A Counter-Colonial Speculation on Elizabeth Rata’s –ism

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Carl Mika


In Maori thought, the possibility exists for a sort of lateral thinking that does not necessarily directly respond to another’s utterance or opinion but that considers some of the creative and arbitrary themes that arise. In this article, I employ this counter-colonial speculation, keeping in mind a Maori worldview whilst thinking in the wake of Elizabeth Rata’s “Ethnic Ideologies in New Zealand Education: What’s Wrong with Kaupapa Maori?” The speculative powers that Maori have at our disposal here have undoubtedly been employed in a number of ways throughout Maori history; here, I use them in a way that does not directly respond to a prompt. Although Rata’s true aim is to critique kaupapa Maori, she inadvertently brings my attention to a particular characteristic of her writing—the suffix -ism. The fact that it saturates her writing in this article leads me to consider the broader issues associated with instrumentalist language, and the impact of the -ism on a Maori relationship with things in the world. It emerges that, although Rata may be controversial for Maori in her views, her writing is useful for some unintended reasons, as it prompts some thinking around the appropriateness of the -ism for Maori.

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Mika, C. (2016). A Counter-Colonial Speculation on Elizabeth Rata’s –ism. Journal of World Philosophies, 1(1). Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/jwp/article/view/620