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Athabasca University

Keynote Speakers

Diana Brydon: Globalization and Education: Reconceiving the Mission

This paper intervenes in current knowledge politics debates to advocate goal-oriented forms of interdisciplinarity structured around contextualized, collaborative problem-solving within ethically-self-conscious frameworks. Drawing on postcolonial and feminist contributions to rethinking education, I argue that disciplinary practices need to be rethought from decolonizing international and global perspectives if interdisciplinarity is to achieve its promise of renewal and relevance. Two obstacles to productive interdisciplinary practice, methodological nationalism and culturalism, are examined for the blockages in innovative thinking that they produce within and beyond the academy. These constitute some aspects of the "sanctioned ignorance" Gayatri Spivak identifies within current knowledge structures. They need to be dismantled if "cognitive justice" (Santos) is to be achieved and the quests for what is true and what is good are to be put in open dialogue with each other. The paper argues that both institutional and epistemological changes are needed if university knowledge production is to meet the changed needs of today.

Lorraine Code: Ecological Thinking as Interdisciplinary Practice: Situation, Silence, and Scepticism

This paper illustrates that issues of vulnerability, incredulity, ignorance, and trust are operative throughout the discourses of western societies, in ways that complicate "doing epistemic justice." These issues contribute to determining how well people know and respond to diversity and "difference": to judgements about whose knowledge matters or can claim a hearing, whose putative knowledge is thwarted in social structures of incomprehension and intransigence. The "who" in question may be a single would-be knower, or a group however small or large, silenced, marginalised, or enabled in the dominant social-epistemic imaginary; the putative knowledge may be an isolated claim; it may be a complex theoretical apparatus, acknowledged or discredited. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how an ecologically-based theory of knowledge makes possible a productive re-engagement with the oppressions these social-conceptual structures sustain.

Martin Jay: Can There Be National Philosophies in a Transnational World?

Despite the traditional aspiration of philosophy to universal status, it has always been inflected by the language in which it is presented and the culture out of which it emerges. Although the genetic fallacy argues against reducing ideas to nothing but an effect of their origins, it is hard to deny that conditions of genesis and reception help to one degree or another to influence many of those ideas. Focusing on the specific case of French philosophy, this paper explores the apparent performative contradiction that follows from situating transcendental claims in a historically relative context. By looking at the institutional history of French philosophy, it tries to account for its development, while also pointing to the hybridized status of French philosophy, deeply indebted to ideas from abroad. The paper seeks to avoid the alternative of universality versus particularity in addressing the question of national inflections of philosophical thought.

Douglas Kellner: An Interdisciplinary Interrogation of the Role Media Spectacle Plays in US Politics

To critically interrogate the role of media spectacle in contemporary US media and politics requires an interdisciplinary approach. Using the example of the 2008 US presidential election, I will begin by discussing the role of the political economy of the media and how competition for audiences lends itself to a tabloidization of politics and presenting election contests as spectacle. I then indicate how US politics has been marked by an implosion of politics and entertainment and how the spectacle form has come to dominate US politics. Using cultural studies, I will discuss several key forms of the spectacle and will then enquire into why media spectacle is so popular with both the media and audiences in the contemporary era.

Updated July 10 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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