Circle Works: Transforming Eurocentric Consciousness


304 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-895686-30-X
DDC 378'.017'0971




Illustrations by V. Francis, A. Graveline, and F. Graveline
Reviewed by Frits Pannekoek

Fritz Pannekoek is an associate professor of heritage studies and
director of information resources at the University of Calgary. He is
also the author of A Snug Little Flock: The Social Origins of the Riel
Resistance of 1869–70.


In this book, Graveline, a Métis feminist, expounds at length on the
power of “the talking circle” as a pedagogy that can affirm the
experiences of gays, blacks, aboriginals, and feminists within the
context of Eurocentric white male-dominated worldviews. The open sharing
that can take place in the circles contributes to a group consciousness.
Graveline emphasizes most that the “circle” is a different form of
pedagogy that will lead to community empowerment and respect for
tradition and the contribution of elders. She offers it as the only
viable alternative to the hierarchical, white male-dominated teaching
environment, in which there is a single male authority separated from
the learners and their community.

Some may see Circle Works as a diatribe against white-dominated
pedagogy. In fact, what so curiously detracts from the book is its
excessive reliance on Eurocentric scholarly form and its too-frequent
references to Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism (1993). It
suffers, as does so much traditional scholarship, from a dependence on
obtuse vocabulary, and it is riddled with complex and obscure scholarly
references. I much prefer Reg Crowshoe and Sybille Manneschmide’s
Akak’stiman: A Framework for Decision Making About Health
Administration and Services (1997); it is less rooted in European
scholarship and is intellectually more accessible.

Nevertheless, Circle Works will be a useful book for those interested
in learning more about antiracist and antiimperialist pedagogical forms
that have their origins in North American Native cultural experiences.


Graveline, Fyre Jean., “Circle Works: Transforming Eurocentric Consciousness,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 3, 2023,