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Critical Theory in a Decolonial Age

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/06/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Educational Philosophy and Theory
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date8/06/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This article considers the critical theory of the Frankfurt School in the context of decolonisation and asks whether it can have continuing relevance given its foundations in white, western traditions which bear the hallmarks of colonialism. Despite critical theory, particularly in its early radical figurations, situating itself as an alternative to traditional western philosophy it undoubtedly shares some of the myopic and Eurocentric traits of this tradition. Mindful of not wishing to perpetuate colonial impulses to appropriate Indigenous philosophies, this article harnesses the twin ideas of a decolonial conversation and interacting in a third space, both of which foreground historical power imbalances and injustices. Only on that basis can a genuine engagement occur between western and Indigenous thought. My aim, as a western scholar, is to explore the relevance of critical theory in this decolonial age. By highlighting intersections, while acknowledging crucial differences, between critical theory and Indigenous philosophies I seek to show that critical theory can play a crucial role in how western scholars respond to and embrace the necessary and compelling movement of decolonialisation, but only first by acknowledging their own shortcomings, particularly in relation to race, racism and colonialism.