Decolonizing Our Questions/Decolonizing Our Answers

  • Citation: Adely, Fida. “Decolonizing our questions/decolonizing our answers.” Gender and Education 31, no. 4 (2019): 452-457.
    • Topics:
    • Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • Arab women
    • decolonization
    • gender gap
    • education

Perhaps the most pernicious colonial baggage shaping engagements with the Arab world is gender. Knowledge of the region continues to be constructed upon the juxtaposition of the liberated Western female in the civilized world and the forever-oppressed Arab woman in the uncivilized Arab Muslim world (Abu-Lughod 2002). Educational research is no exception; the supposition of exceptional female oppression colors analysis of educational phenomena in the Arab world. More significantly, I argue, it impedes a genuine interrogation of traditional hierarchies of knowledge and fails to take intersectionality seriously. Such epistemological biases work to devalue forms of knowledge that could help upend the hegemony of neoliberalism in constituting what is valuable knowledge (Mazawi 2010; Shanjahan 2011) and severely limit the decolonizing possibilities of feminist scholarship – defined here as scholarship that centers the experience of people and the complexity of their particular experiences, and is attuned to the ways in which power shapes research and writing (Abu-Lughod 1991).

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