The Un-named ‘Native Informant’: A Subjective Academic Narrative

Josie Arnold


In this paper I address educational matters that challenge academic and scholarly ‘givens’ so as to enrich knowledge. This acts in two ways to alert educators to the Eurowestern enculturization of knowledge and to propose some useful insights. Firstly, I make a personal scholarly narrative about the situation of the un-named native informant in postcolonial times. I call this a ‘subjective academic narrative’ to highlight that cultural stories are all subjective and personal narratives even when (maybe especially when) they claim to be scholarship that arises from disinterested data collection. Through the stories that are told we come to a view of the native informant that needs reconsideration. Secondly, this paper looks at such stories, at postcolonialism and at decolonization of knowledge, asking us to look anew at what we think of as black and white. Throughout I interpolate quotes from relevant narratives that admit their fictional genre. This paper considers how it is very startling to question the givens of Eurowestern knowledge structures when we see anew the foundations upon which they lie. In surveying this, I suggest that it is not sufficient merely to identify the colonised mind in the workings of the academy: it is also necessary to do something about introducing change. There is no way to recover an unchanged idealised past once colonisation has occurred. Today postcolonialism issues a challenge to the once geographically and now electronically colonised as well as the colonisers. It is to see how they can transform themselves into a culture that can reinstitute elements of the past in a culture that has been both traumatised and enriched by colonisation. This is a massive challenge as cybercolonisation occurs with its inevitable globalisation of cultures into EuroAmerican ways of being, thinking and knowing.

Keywords: Education; Postcolonialism; Decolonization of knowledge; Indigenous resistance; Scholarly narrative

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