Indigeneity and Global Citizenship Education: A Critical Epistemological Reflection

  • Philip Higgs


The epistemic theory behind indigenous forms of knowledge understands the production of knowledge as being initiated by the local as opposed to the universal. This emphasis, however, on knowledge production as being concerned with local knowledge immediately raises the question of how we should understand the local? What, to put it differently, makes certain knowledge local, as opposed to knowledge which can be considered to be universal? And perhaps of greater import, what is the relationship between local knowledge, and knowledge that is considered to be universal? Can both forms of knowledge be considered to be valid? These questions are of import, not only for determining the significance of indigenous forms of knowledge in knowledge production, but also, need to be considered in framing the epistemological and curriculum concerns of citizenship education. In proceeding I will argue for a (global) citizenship education agenda that is ‘relevant’ and culturally responsible by first presenting two responses that have been given to these questions in the context of epistemological theory. The first is the response that argues for the universal construction of knowledge. The second is the response that argues for the social construction of knowledge in which the universal is understood as a social construction. I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both these positions and argue that in relation to the universal and social construction of knowledge the ‘local’ might well be under threat. Against this background I will then present a third response that legitimates local knowledge, and which is taken from Bruno Latour and his work on the extension of local practices. In conclusion, I will consider the import of Latour’s work for indigenous forms of knowledge in the production of knowledge, and what this means for a ‘relevant’ and responsible a (global) citizenship education agenda.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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