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CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2009

Reshaping the University

Responsibility, Indigenous Epistemes and the Logic of the Gift

Rauna Kuokkanen. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2007; 248 pp; ISBN: 978-0-7748-1356-3, cloth $85 ca; ISBN: 978-0-7748-1357-0, paper $32.95 ca.
Rauna Kuokkanen argues that attempts by universities to be inclusive are unsuccessful because they do not embrace indigenous worldviews. Programs established to act as bridges between mainstream and indigenous cultures ignore their ontological and epistemic differences and, while offering support and assistance, place the responsibility of adapting wholly on the student. Indigenous students and staff are ex­pected to leave behind their cultural perspectives and epistemes in order to adopt Western values. Reshaping the University advocates a radical shift in the approach to cultural conflicts within the academy and proposes a new logic, grounded in principles central to indigenous philosophies.

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