Intercultural Education with the Indigenous Kaingáng Peoples of Sub-Amazonian Brazil: Creating Vectors of Learning, Understanding, and Empathy in Higher Education and Beyond using Triadic Contact Zones

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Abstract

The creation of learning experiences that connect students in the Global North with Indigenous peoples is loaded with profound pedagogical potential (Restoule and Chaw-win-is 12-15;Zavala). Such learning experiences can vastly broaden university-level education in the Global North, providing students in this region with access to perspectives, cosmologies, and knowledge-ways that significantly problematize and challenge their own. Through the use of online and digital communication tools, it is now possible to overcome what would otherwise be a series of insurmountable geographic, political, and cultural boundaries. In terms of engaging students on issues such as climate change; sustainability; discrimination; and de-colonial thinking, such digital Indigenous contact zones are incredibly powerful. But their successful development and implementation requires understanding the complex ways in which information, perspective, and discussion flows within them.
The transfer of knowledge in such contact zones is neither linear nor, as one might intuit, didactic (Srinivasan et al 737-738). On the contrary, concepts and ideas frequently require translation and transformation by third parties who are familiar with the cultural frameworks of the primary participants (Indigenous Knowledge-Carriers and Global North Students) (Bruchac 3821). As a consequence, such intercultural spaces are triadic spaces, where ideas are deconstructed and rebuilt in real-time to ensure that fundamental comprehension, relatability, and key learning outcomes can be achieved across cultural boundaries. In this paper, the authors will examine the implementation of such a triadic contact zone designed to connect students at a British institute of higher education with Indigenous peoples in the southern of Brazil (Kaingáng). The paper will assess the ways in which information and ideas flowed (and were translated) within these learning experiences, drawing directly upon the experiences of Indigenous participants, students, and cultural mediators in order to identify a model that can be recreated by other educators seeking to integrate similar intercultural experiences into their pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContingencies
Publication statusSubmitted - 2023

Keywords

  • indigenous
  • education
  • south america
  • brazil
  • intercultural
  • collaboration

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