Missing non-Western voices on social justice for education : a postcolonial perspective on traditions of marginalized communities

Samier, Eugenie A.; Papa, Rosemary, ed. (2020) Missing non-Western voices on social justice for education : a postcolonial perspective on traditions of marginalized communities. In: Handbook on Promoting Social Justice in Education. Springer Publications, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 105-126. ISBN 9783030146252 (https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74078-2_45-1)

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This chapter reviews the theories and development of a number of non-Western philosophical and legal social justice traditions that have been marginalized in the literature, adopting primarily a postcolonial perspective on how they can contribute to education, transcending colonizer distortions of knowledge to present and draw implications from bodies of knowledge that have been removed from the dominating international literature. This approach is accompanied by a critique of globalization that has, according to many authors, created a hegemonic position for primarily Anglo-American systems in this respect including the view of “epistemicide,” imperialism, “symbolic violence,” and neocolonization, particularly in relation to the right to culture as a social justice principle. Various forms of colonization, including that under the current globalization period, produce cultural hierarchies of values and knowledge, or even expunge cultural and knowledge traditions. This chapter examines selected humanistic traditions of social justice that have existed for centuries, long pre-dating the modern period, focusing on those that have suffered an injustice in their suppression and distortion through a Bourdieuian “symbolic” violence applying not only to the knowledge that is suppressed, expunged, or lost through colonization and globalization and the cultural and intellectual capital they carry but also the identities, values, and traditional social institutions from which they are derived. The first section examines the conceptions and practices of social justice established in ancient Mesopotamia that provides the historical foundation to many later systems. The second presents the Confucian system of social justice as a foundation to the just society that has informed administration, education, and the principles of justice of a number of countries consisting of equitable distribution, equal opportunities, the rights of individuals and the principle of equity. The next section examines the Islamic social justice tradition consisting of distributive, retributive, and fairness and equity and the aim of piety to correct injustices, individually and collectively and establish equal rights for women and men in many spheres and the role of education in emphasizing the role of mind in its critical and reasoning capacities and reason in the formation of character, morality, and the human community with a strong emphasis on education and becoming learned. Finally, a representative selection of indigenous systems of social justice are examined where principles of individual rights and obligations to others and nature carried with them obligations in how others are treated and cared for due to stronger collective rather than individualistic values.