Overview of the year 2019 and glimpse to the upcoming project activities

During the year 2019, fieldwork and data collection were the main activities of the project. The project team met during three periods of fieldwork in Ecuador. In January, Paola Minoia and Andrés Tapia interviewed and discussed with key actors, including professionals and experts in education, ancestral knowledges, decoloniality and interculturality, as well as with Indigenous leaders and representatives of NGOs, in Quito and Pastaza. In March-June and September-October, Tuija Veintie, Johanna Hohenthal, Andrés Tapia, Katy Machoa, Tito Madrid and students of the UEA visited the IBE upper secondary schools in Pastaza and interviewed directors, teachers, students and parents. Three schools were selected for more comprehensive field study: UEIB “Camilo Huatatoca” in Santa Clara, UEIB “Sarayaku” and UEIB “Kumay”. In these schools, we conducted a higher number of in-depth interviews with teachers and students, questionnaire surveys, classroom observation, as well as participatory mapping and photography with the students.

Upper secondary school students produced over 20 maps and hundreds of photographs illustrating their school journeys and culturally meaningful places in the Indigenous communities. Sometimes the drawing was a bit challenging. For example, during the thunderstorm in Kumay water dripped to the tables from the roof and there was very little light in the classroom even though it was morning (photo on the right). (Photos: Johanna Hohenthal 2019)

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Call for Papers: Education and social justice in the pluriverse

We cordially invite contributions to our panel at  EADI ISS Conference 2020: Solidarity, Peace and Social Justice held in the Hague, Netherlands, 29 June – 2 July 2020.

Panel abstract:

The comprehensive development project manifested in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposes through the SDG4 an overall engagement on “quality education for all”. It endeavors to support social justice by promoting equal access to education for the most deprived groups. However, the SDG4 does not acknowledge the existing epistemic diversity around the world and the need to support alternative ways to learn and produce knowledge. Neither does it contain any reference to the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples of 2007. Thus, Indigenous perspectives, knowledges and alternative forms of education remain marginalized. To promote global social and epistemic justice, education should include equal representation of diverse epistemologies, knowledges and educational practices. Without comprehensive understanding of epistemic pluralism, interculturality and hegemonies of power within the society, well-meaning educational programs may end up reproducing models of neoliberal multiculturalism and ideas of primitive otherness, and fail to promote equal relations among existing cultures. Instead, a radical project on intercultural education should reflect the principles of relationality between lands, beings and knowledges (Walsh 2018) linked to the distinctive territorial and ecological realities and sustaining transformation projects to reverse structural injustices.

This session is organised by members of EADI Working Group on “Post- and Decolonial Perspectives on Development and welcomes papers that discuss pluriversal educational alternatives in diverse contexts. We particularly welcome contributions from young scholars and participants from the Global South and/or with Indigenous background. Abstracts of 500-600 words including key literature, theoretical and methodological approaches and keywords should be submitted by 15 December. Authors of accepted abstracts should send draft papers by March 2020. Full papers are circulated within the presenters and organizers before the conference. After the conference, the organizers invite the authors to submit their revised manuscript for possible publication in an upcoming special issue in an international journal.

Looking forward to receiving your abstracts! Please follow the instructions here.

Organizers: Paola Minoia, Johanna Hohenthal and Tuija Veintie, Development Studies, University of Helsinki

Thinking about development and good living

Text and photograph by Tuija Veintie

Picture of Paola Minoia with Mikko Ylikangas.
Paola Minoia presenting at Development Days 2019. On the left: Mikko Ylikangas, Academy of Finland.

At the end of March our Helsinki based research group members participated in Development Days 2019, the annual conference organized by the Finnish Society for Development Research. This year the conference theme “Repositioning global development: changing actors, geographies and ontologies” invited the conference participants to critically examine and redefine the meanings of development, and discuss alternatives to the dominant discourses on development.

In his keynote lecture Ashish Kothari presented examples of alternatives from around the world, including self-governance initiatives, economic transformations and different educational initiatives that are rooted in local cultures and ecologies. He urged the audience to examine the structural roots of sustainability and inequity, and vision alternative futures from the grassroots up.

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Greetings from the autumn conferences in the North: key messages on diversifying and decolonizing academic research

Text by Johanna Hohenthal

This autumn the project members participated in several conferences and seminars in the Nordic countries that all somehow addressed the themes of decoloniality, interculturality and diversity in academic research. First, on 15-18 August, the 4th Annual Conference of the World-Ecology Research Network (WERN) was held in Helsinki, Finland. The WERN has an important decolonial commitment focusing on the “critique of Nature/Society dualism as a cosmology and world-historical practice of domination”. In this year’s conference, the keynotes, panels and working groups discussed on topical issues related to expropriation, capitalocene, extractivism, and power relations in academic research. The second event was a two-day seminar “Doing diversity/interculturality/decoloniality in development research” organized by the Finnish development research doctoral network (UniPID DocNet) in Tvärminne, Finland, 27-28 September. The presentations and discussions in the seminar largely centered around the questions on how to decolonize and diversify thinking and practices in the academic teaching and research work. In the following week, 5-6 October, the reflection on these themes continued in the first workshop of the research network Decolonial critique, knowledge production and social change in the Nordic countries (DENOR) in Gothenburg, Sweden. As stated by the leader of the network, Adrián Groglopo, in his welcoming words, the decolonial initiative is especially important in the Nordic context, because the Nordic “race” has for long enjoyed its privileged position on the expense of other nations and even been put on the pedestal as a model that the others should follow. Finally, the 10th conference of the Nordic Latin American Research Network (NOLAN) was organized in Oslo, Norway, 25-26 October. The conference addressed important issues related to human and environmental rights and the state of democracy that have implications especially for the lives of indigenous and other minority groups in Latin America. The conference also had a number of interesting working group sessions on indigenous identity, environmental governance and education.

In this writing, I will briefly return to the key messages from the above meetings that are significant also for our project. See also the related forthcoming text written by Paola Minoia in Convivial Thinking. Continue reading “Greetings from the autumn conferences in the North: key messages on diversifying and decolonizing academic research”