Instigating a Call for the Teaching of Alternative Discourses and Knowledges in Asia

  • Noorman Abdullah (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The state of knowledge production and circulation – or what is framed as “relevant” knowledge within academic cultures of learning and teaching – is intimately tied to the global concept of what is “marketable”. Closely associated with this are opportunities for teaching and research funding, graduate scholarship awards, the employment of research and teaching staff and curriculum design. In Asia, the corporatisation of universities and their departments intensified in the 1990s and early 2000s. This stemmed from a complex interplay of historical and structural conditions and pressures, including the colonial legacy of cultural, intellectual and economic dependency. In this paper, the author argues that what is necessary in these contexts in Asia, in line with the call for what are now broadly termed “alternative discourses” from scholars such as Syed Farid Alatas and Vineeta Sinha, is the teaching of a social science tradition created and expanded by scholars who are guided by the selection of problems and relevance from within. In broad contours, alternative discourses refer to the theorising and conceptualisation of social science in Asia and elsewhere that emerged from dissatisfaction with mainstream Euro-American-oriented models, research agendas and priorities. More specifically, the article interrogates the focus on teaching and pedagogy, which has, among other things, resulted in a displacement of attention from issues that should be of crucial consideration to Asian societies.


knowledge production, alternative discourses, silencing, pedagogical interventions, captive mind