DOI: 10.1093/jopedu/qhad079 ISSN: 0309-8249

The Languages we speak and the empires we embrace: addressing decolonization through the gaze of the empire

Paula Alexandra Ambrossi
  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Education


In this paper I make a case for differentiating the process of decolonization in education from the process of dismantling the values of the empire and their continuing, subliminal role in our thought and practice (the gaze of the empire). I argue that ignoring the empire within (particularly the word ‘empire’ itself) is what sustains the colonial gaze and what constitutes decolonization’s greatest obstacle. I employ a poststructuralist framework (Foucault, 1980), which helps me explore notions of power and knowledge through language and the gaze. To illuminate discussions, I make use of some of the historical context necessary to understand the spirit and the tragedy of empire, with its language as principal instrument, as well as some of the literary aspects (Magical Realism and poetry) that have been used to gaze at the colonized and redeem the conqueror.

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