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Parallel 11

Re-visioning the Western Theory-Asian Practice Gap: A Postcolonial Pedagogy of Theological Reflection


Ms. Suk-Yi PANG

Executive Secretary

Hong Kong Christian Council

In the past few decades, much discussion of theological education reform in the Asian contexts has focused on uplifting the status of Asian practices against a predominant knowledge system of colonial Western theologies/theories in the existing curricula. Recommended remedies often include increasing the contextual awareness of theological educators or introducing more courses on Asian traditions. This paper argues that such remedies alone not only perpetuate a “banking” model of theological education, but also further reinforce essentialist colonial epistemological frameworks they set out to rectify. As postcolonial theorists have pointed out, there is no homogenous, static culture or tradition that can secure a clear-cut superiority over the “other”, be it of the colonizers or the colonized. Instead, this paper proposes a postcolonial pedagogy of theological reflection as a more fundamental and effective methodology for theological education in Asia. Countering the prevalent quantitative understanding of curriculum design mentioned above, the postcolonial pedagogy of theological reflection demonstrates a qualitative change to the way of doing theology as subject-agents in Asia. Developed in the context of Hong Kong, the postcolonial theological reflection model seeks to help students 1) understand themselves as contested, hybrid sites of multiple ideological, cultural, and religious belongings; 2) perceive the creative possibilities in occupying a space between political, social, cultural, and theological polarities; 3) articulate their own voice, as subject-agents of theology/theory, from the borders between different belongings; and 4) acquire an ethico-theological vision of practice as dialectical negotiation between contradictory and antagonistic forces. By doing so, the proposed model rejects a naïve negation of Western theories and categories, but effectively opens up discursive and practical space for “other forms of enunciation” that would disrupt taken-for-granted theological notions and systems. Finally, by locating students as the very site of practice-as-negotiation, such postcolonial approach deconstructs the Western theory-Asian practice gap to better address the challenge of theological education in Asia

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