Indigenous knowledge and climate change, and why we should decolonize spatial planning and architectural education.
Prof. Mziwoxolo Sirayi, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy & Sustainable Development at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, discusses with Giulio Verdini, from the University of Westminster, on how South African curricula are still informed by Euro-American paradigms, due to the fact that Global North knowledge is premise of merit in South African Academia. Prof. Mziwoxolo Sirayi’s interview argues that education in the field of spatial planning and architecture needs to introduce African cultural values. This process of decolonialisation of knowledge should entail the critical examination of the historic legacy of colonial planning, for example the Garden City Movement, which has laid the foundation for informal settlements, ungovernable and degenerated cities, towns and villages. On the other hand, it should lead to advocacy for more collaborative approaches and engagement of the custodians of indigenous knowledge. This would facilitate, for example, the application of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, which are often top down and have normally excluded indigenous people in the climate change decision making process. In an attempt to find a reconciliatory tone, Prof. Sirayi concludes that the experimentation of new forms of inclusionary governance for climate change and urban transformation should not wash away paradigms, but should ‘allow them to coexist’.