Delinking From the Global University
Ivan Illich, Amawtay Wasi, and "La Escuelita Zapatista"
William H. Wannamaker Professor of Literature
Cultural Anthropology and Romance Studies, Duke University
I will tell a story in two parts that provides the ground to explore a couple of questions. 1) What education is needed, by whom, what for? 2) Given the situation the world is in, what are our ethical and political responsibilities (beyond of course institutional demands of "excellence" and "efficiency"), as faculty, involved in teaching and research?
I will quickly trace an outline of two histories of the Western University. 1) European universities since the Middle Age and the Renaissance, through the Enlightenment and to the US Corporate model. 2) Universities in the colonies and ex-colonies of Europe (e.g., New World Universities during the colonial and the national periods, as well as in the rest of the world in the 20th century) and, today, importation/exportation of the US corporate university model (e.g., Duke in Kunshan, China; Northwestern in Doha, Qatar, or Harvard Kennedy School in Singapore).
That outline will allow me to elaborate on the meaning of today’s responses to the coloniality of knowledge (in general terms, including art, religions, the disciplines) created and maintained by Western universities from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment to the Global/Corporate University. I will take three examples to make my point: the early work of Ivan Illich; the experience of Amawtay Wasi in Ecuador, now suspended by Rafael Correa; the recent initiative of "La Escuelita Zapatista." All are local histories responding to and delinking from global designs in higher education.