Decolonising the reason of time

Year: 2021

Author: Kelly, Stephen

Type of paper: Symposium

In colonial settler societies differing concepts and experiences of time become entangled in enactments of curriculum knowledge and the governing of human subjects. The paper examines how an Anglo-Eurocentric historical representation of time is used as a principle of reason to establish the conditions of epistemic progress. As scholars of First Nations and Celtic descent, we are interested in questioning how the ordering of time through curriculum culturally accounts for human agency, a teleological understanding of human development, and representations of the individual as a subject of knowledge. This query involves examining how enlightenment representations of temporality are deployed in curricula to problematise human potential and the subjectification of individuals through the promise of securing human flourishing. We connect this discussion to the way people of the First Nations of Australia report their understandings of time as a principle to order an immanent experience of materiality, recurrence and becoming. Such a dialogue foregrounds how differing cultural conceptions of time establish conditions of possibility for experiencing and understanding the world. We explore these epistemic tensions for the way knowledge is organised in the Australian Curriculum and how time functions as a commodity and ontological condition of learning for governing pedagogical practice and the sovereignty of human subjectivity. The paper methodologically historicises the cultural representation and experience of time. We are interested, here, in how the effects of knowledge transfer are disrupted when translated within an Indigenist pedagogy. In doing so we bring into dialogue Australian First Nations, Platonic and Kantian readings of time. This leads to a discussion of how the biopolitical governing of time and space entangle First Nations onto-epistemology: a practice of being and knowing that decentres human subjectivity within an enactive understanding of time, space and materiality. The possibilities of knowledge transfer are then discussed in relation to the way the Australian Curriculum has been framed according to an Anglo-Eurocentric construction of knowledge. The analysis foregrounds the elision of epistemes and practices of the First Nations by a modernist, Eurocentric developmentalist structuring of disciplinary knowledge and human subjectivity. Our  discussion examines how the possibility of knowledge translation as a decolonial practice has been hegemonically limited through the cutting of time and space within the curriculum, and the temporal organisation of teachers’ and students’ work. We conclude by arguing that  the  reterritorializing of First Nations curriculum materials, needs to reflect the  lived experience of Indigenist onto-epistemic practice.