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The difficult task of turning walls into tables.

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Abstract

The historical universalization and naturalization of Western ways of knowing and being, disseminated violently through colonialism is very resistant to change, particularly when it sees itself as ‘open’ to diversity. This creates what can be thought of as an invisible ‘brick wall’ of resistance, which creates great frustration for those hitting their heads against it. In this chapter, we draw on Sara Ahmed’s book On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012) to explore four hidden bricks in this wall and to talk about the difficult process of turning walls into tables where people can name hidden barriers and negotiate equity and equality on more equal grounds (Ahmed 2012). In her book, Ahmed outlines how the will to diversity becomes a wall to diversity: she sets out to explore how universities use the commitment to diversity to reinforce the naturalization of the ‘norm’ and prevent diversity from becoming habitual. We will outline four different ways in which this happens (the four hidden bricks in the wall): how by making diversity/Indigeneity visible, the mainstream is made invisible/normal; how policies about diversity make the brick wall invisible; how benefitting from diversity commitments creates a debt for diverse bodies; and how the strategy of ‘switching’ is both a burden and a possibility for transforming institutional resistance. This chapter will discuss how Ahmed’s walls have the potential to be transformed into tables through Indigenous relational ontologies. These tables can then be used to begin and maintain conversations on how Indigenous knowledge and peoples can be meaningfully incorporated into higher education and how institutions can engage with diversity beyond tokenistic gestures.

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Success for all: Improving Māori and Pasifika learner success in degree-level studies
  • Airini Brown
  • D Curtis
  • E Johnson
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