Luis Fernando Cuji

Can a monocultural institution become an intercultural one? Successes and challenges of intercultural university initiatives in Ecuador

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Abstract

Various sectors have advanced the idea of transforming conventional universities into intercultural institutions of higher education that can take into consideration the ethnic diversity of Ecuador with respect to participants, forms of knowledge and methods. The implementation of three approaches through which the university and diversity are related demonstrates the complexities inherent to the monocultural character of higher education and the challenges associated with its transformation, given the context of a hegemonic, essentialist and universal conception of identity and knowledge. Using accounts from ethnographic research, this article presents two achievements that entail challenges for the implementation of these initiatives. The author underscores the danger of depoliticizing potentially fruitful ideas and struggles in order to defend the principles of vision and division that underlie social inequalities in Latin America.