Back to Page Authors: Feisal Kirumira

Keywords: African wisdom, Eurocentric, multiculturalism, resistance education, black bodies, indigeneity

Abstract: The 21st-century post-secondary library is more than just a site where records of long-gone civilizations are kept or an educational resource that primarily foregrounds knowledge retrieval and scholarly research. Besides shaping post-secondary teaching, learning, and ways of knowing, it is also a site that bears witness to the trials and tribulations of international students as they struggle to make meaning of their lives in a landscape that has not completely shaken off the shackles of colonial education. Canadian post-secondary libraries, positioned as the highest wisdom keepers of Eurocentric scholarly knowledge and traditions, play a pivotal role in entrenching a paternalistic Eurocentric worldview towards the internalization of post-secondary education. By upholding the sanctity of textual knowledge over oral stories; archiving and re-distributing colonial education myths on racial hierarchy, and positioning themselves as the singular guardian of scholarly wisdom; post-secondary libraries have evolved into safe houses for dehumanizing knowledge and a powerful medium of colonial education. I argue that any meaningful sustainable university policy or practice of engaging with non-Caucasian international students, providing them with language and/or literacy supports, or even fostering inclusivity must begin with the unlearning of habits, practices, or knowledges that dehumanize international students with reference to race, nationality, culture, language needs, or their schooling background. As sites of encounter between living personal (his)stories and inquisitive audiences, post-secondary libraries offer unique insights into fascinating, and sometimes, traumatizing diverse lifeworlds of everyday people through Human Books, speeches, or even artwork exhibitions. I suggest that the Canadian post-secondary library should realign itself to the lived realities of the 21st-century international student of color who does not necessarily view herself as an intellectual orphan in need of salvation, but rather as a novice pts investor on the quest for own destiny. This paper will include excerpts of narratives by international students (Human Quotes) as well as African proverbs in lieu of Eurocentric scholarly knowledge. I will conclude with suggestions for envisioning libraries as sites for reawakening the humanizing interconnectedness between textuality and orality, literacy and life-as-lived, Canadian-ness and Worldliness, or simply put: between Texts and Bodies.