Literacy and illiteracy?

  • Elizabeth Abimbola Ogunmoyela

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    This review of the literature aims to discuss how alphabetic literacy was used to manipulate and control the lives of so-called 'illiterates' and so-called 'functional' literates' - especially those from 'oral cultures'. It also aims to discuss the point that lack of alphabetic literacy as defined by the west, does not constitute lack of cognitive reasoning.

    The work is titled Literary and Illiteracy? in order to emphasise the lack of recognition of the literacies and literatures of oral cultures because of a 'preoccupation of the uniqueness of the west' (Ong 1982, p .- ix) .

    Historically, alphabetic literacy was used, among other tactics, as a weapon for colonisation and subsequent dispossession of the colonised. The evidence of dispossession, economic control and racism is well documented in many literatures.

    The colonialists have variously constructed the cultural differences between them and the colonised within the Great Divide theory history/myth, a matter of we/they, ours/theirs, science/magic, civilised/primitive, gentlemen/savages, advanced/developing, literate/illiterate, abstract/concrete, individual/collective, rational/ritual, first world/third world etc. However, recent cross-cultural and ethnographic studies of literacy have come to challenge the colonial view that literacy, is a single, uniform skill, essential for the 'development of "logic", the distinction of "myth" from history, the emergence of scientific thought and institutions, and even the growth of democratic political process' (Street 1984, p. 5).

    Date of Award1997
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorChristine Walton (Supervisor)

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