Review: No Study Without Struggle: Confronting Settler Colonialism in Higher Education

No Study Without Struggle: Confronting Settler Colonialism in Higher Education No Study Without Struggle: Confronting Settler Colonialism in Higher Education by Leigh Patel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's a compelling critique about higher education as a place that extends the settler-colonial mentality and practices of ownership, particularly the concept of creditors and debtors. It feels timely and relevant given a range of cultural clashes within higher education over the last decade, not to mention how schools have approached the entire pandemic and student, staff, and faculty safety--often interested in protecting the "investment" of the "live experience" over meaningful support of people in crisis at numerous levels. In essence, Patel asks how the legacy of the European invasion of the Americas, Africa, and Asia has been reinforced through concepts of property, many of which are baked into higher education. For instance, she draws out the ways in which older institutions (particularly Ivy Leagues) thrive through the use of enslaved people and financially benefitting from the slave trade (side mention for more on this: Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities). She goes beyond that to consider things like "land grant institutions" and how most of these colleges were granted "land" or resources from the land that placed Native Americans had been removed from.  She pulls this lineage to the present to explore how this has happened in cities like Pittsburgh where land acquisition by higher education institutes was done in ways to reinforce gentrification and alienation of people and families, who once again, must go elsewhere because owners of capital have decided they do not matter.  But she goes even further to consider how we think about knowledge, the classroom, and students, where the wealth institute extends cultural "credit" (in the form of course credits) to students, many of whom inevitably become debtors, thus subject to whatever may be possible, all in the name of reinforcing the European concept of ownership. Knowledge and mastery are grounded in Western ways of knowing, often devaluing or dismissing other types of knowledge from the cultures that have been pushed off the lands of their ancestors. And of course, credit and debt in teaching and learning make for a useful connection to Friere's concept of the banking model of education, to which higher education is still very much interesting as Patel points out. Investing too in all of its literal (endowments) and metaphorical (students, staff, faculty) becomes another axis for Patel to illustrate how the settler mindset still permeates higher education in ways that can still do harm to people that higher education and the U.S. culture has routinely seen as less important and (pun intended) valuable to the bottom line. 

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