Arun Rasiah, “‘Think for Yourself”: Malcolm X and the Politics of Critical Thinking”

Thursday, August 29, 2019
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM


Free Event

Arun Rasiah, Associate Professor and Director of Liberal Studies at Holy Names University in Oakland, will give the free public lecture “‘Think for Yourself”: Malcolm X and the Politics of Critical Thinking” on Thursday, August 29 from 12 – 1 pm in Education 4108 on the UCSB campus. Rasiah, currently a visiting scholar at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UCSB, is working this year on a project entitled “The Pedagogy of Malcolm X: Teaching Decolonization.” The project has also taken him to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and University College London.

This presentation is based on a larger project that extracts a philosophy of education from the life, thought, and legacy of Malcolm X. An enduring aspect of his life is the quest for knowledge, a transcendent theme that resonates with the widest of audiences. His celebrated account of learning to read again in prison brings a universality to his example as a model autodidact. In the Autobiography of Malcolm X, the chapter “Saved” details his learning process in a faint echo of Enlightenment narratives. Described here as ‘literacy for self-determination’ a central proposition of his educational thought is the directive to “think for yourself.” To conceptualize “independent thinking” through the experience of Malcolm X involves not only a consideration of the elements of critical thinking, but also notions of intellectual sovereignty and embodied critique. Moreover, inasmuch as he is viewed as an exceptional individual, he underscored the importance of collective efforts “to learn to think for ourselves,” what might be called an approach of social epistemology connected to attaining freedom. His intellectual journey took him far beyond the limits of domestic reason and intensified in the last year of his life, particularly as he came into contact with leaders of decolonization in Africa.