Historical inquiry into educational policy development in the Central and Western Arctic, and related theoretical considerations

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Ellis, Taylor
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The following dissertation describes the historical development of education in the Western and Central Arctic regions of Canada from 1950-1999. This is followed by an analysis of ongoing educational conflicts over the implementation of the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Settlement. The theoretical basis for this investigation rejects liberal progressive and idealistic notions of school in contemporary Canada and applies a historical materialist analysis of educational policy. In the earlier historical analysis this primarily involved considering how education related to issues of land and work, and how these relationships continue to inform the pernicious colonialist reforms contributing to contemporary issues in educational policy in the Western and Central regions of the Canadian Arctic. The persistence of colonialism as a theoretical understanding after a period of ostensible decolonization is similarly informed by a rejection of the idealistic form of anticolonial theory often employed when analysing contemporary Nunavut. Colonialism in this dissertation describes a specific set of social relations naturalizing existing capitalist forms of exploitation by reifying a hierarchy based on presumed racial and cultural supremacy. This materialist approach understands the racialized form of oppression as primarily superstructural and considers the underlying social dynamics to be informed by various crises within capitalism. Throughout the dissertation, anticolonial theory is employed that attempts to describe a double negation of capitalism and racism simultaneously. I argue this might be a necessary precondition of a socialist, redistributive form of reconciliatory politics in Canada. This is based on an understanding of the position of Canadian settler populations as having been naturalized themselves as part of the socioeconomic landscape of North America due a process of historical decolonization from Britain. Accordingly, with nowhere to go, both aggrieved parties must establish a kind of internationalism that fosters commonalities between two commensurate but ideologically fractured populations with a common set of enemies and exploiters.
Inuit, Marxism, Education Policy, History of Education