Paulo Freire and the Politics of Postcolonialism

  • Henry A. Giroux
Part of the Explorations of Educational Purpose book series (EXEP, volume 8)

The work of Paulo Freire continues to exercise a strong influence on a variety of liberal and radical educators. In some quarters his name has become synonymous with the very concept and practice of critical pedagogy. Increasingly, Freire's work has become the standard reference for engaging in what is often referred to as teaching for critical thinking, dialogical pedagogy, or critical literacy. As Freire's work has passed from the origins of its production in Brazil, through Latin America and Africa to the hybrid borderlands of North America, it has been frequently appropriated by academics, adult educators, and others who inhabit the ideology of the West in ways that often reduce it to a pedagogical technique or method. Of course, the requisite descriptions generally invoke terms like “politically charged,” “problem-posing,” or the mandatory “education for critical consciousness” and often contradict the use of Freire's work as a revolutionary pedagogical practice.1But in such a context, these are terms that speak less to a political project constructed amidst concrete struggles than they do to the insipid and dreary demands for pedagogical recipes dressed up in the jargon of abstracted progressive labels. What has been increasingly lost in the North American and Western appropriation of Freire's work is the profound and radical nature of its theory and practice as an anticolonial and postcolonial discourse. More specifically, Freire's work is often appropriated and taught “without any consideration of imperialism and its cultural representation. This lacuna itself suggests the continuing ideological dissimulation of imperialism today” (Young 1990, p. 158). This suggests that Freire's work has been appropriated in ways that denude it of some of its most important political insights. Similarly, it testifies to how a politics of location works in the interest of privilege and power to cross-cultural, political, and textual borders so as to deny the specificity of the other and to reimpose the discourse and practice of colonial hegemony.


Cultural Worker Political Project Binary Opposition Dialogical Pedagogy Ideological Struggle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

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  • Henry A. Giroux

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