chapter  5
15 Pages

Habermas, Eurocentrism and Education: The Indigenous Knowledge Debate


The fi rst part of this chapter will defend Habermas against his alleged “Eurocentrism.” The rest of the chapter will then draw upon a discussion of indigenous knowledge in order to develop a more detailed analysis of the implications of Habermas’ critical theory, partly by drawing upon the complementary example of Paulo Freire. It will be argued that Habermas’ strategy provides powerful resources for a critique of postcolonial and postdevelopment theories, as well as theoretical justifi cations for some of the more successful uses of indigenous knowledge in educational and development projects. The intention here will not be to defend dogmatically all of Habermas’ explicit formulations, primarily because his work has become part of a de facto collaborative project in which numerous sympathetic critics have introduced qualifi cations and revisions to repair specifi c limitations. To illustrate these issues, the latter part of the chapter will consider the topic of indigenous knowledge, contrasting more problematic uses with the perspective of Habermas’ critical theory, especially as complemented by Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy (Morrow and Torres 2002).