Sunday, January 20, 2008

Eurocentrism, the University, and multiplicity of knowledge production sites

I am part of a international discussion list called "Edu-factory" which hosts discussions on the transformations currently ongoing in the university (corporatization etc) and on possibilities and avenues for creating non-hierarchical, autonomous universities. I had posted two scheduled contributions to that list. This is the first one, posted in April 2007. I am only positng a small excerpt below. For the entire post, click on the "more" link below. The second post, written in Jan 2008, is here.

The central theme on this discussion list is "Conflicts in the Production of Knowledge." There are of course many important conflicts to understand and many different ways to understand these conflicts. The one between market-oriented and non-market-oriented teaching and learning (or alternatively between liberal versus vocational/professional education) is one that has been alluded to many times. Similarly the conflicts over greater democratization of the learning process, over open access to research and so on are also important.

In my post I would like to take a somewhat different approach. The big questions that I am interested in are:
1. Can the
European University (what I mean by this will become clear presently) show us a way forward out of the global socio-ecological crisis of late capitalism?

2. Further, in the context of post-colonial societies such as India, how can the modern university escape or transcend its Eurocentric origins and bounds and become more immediately relevant to society at large?

Needless to say, these are topics for entire research programs and here I can offer no more than discussion points (indeed I am not qualified to do much more). Instead of attempting to answer these directly I will raise related issues:
1. What are some of the contradictions/conflicts in the "
European University" stand in the way of it being a force for radical change?
2. In the post-colonial context, how can we think of the University in relation to the other sites where knowledge is produced in society?


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