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ABSTRACT. The way knowledge is produced and applied on a global scale today is damaging to the environment and to social relations and is threatening to destroy the well-being of most humans in the near future. So, what needs to be done in order to change the way knowledge is produced and applied? This article argues the need for global narratives based on insights into human agency that bring the term global closer to earth as an entity of cohabitation. This is in direct opposition to the economistic determinism of a globalization language that plays down the role of (democratic) politics while engaging in forms of authoritarian politics designed to foster and protect global markets. Normative frameworks are needed to transcend the teleological mono-norms of global capital with their specific understanding of modernization, globalization and democratization, and to discern global meta-norms in the plural, contentious but communicating with each other. This critique of knowledge involves a conversation with critical theory’s extension and radical review of some central Enlightenment ideas about how knowledge relates to bodies, the public and to political authority. The institutional structures of knowledge have been used to give knowledge production an inherent bias away from the global South, indigenous knowledge, ‘useless knowledge’ and the embodied knowledge of socially disadvantaged and marginalized groups within globally privileged societies. This article is an inquiry into appropriate narrative and institutional responses.

Keywords: globalization; knowledge production; universities; Enlightenment; critical theory; public

How to cite: Noyes, J., and Stråth, B. (2021). “Global Humanities: Pursuing New Discourses and New Institutions for Life on Earth,” Knowledge Cultures 9(1): 35–55. doi: 10.22381/kc9120213.

Received 22 August 2020 • Accepted 12 March 2020 • Available online 1 April 2021

John Noyes
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University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada;
Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Bo Stråth
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University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland;
Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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