Using Chinese, Middle Eastern and First Nations Australian philosophies about time and history to generate socially just doctoral education in contemporary times

Year: 2019

Author: Manathunga, Catherine, Singh, Michael, Qi, Jing, Bunda, Tracey

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Contested notions about time and history continue to circulate in transcultural and First Nations doctoral education without being addressed. This lack of awareness of the impact of history on transcultural and First Nations doctoral candidates diminishes opportunities to create socially just doctoral education and genuine access, engagement and equity in doctoral education for migrant, refugee, international and First Nations peoples. The absence of historical understandings of knowledge exchange has the effect of privileging Northern knowledge (Connell, 2007) and diminishes understandings the complex operations of power evident in doctoral education. Even though there has been a growing body of doctoral transcultural and First Nations knowledge production (eg. Devos and Somerville, 2012; Grant and McKinley, 2011, Qi, 2015; Bunda, 2014), much of this work remains on the margins of disciplines. This translates not only into the marginal positioning allocated to transcultural and First Nations knowledge systems but also into demoralisation in doctoral education (Manathunga, 2014; Soong et al., 2015). Some theorists have been seeking to create opportunities for doctoral candidates to [re]construct knowledge relevant to the cultural histories of First Nations and transcultural communities by drawing upon the French philosopher Rancière’s ideas about the ignorant schoolmaster (Singh, 2009; Engels-Schwarzpaul, 2015a) and the role of dissensus (Engels-Schwarzpaul, 2015b; Rizvi, 2011; Chen, 2015). However, these approaches draw principally on Western philosophies. This paper investigates Chinese, Middle Eastern and Aboriginal First Nations’ philosophies about time and history to reframe transcultural doctoral education. We explore recent debates about Chinese historical thinking and understandings of time (Wang, 2007; Huang, 2007); Ibn Khaldun’s Islamic or Arabic (Khaldun, translated 1969) philosophy of history and Australian First Nations philosophies about time as the ‘every when’ (Moreton, 2006) to provide transcultural theoretical resources that have the potential to help contemporary First Nations and transcultural doctoral candidates recognise ways that they can act as historical agents of intercultural knowledge exchange and transform transnational doctoral education. Drawing on macro historical approaches (Harding, 2011; Belting, 2011), we argue that contemporary transcultural doctoral candidates can act as intellectual agents of transcultural interaction, learning from history to use their languages and cultural knowledges to influence elements of the educational culture in Western/Northern Anglophone universities. History provides relevant evidence for doctoral research candidates to position themselves as agents of transcultural interaction, capable of mobilising educational materials and understandings of time from their own intellectual cultures to transformation of the culture of transnational education.