Decolonization of the Home Economics profession

In as much as the trend towards globalisation that began more than 500 years ago has opened our eyes to the world, it has also both created and made evident the many ways in which wealth, power, and influence are unevenly distributed. The colonialist project has been driven a hegemonic position associated with Euro-White men that has relied heavily on the idea of otherness to separate out and diminish groups of people based on gender, race and culture.

As a profession home economics has existed for over 100 years. Given its development out of America in a time when understandings about the colonial project were informed by White privilege, the potential for the profession to be implicated in colonial practices is significant.

Home Economics education has been implicated in the colonisation of Indigenous people. In Australia this can be seen in the training of Aboriginal girls and women to undertake housework for white families; and in Canada life in Residential schools required labour to clean and cook for those living there. This domestic labour was freely taken by settlers with little concern for the impact of child labour or indentured servitude on those who were forced into unwaged and unfree labour.

Preparation for the IJHE special issue “Decolonization of the Home Economics Profession” began with the following considerations. Holistic learning can only take place by challenging current ethnocentric beliefs and attempting to see the story from an Indigenous perspective. Holistic, interdisciplinary practices are not a new concept within home economics. However, if we are to make the claim to be working for and with families globally can we reconcile our efforts to decolonise our educational practices in an inherently colonial project.

The issue’s articles come both from post-secondary scholars as well as those practicing in the field, offering dialogic provocations that are multi-directional in defiance of academic traditions of hierarchy. In itself, this makes this special edition a powerful site of transformative potential.