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430 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 Ruth Hayhoe and Julia Pan, editors. East-West Dialogue in Knowledge and Higher Education. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1996. xvii, 316 pp. Hardcover $72.00, isbn 1-56324-833-6. In 1994, scholars from China, North America, Europe, Africa, India, Malaysia, Korea, and Japan participated in a conference titled "Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Interchange: Challenges to the Ideal of the University," held at the Yuelu Shuyuan on the campus of Hunan University. The fruits of their efforts have been compiled into this volume, which is divided into five thematic sections: "Cultural Interchange and the Construction of Knowledge," "The Media and Higher Education ," "Higher Education Evaluation," "Historical Challenges to the University ," and "Indigenous Knowledge and Contemporary Higher Education." As noted by Professor Hayhoe in her introductory chapter, the aim of the volume is to move beyond an affirmation of cultural diversity so as to consider what serious alternatives for the future might be offered by Eastern patterns of knowledge and institutions of learning. How might the university, so clearly rooted in its values and structures in European history, open itself to ideas and values derived from Eastern knowledge sources? In turn, how can the process of "globalization," which tends to be little more than a political and economic buzzword in the present period, involve a self-reflexive and mutually constituted dialogue between Eastern and Western civilization? (pp. 5-6) To be sure, cross-cultural dialogues are rarely neat and ordered, and conference volumes tiiat find their way into publication seldom include chapters of uniform quality. In spite of such customary weaknesses, this volume's importance outweighs its defects, and it will be of interest to scholars charting the growth and future development of Chinese higher education. In some ways, the context in which this compilation was produced is as important as its final product, for the exchange ofviews recorded in the volume is indicative of the enthusiastic willingness of Chinese scholars in the social sciences and humanities to engage in dialogue and reflexive self-critique without blindly accepting the assumptions of foreign scholarship. Too often, international academic exchanges ofviews are conducted under unbalanced terms as defined by the uncontested authority ofWestern scholarship, particularly with reference to issues germane to the developing world. In this case, die dialogue was more evenly constructed.© 1997 by UniversityOf the themes articulated in these pages, none is more important than the ofHawai'i Presslinkage of postmodernist assumptions with the benefits of enhancing one's exposure to indigenous knowledge. It is the postmodernist age with its denunciation of metanarrative and foundational truth that allows for die possibility of con- Reviews 431 structing new knowledge forms while accepting the wisdom ofheretofore neglected alternatives to modernist worldviews. Some of the alternatives that hold the greatest degree ofinterest to the scholars in this volume include Daoism (Martin Barlosky, Dong Yunchuan), Chinese and Indian historical contributions to the development ofmathematics (Pinayur Rajagopal), practical learning promoted by the Chinese shuyuan (Ding Gang) and the Korean sirhak (Kyu Hwan Lee), and the cosmology ofPunjabi Sufiism (Hassan Gardezi). An acceptance of postmodernist principles additionally demands that we regard assessment as part ofthe process of constructing knowledge rather than simply defining disciplinary boundaries (Steinar Kvale). Ian Winchester correspondingly notes that there is no inherent reason why the modern university should not incorporate indigenous knowledge into its overall mission, while Alistair Pennycock argues that the use of English as the international language ofinstruction need not necessarily promote the colonialist meanings that are imbedded in its usage. Ali Mazrui sharply criticizes media coverage ofthe developing world for its Western bias, but is ultimately optimistic with regard to the possibility of using the media to better promote indigenous knowledge. Glen Eyford and Ronald Silvers express additional optimism in arguing that media influences can force the modern university to open up and adapt to changing patterns ofknowledge construction through their power of dissemination. One of the major problems with this volume, though, is that many ofits authors accept at face value the existence of a modernist/indigenous knowledge dichotomy that is explicitly non-postmodern. The tendency to treat the Westernoriented university as an internally consistent archetype is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 430-432
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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