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Thurs May 6 detailed schedule

May 6, 2021 | Presentation 2

Whiteness, Orientalism, Indiana Jones, and Cinematic Representation of My University's Educational Goals: Indigenizing Knowledge


This presentation is a narration of how I was confronted with the unseen forces of Orientalism and Whiteness in my university. I examine how the management team invoked powerful traces of manufactured racialized images as they drew upon a popular cultural icon to illustrate how technology could be incorporated to transform “boring lectures” into student-centred spaces of dialogue. My story begins with receiving an email from the Leadership Team with a link to a video, which was premiered during the annual meeting of the faculty and well-received. This film is a cinematic representation of the goals of the university symbolized in the form of a cube that is recovered by INDY (aka Indiana Jones). My university emphasizes Indigenization of Knowledge, however, my Leadership Team’s cinematic rendering of INDY, who seems to entangle for the viewer the important pedagogical, educational, regional, economic, national, and global aims of my university, invoke a number of racist and Orientalist images, which non-presently depict Indigeneity in light of the discourse of the “Savage Other” and Arabness in stereotypical ways as non-modern, dangerous/bad, easily manipulated, non-scientific, violent, and indolent. I will discuss why the symbolism of a White man with a whip, who is also an archaeologist and whose travels and adventures revolve around trips to non-European societies with a specific interest in their cultural icons, is a Eurocentric and White-centred. I will explore how the Leadership Team’s artistic representations highlight the extent to which Whiteness functions as an unseen trace in imagining educational goals espoused by dominant “expert systems” in charge of implementing Indigenization and decolonization of knowledge as two of the goals of my university. I will deconstruct how my university’s Leadership Team’s artistic rendition of Indiana Jones, as an adventurer who unlocks the secrets of a cube that symbolizes my university’s educational goals, reproduce Orientalist/racist images of Otherness and the discourse of Whiteness, as an unseen trace in framing its pedagogical goals.



Amir Mirfakhraie, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Amir Mirfakhraie is a Sociology Faculty at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He received his Ph.D. in Educational Studies (Sociology and Anthropology of Education) from the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. His research interests include anti-racism, textbook production, curriculum studies, Iranian school knowledge, Canadian and Iranian ethnic and immigrant studies, and transnationalism.  

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