, Volume 77, Issue 6, pp 829–836 | Cite as

Place-based learning and knowing: critical pedagogies grounded in Indigeneity

  • Jay T. Johnson


For Indigenous peoples, knowledge and science are written onto the landscapes our languages “talk into being” through the “individual and collective consciousness of our communities (Cajete 2000, 284).” Our landscapes are the storied histories, cosmogonies, philosophies and sciences of those Indigenous knowledges which are increasingly being pushed aside by the ‘gray uniformity’ of globalization and its progenitor, European colonization. It is within storied places that we can still glimpse alternatives to this gray uniformity of globalization which brings with it a rhetoric of capitalism, modernism, abstract space and Western science. It is this rhetoric produced through globalization which erases the storied landscapes, destroying the libraries embedded within Indigenous toponyms, creating a terra nullius: an empty land awaiting a colonial/neo-colonial history and economy. As Paulo Freire has challenged us to see, critical consciousness requires us to “read our world,” decoding the images of our own concrete, situated experiences with the world (Freire and Macedo 1987, 35). A critical pedagogy of place recognizes the concrete experiences of communities grounded in shared histories, stories and challenges based within a politics of place. A critical pedagogy of place seeks to decolonize and reinhabit the storied landscape through ‘reading’ the ways in which Indigenous peoples’ places and environment have been injured and exploited. This paper seeks to discuss how through reading the places in the world as ‘political texts,’ one may engage in reflection and praxis in order to understand, and where necessary, to change the world.


Place Placelessness Indigenous knowledges Critical pedagogy Indigeneity 



I would like to thank the organizing committee, the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan, and the various Indigenous Nations who welcomed us to Taiwan for the joint conference between the Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledges and Rights Commission and Islands Commission of the International Geographical Union.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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