar, Department of History, The University of Texas at Austin, retrieved August 24th 2004 from http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/839
As a living educational theorist I am interested in what kind of knowledge I produce as a living theorist. How does it differ from traditional forms of knowledge, for example? One kind of knowledge that I would like to contribute to through this Symposium is political knowledge, by which I mean making a difference to how each of us politicizes ‘the postcolonial’ in our teaching practices. I hope my paper in some small way extends the influence of my educative practice as postcolonial activism in the spirit of speaking truth to power. By postcolonial living educational theory I refer to my own educative practice as a commitment to a wider, more generalized political activism keeping in mind the possibility of transformation in those zones of influence in which we conduct our educational work. In this way I hope that I respond to Griffiths, Bass et al (2004) in showing how a Self-Study of my postcolonial living educational theory has a gritty, or what Bass calls a ‘stomach-churning’, political and existential realism. I am acutely aware of Soren Kierkegaard’s caution about an imagined unity in my head that doesn’t correspond to the reality of my practice. As I critically self-reflect on my practice as a step in my pedagogisation, an aura of Kierkegaard’s infamous angst seems to waft about me. I believe it is this angst to ensure that I am not deluded that is central to the register of my prolific email writing since 1999 in which I not only share my ideas with others, I also deconstruct my own meanings taking me closer to my understanding as I critically self-reflect through e-writing as the medium for this reflection, and I keep in mind Jack Whitehead’s warning:
"Are you trying to do too much in this chapter without acknowledging the voices of your students that accompany you in your learning and theorizing? Isn’t the strength of your persistence within forms of theorizing that have emerged from your practice? Won’t one of your philosophies of educative practice show this process in action? It feels to me that you are allowing your philosophies of educative practice to be understood from within traditional linguistic traditions and not yet understood from within your practice of educative relations" (Jack Whitehead, personal email in the supervision process, 21st September 2001).
I show how I have developed my understanding of my pedagogy of postcolonial teaching practice more deeply, and with a more rounded appreciation since 2001, as I bring into this account, within story four below, a conversation with ‘Ludy’ an undergraduate student whose dissertation I supervised during the 1999/2000 academic year. This conversation, interestingly, took place in February 1999.
Oasis Four: No time for rest~ Bernstein’s Theory of Pedagogic Communications: How I present my emergent understanding of Bernstein’s meanings as a form of originality of mind in the creation of my postcolonial living educational theory through a Self-Study of my scholar-educator practice
There are two reasons why I think Basil Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic communications may have value for my educative practice because I want to extend the influence of what I mean by a) postcolonial studies, and b) what I mean by the concept and practice of Self-Study in living educational theory, and c) how I create my own hybrid theoretical form of postcolonial living educational theory.
To contextualise this I need to explain that I have brought a postcolonial influence to Jack Whitehead’s education since working with him in supervision of my doctoral thesis since 1999. Working from the grounds of my own scholarship of critical race theory and postcolonial theory I have influenced Jack accompany me in deflecting his attention away from racialised minorities toward the social formations of ethnic majorities and ‘whiteness’. In our AERA 2000 paper, Murray and Whitehead problematise and explore issues of race and whiteness for the emergence, creation and reforming of living educational theories. From that beginning we have continued to explore the importance of postcolonial theorising and practice as educational researchers within the academy. This has led me to make a significant contribution to the development of living educational theory. The evidence of my influence on Jack’s education is held in the Symposium title, and my PhD thesis title, "Speaking in a Chain of Voices ~ how do I create my postcolonial living educational theory through a self-study of my practice as a scholar-educator?
Prior to my educational enquiry, researchers in living educational theory had not conceived of the possibility for a postcolonial form for living educational theory. The criteria for a PhD at the University of Bath include originality of mind, work of publishable quality, and the demonstration of critical judgement. Creating a postcolonial living educational theory, while simultaneously influencing the postcolonial education of my supervisor and living educational theorist, is evidence of my originality of mind.
Bernstein (2000) refers to pedagogy as a sustained process whereby somebody acquires new forms or develops existing forms of conduct, knowledge practice and criteria from somebody or something deemed to be an appropriate provider and evaluator – appropriate either from the point of view of the acquirer or by some other body, or both.
I am able to see in Bernstein’s meaning how pedagogy is the process that I have been creatively practising as originality of mind as I have influenced how Jack problematises whiteness within living educational theory accounts. The unaware has become visible, and in this process an existing form of ‘conduct, knowledge practice and criteria’ in supervising, and writing accounts of living educational theory have been extended in an original way. Part of the originality lies in the reciprocal and collaborative nature of knowledge-creation.
I am motivated to influence how Western people re-evaluate the impact of colonialism for our ways of thinking, acting and assuming knowledge. This is not as sectarian as it may sound, for I have in mind a sense of our common humanity, and in particular the implications arising from its loss and distortion within the colonial project, a project shared by Europeans in general, and turned into a practice with brutal exploitative panache by the British in particular (Punter, 2000).
I would also imagine, perhaps ideally rather than naively, that you reject racism as the accompaniment of colonialism, and muse critically about postmodernism as the latest manifestation of ‘neo-colonialism (Sardar, 1998) while being held in the tensions of not knowing quite how to affect the big picture from within your particular context.
I imagine that like me, you would be keen to understand how colonial discourse still influences the formation of one’s identity in the West. I imagine that like me you feel an affinity with ‘post-colonialism/postcolonialism’ because of its revolutionary and transformational potential for understanding the material context in which consciousness is shaped and mediated. I imagine that you would join me in wanting to replace a domestication of consciousness in respect of colonial discourse with a more feral postcolonial consciousness that scratches and hisses and spits in ways that focus our attention on the attendant dangers of pervasive neo-colonialism in terms of globalisation, consumerism, ideological intolerance, fundamentalism of all kinds (Sim, 2004) including Christian expansionist colonialism, and the much vaunted new world order of Empire.
I imagine these things because I could not conceive or contemplate any other imaginings because you have chosen to participate with us in our Symposium at BERA 04 as we continue our expedition into what it takes to enhance the pedagogisation of living postcolonial theory for a hopeful future that is better than now. I imagine that you share with me, even if tacitly at this point, Tamsin Lorraine’s point that,
‘Dasein as Being-in-the-world is always projecting itself toward a future about which it cares.’ (1999: 9)
I imagine that this is what brings us together in this Symposium because living educational theories, postcolonial studies, Self-Study and our future together are all projects about which I care, passionately, and act in creatively and critically. Of course in imagining all of these things I could be mistaken. But my point is this quite simply: if I don’t state them within the discipline of Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic communication, then I am not living out my responsibility to my calling as a scholar-educator to take the ultimate responsibility to produce a disciplined account of my own pedagogic practice.
I see a connection between Macedo’s notion of a ‘colonial education’ and Chomsky’s related insight into the complicity of education at all levels in the ‘domestication of consciousness’, and what Bernstein refers to as pedagogic practices. He explains pedagogic practices as forms of communication where classificatory principles from consciousness in the process of their acquisition. The classificatory principle I have in mind here is that of epistemological weave. Weaving between, among and stitching together different nuances within epistemologies and the ideas of others is both what I do in my educational enquiry, and what I do with my students in supervision, in seminars and in formal lecture spaces where I present my ideas alongside the ideas of others with 60 students in one lecture theatre. In the pedagogisation of my knowledge of my educational practice I can see how this process of classification I describe can transform power relations into specialised discourses. Bernstein’s notion of the pedagogising of knowledge is influencing my own learning as I exercise my originality of mind and critical judgement in integrating insights from the specialised languge of the pedagogising of knowledge, which can be obscurantist, and dense, into what I do in influencing the education of my students towards a creative embrace of the value in engaging widely with the ideas of others in order to strengthen one’s own judgements. This is in itself a pedagogic act. Information is specifically recontextualised by the giver (me as scholar-educator), expressly to meet the needs of the requester (the student).
I imagine that you, like me, will share a delight in Jack’s appreciation of postcolonialism for Living Educational Theory as he expresses this here,
"The second explains postcolonial practices in relation to experiences of
colonial practices and in terms of the transformation of embodied
ontological values (of freedom, compassion, justice, love, enquiry and
their negation), into the epistemological standards of judgement and
practice that form explanatory principles in accounts of learning how to
live postcolonial values more fully in one's own practice and in the
education of social formations. The process of transformation of
ontological values into epistemological standards occurs in the process of
clarifying the meanings of postcolonial values in the course of their
emergence in practice." (Email 12th June to us all)
One way that we can be embodied in the west is in terms of how are bodies are a constant reminder of our colonial past. The question of voice in this matter, Bernstein’s quality of voice, ‘To know whose voice is speaking is the beginning of one’s own voice’, is paramount.
Embodied as I am I desire to extend my consciousness and my knowledge of how to name and designate the nature of my own postcolonial embodiment. I do not want my embodiment to be an accompaniment to the colonial discourse. My colonial past and my postcolonial future have shaped my body: my Griqua grandmother, my Afrikaner grandfather, and my consciousness of my living postcolonial theory as an educative practice of the self, with others, within institutional and social hegemony. By being able to pedagogise this lived experience as a living form of knowledge, I believe that colonial discourses can be reduced in terms of their contemporary implications, and postcolonial discourses may begin to flourish, differently, with a new influential vigor. To reach this position, living postcolonial theory has to develop its own robust rigor, as in the academy; the vigor of theory and the rigor by which that theory is tested seem to go together. And this is where the pedagogisation of knowledge does indeed seem crucial to the political task ahead specifically in terms of what Bernstein means by distributive rules. These regulate the relationships between power, social groups, forms of consciousness and practice. Distributive rules distribute forms of consciousness through distributing forms of knowledge.
I appreciate how I am doing this in the above passage as I craft a representation of my colonial consciousness as an embodied consciousness, and then evoke the presence of my grandmother and father’s bodies. I can see how I am doing this throughout Symposium paper as a leitmotif for my pedagogy.
It is through understanding Bernstein’s grammar of pedagogy that I am able to put a name to want I am doing as a scholar-educator and this is crucial to be taken seriously within the Academy as scholar-educator who can demonstrate critical judgement. This is, of course, a terribly Western concept. In non-Western discourses aesthetic, collaborative, participatory, and relational judgement would replace critical. Although the paradox would be soon spotted in that the Non-Western academy has, through a complex set of colonial practices probably adopted the normative framework of the Western academy, thereby subordinating vernacular judgements concerning indigenous knowledge. I am thus able to pass this kind of ‘political savvy’ of the academy onto my students.
This point is telling in respect of what I can face in my educative practice. I conceive my educative practice as an integral expression of my postcolonial life, and practice. I imagine practice as taking place in a material world, and not just in the unity of my imagination. The embodied self of my practice is implicated in ‘our’ specific historical situation; the specifics of colonialism, and neo-colonialism, Eurocentricity and Whiteness. Colonialism has a quality of stalking, of following, of permeating, of insidiously penetrating my lived experience and I experience this as another take on an ‘epistemology of alongsideness’ (Pound, 2002). By ‘alongsideness’ I imagine something unpleasant, controlling, looking over my shoulder, scrutinizing, policing even. Trinh Minh-Ha the Vietnamese-American feminist and postcolonial filmmaker whose work focuses on identity, thus astutely discriminates between the ambivalence of alongsideness and ‘just near by’ in her book, The Framer Framed (1992). She favors the latter phrase, as I do, because of its realism in respect of the material hegemony as it affects our lived experiences (can we ever truly get alongside the other in their difference, and if we do, are we not doing this in ‘bad faith’?):
‘However possessive it can be in its proffering, a love relationship does not allow one to speak about the subject filmed as if one can objectify or separate oneself from it unproblematically; hence this statement at the outset of the film: "I do not intend to speak about/Just speak near by’ (1992: 182)
‘Alongsideness’ is not a form of language that has been sensitized by a postcolonial awareness, or way of being in the world. It still retains the controlling shrill edge of possible representation, of containment, of giving voice to your experience of me as a human being by claiming a practice of ‘alongsideness’; with or without handcuffs?
So what kind of theory is postcolonial living educational theory? What kind of knowledge can be brought to the creation of this living form of theory? I believe that nomadic colonial subjects need a language that handles the serrated experiences of borders; physical, spatial and mental. So I agree with Lorraine when she suggests, "Deleuze’s work provides an important resource for characterizing how subjects can foster creative engagement with the world of dynamic becoming of which they are an integral part." (1998: 5). And I imagine you would share with me this desire for our BERA symposium project as we foster creative engagement together in terms of the pedagogisation of our knowledge of postcolonial living educational theory.
I think this is politically important within the academy because as Lorraine states, ‘an important aspect of human subjectivity is one’s situatedness within symbolic systems and one’s ability to produce words that will be recognized by others as the words of one who "makes sense" ‘ (1998: 4)
Bernstein, according to Jack Whitehead’s (2002) synopsis of his 2000 work, seems to be inviting us into his theory, towards his language and his logic in order for us to find ways to extend the influence of our subjective living theories within the academy, among those who can counter our moves. Bernstein’s theory talks to me as a scholar in ways that I hear and want to listen to. Lorraine seems to recognise that Bernstein’s pedagogic device is crucial in that it points to the distributive rules that regulate the relationships between power, social groups, forms of consciousness and practice. (2002: 3)
I have one or two more points to make about how we could develop our standards of judgement in ways that we could articulate that might help us in this expedition.
I see my own project within the point Lorraine is making here,
"One of the theses of this book is that we can and should attempt to theorize more of the corporeal aspect of being human into conscious awareness. An elaboration of corporeal logics (and this seems vital for non-westerners who live in the west – my note) could provide a vocabulary of the body that would allow us to symbolize and integrate more of the extralinguistic realm of embodied living into our consciousness. Since such a project would entail the transformation of Western representational thought into another, perhaps more life-affirming, form of thought. Heidegger, like Irigary and Deleuze, suggests that thinking, speaking and writing can and should involve something like a transformative practice. None of these thinkers are interested in thinking and writing practice that merely pass along information" (1998: 11)
The final sentiment expressed by Lorraine touches upon Macedo’s ‘colonial education’ and the implications for a ‘decolonizing’ educative practice: education is more than merely instructional. So what kind of pedagogic relations would help us to address this in our practice?
Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic communication speaks from just near by my educative practice in ways that may help me to imagine how I can transform my practice by integrating Bernstein’s theory within my own emergent cognitive frameworks. Not only does Bernstein’s theory extend my cognitive range; his theory has a practical impact on how I consider, reflect and prepare to explain my own theory and knowledge. A pedagogue should at least entertain the discipline associated with his/her responsibility for explaining the pedagogisation of her/his knowledge (living theory) and practice. And I strive to treat both with equal respect for their place in my own living postcolonial theorizing. I would not have come to this realization, I believe, if it wasn’t for the incredible tensions and frustrations that I have faced in the Bath educational action research group, not all of which have been positive and respectful, but most certainly have.
I am able to identify my own focus in Lorraine’s expression,
"…Writing theory is a practice that brings – or should bring – the writer into more intense immediate contact with herself and the affective materiality of her existence, which feeds and motivates her words. Writing and reading insofar as it is able to intensify the sense that one’s experience is meaningful in a fully somatic sense of the word. Repeating what has already been said is not likely to instigate the kind of thinking that enlivens one’s sense of meaningful connection with the world. It is stylistically evocative language that emerges from encounter with the world that can have this effect" (1998: 13)
I think I need to reflect on this: I imagine that perhaps living postcolonial theory needs a visceral text, one that is visual as well as written. In this sense I recognise the importance of what Bernstein calls a legitimate text. A legitimate text is any realization on the part of the acquirer which attracts evaluation. In relation to the evaluation of the significance of my postcolonial ideas from my educational research enquiry into the pedagogising knowledge of the postcolonial scholar-educator, I choose to explore Bernstein’s ideas (within doctoral my thesis, merely providing a glimpse here) in helping me to understand how to extend the legitimacy of my postcolonial text in the education of the social formation curriculum and management practices in the Royal Agricultural College. In my thesis I explore my role as Diversity officer from the significance of Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic communication for effecting change, however small, gradual and modest in the Diversity practices of the College.
I imagine my practice to include writing, speaking, feeling, and theorizing emerges from my practice of writing. I do not practice what Alan Rayner referred to as a colleague’s practice of ‘anti-theory’ (7th June, Bath EAR group seminar). I do not create a dualism or Cartesian split between theory and practice, or practice and theory if you prefer: or practice~theory~practice~theory, as I prefer to imagine this intellectually affective process.
I imagine a living postcolonial theory that is influenced by the visceral and stylistically evocative language of Trinh Min Ha, Richard Rodriguez (1993, and 2002), Gloria Anzaldua (1987) and Coco Fusco. I imagine a theory that ‘bleeds through the straight line, unstaunchable – the line separating black from white, for example. Brown confuses. Brown forms at the border of contradiction…it is that brown faculty I uphold by attempting to write brownly.’ (Rodriguez, 2002: x i)
Reading writers who are post-structuralist and/or postcolonial I am now able to set free into my words how I imagine a most amazing, even a potentially shocking and thrilling theory. I imagine a theory that talks of identity without defining, fixing and delimiting it: this is why my postcolonial theory is a ‘living’ theory.
I imagine a theory that challenges a compartmentalized view of the world, and as Trinh Minh Ha says, ‘render imperceptible the (linguistic) cracks existing in very argument while questioning the nature of oppression and its diverse manifestations (1992: 155)
I imagine that my theory would reach out from Trinh’s idea of poetry, so that the site of my living postcolonial theory can be a place where ‘language is at its most radical in its refusal to take itself for granted’ (1992: 154). Perhaps we are talking of a performance artist’s language here, and I connect immediately with Coco Fusco’s performance art.
Fusco, in a book with a most visceral and evocative title, The Bodies That Were Not Ours, sets the stylistic tone for her kind of artistic postcolonial theorizing when she writes,
"I have never heard any relative of mine speak of the time when our ancestors were owned by others, but that past wraps itself around the tales of our beginnings’ (2001: xiii)
I have never heard of any relative of mine speak of the time when my Great-grandmother was owned by the Afrikaner farmer who fathered my Grandmother. Though he did, and their story wraps itself around my white and brown beginnings in the slavery that is colonialism, and informs how I approach V.I. Lenin’s question, ‘What is to be done?’ This takes me into future possibility and focuses me here and now in what kind so strategies will help me to move forward. And this is where I feel the practical value of Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic communication, rippling over my consciousness, and permeating my initial difficulties with his languge. I wonder if white scholars would pay as much attention to the work of non-western, brown and black scholars. Does this point to power or the humility of inclusion in what counts as knowledge I wonder? I am not sure. Though it does seem to point towards what Bernstein means by pedagogic relations and their implications for the power between transmitter and acquirer, where he suggests that they can be explicit, implicit or tacit. By explicit Bernstein means a progressive in time pedagogic relation where there is a purpose, an intention to initiate, modify, develop, or change knowledge, conduct of practice by someone or something which already possesses, or has access to, the necessary resources and the means of evaluating the acquisition. In this way as a postcolonial living educational theorist I can see how pedagogic relations concerning knowledge of the colonial aftermath have been explicit in the Western Academy in respect of the highly visible intention of the ‘silence’ concerning colonialism. I can also see, by contrast, how Edward Said engaged in a very explicit set of pedagogic relations in which he tried to redress this epistemological imbalance in his representation of the intellectual as speaking truth to power. I can further appreciate Noam Chomsky’s project in terms of pedagogic relations within the American academy.
I imagine that you, like me, will be living at all sorts of borders, maybe different ones among us all. But it is not the interstices that connect us: rather it is our cultural hybridity as educators, in our practice that unites us beyond imagination and in the practice of our education. As we explain this to each other, and reflect/refract our explanations to others I can more fully appreciate Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic communication, while also enhancing our abilities to speak to one another from just near by our living educational theories in ways that interrogate colonial discourse, decolonize it, and for some of us, develop this practice into a commitment of one’s life to postcolonialism. This is a worthwhile hope for our living educational theory expedition together
While Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic communication can help me understand what I am doing in the pedagogisation of my practice so that I can explain these operations to others, I am able to critique Bernstein’s theory in so far as it doesn’t speak to the issue of why I am pedagogising my practice in ways that seem to be more aligned with my embodied values as a postcolonialist. As a sociologist with educative interests, I may have expected Bernstein to be engaged with the power struggle over truth that characterizes postcolonial theory. Bernstein’s theory is valuable to the extent that it is an analysis of the procedures that determine what count as truth within a particular context. However, it is this punctuation point that marks the inherent weakness of Bernstein’s theory in terms of its value to practitioners, rather than its analytic quality.
In a complementary way critical pedagogy helps me to nurse my understanding of the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’ of my critical pedagogic actions as I account for my postcolonial living educational theory. What I find creatively helpful is in the coupling of Bernstein with Critical Pedagogy as I hold this within my own critical pedagogic appreciation as I practice within the interstitial spaces between Bernstein’s analysis and my rough and ready practice to help shape the meaning of my educational standards of judgement by which I want to be held accountable in terms of the validation of my emergent doctoral thesis as postcolonial pedagogy that is alternative yet embracing, interrogative of specific contexts and yet universal too:
"You seem to be talking and two words come to mind – mixed colours. What you are doing is telling us a story where you are engaged with (other) black students, and what is coming out of this story is that you are starting to communicate in a universal sense. This is where you have a capacity for celebrating African discourse, while also demonstrating a capacity for whiteness, by making your story accessible and thus relevant to those of who are not black. As you bear us in mind in this story, by which I mean a white audience, you show us that you have a notion of an audience that is white. This is a quality of communication which loses none of the pain of colonization, of oppression, of white racism, but through this pain you show your loving care and a sense of community in a way that conquers your anger, inviting the reader towards the unique characteristics of an African form of storytelling, which you seem to achieve in this email." [Jack Whitehead, March 1999 - notes of a doctoral supervision conversation].
In this way I also perform an originality of mind.
In his theory of pedagogic communication Bernstein explains how power and control are focused on boundaries:
"Boundaries are reproduced between different categories of groups such as gender, class, race, different categories of discourse, different categories of agent…Control carries the boundary relations of power and socializes individuals into these relationships. It carries both the power of reproduction and the potential for its change" (Whitehead, 2002).
Like Jack Whitehead, I have been engaged in a nomadic educational journey as I try to find an appropriate expression for my postcolonial living educational theory. By appropriate I mean a form that will satisfy my aesthetic and that can influence the legitimation of new forms of meaning and knowledge in the Academy and wider community. Because of my political savvy I endorse Jack Whitehead’s assertion that this endeavour my be helped along by a theory that is focuses on the regulative principles that influence the selection and integration of meaning, the forms of realization of meaning, and their evoking contexts.
The thesis that is emerging from my educational enquiry is nomadic and postcolonial. Placing it inside the academy will influence the legitimation of new forms of meaning and knowledge through the voices of scholars and others of mixed racial heritage in the UK, and the part we are playing in a) producing legitimate and culturally sensitive and specific texts, that b) have a universal application in multiracial educational and c) extend the socializing discourses of education. My thesis points to how I have gradually come to understand the values of this process through a Self-Study of my practice, and how I have enjoyed infiltrating the specialized language of Postcolonial theory and Critical race theory in College, my teaching , my supervisory relationships and in influencing my doctoral supervisor.
In educational enquiries of the kind, ‘how do I create my postcolonial living educational theory?’ the integration of insights in the orientation of meaning, textual productions, and interactional practices may help to extend the influence of my embodied knowledge as a postcolonial scholar-educator. I am thinking here of my demonstrable influence on the curriculum of the Royal Agricultural College since 1991 in areas of action research, critical organization studies, qualitative research methodology, visual methodologies. I am also thinking of my practice of extending the influence of living educational theories in the education of my management and organizational and a first living theory PhD registration at the Royal Agricultural College in partnership with Coventry University (2004), and the influence of postcolonialism that I have sustained with Jack Whitehead in ways that are enabling him to reform his appreciation of his living educational theory in respect of how he now explicitly questions the social construction of his identity in whiteness.
I am also thinking of my influence on the social formation of the College as I worked with students to undermine the Colonial Society, and my new responsibility for influencing the awareness of Diversity committee colleagues to the presence of racialising language and metaphor.
My action research into my postcolonial educational influence on the curriculum for postcolonial studies and diversity at the Royal Agricultural College and the knowledge that emerges from that process can be further enhanced from the use of Bernstein’s language of pedagogy alongside my interpretation and enactment of the ‘specialised language’ of Postcolonial theory through his concept of recontextualising knowledge, from its embodied form in my postcolonial educative practice, into the wider curriculum of the Royal Agricultural College.
Oasis Five: Slaking thirst~ Embodied Spirits in the Spirit of my Writing
In this section I would like to give you a flavour of the ideas of others that are influencing my development. This could point to a different way of bringing shape to a traditional literature review reflecting the way that my methodology and nomadic epistemology are intertwined, ambiguously yet clearly.
I have chosen not to provide full references, opting instead to provide author and publication date to enable my sources to be traced for those who might be interested to read them, rather than for any concern for traditional warrant and provenance. I have read these books and they have impacted how I see, think, feel, talk, write and imagine. They have been included within my knowledge reservoir. This is a moment of celebration of what a living educational theory feels like in the making, in the mixing, and the proof is as my mother told me, in the pudding.
My choice is to cluster themes and authors whose ideas stimulate me through difference and familiarity, through similarity to my own experience and for the uniquely different properties of their own, and whose work I have read in whole, or in part, as I have sought to explore what scholarship means for me as an educator. Believe me when I say that it helps me to sustain empathy for the students I am supervising.
I leave it to your imagination to be playful with my oasis metaphor and imagine each cluster of names, and themes to represent sweet water for a parched nomad, a preciously noted and remembered watering hole in hundreds of square miles. Each nested or clustered gathering of authors around themes aptly depicts the way that I have not only accidentally fallen upon oases in my nomadic education. I have lifted my memoried oases and planted, nurtured and imaginative and fertile space in which I can picture all of these oases and their relationship to my journey since 1997, though most of these clustered oases have been stumbled upon, remembered and revisited mostly since 1999. Jack Whitehead as my supervisor suggested that I might have a journey. However, I had to discover for myself that I was a nomad and oases were there to be found, not mapped. In relation to my critical judgement these oases represent my critical faculty. How I have drawn on those oases to enrich, to sustain and to clarify my purpose and meanings in my journey represents an aspect of my ‘postcolonial’ originality of mind. Metaphorically I nomadically carry these oases with me. They are part of my embodied consciousness, the orientation of my intellectual being. From within their memory I have come to believe that my doctoral thesis overall could be one such oasis of postcolonial living educational theory - Perhaps one oasis in a chain of oases offering protection from the sun, a windshield, a cover for singing nomadic birds.
I am a nomad and I do not have any parchment map of my ‘Mixed-Race’. I have an etched memory that has been passed on through time, over time, and flows through me in these times to my grandchildren, growing a conspiratorial whisper in a chain of voices.
Let me identify the most significant oases of critical pleasure I have discovered, and now etched into my nomadic epistemology, so that I may encourage you to find your own and cherish them, through inner and outer arcs of attention that inform your critical self-reflection (Judi Marshall, 2001).
i) I write with the flow of the spirit of two of Jack Whitehead’s fascinating observations passing through my being,
What I have noticed within recent publications from s-step researchers is the evidence that knowledge-claims are becoming more participatory (Reason and Bradbury, 2001) in the sense that concerns and enquiries are shared with others (2004: 897)
I imagine that the next ten years of s-step activity will take more seriously postcolonial theory and ecological feminism (2004: 899)
ii) I write from recognition of the spirit of an established scholarship of Self-Study in teaching practices in the Academy (Loughran, Hamilton, La Boskey and Russell, 2004; Hamilton, 2001; Altrichter, Posch and Somekh, 1998; Hamilton, 1998; Russell and Korthagen, 1995; Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1993, Whitehead 1993)
and a spirit of nomadic affinity with enquiring educators and practitioner-researchers (Dadds and Hart, 2001; Rowland, 2000; Dadds, 1995; Rowland, 1993; Winter, 1989)
iii) I write from my embodied spirit of commitment to extending the influence of living educational theories in the Academy through writing my own (Whitehead, Adler-Collins, Fletcher, Murray, all 2004; Murray and Whitehead, 2000; Pinnegar and Russell, 1995; Whitehead, 1993)
iv) I write from a communion of spirit with critical pedagogy (Tuhiwai-Smith 1999; May, 1999; Kincheloe and Steinberg, 1998; Margolis and Romero, 1998; Ellsworth, 1997; hooks, 1998, 1994 and 1984; Bishop, 1994; McLaren, 1992; McLaren and Hammer, 1989; Boal, 1979)
v) I write in a spirit of warm acknowledgement of the influence of action research on my understanding of my practice (McNiff, 2002; Reason and Bradbury, 2001; Arhar, Holly and Kasten, 2001; Carson and Sumara, 1997; Zuber-Skerritt, 1992, 1991; Reason, 1988; Carr and Kemmis, 1986; Reason and Rowan, 1981)
vi) I write in a vein of spirited, focused and constrained outrage in the pursuit of social justice (Johnson, 2001; Griffiths, 1998)
vii) I write from the grounds of retaining my spirit in the context of British higher education that is in the throes of complex change as a response to the pervasive and quickening penetration of the neo-liberal ethos of market economics into the Academy (Johnston, 1998; Levin and Greenwood, 1997; Barnett and Griffin, 1997; Barnett 1994, 1992, and 1990)
viii) I write in the spirit of excitement and identification as I see an emergent new field of ‘Mixed-Race’ studies, and imagine that my thesis will be a contribution with sufficient merit of originality of mind to speak within this chain of voices (Jose Vasconcelos, 1925 (reprinted 1997), ‘La Raza Cosmica’: Vasconcelos’ essay predicted a browning of the world, based on the emergence of a ‘mixed racial’ culture of Mexico. This essay appealed to me as it is starkly different to the older European texts on Mixed Race as a marker of social, intellectual, moral degeneracy and ultimately, the degeneration of ‘white’ racial purity. Vasconcelos’ imagined the ‘cosmic race’ would consist of all the better qualities of all cultures, and as such offered hope; William Penn, editor, As We Are Now: Mixblood Essays on Race and Identity, 1997; Miri Song, Choosing Ethnic Identity for it gave me a real permission in my life, 2003; Coco Fusco, the bodies that were not ours, 2001, and her contribution to the performativity of my thesis in my identity where she writes, "My interest in the past, however, is shaped by the exigencies of the present", page xiv; Parker and Song, 2001; Jayne Ifekwunigwe 2004, 2001, and 1999, and her inspirational work on new ethnicities that I first encountered in reading ‘Scattered Belongings’; Suki Ali, 2003, for her scholarship, the daring cover photograph to her book, and her words here, "Firstly I would like to thank all the people who encouraged me to return to Higher Education – and stick with it"; Zimitri Erasmus’s, 2001, beautifully edited text that speaks to me from the grounds of my Coloured South African rootprints; and Robert Ross’s, 1976, landmark historical text, ‘Adam Kok’s Griquas – a study in the development of stratification in South Africa’. I am descended from Griquas. As a First Nation People they are Mixblood, mestizaje, metisse, ‘Mixed-Race’, or La Raza Cosmica; Root, 1996 and 1992; Lazarre, 1996, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness; Rodriguez and Villaverde, 2000; Lavie and Swedenburg, 1996, Displacement, Diaspora and Geographies of Identity; Tizard and Phoenix, 1993).
All of these oases are held within a loving carapace as I write my spiritual heart out for a life held in covenant with Asma Al-Kindy, together without (extended) families as a representation of the unfolding masterpiece of the loving spirit (Ben Okri, 2002).
Oasis Six: Talking together around the embers of the fire after a another nomadic day~ The Importance Of Story for Autobiographical and Self-Study approaches to Living Educational Theory
My friend, I am going to tell you the story of my life, as you wish; and if it were only the story of my life I think I would not tell it; for what is one man that he should make much of his winters, even when they bend him like a heavy snow? So many other men have lived and shall live that story, to be grass upon the hills. It is a story of all life that is holy and good to tell, and of us two-leggeds sharing in it with the four-leggeds and the wings of the air and all green things; for these are children of one mother and their father is one Spirit. (Black Elk, as told through Neihardt, J., 1979, p.1)
I am a storyteller. Storytelling is a significant activism in my postcolonial education. I learned this skill from my father who told me what I now understand to be colonial stories in my childhood and youth and provided the ontological foundations for my postcolonial narrative. If you would like to see my telling a story of my research at AERA 2000, in New Orleans then this can be retrieved from www.actionresearch.net thanks to Jack Whitehead’s ‘fertile obsession’ (and foresight) with multimedia, and Sarah Fletcher’s sensitive gaze as a confluence of self with camera in her wisdom of farsight.
I endorse MacClure’s (1996) research study findings which led her to the insight ‘in which these narratives replay some of the central preoccupations of action research. Despite the differences of the co-presenters in the BERA 04 Symposium, this intrigue in storytelling telling stories, transitional stories in terms of professional/institutional, existential/spiritual and ‘racial’ boundaries seems to be a central unifying theme for these living educational theorists as action researchers. These stories of transitions – from teacher, to action researcher, to academic (p. 273)’ seem to embody engagement with significant boundaries. This is echoed by Roberts (1998) who points to the personal myth of story which are in some defining, recurrent or a selective story of our lives.
In her research project into leadership with four Native communities internationally, Napier’s team found that what these groups held in common was their appreciation of leadership as a relational quality, not as a psycho-social characteristic of an individual leader. How can this knowledge best be explored and explained in ways that can be validated in the Academy while at the same time satisfying a relational aesthetic?
One approach that has emerged in the face of this question is storytelling as a research process, as a valid approach to framing knowledge claims, and what is important for me as a living educational theorist, and a potential for directing and changing our lives (Payne, 2000).
Stories are widely used in identity and feminist studies, some with the quality of testimonio after the ground-breaking ‘testimonio’ of Rigoberta Menchu Tum (19??).
Ifekwunigwe (1999) draws the stories of bi-racial and ‘mixed race’ people in Bristol as part of her PhD thesis.
Patai (1988) tells ‘her story’ as a researcher about collecting life stories in Brazil. Her work is fascinating as she brings the critical practices of literary theory and criticism to what she terms a ‘verbal art’.
Kleinman (1997) draws out the relationship between the personal and the public in sociological texts. She explores the tensions she felt in translating her really good questions crafted in her sociological imagination into analysis. Kleinman explains that she had to learn and fully recognise the value of turning ‘private troubles’ into ‘public issues’. This is an important quality of story in educational research. Often our private troubles can be recognized through being shared to be part of wider public issues. In the context of education these can be public issues of social justice generally defined, or issues with public policy implications. Publicly scratching the private itch can be exquisitely embarrassing, while attracting the empathy and understanding of others: not to mention the release when everybody feels safer to scratch some private itching.
Jago (1996) takes Bruner’s notion that a life is constructed by the act of autobiography, a way of construing experience, and we are the storytellers who create our lives in their narration. I can particularly relate to the itch that Jago is scratching here. I recall my father’s stories of South Africa fondly, with excitement and anticipation as if I was constructing the jigsaw of my own life from his word-fall. I met my family, especially my grandmother through my Fathers stories. In this sense they were quite literally blessed. Yet my father’s stories were also horror stories. They were replete with his racialised language, metaphor and imagery. They were stories of an apartheid South Africa in which Coloured people like my family were the apparitions of the whiteness they needed for legitimacy, for jobs, even in the case of my Uncle Ernest, for a kidney transplant. Living in 1960’s south-east Essex these stories were exotic but they were also stories carrying their unfair share of terror. These were my father’s colonial stories, and they were stories of colonialism. His private troubles made public, his personal stories shared as the referents for my construction of history. I also like to think of my father’s stories as a gift through the generations, a link in the chain of voices from which I am able to construct, and now fluidly form and reform my mixed race identity, from which I tell my own postcolonial stories. I am in accord with Jago’s insight that:
‘Storytelling is fundamental to human experience. Through narration, we make meaning out of experience and live within the stories we create."
Brinton Lykes (1999) drawing on the collaborative enquiry she conducted Maya Ixil women in Guatamala, shows in compelling ways how women caught up in the most atrocious physical, emotional and cultural assault have experienced rethreading their lives through telling their stories.
While Kimmel (1997) takes the importance of conceiving people as storytellers in shifting from a narrowly conceived "logos" (reason) to a fully imagined "mythos" (story), endorsing Nietzsche’s view that myth is a cultural imperative of a healthy and creative people. I like the way that Ben Okri seems to take this Nietzschean notion and depart from it playfully as he crafts epithets on the nature of story, showing how story is essential for the healthy flow of meanings, and the flow of healthy meanings too (1996):
"The writing of stories: the hidden frame, the hidden harmony." (p35), and "A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick story-tellers can make their nations sick. And sick nations make for sick story-tellers." (p.18)
In my educative practice the stories I tell and share about my work have the quality of enabling others to help me reframe my stories that I tell about my practice. They have this capacity, I believe, because I recognise that as I tell a story of my practice I access another frame, hidden to me, hidden to other. Not only do stories tend to be layered accounts, they also tend to reveal frames, and frames once they are no longer hidden to us, can be reframed (Tosey, 1993).
In response to the question, ‘How can I improve my practice through encouraging my Level Two organization studies students to more interactively engage with their texts?’ I decided that I would write a weekly story of my engagement with my students. I see my work as contributing to students developing their educational standards of judgement for themselves as they have to produce their own text in the form of a Level 3 dissertation. The class is text-led, with weekly preparation of a chapter or a part of a complex chapter with a view to sharing our understandings of the reading, interactively, and dialogically in the class. Put in more accessible language: I want my students to see themselves as a group who can talk, hold a conversation even, about ideas that have come to mind as they read their texts.
Rather than choosing a critical friend, much beloved in action research, I circulated my story within the BSc course teaching team. I prefaced my first story with a get-out clause: "read as much or as little of the story as takes your fancy, and feedback in any way that seems appropriate for you." By sharing my story I felt that I was writing while my memory was warm, and immediate. My belief is that self-reflection to be critical requires the freshness of the nuanced insight, the difficult experience, the joyful moment. I also felt that I was doing what comes naturally to me: writing as inquiry (Richardson, 1992). Because I am an extravert in the Jungian sense I prefer the external world of ideas, people and possibilities much more exciting than the inner world of ruminative contemplation. So this was my way of keeping an extraverted journal, one that I was filing in the external world, while maintaining an archive of responses that I could read over, I would be developing my introversion too.
Reflecting on the value of this approach, and its success I found that a small group of two or three dedicated respondents sustained feedback over a period of twenty weeks. Through a process of storytelling my colleagues found themselves examining their own practice, sharing concerns with me they may not have otherwise considered sharing, providing me with challenging feedback that made me look at the story I framed, in the light of the one I may have told but didn’t, and talking with me about how I was feeling about certain incidents, and how would I represent these incidents back to the students, and under what circumstances, and with what outcome in mind. These were all interesting and enjoyable questions. They reduced my sense of being alone in my class (we don’t ‘yet’ have an established system of peer review in our College). Stories have an important place in the self-study of teaching (Carter, 1993). Carter analyses story as a mode of knowing and this enables her, she claims to connect story with, and the political context of story. I like her idea of assessing the consequences of introducing story into our conceptual and analytical corridors. I believe that my appreciation has moved on from Carters interesting work in that my own storytelling within my writing as inquiry helped me to recognise the value in writing storied accounts of my own life and practice in the creation of my postcolonial living educational theory. After all nobody else could tell this story with the warrant of authenticity that I can produce, and of course nobody else could re-tell the story in so many colourful and varied ways either. This is the tension that is at the heart of the logos/mythos debate.
Stories have a magical quality of power.
Think back to the first inspirational and memorable stories you were told, that you heard on the radio or TV, or read in books. But I have a particular educational and epistemological reason for posing this question. First, I imagine the graphic imagery as I think of the recovery of Frank's 'wounded storyteller' recovering from the 'narrative wreckage' (Frank, 1995) of their own lives, and as I imagine it to be, the wreckage of their own indigenous cultures by a beastly colonial power. Stories have redemptive power too. Here I am imagining the contribution of 'narrative therapy' as a way of encouraging a client to tell 'positive versions' of their life story to reveal the sometimes obscured positive stories of one's life (Payne, 2000). I think it’s worth citing Payne at some length here,
"Since scientific descriptions have traditionally enjoyed a higher truth status in Western culture, postmodern expositions tend to give more attention to the previously undervalued narrative mode...But in a post-modern perspective it is assumed that...it is our immediate, day-to-day, concrete, personal apprehension of our lives - expressed through the 'stories' we tell ourselves and others about our lives - that is primarily knowable. The stories are also influential. In a postmodern perspective, thee stories or narratives form the matrix of concepts and beliefs by which we understand our lives and the world in which our lives take place; and there is a continuing interaction between the stories we tell ourselves about our lives, the way we live our lives, and the further stories we then tell." (page 20)
What is remarkable is that our stories are quite literally embodied as well as being a part of our consciousness of self, and of course our performativity of self (Butler, 1992). The stories we tell of our lives are the stories we tell about this body and from these bodies that you and I inhabit. No wonder then, for me, that the stories we tell are inextricably related to the health of the bodies that we inhabit in the present, existentially and physically, as we relate from our minds back into an embodied past. In my case into the past where the dialectics of black, brown and white, master and slave, oppressed and oppressor are write large in the story boards of my memory. I believe the influence between story and body can be multivalent and multidirectional.
I like the way I am showing you how I pedagogise my epistemological practice by making the kind of linkage that my students would suggest makes me (in-)famous in my community. Payne makes an important point about scientific descriptions enjoying a higher truth status, and I am impressed by the way that Stone-Mediatore (2003) suggests from the very different perspective of feminist political theory that,
'Many third world women, in particular, have found received theoretical discourses inadequate and have turned to experience-oriented writing to communicate their struggles against an array of patriarchal and neo-colonialist institutions. When scholars focus on criticizing ''experience', we alienate our work from these practical struggles. We may address others' stories as sites for our deconstructive analysis, but we forfeit learning from them and building theories responsive to them" (p. 1)
I have experienced my 'I' as living contradiction when I have related to colleague's stories as merely sites for 'deconstructive analysis' and have neglected in those moments to learn from their stories and to craft and create theories respectfully, collaboratively, and responsively with theirs. There is a chance that this may happen to my stories. This is the kind of risk that I think Richard Winter would see as worth taking because it is characteristic of effective educational action research.
Stories also perform another purpose. They help us to retain a hermeneutic awareness of self and other from the grounds of our lived experience, which can be shared in dialogue. This enables us to produce theory from within the world of our lived experience rather than contributing to what Dewey referred to as 'Spectator theory', the kind of theory that is abstracted from lived experience, from 'being-in-the-world'.
If this isn't sufficient incentive for re-evaluating our personal relationship to story (something I've had to do by necessity as part of my doctorial research enquiry and writing) then I would cite Arendt's firm belief that making our stories public has a political consequence. Arendt (1952/1979) is concerned that critical thinking about our political environment, about matters to do with social justice, is addressed within a collective practice. One such collective practice is a storytelling community. This is why I believe that this Symposium collective is an important collaboration. First it explores Jack Whitehead’s observation that in action research more and more people are collaborating to create knowledge, and to explore their knowledge claims within communities of practice. This has tremendous potential for influencing the social formation of the traditional discourse on validation. Secondly it brings people together dialogically. Thirdly, as in my interpretation of our ‘co-presenter experience, collaboration in areas of contested languages , contested terrains, and simply new excursions into interdisciplinary ‘border-crossing’ reveals an array of challenges for the collaborators that can be epistemological, and ontological. How we see the world and believe it to be constructed is set in the stark relief of different ontology divergently seeking to be heard in a space called ‘together’. Each personality handles this differently, and seems to rationalize the process to self and other quite differently too. By pursuing our stories with others we can challenge, augment and complicate our beliefs and this is the social and political advantage of dialogue in a storytelling community. Though I imagine there has to be an agreement to listen to one another's stories. I relate to the insight that Stone-Mediatore has when she suggests that Arendt determines that distance from public affairs is not an epistemic and political virtue but a liability, for when a theorist tries to escape his social location by rising above public affairs, he avoids the public exposure and the community testing that are necessary in order to keep knowledge publicly accountable (2003: 61).
As I trace my own educational enquiry I can recognise the moment when intuitive awareness of the importance of storytelling as a form of theory that can be tested in a community merged with a more general issue that any theory, whether propositional, spectator or living theory must acknowledge the legitimate concern of Western epistemology to hold knowledge claims to critical standards (2003: 17)
Arendt's perseverance with story is crucial to my own educational enquiry. She believed that storytelling encourages each reader (listener) to engage critically and creatively with history, to sustain a quality of civic culture or public inquiry that is crucial to participatory politics, and her work points to stories as political narration. I cleave to all of these facets of story as they speak to me as an activist educator, and scholar-educator. Postcolonialism is, I believe, a form of participatory possibility sustained by the widest range of stories that speak from and to the postcolonial aftermath. Keeping in mind that one purpose of my paper is to encourage people whose identity’s are part of an ethnic majority in Whiteness to see ‘postcolonialism’ as their possibility too. The colonial aftermath affects us all. As we are all implicated we can all become postcolonial activists. I am not engaging in realpolitik here: the most common reaction to postcolonialism is that it produces insurrectionary and counter-narrative texts and actions. However, not all stories of colonialism are subversive, not all colonial texts are repressive as Gandhi argues in her book. After all, as Mills (1998) points out rather elegantly, ‘Whiteness is not really a colour at all, but a set of power relations’.
Precisely because as San Juan (1998) confirms the field is growing, sprawling and has no central tendency. There really is no narrative essentialism or ‘one story’ regarding the development of postcolonialism as a sprawling field. In fact it is this very diffuse nature of postcolonial thought and action that appeals to my nomadic epistemology (2001, personal email to Jack Whitehead).
San Juan’s text redoubles my awareness that Postcolonial theory works from its strengths when it keeps a steady focus, simultaneously, on the realities of inequity, and on the lives, choices and actions of those who bring their lives, their writing and their educative practice to fighting it. Unlike Leela Gandhi whose approach to postcolonial theorising is eminently ameliorative I haven’t reached a similar place in my consciousness of forbearance as my rage seems to burn as brightly as my hope, still. Though my moral teleology suggests that a disposition of educational activism as fighting has to be tempered and mediated by the kind of loving care in extended family that holds many migrant families, and colonial diaspora, together, enabling us and our descendants to live productively as we use our agency to presence more choices in our lives. As bell hooks puts this, oppression is an absence of choices. In my life as agency I try to sustain a presence of choices for those I love, my students and myself. I have been notoriously weak in extending this facultad of my humanity - in Gloria Anzaldua’s meanings – to my colleagues and co-researchers.
When I look at my 120 supervisions of the dissertations of white, black, and brown students two different and remarkable images come to mind: first is the cover of Suki Ali’s book and her glorious title, ‘Mixed-Race, Post-Race’. The second is the sense of river and river bank confluence as I have brought my ‘Mixed-Race, Post-Race’ Being into a river~river bank relationship in learning with students that has been confluential. By confluential I am placing the relational within the meaning of influential to suggest a process that quickens, deepens and is facilitative of the activism at the heart of Jack Whitehead’s educational project, ‘How can I improve my practice?’ Confluential relationship represents the symbiosis suggested by river~river bank confluence, and the kind of confluence where two rivers meet but the identity of the ‘river’ is not lost to us. This idea is left field at this stage and has quite literally emerged in my writing. I will shelve it for my doctoral thesis.
Practicing and theorising a postcolonial living educational theory is to be actively exploring participatory potentials and possibilities in increasingly mangerialist British HEI's. Because the activity within British HEI’s is indirectly influenced by the ‘habitus’ (Bourdieu 1999??) is situated within an increasingly xenophobic Europe, in a tensely Islamophobic Britain, the university becomes a site where colonial and postcolonial practices co-exist in a variety of tensions, some open to dialogical engagement, some mutually incommensurate. I hope that by merging my analysis of postcolonial texts within the weave of the tapestry of my appreciation of story you can see how an activist practice is important for pedagogising postcolonial living practice, and how story can provide a graphic, polyphonic living quality to the overall account of my pedagogisation. The pedagogic steps that I have come to recognise in my own experience (and I am not suggesting any generalisability here) I have come to understand more intimately as a consequence, I believe, of my own educative story, and they are roughly(-expressed) as follows -
1. A growing awareness of my own postcolonial axiology, and ontology shared as a form of public accountability in storied autobiographical accounts that reveal my embodied values as standards of judgement clarified through the practice of my values over time
2. the discovery of epistemologies of colonialism/postcolonialism and immersion in their scholarship
3. the critical self-reflection that enables these epistemologies to be applied in appropriately sensitive ways to my own educative practice in supervision through asking questions of the kind, How can I improve what I am doing as a Postcolonial educator?
4. a willingness to acknowledge the importance of experiencing my 'I' as living contradiction and finding the reason and meaning in addressing my contradiction in my embodied values and my choosing to let active consideration of others shape (my) life more powerfully than self concern
5. the imagination and originality of mind to hold a personal construct of theory and practice in the face of other's disbelief, my own self-doubt, and my relative tardiness in coming to recognise the obvious - that I am a postcolonial scholar-educator whose living and ontological standards of practice and judgement to which I hold myself accountable are to speak and write my heart out with love.
I would now like to consider some stories.
In 2003 I authored a new Level 3 module for the BSc Business Management in the School of Business (of my College), 'Critical Issues in Organization' in order to be able to legitimate postcolonial theorizing within my curriculum: Postcolonial Theory and Organizational Studies. In conceiving of this module, in seeing it as a political action and opportunity, as bringing myself and my organizational knowledge as a resource to the validation procedure through Academic Standards Committee (ASC), and in the act of personally lobbying the support of the School representative on ASC, I engaged in a conscious pedagogy of activism or praxis. The kind of pedagogisation I have in mind follows Bernstein's pedagogic formulary, but differently in that my activism is what I understand by the term 'critical pedagogy'. I am enjoying my creative responsibility as a 'radicalteacher'. Doing this I draw creatively (and willfully) on my theoretical understanding of critical management studies, critical pedagogy, postcolonial theorizing, critical race theory and critical white studies (Delgado and Stefancic, 2000), Whitehead’s living educational theory and organizational politics (Morgan, 1987) in order to give meaning to my performative pedagogy by supporting 'critical spaces' in undergraduate and postgraduate business/management studies programmes, and MBA programmes that are becoming increasingly technical, economistic, prescriptive and managerialist.
In 2003 I applied for a non-academic post within my College as Diversity officer (race, ethnicity, religion and beliefs). In this action I chose to externalize my embodied values of concern for my educational community by taking on a specific set of responsibilities for diversity in my community. Drawing on my interests as an action researcher to pursue social justice I am now focusing my attention on how to influence the social formation of the senior management of my college to understand the importance of race, ethnic and belief diversity in a pluralist educational community. I am a person who is 'Mixed Race' Muslim Briton and I imagine that I hold complex and multiple commitments to social and political pluralism, as you do in your practice, and by asking a question of the kind, 'How can I improve what I am doing about diversity in my College? I can explore ways of bringing theory and practice together in my praxis as scholar-educator. By bringing critical self-reflective processes with others (Marshall, 2001) to my action I begin to see more clearly in order to better understand how I am pedagogising my postcolonial living educational theory.
Between 1999 and 2002 I encountered the kind of racism in educational research that Scheurich and Young refer to above. I encountered it as I enacted my postcolonial educational research in the a) Bath Educational Action Research community, and b) in the s-step community of AERA (USA). I encountered racism in the responses of some of my peers and colleagues working in and associated with both educational communities. I was deeply impressed by my encounter with racism in the Bath group where I least expected to experience it. This encounter so deeply impressed me that it has been a facet of my energy for my doctoral research and my lack of energy too. The educational research ‘racism’ I have in mind took a variety of forms,
· I was repeatedly told by my PhD supervisor that I was 'stuck' in my race-based explanations [I genuinely believe my supervisor was correct in his judgement about my ‘stuckness’ and it shows his excellence as a supervisor to have stayed with this judgement. However, when discussing the very delicate and contentious matter of ‘naming’ my ‘racial’ identity with me, where ontological and epistemological meanings are tightly interwoven, a sensitivity to ‘racism’ in the form of an imagined Eurocentrism and potential for ‘white supremacy’ could have been shown in a tentative consideration of why my ‘stuckness’ might be happening. By including the dialectic of my own discovery of race-based theories, and the resistance I was encountering with colleagues as a product of their own ignorance and racism I feel that his response to my ‘stuckness’ would not have been so open to the criticism of being raced. I acknowledge that I was angry, passionate and sometimes intolerant and dismissive of colleagues who did not seem to share my ‘fertile obsession’ with ‘spectator theories’ of race. So I wrote inflammatory and at times obnoxious emails in order to ‘force the issue’ of seeing things my way, or perhaps, to ensure that I was being seen. My tendency to write emails that carried severance, paradoxically as I wanted to be seen, was replete for a period of about two years in my educational research journey. Of course it is easy to have such perfect sight after the event isn’t it? Though I have learned from this experience in ways that are helping me to improve the sensitivity of my practice in the supervision of student’s ‘stuckness’ in particular paradigms, beliefs or epistemologies]
· I was told earnestly in an email by a white male colleague that I hated my white heritage
· I was told sarcastically in an email by a white female colleague 'I hope you are now happy in your Mixed Race!'
· I was told that I had deeply offended and impugned a white female colleague's anti-racist view of her identity as an educator simply by including her in the e-circulation of an extract from the Kill Whitey chapter of Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men
· I was told by a white male colleague in the face of my alternative 'race-based' epistemologies that he was colorblind and did not see ‘race’ (a privilege of all white people of course who don't have to see ‘race’ in a whiteness-centered society, implying I had a ‘problem’ with ‘race’.
· I was told by a white male School of Business colleague that students didn't seem to be as keen to work with me since I had become interested in all that 'sociological African stuff'
· I was told by a white female New Zealand colleague that New Zealand did not have an oppressive social history with Maori and that she could not really grasp the significance of my race-based research enquiry. I refer you to the Statement of the Indigenous Peoples conference regarding ‘holocaust’, Wellington, 2000, retrieved August 2004 from http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/tstat.htm
These separate and yet connected comments impressed me deeply and longitudinally (I am still writing about them now some two to three years later) and over time have conspired to irritate me most creatively in that way Helene Cixous refers to irritation:
"This is also part of my work: to be irritated, as the skin is irritated, by the stubborn, outdated side of a number of idiomatic locutions which are not questioned and which impose their law on us."
There are many forms of racism: overt racism, covert racism, institutional racism, societal racism, civilizational racism. However, my interest is in the racism that exists in the realm of research, inquiry, and educational practice. Scheurich and Young argue that the current range of epistemologies 'arise out of the social history and culture of the dominant race...logically reflect[ing] and reinforc[ing] that social history and racial group (while excluding the epistemologies of others races and cultures)."
As a non-western scholar-educator working in the west with multiple locations and identifications I can relate from the grounds of my personal experience to what Scheurich and Young are identifying when they suggest that scholars of ethnic and cultural backgrounds outside of the dominant culture,
"…must learn and become accomplished in epistemologies that arise from out of a social history that has been profoundly hostile to their race and that ignores or excludes alternative race-based epistemologies".
As a member of the colonial diaspora now living at the metropolitan centre and a descendant of those who 'once were slaves /once were masters' (Murray 2004, writing for PhD thesis) the British social history that has been profoundly hostile to my Griqua ethnicity and culture (and Afrikaner come to that) has been British and European colonialism in which racism and white supremacy was nurtured and legitimized. An alternative Griqua or African race-based epistemology would have been unimaginable given Hegel's Enlightenment lectures on 'philosophical geography' in which he asserted that African (and Indian and Native American) people lacked a consciousness equivalent to that of white European people and thus could be enslaved for 'their' own good (Eze, 1997).
Bringing alternative race-based epistemologies to the Bath Educational Action Research group I encountered multiple forms of resistance. In part I inflamed that resistance owing to my angry and passionate delivery of my discovery; and partly owing to the values of those colleagues who demonstrated their resistance to my race-based epistemologies. And I am unwilling to write more about my interpretations of their resistance here as some of those concerned would be denied a right of reply, while I have the privilege of a platform from which to relay my experience. This would be, for me, both unfair and unethical.
It is sufficient to concentrate on my account of my experience. As a living educational theorist writing up a Self-Study epistemology of the growth of my educative practice as a postcolonial scholar-educator I experienced a double-whammy rejection. First the 'out there' or 'spectator theories' (as Dewey would refer to them) of postcolonialism and critical race studies were being rejected; and secondly, my struggle to articulate and share my own nascent living epistemology with colleagues, however ham fistedly, was being rejected. I experienced my 'I' as a living contradiction 'twice over' when I reflected on my appallingly angry and severing responses to this encounter as I violated my embodied values of care, and tolerance and compassion. And then again when I experienced my embodied values being violated by the sheer callousness (and sometimes ignorance) of my colleague's responses.
However, it is through this encounter with racism in educational research and among educational researchers that I clearly understand how and why I have been pedagogising my postcolonial living educational theory in a political and educational contribution to a meaningful life.
I would like to take you into a moving educational story that I first drafted in February 1999. I re-drafted it because my doctoral supervisor and other respondents suggested I might need to modify my stream of consciousness to make my ideas more accessible for an audience. My supervisor suggested:
"The beauty of your writing leaves you ‘dissatisfied’ and Patti Lather refers to this as ‘ironic validity’…this is your creation quite literally and the audience you have in mind may need a different aesthetic from the one you have created for yourself. To engage them you will have to reconstruct your text…’(notes from a supervision meeting, March 1999)
This is a revised version of the original story. I would like you to access the meanings of the student through her own words. In Bernstein’s terms, my student’s words represent a legitimate text. They are sublimely nourishing. They are about that tentative and delicate state of early relationship in learning: facing the dilemma ‘to reveal myself or not’ to the other. This story is constructed from a chance meeting with a student who wasn’t attending any of my modules. It also feels like a fractal of something much bigger; humanity’s journey to step beyond its own boundaries of particularity, a necessary condition for walking in the gardens of our human universality.
I have chosen to provide my students words directly from her emails to me. I will construct my story from the text of her emails as if she is talking with me now. In italics and within parentheses I respond from my inner dialogue in a way that points to how my student’s voice resonates within me and how there is a shadow dialogue between us, after the meeting. I refer to these as oases, spaces for pause and reflection.
I’m introducing you to Ludy Massamba from Angola. Ludy is from a professional Angolan family. She has lived in the UK since her early teens. Ludy lives consciously in the presence of civil war, strife and inequality. Ludy was my student but not at the time of this conversation. Ludy isn’t the object of my research, nor yet an exotic black object of my desire. Nor is she being re-presented as the ‘noble savage’ so beloved of the Eurocentrist’s construct of Africa. Ludy is above all else an intelligent, enquiring, artistic, and gifted poet, acutely alive and autonomous. She is not being presented as a ‘special case’ in the showcase of my vanity. Ludy is one of nine students whom I’ve supervised who chose to explore critical race and postcolonial theories to frame their dissertations. Her email account, which I have read and it feels like a story in itself, is a story of her experience of developing a relationship for learning with me: a postcolonial relationship. Ludy loves to write poetry. However, she is very careful about who she shares her writing with. I did not realize until after some time working with Ludy that poetry was a hallowed, almost guarded preserve for her. I was being honoured by being invited to read Ludy’s poetry.
In a limited and conditional sense her ‘email story’ is typical as it reminds me of how often it has been in the past this way, as I ‘gaze’ upon the exciting prospect of embarking on a new learning journey with a student. I see us standing together on a bluff, overlooking the plains, knowing that she will be heading out for those distant peaks in the mountain range of learning relationships with no idea of which peak she’ll end up at, just knowing that Ludy will get to the peak she needs to reach, and that my task is to speak reassuringly and encouragingly from ‘just near by’ as used by Trinh Min-Ha. I have no idea of what she will encounter within the journey as she roams the seemingly verdant and predictable plains below. However, Ludy is unique because she has chosen to represent her experience of this moment in a written way: articulating a proud student voice that is heralding loud and clear the beginning of her educational relationship, with me. I’ve never been in this space before: so challenging, so refreshing, so energizing.
[Oasis – Ludy is my student and already I feel that she is my ‘teacher’. This is the equalizing moment of recognition as I privately, and later publicly, ‘greet’ a partner in learning, within that paradigmatic sense which Self-Study as a teacher in higher education implies for me. This is the mutual beginning, the beginning which is mutual. I want to see if I can weave Ludy’s voice with mine in ways that are dignified and retain our mutual integrity’s. I want to be respectful for both our voices, while showing how both our voices are stronger than ‘one’ voice for telling a ‘story of colourful education’ that is both reasoned and rational, with an aesthetic of passion and verve for authenticity. Overly ambitious as ever! I will call this "Telling a Story about a Story: Peeking into a Colourful Educational Life through the Story-Telling of an Educator of Colour" and dedicate it to an African discourse, an African conversation, and an African Philosophy: here’s to Ubuntu]
 Ludy- "Dear Mr. Murray. Thank you for your email. When Nceku introduced me to you I was so happy because you could understand what I was saying, and there was a freedom of speech between us."
[Oasis one - That is moving, touching, beautiful. Why does this reach in to me so powerfully? What did I do that made Ludy feel this way? I know what freedom of speech is, in terms of a propsoitional logic, but what is it I tacitly know and practice in my relationships without being fully aware of? I have a very warm and unconditional part of my being and I’m pleased that Ludy has sensed it, that I have signaled it to her. I am glad there is the beginning of hope in trust, and trust in hope. I want students to feel that they have embraced a part of who I am, and what I stand, for and care about. This was a mutual encounter. I’m curious about what Ellsworth (1997) refers to as the power in a mode of address that enables me as a middle-aged educator situated in my mixed-race maleness to touch and encounter a black woman as we prepare to work educationally, for what is good. I am thinking of race, gender aspects of the masculine, anima and animus. I am feeling anticipatory, hopeful, delighted, and ready for a learning journey]
 Ludy – "Well, I always say that everything has got a meaning. The day that I went to your office with Farai, I was in your computer room when he came and said that he was going to see you. I thought – I want to talk to him also, but what’s the point if I’ve only met him once before and he probably doesn’t remember me’. Anyway after a few seconds I changed my mind and went with Farai to your office. I was still uncertain, I wanted to talk to you about my poems, my writing, but at the same time I didn’t know how to start"
[Oasis two – As I read this I had a stunning flashback to those teachers at school who didn’t remember me. Ludy has cast a magical story in these words. About trust, about beginnings, about being welcomes and about being ‘seen’. Ludy’s words are triggering for me so many ideas about remembering and remembrance a acts of respect and dignity of the other, and the apprehension in taking the risk to show ourselves to each other for fear of rejection I suppose. Yes, I feel humble in the presence of the gentle enormity of Ludy’s voice as an authorial expression of so much that she is feeling and thinking. I can see that Ludy’s voice is key to questions of the kind, ‘How can I improve my Practice?’ and ‘How can I improve the ways I support Ludy’s sacred and unique knowledge and gift of poetry?’ and ‘How can I contribute to my postcolonial living educational theory as nurture Ludy’s belief in her living educational theory as a creative, artistic learner?’ I’ve two mental story-boards being drawn as I recall Jack’s encouragement of me to bring my students voices into my educational research. One is ‘Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’ and the other is ‘Bring me the Voices of Paulus’s students’ and the director is Jack ’Peckinpah’ Whitehead. Ludy is bringing her voice unequivocally and in a most precious prose. I am struck by the compelling importance of Ludy’s power of story-telling as well as the power of address in choosing to ‘tell me this story’. Sharing her vice at a time that I am working closely with three African students seems relevant too.]
 Ludy – "As we walked into to your office, you said ‘hello’ to me and you still remembered my name, where I was from and I said to myself, WOW he still remembers me, should I take the opportunity to talk to him about my writing, but as I looked at the whiteboard in your office, I saw that everybody that wanted to talk to you had to make an appointment, so I gave up the idea of talking to you, not because of having to make an appointment, but because you were a very busy man, and I didn’t want to my poems to rob your time."
[Oasis three – As I read this I felt ‘Liberate your voice Ludy, speak up, speak out and liberate us too’. What is the weight of my time when placed in the scales with the weight of Ludy’s poems? How can I explain this to Ludy? How can I value her poetry without making it seem gratuitous? In Ludy’s words there is a respect of the other, as well as the idea of power and authority vested in my Being. Whiteboard: the white board of my Eurocentricty as I put names and times on my ‘oh so white, white board.’ Western, Eurocentric rationality and pragmatism: no better remedy for the romantic, the mythological, the sensual, the emergent, the spontaneous. Is my whiteboard a wall I build, to keep me in, and students out? I’ve lived for thirty years with Asma and until today characterises the idea of ‘being English’ as having a need for appointments. This isn’t an African or Arab way of constructing the concept of space and time and Being. So don’t feel sacred or offended my white friends as I play with words, and thoughts and make meanings that have meaning for me, today]
 Ludy – "After 20/30 minutes, you were looking into Judith Newman’s writing to share with Farai, and you gave him some papers, but you also gave me some papers and there were poems written by teachers doing action research. I didn’t know if you wanted me to pass them to Farai or to read them. At first I thought Nceku had told you about my poems and that’s why you were giving me poems to read. But when Nceku joined us in your office and he talked about my poems that’s when I realized that he hadn’t said anything to you, and you were really surprised when you I heard I wrote poems, and you asked me to bring my poems to you to read. I was really, really happy because I knew you were giving some of your time to read my poems, and I just want to say a BIG thank you. Here is one of my poems. What do you think? "
[Oasis four – I read this and felt the mystery of life flowing through me. What happens day to day can be mystical and mysterious. In those moments I trust myself to go with the spontaneity of relating with others I feel myself grow. I feel the rehydrating prune becoming a plum. I feel affirmed in my life as an educator. When Nceku arrived and were together I felt that we had embraced a postcolonial educational space together. Suddenly I noticed how Ludy’s story had pointed to one of the ways I articulate and communicate my educational standards of judgement to my students and how, once articulated, I don’t always ‘return to them’ and ground them between myself and my student as a basis for our collaborative work. I don’t negotiate them sufficiently, I let them hang, tacitly between us. I was surprised that Ludy write poetry and yet also pleased. How would I work with Ludy’s poetic creativity, and how would she constrain her creativity, and yet satisfy it in the production of an undergraduate business studies dissertation? Ludy’s email had evoked a lot of questions, musings and quite critical self-reflection. I felt joy in Ludy’s email. I felt its relational quality touch my Being]
This is Ludy’s poem:
Don’t say you love me
Because you must know the meaning of love
Before saying it
Don’t let I love you sound like the English
‘Good Morning, How are you?’
Don’t say you care for me
Because one must care for herself
Before caring for someone else,
So don’t say you care for me
When you don’t care for yourself
Don’t say you will do anything for me
When you cannot do a thing for yourself
Don’t say you will never lie to me
Because you are doing it
Ludy Massamba, 1998, ‘Don’t Say’
Oasis Seven - My ethical disposition
"Later I will say what I understand by ethics or morality - words I will use more of less interchangeably - but the core of this great feature of our existence, as I see it, is choosing to let active consideration of others shape life more powerfully than self concern. Turning such a quest into reality is what I mean by an ethical renaissance...What then would be new about it? (ethical renaissance) The answer is this. We need a morality that is suited by the way it works to our democratic, gender-sensitive, pluralist, freedom-loving, scientific and technological age, in which each person has equal legal and ethical status. The old moralities worked in a strongly top-down way, generally in the form of commands requiring obedience, most of them spoken by men...we need democratic ethics where moral power, like political power, rests with us as equal citizens in a moral republic, not a moral monarchy. This is turn means that the ethical renaissance must call for and welcome the participation of all of us. Together, as equals, we must accept moral responsibility for ourselves and our world." - The Quest for Inclusive Well-Being: Groundwork for an Ethical Renaissance, Inaugural Lecture, delivered 12 May 1999, by Michael Prozesky, 1999, Unilever Chair of Ethics, University of Natal, which can be retrieved from
And I draw a link between Michael Prozesky's project and Alan Rayners Epistemology of Inclusivity where Alan suggests that,
"Love and Respect Other as the Distinct, but nor Discrete, Outer Aspect of Your Complex Self"
In practical terms I am bringing into my awareness of social justice the perennial struggle against political and cultural hegemony, and also the kind of educational commitments that will be required to translate Michael Prozesky's hope into the landscape of my practice.
By asking a question of the kind, how can I improve my educative practice as a choice to let active consideration of others shape (my) life more powerfully than self concern?
This is a compelling enough question to sustain my commitment to pedagogising my postcolonial living educational practice.
I hope by telling this story I influence you to think creatively and caringly, critically and lovingly about your own ethical commitments within a globalised political context.
Epilogue ~ A nomadic oasis
I bring meaning to my career as a scholar-educator and as a mixed origin person who has grasped and negotiated the personal and societal understanding of my multiracial identity so that in my account of my Postcolonial Living Educational theory I thread the liberating post-structuralist options of storytelling, autobiography, and writing across borders as I show how a multiracial identity is performed as an postcolonial educative practice.
This is a unique insight for other educators to glimpse, especially those who work/want to work in multiracial and ‘post-racial’ ways. By producing a disciplined account of my performative multiracial identity I am contributing to a Living Theory account of my practice as a scholar-educator. But in accounting for my journey I am indicating how I pedagogise my experience so that my pedagogic consciousness is more alert, aware a as a faculty of how I am working in postcolonial ways as follows:
And in doing this I keep in mind a question of the kind, how can I improve my practice?
Taking the point made by Reason and Rowan (1981) to be opposed to something means that you are still connected to it, paradoxically. My life isn't lived in pyrrhic opposition to colonialism: my life is lived in the emergent excitement of what it is to become Postcolonial and Post-Race. But to understand the life I want to lead as a transformation (not transcendence) of the subject position faced by those with the absence of choices indicative of colonialism, I refer to the colonial project as an appropriate historical referent. Not to do this would leave me open to the reasonable
critique of being a-historical by failing to situate my Postcolonial Living Theory account.
Though it feels strange writing this as it was Kurt Lewin (1946), considered by many to be the progenitor of action research, who suggested action research for exploring minority problems. How educational action research seems to have drifted from the axiology of that beginning.
At a BERA Practitioner-Research day organized at the University of Bath (15th June 2004) Professor Jean McNiff proclaimed that Postcolonial Theory was important for the kind of practitioner research that is being represented in Living Educational Theory accounts. This was a moment of profound symbolic importance. My educative practice, my educational research, and my epistemology had been indirectly legitimized in the Bath community (and beyond) by a luminary of international action research. The door has been kicked ajar. The social formation of the Bath Educational Action Research group is being influenced towards change and transformation in respect of Postcolonial living educational theory. I consider my educative challenge as inviting and encouraging my fellow educators to frame their work with reference to a Living Educational form of Postcolonial Theory.
This is the narrative hopefulness I would like to share through my ‘storytelling’ at this BERA Symposium.
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Appendix One – PhD Thesis Outline
I have appended my thesis outline for those who might want to plot the connectivities’ between the development of my living educational theory in this paper, and my thesis outline. I am currently writing my thesis.
Thesis Title: Speaking In a Chain of Voices ~ how do I create my postcolonial living educational theory through a self-study of my practice as a scholar-educator?
Nomads Don’t Have Maps: An Oasis Narrative
Part One – A Dialectics of My Existence
In part one I frame my thesis for my reader. I frame it through reference to key oases found in my travelling caravan of enquiry. In this section I explore the vitality of Postcolonialism in bringing meaning to my life as an educator. Through a deconstructionist approach to postcolonialism as concepts and theorising I show how postcolonialism is given a "living form" through the recognition of the "everyday ordinariness of my life" (1997) as my educative practice, as my professional working knowledge, as the personal theory of my educational life as scholar and teacher. This is a key aspect of my originality of mind. In this section I tease out the interlaced filigree of postcolonialism within my autobiography as a Mixed-Race Briton of European/Griqua inheritance, and show how my gradual understanding of my Mixed Race is pivotal for my embrace of Gabriel Marcel’s notion that a meaningful existence is a process of being ‘mutually available for what the future might hold’, and this is what I mean by a Chain of Voices that permeate, drift through, flow between and around the sections of my thesis.
Oasis 1 - Autobiography: The thought…the glimmer…the recognition…That’s me!
-stories of childhood and youth
brown inheritance, white insistence
-the stories of both my colonial fathers
learning of injustice as lived experience in narrative form
-stories of adulthood
Working in Oman/being Arab, being British, becoming me Meeting my South African family – immersion in my Mixed Race heritage (Uncle Ernest, Nazima, Ma’s stories) Finding the loving warmth for ontological security in my own family
Oasis 2 – Autoethnography and Postcolonialism
- postcolonial theories that have influenced my own thinking, and those of others
- critical race studies: an appreciation of the field in terms of how I am beginning to understand myself as a person who is ‘raced’ by theory as well as the language of others: critical race ontology, epistemology and axiology (the work of Jim Sheurich)
- ‘Mixed Race’ Studies: a new field, an old feeling: pointing to the importance of ontology for Self Study
- Absence of Choice in Self-Study at present: not a complaint, rather a wonderful opportunity for the future
Oasis 3 – The Liberatory Potential of Postcolonialism
How theory migrates into my educative relationships as a) scholarship praxis and b) as ‘radicalteacher’ - Or the silken purse of my originality of mind in the ‘living truth’ of my practice woven from the creative dialectic of the sow’s ear of propositional and ‘spectator’ theory (Working with John Dewey’s ideas)
Postcolonial supervision in colonial spaces as storytelling: telling the stories of:
Caravanserai - 1
Reflections on Walking Between Oases – summarising why an autobiographic and autoethnographic reflective account is a valid basis for Self-Study of (my) Teaching practice:
- tracing rootprints, showing their indelible tread, placing faith in the sole/soul of my embodied values
- considering the evidence so far
Part Two: Methodology as Nomadic Dialectic
How I make sense of my enquiry as a Self-Study account of my educative practice as a teacher that is a contribution to a new scholarship (Ken Zeichner) of educational enquiry that opens conventional ‘spectator theories’ of Postcolonialism to ‘living forms’ of performative postcolonialism from the grounds of ‘lived experience’ that adds texture to Living Educational Theory (Whitehead, 1989, 1993; and Murray and Whitehead, 2000). The originality of mind I demonstrate in this section is in illustrating the importance of a ‘nomadic’ (performative) methodology for a form of theory creation that claims to be living.
Part two is focused on the theme of the quality of educational and artistic responsibility it has taken for me to indicate, to clarify, to explore my educational standards of judgement that have emerged over a five year period of ‘methodological inventiveness’ that is living, emergent, improvised, performative and thus, nomadic. This section points to my originality of mind as methodological artistry. As I go beyond the notion of methodological inventiveness I suggest that methodology is nomadic, that it is improvisatory and that the metaphor of ‘methodological re-inventiveness’ is more apt when likened to Butler’s use of the term performativity i.e. fluid, ongoing, emergent, improvised, situated (1992). In part two, I also show how my own nomadic experience has influenced how I supervise students differently and the consequences and implications and benefits of exploring this for a new scholarship of educational enquiry. There are five sub-sections to part two, or as I prefer to imagine them, oases that provide shade and refreshment for me, and for the weary, wary and suspecting traveller too. Bring yourself to these oases as written pauses in the shade. They are not intended to mark a final arrival, nor yet ‘stations’ in the journey. They are simply oases, places that exist for the respite of nomads. They may mark moments of reflective pause and awareness in the nomadic journey up to this point, and allow thoughts about what is beyond these oases.
Oasis 4 – 1997-2002: Five years of Living, Emergent, Improvised, Metaphorical, Longitudinal and Nomadic Methodology – Is this the shape of methodology for the new scholarship?
- CARPP Diploma Phase – Lost and Found Narrative 1996/1997
- Storytelling, Writing My Heart Out, Pain, Confusion – Finding my Meanings, Discovering Ben Okri, Edward Said, and my PhD Supervisor Jack Whitehead, Losing my Bearings
- Proposal for MPhil/PhD School of Education – Where am I going? – I can go anyplace.
Oasis 5 – American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Montreal, April 1999
- Who are these guys in S-STEP?
- Wow! These are my kind of guys in Indigenous Knowledge! : Professor Napier of the Hopi Nation delivers a paper on Leadership and Indigenous Knowledge: a personal turning point in my understanding
- Insights from my conference journal
Supporting Nceku’s thesis in Ubuntu and ‘Why is it that Western organizational and management theories don’t speak to me as an Ndebele, African scholar?’
Oasis 6 – My writing as a form of public and peformative Journal 1999-2004
- E-writing experiences – reflection in (the heat of) action
- Wandering papers: Boy in the Paining, Appropriate Intimacy, and several pieces that represent my nomadicism
Caravanserai 2- Methodological questions, reflecting on my methodology 2003/04
- Story, stories, narrative, private to public (Arendt’s project in Stone Mediatore)
- Autobiography and autoethnography
- Self-Study in educational action research
- How my own methodological nomadicism has impacted and influenced my own supervision over this five year period
- Carrie and Anne-Lise’s stories of methodological liberation – How I influence the way my students approach methodology
Part Three: Dialectics of Originality and Critical Judgement
In part three, I show the dialectical nature of my originality of mind and critical judgement. I show that this is not a cognitive or linear process. It is a creative, artistic, and novel act. My originality of mind and critical judgement are interwoven and are not a Cartesian split or duality: my critical judgement is a distinct, but not discrete aspect of my originality of mind, the latter being an accomplishment of some mystery with the other. I explore how I understand my originality of mind as a nomadic and wandering process of coming to consciousness in an existential sense (value, worth, purpose, meaning, and a productive life), creating a discipline through writing and reflection, and yet despite all of the cognitive rumination this process is ineffable, beyond words to describe, in the land of mystery, and is best summarised in Patti Lather’s terms as ‘ironic validity’. However, it is in recognising the ironic validity of my originality and critical judgment – that I can never explain in words that which I seek to grasp and account for, and I am speaking of simulacrum - that I am confident in pointing to my practice as a scholar-educator (with others) as the kind of synthesis that holds these elements in the form of an embodied performativity. Thus there is nothing at all essentialist or transcendental in my claim: my notion of synthesis is emergent, complex, and self-organizing. The act of creativity as an originality of mind is in seeing this and working with the opportunities that flow from this postmodern way of understanding self, and other.
In terms of critical judgement I begin with Whitehead’s (1993) notion of ‘extending my cognitive range’ as key to showing how I am developing my critical judgement as an awareness of fields of literature, as well as showing how I am developing my critical judgement of discernment between arguments and theories as a growing confidence and competence in treating the ideas of others as a contested terrain. I also point to my educational standards of judgement of critical compassion.
In my reflections (caravanserai 3) I draw on my work with students to show how my practice is improvisatory.
Oasis 7 – How do I understand my originality of mind? How does this inform my Living Educational Theory account?
- An autobiography of learning/An educative meta-fiction: key moments on a learning journey -1) Rage and hope (why I am influenced by critical pedagogy); 2) Keeping the Audience Reader in Mind/refining my perspective (growing my sensitivity to the differences in writing for me, for us, and or them); 3) Stuckness and Seeing (how I got stuck in spectator theory and lost sight of you and me); 4) difference and orthodoxy as a teacher – living educative freedom with students /forcing my ideas down my colleagues’ throats!
- bell hooks refers to oppression as the ‘absence of choice’. I show how my educative practice is stretching into my responsibility and creative joy of ‘presencing choices’ in my life. This is a key aspect of my originality
- originality of my practice, originality expressed through my practice with others, originality as I hold my practice open to public scrutiny in a question of the kind, ‘How can I improve my practice?’
- the enquiring supervisor: Steve, Andrew, and Michelle
- MSc in Management Studies by action research (conceiving of it, shaping it as curriculum, sustaining it, growing it)
Oasis 8: How does my critical judgement inform my Living Educational Theory that is Postcolonial?
- Critical pedagogy and educative practice as activism
- Hiding critical theory in the Trojan horse of ‘Management Studies’
- Towards a Critical Management Studies
- Recognising the political in the educational and the educational in the political
How my supervision of my students shows me to be improvisatory (Winter) in my practice.
Part Four – Dialectics of Severance and Inclusion
In this part of my thesis I explore my dialectics of severance and inclusion through an existentialist framework from philosophy, psychology and existential practice (i.e. psychotherapy) without the focus becoming ‘psychological’ as such. I explore two aspects of my severing behaviour as most noticeable and recurrent in my scholarly practice i.e. i) stuckness and ii) criticism within critique. I critically relate my severing behaviour to Rayners epistemology of inclusivity and Whitehead’s notion of the living contradiction. My purpose in this part of my thesis is not to produce a confessional narrative, nor yet a victory narrative from which I emerge as ‘cured’. Severance and inclusivity are aspects of my living educational theory that are particularly powerful tensions for me as a scholar-educator. However, I demonstrate originality of mind as I show how I reframe my practice as a scholar-educator who can remain mune and available to the openness in the other to learning, and in bringing myself as an educational resource, I am able to reframe my valuing of scholarship from ‘argument, disputation, and competition’, to dialogue, opportunity and collaboration in ideas. The leitmotif for this section is tentative, not given over to terminal solutions, or suggesting that I am cured from becoming ‘stuck’ or that I may not become embroiled within these tensions and the paradox of this dialectic in the future. Rather I show how this severance has been enervating, and tiring and emotionally fraught. Yet this is an aspect of my practice and I associate it with my scholarship. This part of my thesis is key to exploring my practice in three ways – a) how my I’ as living contradiction is present in my practice and generates in me a desire to remove the source of contradictory tension, b) to show how this is how I can be as a scholar, with others, and the implications for building networks of productive relationships, and c) it is a source of energy that I would lie to explore through Finnegan’s originality in suggesting that love can become a standard of judgement that guides us to act wisely and rightly. This part of my thesis is presented as a series of interconnected stories that produce a narrative of severance and inclusion.
Oasis 9 – Severance Stories
- Bath Action Research Group
- My College and the so-called ‘Colonial Society’
- Conceptual account of the severing potential inherent in a paradigm of critical scholarship
Oasis 10 – Stories of Inclusivity
- The loving warmth of family
- The living love of extended family cultures (photographs and stories)
- Held in the Love of my Father’s Private Colonial Stories
- Love in a Chain of Voices
- The Synthesising Art of the Scholar-Educator: knowing the critical limits of love
- The Telling Story: What does this mean for my Postcolonial Living Educational theory
Part Five – Holding the Dialectical Filigree in the Palm of my Outstretched Practice as a Scholar Educator
paulus j m murray/25th August 2004/emergent draft