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Paper presentation at the International Steiner Symposium 2021. The Actuality of Rudolf Steiner: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Steiner in the 21st Century.

The roots of the process of colonizing human bodies, minds, cultures and land are deep in Western culture and the process of decolonizing has barely begun. One of the core ideas of the colonial mindset is the notion that the roads to higher cultural development and the evolution of consciousness lead to Europe and even to Middle Europe. Although German Idealism, Neohumanism and Romanticism sought in many ways to address a higher, nobler, gebildet humanity, it usually did so in white, male ways that were implicitly and explicitly racist and genderist. We need to locate Steiner’s anthroposophy in this context because of his uncritical adoption of theosophical race theory and assumptions of cultural evolution.

Despite Steiner’s commitment to women’s rights, his arguments against anti-Semitism and generally humanitarian attitudes,  “Steiner’s occult science and the underlying Orientalism upon which he built it implicitly represent a discourse which designates Western cultural traditions as superior, yet in ways different from the discourses of occupying colonial powers such as France, England or Spain, which Said and his followers have stressed” (Myers, 2006,p.391). Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s (2012) notion of globalectics, which explicitly builds on Goethe’s idea of Weltliteratur, offers a theoretical perspective that can help anthroposophy decolonize and make a valuable and wider contribution to global issues. Geometrically all points on the globe in globalectics are equidistant from an inner centre but no point has precedence on the surface, and hence no cultural hegemony. A rhizomic network of cultural exchange- a multi-logue (since dialogue is too binary)- can emerge in which each point offers a local perspective on the global and the universal view of human nature that anthroposophy actually represents, offers us a perspective to understand the local. That would be a task for anthroposophy.

Dr. Martyn Rawson: National Tsinghua University, Taiwan

Martyn is currently Honorary Professor at National Tsinghua University Taiwan, lecturer at Waldorflehrerseminar Kiel and a Waldorf teacher at the Christian Morgenstern Schule, Hamburg. He has published widely on Waldorf education, including as editor of the Waldorf Curriculum in English (Avison & Rawson, 2014, Bransby & Rawson, 2020) and recently Steiner Waldorf Pedagogy in Schools. A critical introduction by published by Routledge (2021). He is involved in several research projects, including Measure What Matters a project with UNICEF, an EU project on Pathways to School Success, a project involving the introduction of a Waldorf Curriculum app: The Art of Teaching and has just concluded a project on Gender and Identity in Waldorf schools from the perspective of students. He is also involved in developing approaches to de-colonizing the curriculum. He is co-founder of Elewa.