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Cultural Theory Made Critical: Towards a Theory of the Indigenous Intellectual

Despite the fact that Western critical theory has provided us with theories of the power relations that operate within our lives, I argue that the indigenous element is nonetheless understated within these theories. To this end, my thesis is precisely that we must make the "cultural" critical. I argue that various theories of cognitive and moral submissiveness must be supplemented with a theory of submissiveness at the indigenous level in order for issues of latent power to be addressed. This thesis is therefore about developing a theory that for tangata whenua seeks to overcome one of the most debilitating effects of colonial domination - a loss of critical consciousness. I advocate the need for a new type of intellectual - the indigenous intellectual. I present my thesis in two parts. Part One examines Western critical theory to understand the processes that contribute to colonial domination. Here, I identify relations and processes of power that have contributed to a continuing assault on tangata whenua cultural continuity and well-being. Of particular significance are Foucault's study of governmentalisation and normalisation and Gramsci's notion of hegemony and the traditional and organic intellectuals. Part Two records not only how this understanding is put into action by way of the introduction of a "critical theory" component in programmes at Te Whare Wananga 0 Awanuiarangi over a number of years, but also offers a critical cultural theory in the form of the indigenous intellectual. While it acknowledges the extreme value of Western critical theory in allowing tangata whenua to understand the relations of power and the effects of colonial domination, the programme also identifies the many voids and spaces within Western critical theory that leave unanswered the oppressiveness and hegemony of cultural and ideological colonisation. I conclude my thesis by arguing that, whilst many in leadership positions claim allegiance to Gramsci' s concept of the organic intellectual, their ideological stance is anything but organic. By examining why they do not represent indigenous interests "organically", I argue that a new concept is needed to expose the sham of much of our contemporary "inorganic" politics: that our cultural needs are better served by a concept of the "indigenous" intellectual.
Type of thesis
Hireme, H. T. R. (2002). Cultural Theory Made Critical: Towards a Theory of the Indigenous Intellectual (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10261
University of Waikato
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