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Western hegemony deprives early universities of cultural heritage

Image: Vanessa [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

The myth that Western philosophy and thought is somehow superior has deprived ancient universities in Africa and Asia of their cultural identity, according to the former vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg.

Ihron Rensburg, who led the South African institution for 12 years before standing down in January, told attendees at the 2018 Higher Education Policy Institute’s annual lecture that “ancient institutions” in Africa, China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka and parts of South-east Asia “have now become simply an extension of European intellectual tradition, and defined as a core element of Western…cultural identity”.

“It is self-evident that Western philosophical, economic, political and cultural hegemony has, over centuries, now successfully elevated to fact the myth of the undisputed superiority of its philosophy and thought,” he said in his address, which took place in London on 27 November.

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