In the wake of the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol attack, an op-ed in the online publication Inside Higher Education questioned the mission of education for its focus on teaching only Western perspectives—perspectives that normalize racial hierarchies, legitimize epistemological racism, and reproduce white supremacy. The postulation of the education system as a motor of white supremacy is not a new suggestion. Black, Indigenous, and Chicana scholars have long articulated the need to diversify and therefore democratize Western epistemology by deconstructing decolonial knowledge. Positioning Chicana Feminist Epistemologies (CFE) as an alternative epistemic will disrupt the philosophical assumptions of colonial epistemology supporting white supremacy by decolonizing the structure of what knowledge is and how it is created in higher education, especially within research and pedagogy approaches. However, CFE work has faced strong resistance within the intersections of public intellectuals, the Western canon of thought, and the intellectual spaces of academia. Nevertheless, Latinx students’ enrollment has increased in postsecondary education for the past decade, emanating a growth in research studies utilizing CFE. A CFE framework urges scholars, educators, and students to move away from colonial research designs rooted in hegemonic procedures to build new inclusive, equitable, liberatory, communal higher education processes that benefit not only Brown and Black students, staff, and faculty communities but also the white population who are dismantling white supremacy. Validating CFE in research, instructional, and pedagogical practices as well as in policy and procedures within education may encourage other scholars to diversify the Western canon of thought and decolonize intellectual spaces in higher education for a more equitable and social just education.
Christina Torres García
The unfolding of the term Indigenous is clustered within rich, powerful, diverse, decolonial, and hegemonic worldviews. Inhabiting more than 90 countries, the approximately 370 million Indigenous people on Planet Earth are wisdom carriers of traditional ancestral knowledge entwined with eco-spirituality. Powerful extractive institutional structures have ensured that Indigenous peoples have harvested historical legacies of domination, disruption, and disrespect. Indigenous women tend to live in the shadows, encountering invisibility, lack of voice, and stark inequality. International instruments such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as a range of voluntary, private, and government-funded organizations and Indigenous communities, serve as catalysts to augmenting impactful liaisons and interventions in and through evocative educational pedagogy and practice. Gender and Indigenous diversity in education and practice distills narratives of voice and praxis to provoke, nudge, and prompt collective change.
Carrie Karsgaard and Lynette Shultz
In 2019, youth throughout the world held global student strikes for climate, also known as Fridays for Future, during which they articulated their collective concern and frustration at political inaction on climate change, demanding climate justice. During the same period, through concrete activities on specific lands, drawing attention to the colonial nature of climate change, Indigenous land-based and climate movements have resisted extraction and development projects that fuel climate change. Youth responses to the increasing intensification and unevenness of climate heating present a crucial moment for rethinking education. To adequately respond to the global youth climate strikes and Indigenous movements, climate change education is recognizing the need to engage issues of justice, including for children and youth in different positions globally. Education research has long recognized the need to layer climate science education with learning about the intersecting sociocultural, political, and economic components of climate issues, along with the need to support youth as they face uncertain futures. At the same time, much historic climate change education was critiqued for its instrumentalism because it endorsed predetermined outcomes, limiting critical thought and stripping youth of their agency. By contrast, the recent youth climate strikes have spurred increased legitimation of youth voice and agency in climate issues, in addition to increasing attention to the marginalized and excluded. With the citizenship participation of youth thus legitimized, new efforts in climate change education more deeply address climate justice through a critical focus on the culpability of the Global North, supporting pedagogical interventions that support more critical learning. At the same time, many scholars question the extent to which climate change education fully addresses the deep colonial–capitalist roots of the climate crisis, particularly because education relies on these same colonial–capitalist foundations. Furthermore, despite increased interest in climate change education, many youth remain marginal to the conversation because research is still largely situated in the Global North, to the exclusion of many young people’s realities and reflecting the ongoing coloniality of knowledge production within education. Considering these issues, decolonial climate change education offers more direct confrontation with the failures of Western modes of thought and engages with alternative knowledges. In doing so, it opens space for climate change education grounded in relationality and kinship founded in Indigenous relational ontologies, whereby humans are not the center of climate learning and decision-making but are inherent within webs of relations among all things.
The increase of transgender visibility and politics correlates with a renowned interest in gender equity in schools. The diversity of trans* and gender-expansive social identities, along with divergent conceptualizations of the meaning transing/trans*ing, ontology, identity, and embodiment, produces a wide range of ideal and pragmatic approaches to gender equity and justice in education. Fields and analytical frameworks that emerge from Decolonial Feminism, Queer Indigenous Studies, Queer of Color Critique in education, Jotería studies, and transgender studies in the United States have unique definitions, political commitments, and epistemological articulations to the meaning and purpose of transing/trans*ing. These divergent articulations of trans*ing often make projects of transgender equity and justice incommensurable to each other, or they converge at the various scalar aspects of equity design and implementation. By historicizing, or re-membering the rich body of decolonial modes of trans*ing bodies, knowledge, and selves, trans* of color critique in education research makes trans* justice possible by disrupting white-centric approaches to transgender inclusion that may fall short in the conceptualization of trans* justice and what makes a trans* livable life for queer and trans people of color.
Anticolonialism is a revolutionary philosophy, a philosophy of revolution. Simply put, it is the struggle for freedom from slavery, settler colonialism, and imperialism. It is the theory and practice of the decolonization of nation-states, as well as of the decolonization of practices of knowledge production, consumption, dissemination, and the entire enterprise of education. It also works to decolonize minds, bodies, and imaginations. Anticolonialism challenges dominant practices of knowledge (and ignorance) production to highlight the intersection of gender, race, and class in what is known and not known about the past as it plays out in the present in education and beyond. Anticolonial scholarship and activism focus on intersectional accounts of history to investigate class- and gender-based forms of violence in some of the most celebrated nonviolent movements. Highlighting the psychic dimensions of domination and resistance is central to the anticolonial project, which elaborates on the boomerang effects of domination and the perils of privilege. This insight is central to imagining a sustainable world of social solidarity and reciprocity. The success of an anticolonial approach to education lies in creating capacities to critically reflect on colonial discourses, institutional structures, educational policy, practice, and pedagogical strategies. The anticolonial project brings to light the psychic life of domination and resistance, which colludes with flaws in the criminal justice system that work to funnel too many children of color out of school and into juvenile and justice systems. Anticolonial educational strategies begin with an intersectional approach to disrupting the school to prison pipeline—a devastating neocolonial formation. Twenty-first-century anticolonial educators and activists learn from the work of student activists in the Mississippi civil rights movement and their creation of Freedom Schools. The radical conceptions of pedagogy, citizenship, and power developed in Freedom Schools have important implications for thinking about the role of education in building a multiracial/multisexual anticolonial democracy in the 21st century.