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Ecological literacy, environmental ethics and contextual conceptions of education : the case of Shia… Eskandari, Mahtab 2020

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i  ECOLOGICAL LITERACY, ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS  AND CONTEXTUAL CONCEPTIONS OF EDUCATION:  THE CASE OF SHIA PEOPLE OF FASHAPOOYEH VILLAGE, TEHRAN COUNTY, IRAN by Mahtab Eskandari  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF  THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Curriculum Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) April, 2020 © Mahtab Eskandari, 2020  ii   The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, a thesis/dissertation entitled:  Ecological Literacy, Environmental Ethics And Contextual Conceptions Of Education: The Case Of Shia People Of Fashapooyeh Village, Tehran County, Iran. Submitted by Mahtab Eskandari in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of       Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum Studies.  Examining Committee: Dr. Samson M. Nashon, Professor, Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of British Columbia. Research Supervisor  Dr. Tracy Friedel, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Pedagogy, UBC. Research Committee Member Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi, Adjunct Faculty, Psychology, York University.  Research Committee Member  Dr. Hartej Gill, Associate Professor, Educational Studies, UBC. University Examiner  Dr. Susan Gerofsky, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Pedagogy, UBC.  University Examiner     iii    Abstract The main questions addressed in this study are in the domains of ecological literacy, environmental ethics and contextual conceptions of education. Hence the study uses the case of Shia people of Iran and their environmental ethics to investigate the trans-historical realities in conceptualizing science-humanism in association with dominant notions of nature, the environment and ecology. In particular, special focus is directed at understandings and practices associated with environmental education in the context of local Shia people in Fashapooyeh, a traditional village in the county of Tehran in Iran. Major cultural ways of education existing in this context were explored, and their relation to contextual ontologies were examined. Thus, methodologically, the study employed articulation of dis-orientalising strategies in order to avoid oriental dogmas with respect to the particular context of the study. In this way, interpretive analytic case study methods, which drew heavily on critical ethnographic methods of field observations and interviews, were used in data collection. Revelations from the analysis of the data corpus include 1) among Shia people, actions towards/about/for/with nature are governed by ethics of religion, and they are governed by the Shia conception of humanism; 2) Everyday life schedules are interestingly governed by key calendar markers where contemporary discourses are a function of interaction between Indigeneity and modernity; 3) The Shia understanding of life is in close relation with understanding the order of nature, and that Shia identity and environmental health practices are not mutually exclusive. The findings challenge the current dominant concept of ecological literacy and its foundational preoccupation of nature, the environment, cosmos citizenship, balance and specifically the notion of literacy.  iv  These findings or revelations suggest new perspectives on conceptualizing ecological literacy in relation to ontological approaches to contemporary cultures. The outcomes challenge current dominant approaches to the concept of sustainability, and offer insight into how we might re-conceptualize and teach sustainability as a way of life grounded in their relative contextual ontologies. In the realm of Indigenous studies, the findings suggest processes of theorizing and analyzing research in respect to their particular contextual ethics and ontologies.                 v   Lay Summary Being a traveling teacher with a background in science, education and social studies, I have designed this research study as an opportunity to investigate environmental ethics in relation to the culture in which they are situated. The definition of culture, here, adopts a broad meaning in relation to understanding life, the meaning of being, and also the practices that emerge from these understandings. The selected participants are a group of marginalized people who voluntarily identify themselves as practicing Shia Moslems. Their understanding of definitions of nature, the environment and ecology are investigated. On the other hand, their rituals and practices are examined in association with environmental ethics. In the realm of education, Shia peoples’ ways of knowing and learning about their version of environmental ethics are explored.             vi   Preface This dissertation is an original intellectual product of the author, Mahtab Eskandari. The fieldwork reported in the Appendices was covered by UBC Ethics Certificate number H16-01815. The author has identified and designed the research study. The author has performed data collection, interview design and interview conduct, translation, transcription and analysis of the research data.            vii    Table of Contents Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………….iii Lay Summary…………………………………………………………………………...………..v Preface…………………………………………………………………………………...……….vi Table of Contents……………………………………………………………………………….vii Acknowledgements ………………………………………………………………………...….xvi Dedication…………………………………………………………………………………...…xvii 1 CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION...……………………………...….……………..1 1.1 Domain of Education………………………………………………………………..3 1.2 Contextual Approaches in the Domain of Education...…………………...…..…..4 1.3 Researcher’s Background…………………………………………………………..5 1.4 Particularities of the Research Context………………..…………………………..8 1.5 Purpose of the Research……...………………………………………..…………..10 1.6  Significance of the Study...…………………………………………………..……17 2 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW……………………………..…………20 2.1 Pragmatics of the Concept of Ecology……..………………………………….….21 2.2 Humanism and Ecology……………………………………………………………22 2.3 Contemporary Conceptions of Ecological Literacy……………..…………….…24 2.4 Situating Contemporary Concepts of Ecological Literacy………………………26 viii  2.5 Ontological Discourses on Ecology...……………………………………………...28 2.5.1 Eco-criticism…………………………………….…………………………29 2.5.1.1   Bateson’s Critique……………….……………………..……...…29 2.5.1.2   Nasr’s Critique…………...…………………………………..…..33              2.6 Ecological Literacy and Sustainability Discourses………….………………..….33              2.7 Sustainability in Political Discourses of Globalization………..……………..…..34             2.8 Corporate Sustainability and Discourses of Power…………………………....…36             2.9 Corporate Sustainability in Iranian Context………………..……………………36             2.10 Context-based Research Against Corporate Sustainability………………...…..37                        2.5.2 Drawing on Eco-theology in Re-conceptualizing Eco-literacy………….38                                  2.5.2.1   Shia Islamic Conception of Ecological Literacy………….....…38                                  2.5.2.2   Ontological Discourses and Environmental Crisis………...….38                                  2.5.2.3   Religious Historicism………………..…………………………..39                                  2.5.2.4   Environmental Crisis and Religions………….……………..…41            2.11 Educational Theories and Contextually Situated Worldviews………………….45            2.12 Education in Context of Iran…………………………………...………………....47                    2.12.1  Pre-Islamic Era in Iran…………………………………………...……….47                                2.12.1.1   Conceptualization of Education in Pre-Islamic Iran……….....47                                 2.12.1.2   Modes of Education in Pre-Islamic Iran………………...….....48 ix                                                   2.12.1.2.1 The State-centered Paradigm……………….……..48                                                  2.12.1.2.2 The Community-centered Paradigm………………49                        2.12.2   The Islamic Era in Iran……………………………………...……...….50                                     2.12.2.1   Conceptualization of Education in Islamic Iran…………...50                                                      2.12.2.1.1   Islamic Thought…………………………..….....52                                                      2.12.2.1.2   Defining Shia in the Domain of Education……52                                                      2.12.2.1.3   Shia Islamic Literacy…………..……….………55                                                      2.12.2.1.4    Islamic Teaching…………………………...…..56                                    2.12.2.2   Modes of Education in Islamic Iran…………………….…...58                          2.12.3   The Recent era in Iran……………...……………………………..…..59                         2.12.3.1   Conceptualization and Modes of Education in Recent Iran………59                 2.13. Education and New Imperialism………………...………………………….....61                      2.13.1   Conceptualization of Modern Ontology-rooted Education in Iran…..63                         2.13.2   Modern Education in Iran……………...………...……………….…..63               2.14. Indigenous Approaches to the Concept of Knowledge Construction………..64               2.15. Ecological Education in Contemporary Islamic Contexts……………….…...64          3   CHATER THREE: METHODOLOGY …………………………………………….68              3.1. Introduction to the Methodology…………………………………………...…….68 x                        3.1.1   Methodological Approach………………………………...……...…...….69                 3.2. Ontological Appropriation……………………………...……………...……….69                       3.2.1   Progressiveness……………………………………………………………72                       3.2.2 Essentialism……………………………….……………….……………….72                 3.3.  Avoiding Oriental Methodology……………………………………………….75                 3.4. Modern Orientalism……………………………………………………...……..76                       3.4.1 Ecological Orientalism……………………….………………………...….77                       3.4.2 Geographical Orientalism………….……………………………………...77                       3.4.3 Topological Orientalism……….……………………………………….….78                 3.5. Oriental Methodological Dogmas……………………………………...…...…..78                 3.6. Decolonizing Strategies in Methodological Approach………………..…….…79                 3.7. Methods of Approach…………………………………...………………...…….80                 3.8. Critical Self-reflexivity……………………...……………………………….….83                 3.9. Narrativity……………………………………………………………………….84                 3.10. Narrative Analysis……………...…………………………………….………..85                 3.11. Methods of Decolonization………...…………………………………..………86                 3.12. Language as Discourse……………………………...………………..………..95                 3.13. Data Collection………………………………………………...……………….96 xi            4. CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS…………………..……………………..….100               4.1. Data Construction……………………………………………...……………..…100                     4.1.1 Codes and Index Categories…………………….……...……………..…...100                                4.1.1.1 Index Code 1: Green circles: Holy Names and Holy Places…....101                                4.1.1.2 Index Code 2: Green Triangles and Blue Circles: Shia Cocepts101                                4.1.1.3 Green Line: Explanation, Reasoning, Emerging Practices…….103                     4.1.2 The Process of Constructing Result Themes From Data…….……….…120                               4.1.2.1 Themes…………………………………...…………………...……121                                            4.1.2.1.1 Actions towards/about/for/with nature are governed                                                               by Ethics of religion…………………………...………121                                                             4.1.2.1.1.1 Hijab………………………………………..123                                                             4.1.2.1.1.2 Eftar………………………….………….…123                                                             4.1.2.1.1.3 Moraghebeh………………………………..125                                                             4.1.2.1.1.4 Esraaf……….……………………….……..125                                                             4.1.2.1.1.5 Ghena-at…………….…………………..….127                                                             4.1.2.1.1.6 Ethical farming……….…………….….…..127                                                             4.1.2.1.1.7 Namaaz………………….…………….……128                                                             4.1.2.1.1.8 Takreem ….…………………………….….129 xii                                                             4.1.2.1.1.9 Halal…………...…………………………....131                                                          4.1.2.1.1.10 Sawaab………………………………….…..131                                                          4.1.2.1.1.11 Hagh………………………………………...133                                                          4.1.2.1.1.12 Reza………………………………...…….....134                                                          4.1.2.1.1.13 Beit-al-maal………………………….…..…135                                                          4.1.2.1.1.14 Raoufat……………………………………...136                                                          4.1.2.1.1.15 Nazri………………………………….……..136                                        4.1.2.1.2 Actions towards/about/for/with nature are governed by                                                          Shia conception of Humanism……………..……....……137                                                          4.1.2.1.2.1 Reverse Theories of Otherness and Anti-                                                           -Narcissism in Islam……………………………..……...138                                                          4.1.2.1.2.2 High Sense of Cosmos Citizenship………....138                                                          4.1.2.1.2.3 Taw-heed…………….………………….……138                                                          4.1.2.1.2.4 Rastakheez………..…………………….……140                                                          4.1.2.1.2.5 Human verses Adam……………...…………140                                                          4.1.2.1.2.6 Hasti verses Zendegi…………………...……141                                                          4.1.2.1.2.7 Living in the Angelic World…………...……142                                                                                                                                            4.1.2.1.2.8 Ashraf…………………..……………….……143 xiii                                         4.1.2.1.3 Actions towards/about/for/with nature are governed by                                                          following standards of Islamic spiritual wellbeing….…144                                                          4.1.2.1.3.1 Tawakkol …………………………...…….…144                                                          4.1.2.1.3.2 Taghwa………………………………….……145                                                          4.1.2.1.3.3 Needlessness………………………….………146                                                          4.1.2.1.3.4 Hope because of Hozour and Zohour…....…147                                        4.1.2.1.4 Actions towards/about/for/with nature are governed by                                                          agendas of maintaining balance………..………….…....148                                                          4.1.2.1.4.1 Taw-heed…………………………………..…148                                                          4.1.2.1.4.2 Nabowat ………………………………..……148                                                          4.1.2.1.4.3 Ma-ad………………...…………….……...…149                                                          4.1.2.1.4.4 Adle ……………………………………..……149                                                          4.1.2.1.4.5 Imamat ………………………………………149                                        4.1.2.1.5 Everyday life schedules are governed by key calendar                                                                    markers ………...…………………………………..….149                                                         4.1.2.1.5.1 Annual Nowruz ………………………...……150                                                                                                4.1.2.1.5.2 Annual Rose Extraction Ritual ……………..151                                                         4.1.2.1.5.3 Annual Yalda ……………………………...…152 xiv                                                           4.1.2.1.5.4 Annual Ramadan……………………………153                                                          4.1.2.1.5.5 Annual Ashura………………………………153                                                          4.1.2.1.5.6 Daily Time Remarks………….....………..…155                                        4.1.2.1.6 Contemporary discourses are a function of interaction                                                             between Indigeneity and modernity…………...……..157             5. CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION……………..…………………………...………160                 5.1. Frameworks for the Research Approach……………………..……………...162                 5.2. Design of Semi Structured Interviews……………………..……………….…163                 5.3. Construction of Field Notes…………………..…………………………….….164                 5.6. Process of Analysis………………………………..……………………….…...165                 5.7. Ethical Considerations……………………………………..………….………182                        5.7.1 Context-based Ethical Frameworks………………………….....….…...182                        5.7.2 Language Structure Frameworks………..……………………….…….183                        5.7.3 Post-colonial Ethical Frameworks……………………..…………….….186                 6. CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS …………...…....…192                 REFERENCES……………………………………………………………………. .198                 APPENDICES…..…………………………………………………………………..221                     Appenddix 1: Field Notes……………………………………………...………...221      xv                     Appendix 2: Interview Questions………………………...……………………...231                       Appendix 3: Interview Answers in Farsi………..………………………….…233                      Appendix 4: Interview Translations from Farsi to English……………......…256                      Appendix 5: Figures………………………………………………………….….293                      Appendix 6: Index……………………………………………………………….300                     xvi    List of Figures  Figure 1. The study’s theoretical approaches to ontological discourses on ecology…………...292 Figure 2. The guiding concepts for methodology………………………………………………293 Figure 3. The stages of data construction……………………………………………………... 294 Figure 4. Constructed themes…………………………………………………………………..295                                                           xvii    Acknowledgements I acknowledge that this study has been guided by encounters and learnings that occurred on the unceded land of the Musqueam people of Point Grey, the Indigenous people of this place. I offer my enduring gratitude to the late supervisor and professor Don H. Krug, may God rest him in peace, whose pedagogy liberated my educational journey.  I send my particular thanks to Professor Samson Madera Nashon, whose guidance supported me throughout this journey.  I thank Professor Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi, who taught me the ethics of writing and being through writing.  I am grateful to Dr. Tracy Friedel, whose education evolved my vision of being in an unceded place as a guest of the land, the people and nature. Special thanks are owed to my dear parents, Effat and Manouchehr, my dear husband, Kourosh, and my darling daughter, Mahneshan, who stood by me throughout this journey.  My sincere gratitude is offered to the village people of Fashapooyeh, visitors to the Bibi-Shahrbanu temple, and the extraordinary guardians of temples across Ray.  Sincere thanks are owed to the Musqueam people of Point Grey.   xviii     Dedication                                                                 To my Mother, Effat                                                                                        for her unique sacrifice and love                                                                To my daughter, Mahneshan                                                                                        for the healing she gifted me                                                                                        for the future that is hers                                                                 To my grandfather, Ali                                                                                        for his eternal faith in hope      1  CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION  As contemporary examinations of environmentalism and ecological literacy from cultural positions are growing in societal discourses, place-based understandings and practices associated with nature remain underrepresented (Mohamed, 2013; Cengage, 2012; Barry 2009). On another note, environmental crisis, developing along with the modern version of human existence, has a spiritual crisis at its core (Nasr 2014; Mohammed 2013; Ramadan 2009; Tucker & Grim 2001; Foltz 2000). Therefore, towards restructuring environmental ethics and actions, contemporary environmental scholars and activists suggest examining the ontological and metaphysical roots of these movements, which shape ecological and environmental understandings in order to identify the practices in relation to their particular cultural contexts (Tucker & Grim, 2001; Gottlieb, 2003; Latour, 2009). Critics of modern civilization blame the dominant modern order for disturbing traditional orders such as the order of nature and religion in marginalized contexts (Crossby, 2004; Chittick, 2001; Escobar, 2001; Egbert, 1998). They blame the new order as being constructed by modern ontologies and for producing disturbing consequences in relation to the order of nature. Scholars in environmental ethics call for investigations of cultural practices associated with nature and the environment in marginalized contexts (Gruenewald, 2003; Escobar, 2001; Hall, 1976). In many such contexts, religious practices and rituals are central to practices associated with nature, and their roles are remarkable in shaping understandings about the order of nature among their practitioners (Apffel-Marglin, 1998). On the one hand, some eco-criticists claim that environmental crisis originated in the human collective attempt to marginalize traditional knowledge and religions in the era of modern civilization (Cengage, 2  2012; Freeman, 1992). Such critiques situate the current condition of nature in the midst of ontological forces of modernity (Nkurmah, 1965; Nasr, 1968; Nasr, 1987; Nasr, 1976; Swimme, 1996; Hakimi, 1998). These ontological forces of modernity include greed and secularism, which go against the grain of nature’s sacredness (Nasr, 2014; Nasr, 2007; Hinchman, 2004; Hakimi, 1998; Egbert, 1998; Mutahhari, 1982). On the other hand, dominant discourses of environmental ethics are structured from the secularist points of view of studying the environment and nature. Environmental historians claim that after medieval historicism, which separated nature from its sacredness, the consciousness of the environmental movement started to take shape in relation to alternative ontologies which provided space for loving nature (Nasr, 2014; Fatemi, 2012; Moore, 2008; Nasr, 2007; Crosby, 2004; Najam, 2003; Freeman, 1992; White, 1967). In the quest for returning to sentimental sympathy with nature, the post-medieval movements in the environmental realm refuged traditional ontologies such as Indigenous, Buddhist and Hindu cultures (Nasr, 2014). Related, religion gradually grew back into environmental discourses (Nasr, 2014).  Scholars and activists (Nasr, 2014; Vaillant, 2008; Hakimi 1998; Hope, 1994; Subbarini, 1993; Rahim, 1991; Chittick, 1981), who argue that such refuge to traditional ontologies, such as contemporary religions with their intact connections to traditional spiritualities, still have a broader opportunity to solve environmental crises, call for investigation of traditional paradigms for understanding nature. They also call for examination of traditional practices and their relationship with nature. Eco-critics advocate for investigation of traditional forms and understandings of the concept of nature, in order to identify their underlying environmental values. Nasr (2007) mentions religion as a major traditional cultural extension in many contexts. Moreover, eco-theologists (Nasr, 2014; Cengage, 2012; Saniotis, 2012; Chittick, 2001; Hakimi 3  1998; Egbert, 1998) call for the study of natural philosophy and its ontologies from the perspectives of contemporary religions.  1.1 Domain of Education In the realm of education, Kahn (2010), Nehru (1935) and Mutahhari (1982) critically analyse dominant theories of education. Nehru and Mutahhari draw on the critical analysis of modern theories of education by emphasizing that the cross-contextual transfer of such education systems is at odds with Eastern ontologies salient in Eastern traditional modes of education. Their critiques discuss in detail the fundamental characteristics of dominant education theories in Western contexts, arguing that they stem from Western historicism and modern ontological grounds (Nasr, 2007; Hakimi, 1998). The critics of modern education call for contextual approaches to redefine education in relation to context. Tikly (2004) discusses the dominant education theories which are developing at the global level, and which give rise to education policies mainly governed by global multilateral agencies that are grounded in imperialistic structures of governmentality (Rose & Miller, 1992; Harris, 1999; Tikly, 2004). Tikly calls for identification of “technologies of government” (Tikly, 2004, p. 188) in the realm of education. In defining such technologies, Tikly draws on techniques, policies, procedures and strategies which are used cross-contextually to integrate imperialistic political rationalities into education theories and into conceptualizations of education in particular contexts. Tikly further points to the prominent role of colonial education as the basis for a new imperialism (Tikly, 2004, p. 188). Modern forms of education, which are rooted in modern ontologies, are described as the technologies of “colonization of the mind” (Tikly, 2004, p. 188; Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, 1981; Nandy, 1997). In interpreting associated conceptualizations of education in modern ontologies, Tikly places emphasis on” the Western episteme based on Eurocentric conceptions of human 4  nature and of social reality” (Tikly, 2004, p. 188).  Tikly thus further discusses the spread of such conceptualizations, modes and structures of education as an essential “precondition for the subsequent spread of global governmentality” (Tikly, 2004, p. 189). Tikly (2004) critically analyzes such promotion of modernization through the development of human capital theory by the means of education between the 1960s and 1970s in the target contexts of new imperialism. Tikly underscores the means through which modern education became a severe reinforcement of new imperialism through limiting the capacities of identification and implementation of contextual educational forms and contextual conceptualizations of education.  1.2 Contextual Approaches in the Domain of Education In Constructive philosophical approaches towards defining education, the importance of contextual approaches is raised to redefine education. Tikly (2004) emphasizes the potentiality of education as the realm of knowledge construction towards anti-imperialism. Anti-imperialist scholars call for contextual approaches to re-conceptualize education in order to go beyond the existing order of knowledge being reinforced by the current dominant modern conceptualization of education (Said, 1979; Tuhiwai Smith, 1999; Santos, 1999; Tikly, 2004; Grande, 2004; Stoler, 2008). Contextualizing education provides space for contextualizing knowledge production away from a new hegemonic order which marginalizes and dominates other orders and ways of knowing and meaning making (Crossley & Watson; Tikly, 2004).  Tikly (2004) indicates that identification and establishment of contextual curriculum and pedagogy can foster critical thought and social transformation as a new anti-imperialistic politics.  In the education domain, the leading question in this study addresses the importance of examining contextual notions of education and how they contribute to constructive approaches in teaching and learning. There is an emergent call to redefine education in relation to context and 5  its specific dynamics of social engagement and cultural life (Nehru, 1935; Chambers, 1999; Laird, 2004; Mackler, 2009). In educational philosophy, all conflicting yet dominant approaches define education as an institutional entity, and for the most part disregard the integrated notion of education as a cross generational cultural entity in relation to diverse ontologies of life and ontologies of being in contemporary worldviews (Nehru, 1935; Grande, 2004). In a Constructive philosophy of education, knowledge is constructed at the intersection of social actions and entities of context (Bruner, 1960; Smith, 1999; Grande, 2004). It is essential to redefine education as a function of context and to consider the contemporary forms in which education resides within contextual structures of culture and their entities (Nehru, 1935; Agyeman, 2003). Culture in the context of living is constantly in dialogue with contextual values and meanings in accordance with contextual ontologies. Culture regulates social action in relation to the constant refreshing of emerging values within the context (Hall, 1992). Towards addressing the gaps in examining contextual approaches to construct a definition of education relevant to people of a context, I drew on place-based approaches in designing the study; however, having the research context situated in a traditional village in the county of Tehran in Iran, with all its particularities, I decided to use the term “contextual education” rather that “place-based education”. I learned that place-based education has its origins in the strategic plans of Orion Society situated in a modern context; therefore, the concepts of community and organization drastically differ from the concept of community in a non-modern traditional context like Fashapooyeh in Iran.   1.3 Researcher’s Background My own experience as a Moslem educator from Iran situated in a modern context has led me to this research study in relation to wanting to understand the gaps identified by contemporary eco-6  critical scholars in the realms of education and environmental ethics. I underwent an intellectual and spiritual crisis when I became situated in the midst of scientific education in the modern context of West. I decided to leave my fields of Genetics, Evolution and Ecology, since their scientific approach in the new context was based on ontological foundations, which did not provide space for other ontologies and ways of knowing in my background. I decided to conduct my self-explorative studies by entering the field of Humanities, while I was hoping to find perspectives and approaches which embrace or, at least provide space for understandings different from the dominant modern ontologies. Drawing on eco-critical approaches which situate current invironmental crisis in the midst of ontological forces of modernity, I started to explore other ontological approaches to contemporary natural philosophies. Drawing on Freire’s eco-pedagogy calling for the examination of contemporary cultures in relation to nature and environmenta from the perspective of people living those cultures, I learned that Islamic critics draw our attention to recent ecological discourses in relation to the process of historicism in the making of modern science and the transformation of humanism in dominant modern literature. Islamic scholars emphasize the inclusion of discourses of metaphysics and cosmology within the paradigm of pre-modern science in comparison to modern science, raising critical questions about how humans view themselves in the cosmos, and how these understandings regulate their attitudes towards nature (Nasr, 2014; Chittick, 2001; Fatemi, 2001; Hakimi, 1998; Muttahari, 1982; Shariati, 1972). To my despair, I found out that contemporary fields of humanities, including education, are dominantly impacted by European historicism, which excludes contemporary ways of meaning making kown and lived among the majority of people across contexts. Through my struggles, I learned that such designed ignorance, in current modern global approaches to education and 7  policy-making, has led to the accelerated marginalization of other ways of knowing and meaning making routed in other ontologies in dominant literary discourses. These other ontologies include traditional ontologies in their contemporary forms, such as Indigenous ontologies and religious ontologies. Being a traveling teacher across contemporary Islamic contexts, I have realized the gap in examination of such traditional ontologies in addressing the intellectual and spiritual crisis in natural sciences has significantly contributed to the environmental crisis (Mohamed, 2012; Hakimi, 2010; Muttahari, 1982; Nasr, 2007), so I decided to centralize the focus of this study on eco-criticism from the perspective of Islamic natural philosophy in a context-based approach located in a Shia community. Drawing on Hall’s (1992) approach to the notion of traditional knowledge as a cultural extension in high contexts like Iran, I decided to choose a traditional context with particular Shia culture characteristics. Contexts with such characteristics were numerous in vast Iran. Therefore, I had to focus on central Shia temples which were also sites of traditional agriculture, where people still live in close interaction with nature. Fashapooyeh, in the county of Tehran, had all the characteristics as well as being close and accessible to Tehran, where I had access to temporary residence. As the visiting researcher in the context under study, I shared the language, Moslem identity and major nostalgic and real past experiences. My past experience of living in rural places as a teacher also assisted me during my visits and meetings with the participants. While being an outsider, I could also be considered an insider to the participants, and this position could provide me with opportunities of acceptance towards collecting data (Kanuha, 2000). On the other hand, having an association with a Western foreign institution constantly influenced my insider position. Therefore, I was lingering in the space between a positionality of insider and an outsider. Acknowledging the warnings of Alder (1994) and Watson (1999) regarding the preoccupations biasing a research insider’s approach to her 8  study, I am aware that my insider position might have had an influence on the interview design as well as the processes of analysis. 1.4 Particularities of the Research Context: In my own experience as an educator, I have traveled to contemporary communities across Iranian contexts where the ecological understanding of life has its main foundations in the religious ontologies of people who live in close relation with nature. People in some of these communities complain that, in recent decades, global sustainability initiatives have continuously impacted these contexts through development projects which have no inter-relativity with the living cultures of people in these contexts. Based on eco-critical studies conducted across several contemporary contexts in Iran, the problem arose when several ecological initiatives were structured (Rahim, 1991). Such movement was in response to international progressive projects when the Department of the Environment published a national strategy draft in conjunction with the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank in 1994, in which the second strategic item called for the promotion of ecological NGOs (Rahim,1991). The Center for Sustainable Development in Iran, called Cenesta, was one of these major NGOs and it adopts a sustainable development approach through joint actions in urban and rural areas. Cenesta is a founding member of the ICCA Consortium, which is the international organization dedicated to conservation by Indigenous peoples and traditional communities (Mutahhari,1982). Cenesta is the local body of the IIED institute of “Wiser.org”, a Switzerland-based global sustainability hub constructing world summits on sustainability research (Rahim,1991). On the other hand, The Green Front of Iran establishes regional policy according to the United Nations Environmental Program, with no research relativity to the local and Indigenous contexts (Mutahhari,1982). The Iranian Society of Environmentalists is a research initiative which adopts a management 9  methodology approach based on the online Geographical Information Systems of Assessment. On the other hand, emerging from modern higher education theories, the Iranian Association of Environmental Health is a quarterly scientific research publication by Tehran University of Medical Sciences, whose submissions are to be in a modern scientific paradigm excluding contextual cultures and ontologies (Rahim,1991). From policy making stakeholders to community agencies and publication agencies in the context of Iran, there exists a gap in addressing ecological and environmental concepts in relation to the contexts in which they are situated, and in relation to the cultures of people living in these contexts (Mutahhari,1982; Rahim,1991). Moreover, this study has relevance beyond its local context as it situates environmental discourses against global forces in education. In the current era, integrating dominant paradigms of environmental and social engagement with the context are important strategies for “corporate sustainability” to sustain a long-term shareholder value (Vlachou, 2004). Saniotis (2012) and Subbarini (1993) call for an examination of contemporary aspects of Islamic literacies and Islamic environmental ethics practiced by Iranian people based on one of their major shared value systems, which is Islamic natural philosophy. Nasr (1994) emphasizes the importance of studies aimed at understanding the ecological knowledge and pedagogies of the Shia Islamic worldview as a rich complex of contemporary Indigenous traditional knowledge and Islamic natural philosophy. My approach is to understand Islamic philosophy in the realm of defining life in relation with nature. There have been significant studies examining Islamic tradition, arts, gardens and designs in relation with nature in Persian contexts including Iran (Shirvani, 1985). Most of the findings in the realm of Islamic natural philosophy approach the concept of nature from the perspective of 10  Sufism. There exists a gap in literature with respect to bottom up approaches to investigating the relationality between nature and Moslem people’s daily life (Nasr, 2014). This case study examines the daily activities of Moslem people in relation to nature. The examined activities include daily life routines and rituals. Few people are involved in this study due to limited access to volunteer participants. Drawing on participants’ knowledge of nature, their meaning making, and tracking their ontological backgrounds have formed the central focus in this study. There have been multiple studies in the realm of Islamic philosophy which claim that Islamic Sufism is based on the three concepts of Law, the Way and Truth. The Law consists of the Qur’an and Hadith (Refer to Index number 45), and it defines the rules of living. The Way, Tarighat, is the pathway on which a Moslem person chooses to journey in search for reaching the ultimate Truth, Haghighat. The ultimate Truth is the realization that answers all of one’s questions about one’s living, being and becoming. According to Islamic philosophy, nature is identified as one remarkable pathway towards reaching the Truth. In the same vein, multiple literatures have focused on the concept of nature from the perspective of Islamic Sufism, such as studies of Rumi and Hafiz. There exists a gap in the investigation of the concepts of nature from the perspectives of Moslem people, particularly the Shia minority. 1.5 Purpose of the Research The main questions addressed in this study are in the domains of ecological literacy, environmental ethics and contextual conceptions of education.  Tracking the roots of peoples’ beliefs in their ontological foundations, this study also explored Shia concepts of science and humanism. The importance of the investigation of trans-historical realities in conceptualizing science-humanism in this approach calls for the identification of 11  possible relationships between dominant conceptualizations of science-humanism and environmental crisis. In the realm of education, I discuss educational theories that draw upon the articulation of contextually situated worldviews. In the context of this study, Shia Islamic philosophy is at the center of contextual worldviews. In this study, I looked for relationalities between ontologies in context, and the definitions and forms of education in the context. On another note, this study examines Shia attitudes toward nature; therefore, the study findings identified Shia practices interacting with nature. In the realm of education, this study examines Shia conceptions of education about nature. The concept of ecological literacy is investigated in relation to Islamic natural philosophy. Another focus of this study is to understand people’s ontological knowledge associated with ecological and environmental practices. When looking at people’s routine practices that affect the ecology of their places, it is important to examine the ontological foundations of those routine practices. In this study, I examined why it is important to identify the ontological knowledge of ecological literacy and its etiology. I also investigated how ontological knowledge regulates Shia daily practices towards nature and the environment. As an essential part of this investigation, I identified directions and practices in the context that have been led by Islamic ontological perspectives in relation to ecological literacy. This study provides implications to help understand how different ontological perspectives may direct different pedagogical frameworks within cultural contexts. I explored understandings and practices associated with environmental education in relation to the contexts in which they are situated. I explored major cultural ways of education existing in the context, and how they are related to the contextual ontologies. As a critical segment of this investigation, I explored contextual definitions of literacy and education. 12  In this study, one main concept which required scrutiny and understanding was the concept of literacy and education in the view of Islamic philosophy, including two folds of Islamic original text as well as the Islamic authentic view through Shia Hadith and the perspective of Shia people living these concepts. It is important to examine the education system in the context of Shia as a system based on curriculum as lived (Jafari, 1995). In constructing an interview-based systematic approach to constructing knowledge in relation to the particular context of this study, and in reference to the context’s literary references, and in order to examine the notion of nature and environmental education as a function of contextual culture, I explored how ecological literacy is taught through culture in contemporary Shia Islamic contexts. The main questions addressed in this research include the following:  1- What are Shia Islamic conceptions of nature, environment and ecology?  2- In what ways are these conceptions manifestations of Shia Ontologies, and how do they influence their overall attitudes towards nature?   3- How are these conceptions impacted in the trans-historical scientific and humanistic ontologies of nature and the environment?  4- What do these conceptions reveal about the Shia understanding of education and its modes of influence in their local socio-cultural context? 5- What do the modes of education mean in terms of how ecological literacy is taught and learned in the Shia context where this study took place? To investigate these questions, I approached the study through the following lenses: 13  1) Ontological perspectives: This study heavily focuses upon Islamic Shia ontologies, which is a marginalized approach in mainstream literature. On the other hand, as ontological foundations are some of the main segments of the investigation in this study, I have tried to remain open to other emerging ontologies throughout the process of this study. I have included two main approaches in this regard. The first one is a critical analysis of the ontological foundations of the Western philosophy of nature in relation to global control and development. This study draws on critical analyses from neocolonial and postcolonial perspectives. Relatively, the issues of ecological imperialism (Crosby, 2004) and knowledge production in relation to colonial power (Escobar, 1995) are addressed. The second approach is the study of ontologies related to Islamic natural philosophy as a marginalized discourse in mainstream literature. Here, mainstream literature is defined as the literature produced and located within structures of power in order to sustain that structure (Wales, 2010; Mutahhari, 1982; Kuhn, 2000). Within contemporary mainstream literature, there have been multiple worldviews involved in the process of defining the concept of ecological literacy. The dominant extension of ecological literacy in theory is the notion of sustainability in practice. The totality of the concept of sustainability has been approached from multiple degrees of conformity, ranging from advocacy to exclusive criticality. The critique of the notion of sustainability situated in dominant Western ontologies associates it with dominant conceptions of nature, the environment and ecology founded on ontological pillars of modernity. Therefore, sustainability is criticized as an ecological restructuring of capitalism which calls for a decolonizing approach to the concept of ecological literacy 14  as the foundation of the notion of sustainability. There is a call for locating discourses of ecological literacy away from de-contextualized approaches in institutionalized structures of knowledge construction (Wales, 2010), including higher education, top-down non-governmental organizations and transnational bodies of power (Vlachou, 2004). These institutional structures of knowledge construction have more accessibility chances to practice and educate about sustainability; therefore, their situated approach to agencies of practice and education dominates ecological literacy discourses specifically in mainstream literature. A majority of their research and policy making approaches disregard the complexities of contemporary contexts, their worldviews and cultures (Zizek, 2008; Nehru, 1935; Bowers, 2006; Laird, 2004). In the realm of education’s current era of modern schooling, movements replacing contemporary thought on education and conceptions of literacy are losing their relation to local contexts (Foltz, 2000; Kula, 2001; Ramadan, 2009). An exploration of contemporary meanings and understanding associated with ecological literacy requires an investigation of social-ecological and contextual ontologies (Mohamed, 2013). This study explores contemporary meanings and practices of ecological literacy in one Shia case study in Iran. Throughout this approach, I have scrutinized ecological literacy discourses and investigated relational environmental values. For example, how are nature and place associated with what Barry (2009) calls “situated knowledge”? I have included an eco-theological exploration of contemporary philosophical worldviews of nature and place (Fatemi, 2012). Eco-Theology is a form of constructive theology that focuses on the interrelationships of nature and religion, particularly in relation to environmental concerns (Brown, 2012; Cengage, 2012; Freeman, 2012). Islamic philosophers call for 15  the philosophical study of nature in contemporary Islamic contexts (Nasr, 2007). The findings from this study may provide alternative understandings of nature and emergent global discourses inclusive of non-Western perspectives. 2) Theoretical frameworks: The guiding question in this study explores the environmental understanding of life from the perspective of Shia Islamic people, and their emerging ecological practices with the goal of constructing a systematic understanding of contemporary meanings of ecological literacy. In an attempt to situate particular worldviews of ecological literacy within ontological, social, cultural, economic, political and religious contextual meanings and values, I have mainly focused on the examination of concepts of “environmental understanding of life” and “ecological practices in context” in the context of this study among accessible Shia people. The main theoretical lenses which guided me through all stages of perception, design, arrival, encounter, exploration, and analysis have been decolonial and dis-orientalising frameworks which address methodological concerns as being as important as theoretical ones. Therefore, I have heavily employed such strategies in conceptualizing the study and constructing methods of data collection and analysis.  On the other hand, as contemporary examinations of concepts of environmental ethics from the positions of religions are growing in environmental discourses, Islamic positions on the understandings and practices are not well represented (Mohamed, 2013). Towards reconstructing environmental ethics in relation to context, ecological scholars and environmental activists suggest examing the ontological and metaphysical roots which shape environmental understandings, and their relevant ecological practices, in relation to 16  their particular contexts from the positions of religions (Tucker & Grim, 2001; Gottlieb, 2003; Latour, 2009). On the other hand, with current schooling movements replacing concepts of education across contemporary contexts, the concept of literacy is losing its relation with context (Foltz, 2000; Kula, 2001; Ramadan, 2009). The exploration of contemporary meanings and understandings associated with the term ecological literacy requires a thorough investigation of contextual ontologies (Mohamed, 2013). In situating various concepts of ecological literacy into their relative contexts, we should note that labels such as economic, social, political and scientific contexts are not phenomena present in a cultural context, but are stances and points of view which we adopt in studying a context (Bateson, 1974). Such labels are not classes or categories of phenomena but are abstract aspects.   In response to this call, there have emerged two main domains of approach in reconceptualising environmental ethics in relation to context as follow:  An Ecocritical study of ecological literacies and the contemporary forms in which they reside within contexts. Ecocriticism is the study of the environment and literature from an interdisciplinary point of view (Moore, 2008). Ecocriticism investigates underlying ecological values, what is meant by the word nature, and whether the examination of "place" should be a distinctive category in defining situated knowledge (Barry, 2009).  I have heavily employed eco-critical approaches in conceptualizing nature, the environment and ecology in relation to Shia Islamic literary literature from contemporary scientific and humanistic points of view.  17   The other suggested approach is drawing on conceptions of eco-literacy in relation to the study of contemporary natural philosophy worldviews in the context in which they are situated. This approach calls for ontological studies of contextual worldviews (Fatemi, 2012). Borrowing from the realm of eco-theology, this approach is a constructing attempt that focuses on the interrelationships of nature and religion, particularly in relation to environmental concerns (Brown, 2012; Cengage, 2012; Freeman, 2012). This approach has been suggested as a response to Islamic philosophers’ calls for the study of natural philosophy in contemporary contexts with an Islamic paradigm, and a re-evaluation of the dominant Western relationship to nature. This study draws on eco-literacy approaches to investigate Shia peoples’ ecological practices, and to situate Shia ontologies in their social and cultural contexts. 3) Methodological frameworks: The main leading methodological consideration underlaying this study has been the articulation of dis-orientalising strategies in order to avoid oriental dogmas in respect to the context of this research. This consideration has been expanded beyond the theoretical frameworks and has been articulated also as a segment of the methodological approach.  The guiding methodological approach is interpretive analytic case study, which here draws heavily on critical ethnographic methods of field observations, detailed descriptions and interview analysis.  1.6 Significance of the Study 18  In this study, I looked for contemporary conceptions of nature, ecology and the environment as an examination of ecological literacies in the designated contexts. I looked for the emerging practices and attitudes towards nature in order to identify environmental ethics from the position of the context’s people, in a search for strategies which may contribute to the restructuring and revision of the human relationship with nature and non human beings.  In the domain of education, I explored other modes of education from the position of learning and teaching ecological literacy within the context’s cultural community, in a search for conceptions which may contribute to the reconceptualization of education in close relationality with contextual ontologies. I anticipated the outcomes of this research to challenge current dominant conceptions of ecological literacy and education. For me as a traveling teacher, the meanings conversed and the findings which emerged from this research empower me in a constructive manner. Investigating the constructed fact that these Shia people live with no boundaries between their religion, their environment, their education and their experience of learning is one main significance of my findings. In this dissertation, Chapter 1 describes prominent commentaries on environmentalism which call for cultural positions on the conceptualization of the notion of ecological-literacy. This chapter addresses the need for the examination of ontological foundations of cultural practices which interact with nature. This chapter draws on critiques of the modern order of life,  which conflicts with the order of nature. Consequently, traditional orders of life such as contemporary religions are suggested for investigation of their ontologies, which may provide or may have provided an order of life which aligns with the order of nature. In this chapter, the 19  reason for choosing Islam and Islamic natural philosophy is explained in relation to the literature calls, the positionality of the researcher and the particularity of the context under study. In this chapter, the literary emergence of a dominant Western version of contemporary notions of nature, the environment and ecology are described. In the realm of education, this chapter draws on critiques of dominant education theories. These critiques call for contextual approaches to redefine education in relation to the context in which it is situated. In this dissertation Chapter 2 describes and situates the concept of ecological-literacy. The impact of Renaissance humanism on the conceptualization of notions of nature, the environment and ecology are described. It is also explained how such historicism shaped ontologies in modern Western literature. The theoretical frameworks of the study are explained, and I have heavily drawn on eco-criticism in constructing implications of transhistoricism in the realms of science and humanism. In this chapter, the emergence of sustainability from the dominant notion of ecological-literacy is pointed out and explained. This chapter also constructs the inquiry for examining other ontologies. Chapter 3 starts with addressing the guiding considerations which have led to the methodological approaches used in this study. This chapter explains the applied methods and the reasons for selecting those methods to use in data collection. Chapter 4 describes the processes of data construction in detail. This chapter conveys the results that have emerged from the data and the constructed themes based on the codes emerging from the data. Chapter 5 explains thorough analysis of the data in relation to literature. This chapter also draws on ethical considerations associated wth data analysis, and a brief implication of issues concerned with language structures in the translation process. Chapter 6 describes the results and implications.   20                                                               CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW  In response to the history of neo-colonisation (Nkrumah, 1965) functioning as a capital force towards economically and environmentally exploitative industrialization in industrially underdeveloped countries (Najam, 2003), and to address the problematic power composition of the United Nations membership beings dominated by western and colonial nations, the Non-Aligned Movement was organized and founded in 1961 in Belgrade, as a middle course for states to negotiate between capitalist and under-developed blocs of power (NAM, 2012; NAM, 1988). According to the Non Aligned summit of 2012, more than one third of the NAM members are countries with contemporary Moslem worldviews. NAM identifies the composition of these contexts as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples (NAM, 2012). In order to address the neo-colonial (Nkrumah, 1965) restructuring of capitalism through sustainability discourses within the contexts of these countries and their communities, NAM (2012) calls for a reconceptualization of sustainability discourses in relation to contextual natural philosophies and eco-pedagogies (Freire, 1970).   Saniotis (2012) and Subbarini (1993) identify a gap in the literature associated with the conceptualization of ecological literacies in the realm of environmental ethics. They call for an examination of contemporary aspects of Islamic literacies and Islamic environmental ethics within their context specific articulations. Nasr (1994) emphasizes the importance of studies aiming at understanding ecological knowledge and pedagogies emerging from the Shia Islamic 21  worldview as a rich complex of contemporary Indigenous traditional knowledge, practical environmental ethics and Islamic natural philosophy. This study aims at understanding the ontological perspective of Islamic philosophy in the context of defining life in relation with nature, and how this undertstanding pertains to education. In order to maintain an appropriate approach to Islamic ontologies, I start with the direct words, instructions and Hadith, the references to the direct words of the Prophet and his Household, and the Quran (Fatemi, 2012). Being beyond the scope of this study to understand ontologies of Islamic natural philosophy, it is also required to study Islamic authentic views of nature, the environment, ecological networks and the cosmos in works of Shia Islamic scholars in relation to their particular historical and cultural contexts.  2.1 Pragmatics of the Concept of Ecology The term ecology has been used broadly in relation to the social and cultural diversity of contexts (Wertsch, 1985). Wertsch (1985) emphasizes that in pragmatics of the tern ecology, it is essential to consider contemporary understandings associated with this term. For instance, Vygotsky has used the term ecology to indicate the particular complexities of a context as an intertwined product of social and cultural processes (Wertsch, 1985). Capra has used the term ecology in relation to the modern scientific conceptualization of life cycles emphasizing energy flows among living organisms (Capra, 2007). Nasr (2007) discusses how the pragmatics of the term ecology in English language have been mainly morphed by the process of historicism which has shaped modern science. Nasr (2007) explains how the conceptualization of nature has deviated from the Cartesian dualism and how the conceptualization of environmentalism has emerged as a social movement. Nasr explains that pragmatics of the term ecology in Persian language are mainly associated with the conceptualization of life, which is in close relation to religious 22  ontologies (Nasr, 2007). Nasr emphasizes that understanding the process of historicism and the transformation of the concept of humanism in relation to Western science is critical to understand the separate concepts of ecology, nature and the environment in modern contexts. 2.2 Humanism and Ecology Nasr (2007) critically analyzes the ontological basis of the concept of nature in relation to “Renaissance humanism” (Nasr, 2007, p. 139), which was influenced by philosophical currents of the era when the concept of humans started to be conceived as no longer integrated into the holism of cosmos, and was redefined on the basis of a mere subjectivism. Nasr (2007) emphasizes that such humanism led to the separation of philosophy and revelation, while this current did not happen to Islamic humanism. Therefore, it is inappropriate to implement the remedies administered by one context onto another context. Nasr (2007) discusses how the Renaissance humanism led to the seventeenth-century rationalistic philosophy of Descartes. In Cartesian philosophy, rationality was defined as the mind separated from the intellect, which “was rooted in the profound transformation of the meaning of human during the Renaissance” (Nasr, 2007, p.141). Cartesian philosophy sought after “the skepticism introduced during the Renaissance as the beginning of modern philosophy” (Nasr, 2007, p.141). Nasr (2007) critically analyzes the historicism through which the redefinition of science, as the realm of meaning making for the notion of ecology, has occurred. Nasr discusses that the Renaissance skepticism schools of thought, such as Pyrrhonism, led to Hume’s empiricism. Although Hume’s empiricism opened horizons for the methodology of critical analysis, on the other hand the movement invoked Kant’s attempts to provide ground to knowledge in the empirical sciences. Kant’s conceptualization of science excluded metaphysical aspects and led to the disqualification of any other way of making meaning in constructing knowledge (Nasr, 2007). Kant’s movement 23  initiated Popper’s philosophy of science (Nasr, 2007). In the realm of humanism, which was then separated from the empiricists’ science, Nasr (2007) emphasizes that the rise of the Western dominant conceptualization of the mind as the only means of meaning making is rooted in Hegel’s attempts at raising self-consciousness against Kant’s empiricism.  Hegel’s movement led to more separation between so called scientific meaning making and the humanities (Nasr, 2007). Consequently, being was conceptualized “as merely two types of humanity which both exclude any meaning of sacredness” (Nasr, 2007, p.142). Such philosophic movement, especially in the realm of humanism, became dominant in Western contexts except for some esoteric cosmologies followed only by a few, conceptualized naturalism as unrelated to its metaphysical principles and raised the notion of pleasure instead of spiritual significance (Nasr, 2007). Therefore, pleasure became the goal of existence for humans as bodies and for nature as a macro-body. Such naturalism aligned with the Cartesian dualism, as it advocated the importance of gratification of bodily senses excluding the conceptualization of “the body as an integral aspect of the human macrocosm” (Nasr, 2007, p.143). Simultaneously, stemming conceptualizations in the realm of humanities constructed a new understanding of consciousness in association with the new human living in the midst of such nature (Nasr, 2007). Therefore, such an understanding of humans positioned them in a history which was redefined as a secular flow of time as a result of the “secularization of the Christian doctrine of the march of time” (Nasr, 2007, p.143). In raising the importance of addressing the destructive consequences of practices towards nature resulting from modern ontologies, Nasr (2007) emphasizes that “it was this very inception of historicism that was led to the idea of indefinite material progress, evolution, social Darwinism,…, the negation of trans-historical realities, and many other developments that had and continue to have the most profound consequences for the relation  24  between human and the order of nature” (Nasr, 2007, p. 143). The modern perception of the order of nature became merely quantitative and an object of the human mind whose science was “founded upon the exercise of power over nature” (Nasr, 2007, p.148). Nasr (2007) states that despite the different realms and aspects of studies in Western contexts, the prevailing dominant ontologies are more similar than different among philosophers. There is a radical difference between Islamic Theo-Centrism and Western dominant modern ontologies (Nasr, 2007). Nasr (2007) shows how in the Middle Ages Western philosophy had to draw a sharp distinction between nature and grace in its dominant theology, but Islam did not go through the same historicism; therefore, “human being, in Islam, is a natural being yet without being deprived from grace” (Nasr, 2007, p.46). In Islam humans are natural beings without being reduced to the Renaissance conception of a natural man. In Islam, humans, due to their primordial nature -al-fitrah- , are the channel of grace for nature, which brings sustained harmony to nature and preserves nature from decay (Nasr, 2007; Mohamed, 2013). The loss of conscious al-fitrah and spirituality in humans leads to the destruction of nature. Nasr (2007) explains that rejection of the Creator leads to rejection of one’s own transcendent origin. Nasr emphasizes that this conception of being especially advocated by modernity, that of thriving to negate God, results in the negation of oneself as a countenance of God -wajih Allah. Nasr (2007) indicates that the negation of such a conception of being leads to the loss of true care for nature. 2.3 Contemporary Conceptions of Ecological Literacy It is noteworthy that the phrase “ecological literacy” became dominantly used  in English language by Orr and Capra in the 1990s. Orr and Capra define ecological literacy as an ecological understanding of life and its emergent practices in contexts (Capra, 2007). They claim that the main notions of ecological literacy introduce a new understanding of life and 25  sustainability in the context of ecology (Capra, 2007). Capra and Orr propose that their concept of ecological literacy is a critique of Cartesian dualism and the Darwinian survival theory of evolution (Capra, 2007).  In the same vein, ecological literacy rejects competition as the basic regulation of evolution, and states that the members of the whole cognitive system creatively and aesthetically cooperate in harmony (Capra, 2007). Paradoxically, they state that ecological literacy has its basis in sustainability discourses (Orr, 1996) and that their version of sustainability has emerged from Brown's definition of sustainably development (Capra, 2007). While investigating contemporary conceptions of ecological literacy, this research draws on two of the main critical approaches to the concept of sustainability as "sustainable development" (Brown, 1970), the neocolonial and ontological analytic critiques. In neocolonial theories, some of the major critical approaches to the concept of sustainability, as sustainable development, have associated this concept with the world view of ecological restructuring of Capitalism (Vlachou, 2004) and the structuring of an ecological power bloc (Vlachou, 2004, NAM, 2012). In ontological analysis, some major critical approaches to sustainability are the analytic discourses stemming from the concept of "The Ecological Complaint" (White, 1967). According to this concept, peoples’ practices towards their ecology are a function of their worldview and how they locate themselves in relation to their environment (White, 1967). Swimme (1996) identifies the roots of ecological crisis as ontological ones. Swimme (1996) addresses the crisis of meaning making in modern mainstream science as the ontological basis of environmental crisis. Swimme calls for urgency in redefining the dominant conception of science in relation to cosmology towards providing space for the analysis of religious ethics in a search for practical environmental ethics. In critiquing modern positivist and reductionist views of science, Spariosu indicates that "entrapment within a biological and psychological interpretation of humanity 26  imposes a one-sided perspective that impedes the process of understanding any cultural view outside the Western, secular hegemonic discourse" (Fatemi, 2012, p.99). The ontological critiques of environmental crisis address the paradoxical characterization of Western philosophy (Swimme, 1996). Swimme states that this paradoxical prescription of sustainability situated in modern philosophy is an inappropriate approach towards addressing environmental crisis, which itself is a consequence of Western modern philosophy as both the malady and the proposed remedy arise from the same ontological perspectives. Relatively, a broader preview of contemporary conceptions of ecological literacy is required outside the Western dominant realm of meaning making (Swimme, 1996). The Ecotheological approach is suggested in order to examine contemporary worldviews about how people locate themselves in relation to their environments (Nasr, 1996). 2.4 Situating Contemporary Concepts of Ecological Literacy Capra (2007) applied the concepts of Holism and System Thinking as the main fundamental notions of ecological understanding of life at the core of his relative ontology (Capra, 2007). Capra and Orr propose that their concept of ecological literacy is a critique of Cartesian dualism and the Darwinian survival theory of evolution (Capra, 2007). In the same vein, ecological literacy rejects competition as the basic regulation of evolution, and states that the members of the whole cognitive system creatively and aesthetically cooperate in harmony (Capra, 2007). Paradoxically, they see the basis of this concept in sustainability discourses (Orr, 1996) and Brown’s definition of sustainability development (Capra, 2007). Capra emphasizes that ecological literacy fosters an understanding of nature’s principles through exploration by the mind, hands and heart (Capra, 2007). Capra’s definition of ecological literacy emphasizes understanding “the principles of organization that have evolved in ecosystems” (Capra, 2007, 27  p.6). Capra situates his definition of ecological literacy in organismic biology, gestalt psychology, general systems theory and complexity theory (Capra, 2007). Nasr discusses that, in conceptualizing ecological literacy, while Capra draws on Bateson’s (1979) definition of cognition in Bateson’s systems theory, Capra’s definition of ecological literacy is limited to understanding nature and life through the mind, hands and heart. In the critical analysis of Capra’s definition of ecological literacy, Nasr explains that Bateson’s definition of cognition as the process of life (Nasr, 2007) includes metaphysical aspects of life which call for the inclusion of understanding life through spirituality and religion in defining ecological literacy. Orr (1996) defines ecological literacy as understanding ecological perspectives in contemporary subjects. Orr discusses that the beginning point towards such understanding is a sense of kinship with life and a dialogue with place (Orr, 1996). Orr emphasizes on centralizing earth towards constructing a sense of kinship with life. Orr explains that a dialogue with place occurs through situating place in the story of evolution. Nasr (2007) situates Orr’s conceptualizations of life and place in the roots of modern science, which excludes broader understandings associated with the sense of kinship with life and the dialogue with place. Nasr (2007) emphasizes the shared ontological roots of Capra and Orr’s definition of ecological literacy. Nasr (2007) explains that self-regulation is at the center of Capra and Orr’s conceptualization of life, nature and ecology. Nasr (2007) explains that such a perspective is at odds with contemporary religious ontologies in which the Creator is at the center of life, nature and ecology. Nasr (2007) discusses that one of the leading questions in making meaning of ecological literacy, according to Capra and Orr, is how human communities interact with non-human communities. Nasr indicates that such leading questions might be a good start from which to explore contemporary conceptualizations of ecological literacy from the position of contemporary religions (Nasr, 2007). 28   2.5 Ontological Discourses on Ecology Swimme (1996) identifies the roots of ecological crisis as ontological ones. Swimme (1996) addresses the crisis of meaning making in Western mainstream modern science as the ontological basis of ecological crisis. Swimme (1996) calls for urgency in redefining Western science in relation to cosmology with a view towards providing space for the analysis of religious ethics in a search for environmental ethics. In critiquing Western modern positivist and reductionist views of science, Spariosu indicates that "entrapment within a biological and psychological interpretation of humanity imposes a one-sided perspective that impedes the process of understanding any cultural view outside the Western, secular hegemonic discourse" (Fatemi, 2012, p.99). The ontological critiques of ecological crisis address the paradoxical characterization of Western modern philosophy (Swimme, 1996). Swimme states that this paradoxical prescription of sustainability situated in Western philosophy is an inappropriate approach towards addressing ecological crisis, which itself is a consequence of Western philosophy as both the malady and the proposed remedy arise from the same ontological perspectives. In response to the major critiques of sustainability, there is a call for two main domains of approach in reconceptualising environmental ethics in relation to context. This includes an Eco-critical study of ecological literacies and the contemporary forms in which they reside within contexts. Ecocriticism is the study of the environment and literature from an interdisciplinary point of view (Moore, 2008). Ecocriticism investigates the underlying ecological values, what is meant by the word nature, and whether the examination of "place" should be a distinctive category in defining situated knowledge (Barry, 2009). The other suggested approach is an Eco-theological study of contemporary natural philosophy worldviews 29  in the context which calls for ontological studies of contextual worldviews (Fatemi, 2012). Eco-theology is a form of constructive theology that focuses on the interrelationships of nature and religion, particularly in relation to environmental concerns (Brown, 2012; Cengage, 2012; Freeman, 1992). Islamic philosophers call for the study of natural philosophy in contemporary contexts with Islamic paradigm (Nasr, 2007).    2.5.1   Eco-criticism In the Eco-critical analysis of the concept of ecology, Nasr (2007) and Bateson (1972) draw on the critical analysis of Cartesian and Darwinian approaches to the conceptualization of so-called Western science:             2.5.1.1   Bateson’s Critique Bateson (1972) raises the issue of subjectivity in production of scientific knowledge where making meaning of the experiment is embedded in deeper levels of the mind. Bateson draws attention to the unknown ontologies that guide one’s scientific approach in production of knowledge and the designation of meaning to observations (1972). In such a process of meaning making, the observer’s position guides data selection and its consequent interpretation. Bateson emphasizes that unknown ontologies blur the boundaries between a tautological argument and an empirical one, as well as the differences between an inductive and a deductive approach (Bateson, 1972, p. xxi). Bateson describes that the emerging explanations from one’s observation may become a mapping of data onto the fundamentals of one’s ontologies. Bateson emphasizes the prominence of attention to the pragmatic constructions of ontologies in situating a concept, what Bateson calls “authorities of knowing” (Bateson, 1972, p. xxiii). In the critical analysis of the mainstream concepts of dualism and evolution, Bateson draws on “the authorities of 30  knowing” (Bateson, 1972, p. xx) such as pragmatic constructs of scientific knowledge in their related eras in seventeenth and nineteenth century Europe. In examining the dominant ontologies which guided scientific knowledge under the name of inductive approach in production of such bodies of knowledge, Bateson emphasizes the inter-relativities among scientific and philosophical thought in those eras, specifically at the intersection of science, philosophy and medieval European religions (Bateson, 1972, p. xxvi). Bateson (1972) emphasizes that identification of relations between ecological patterns –homologies - and processes – analogies - as one of the main ecological approaches in construction of a general system theory, requires the inclusion of holistic stances in describing life and being as ontological concepts specific in situating Cartesianism. Bateson (1972) states that the post-Cartesian approach to making meaning of scientific knowledge has been mainly a mapping of new data onto the dual conceptualization of life and being which follows the Cartesian ontology. Bateson describes how the “loose” – based on theory (Bateson 1972, p.75) - conceptualization of life as a psyche bounded within the mind emerged in the post-Cartesian pragmatics of meaning making. In chasing this historical process to the present, Bateson explains how the “strict”– based on experiment (Bateson, 1972, p.75) - conceptualization of life as a material experience bounded within the body has dominated the mainstream scientific approach in the current era. In the realm of ecology, Bateson (1972) critically analyzes the dominant Cartesian approach for its false replacement of uniformity with regularity. In the critical analysis of post-Cartesian authorities of knowledge, Bateson describes how an ontology of dualism has dominantly imposed a binary pattern to the homologies and analogies that are not dual in their nature. In situating the post-Cartesian discourses into their political contexts, Bateson identifies the bipolar construction of habits of the mind and habits of the body as the dominant patterns and processes in Western 31  mainstream political contexts. Bateson applies “the psychological theory of alcoholism” (Bateson, 1972, p.309) in mapping the dual ontology of post-Cartesianism in situating the conceptualization of life and knowing in Western dominant contexts. Bateson explains that such bipolar enslavements shape the “constantly reinforced materialistic ideals” (Bateson, 1972, p. 311) of the Western dominant structures in Western contexts. Bateson emphasizes that the ontological division between the concept of self and the remainder of the personality, and between self and others, are derivatives emerging from the post-Cartesian dualism. Bateson explains how such Cartesian dualism has shaped Western epistemologies of knowing solely bounded within a conceptualization of the mind or solely bounded within a conceptualization of the body. Bateson’s application of the theory of alcoholism in interpreting the post-Cartesian ontologies indicates that the conceptualization of self in such contexts is constantly accompanied by construction of an “other” who is symmetrical, complementary or at odds with the self. Bateson elaborates on the notions of social sadism and social masochism as derivatives of mind habits and material reinforcements in such Western contexts at their regulatory layers (Bateson, 1972, p.323). Bateson applies the concept of “Occidental errors” (Bateson, 1972, p.315) when he associates post-Cartesian ontologies and epistemologies of knowing with dominant conceptualizations of self and humanism in Western contexts. In critically analyzing such Occidental errors in relation to the concept of ecology, Bateson draws on theories of cybernetics in system thinking. Bateson emphasizes that situating the notion of ecology in the holistic cognitive structure of life in system thinking requires the conceptualization of ecology as an internally interactive system, in which no parts are inseparable and no parts can have unilateral control over the other/others. In such a system, all characteristics, including the mental and matter ones, are in the ensemble as a whole (Bateson, 1972, p. 315). Bateson emphasizes that the 32  Cartesian dualistic separation between mind and matter does not comply with the holistic conceptualization of life as a conscious system. Bateson explains that the Cartesian ontology and epistemology do not allow for the conceptualization of ecology in its internally interactive sense with its “deterministic memory” (Bateson, 1972, p.316), which constantly evolves in pattern and process at the timeless intersection of past behaviors and present potentials. In critiquing the dominant social Darwinism in Western contexts, Bateson problematizes the core concepts of Darwinism theories such as natural selection and survival of the fittest. In problematizing the Darwinian theory of survival in a self-directing evolution, Bateson draws on the notion of “deterministic memory” (Bateson, 1972, p.316) in life as a conscious structure which does not allow for any hierarchical, self-benefitting, competition-oriented, and unilateral control by one organism/species onto the other/others. Bateson explains that deterministic memory operates at a universal ecological level – system - which is of such a holistic scale that it cannot be conceptualized at any abstract contextual level – subsystem. Bateson emphasizes that any attempt at theorizing such a holistic system falls into the “double blind” (Bateson, 1972, p. 339) pitfalls of human experiment. Bateson concludes that the consequence of a Cartesian-based ontology in Western contexts will be “continuing to see the world in terms of God versus man, elite versus people, chosen race versus others, nations versus nations, and man versus environment” (Bateson, 1972, p.337). In the domain of ecology, Bateson (1972) historically analyzes the Western philosophical conceptualization of the mind in relation to the Cartesian interpretation of God. Bateson explains that the Cartesian ontological conceptualization of God as an external and non-immanent agent controlling the order of the universal system has morphed into the post-Cartesian ontological replacement of the mind as the explanatory principle in Western philosophy. Bateson explains that the explanatory agent remained separate as the 33  secularization process developed modern sciences, including definitions of self within Western modern humanism. In order to approach the notion of ecology and system thinking from other points of view, Bateson emphasizes the inclusion of other diverse ontologies and their associated pragmatics. Bateson suggests exploring other philosophical conceptualizations of God, the mind and the self in such ontologies.             2.5.1.2   Nasr’s Critique Descartes’ reductionist conception of one’s being captured in a scattered mind and a mechanical body defined as a biological machine results in the modern conception of nature as an ecological machine with integrated parts (Nasr, 2007). In Islam “the concept of integration is dependent on the concept of Oneness (Tawhid) on all levels of reality which comes ultimately from the Supreme Principle, which is one” (Nasr, 2007, p.74). It is important to differentiate between the Islamic conception of the intellect and the modern interpretation of the intellect and mind. The concept of intellect plays a prominent role in conceptualizing integration, the cosmos, nature and ecology (Nasr, 2007). Nasr indicates that “The one creator, known by the Persian name, Khoda, and the Arabic name, Allah, is the central reality in Islam and the belief in the creator’s oneness is called Tawhid. Allah is the source and the end of existence and is beyond all duality and relationality” (Nasr, 2007, p.43).  The first of the two testifications by which a person bears witness to being a Muslim is the expression of this oneness, La ilaha illa’Llah, “There is no god but God” (Nasr, 2007, p.43). Islam emphasizes that all religions are speaking of the same God, who is One and not some other deity.  For Muslims, the harmony of the cosmos is derived from this Oneness, and nature is the manifestation of Allah’s Names such as Perfection –Kamal, Beauty –Jamal, and Greatness –Jalal.   34  2.6 Ecological Literacy and Sustainability Discourses One of the important outcomes of the current dominant conceptualization of ecological literacy, based on foundations of Western dominant ontologies, is the structuring of sustainability discourses and the practical aspects of sustainability policy making machinery. The concept of sustainability was officially taken into a centralized management network at global spectrum in 1983 (Mohamed, 2013). The Prime Minister of Norway, Brundtland, was appointed by the United Nations Secretary to establish a management structure focussed on identifying sustainability problems and implementing solutions worldwide. The new organization was the Brundtland Commission, then renamed as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). A decade of publications and established institutions stemming from WCED managed to influence the Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992 and the third UN Conference on Environment and Development in South Africa in 2002, both of which crafted the most dominant definition of sustainability in mainstream literature (Mohamed, 2013). In situating such a definition of sustainability in the political and economic domains, it is critical to note that the Brundtland Commission, which became the regulating and policy making center-structure for a global sustainability development project, was the initiative of the Norway Prime Minister in 1986-1996 (Vlachou, 2004). Waage critically analyzes such initiatives in relation to Bruntland’s situation in the Norwegian progressive and neo-liberal Labour party, which was influenced by the British New Labour policies (Vlachou, 2004). De-Shalita (1995) situates the dominant definition of sustainability, in its triple pillar sense, in relation to political conceptions of environment. De-Shalita (1995) explains that the triple pillars of such a definition, including economy, society and environment, are situated in the political discourses of capitalist expansions towards globalization (Vlachou, 2004). 35  2.7 Sustainability in Political Discourses of Globalization In the domain of sustainability analysis, in discourse analysis of the concept of globalization, Hay (2014) emphasizes the relevance between political analysis and the ontological roots of the context. Jessop (2003) identifies social relations as the navigating forces which structure the capital state in its global sense. In the sustainability domain, Vlachou (2004) examines the social forces invoked by globalization forces in so-called developing countries. In the realm of sustainability development, Vlachou (2004) discusses such globalization forces as ecological capitalism in the context of developing countries. Vlachou situates current sustainability forces in the domain of social forces which are imposed by globalization in such contexts. In her critical analysis, Waage (2004) situates the leading ontologies associated with dominant forces of globalization in the political and economic context of neo-colonisation (Nkrumah, 1965). Waage emphasizes the association of the politics and economics of neo-colonisation with the restructuring of neo-capitalism. Vlachou (2004) critically analyses dominant global sustainability policies as an ecological restructuring of capitalism.  Vlachou situates the policies related to the triple pillars of sustainability concept in the economical, political and social contexts of globalization’s leading forces. Vlachou examines ontologies related to the concept of environment that are invoked by the globalization forces. Vlachou (2004) discusses how sustainability has its ontological roots in sustainable development. The critical analysis (De-Shalita, 1995; Vlachou, 2004; Waage, 2004; Nasr, 2007) of the concept of sustainable development situates the organizing principles of this concept in the economics of social Darwinism and Neo-Freudianism. Nasr (2007) indicates that imposing the dominant ontologies of sustainability on other contexts can lead to the implementation of the concept of survival of the fittest into society, politics and economics, which emerges as ecological social Darwinism. In 36  defining ecological social Darwinism, the critical analysis of the concept of sustainability situates its dominant ontologies in the concept of competition for the exploitative management of natural resources (Nasr, 2007; Vlachou, 2004). Nasr (2007) indicates that the leading ontologies of the concept of sustainability have roots in Neo-Freudianism. Marcuse elaborately discusses the process of extending Freud’s psychiatric theories into realms of social and cultural theories by positivist-minded revisionists (Elliot & Ray, 2003). Marcuse explains that Neo-Freudianists extended biology-based theories into ontological discourses. Nasr discusses how such ontological discourses emerging from Neo-Freudianism-based secular ontologies in the conceptualization of ecology; therefore, the policies emerging from such a concept with roots in secular ontologies cannot help religious contexts with their different ontologies and policy structures.    2.8 Corporate Sustainability and Discourses of Power  Many groups have defined the concept of sustainability in the last 25 years in mainstream literature. Mainstream literature is defined as the literature produced and located within structures of power in order to sustain those structures (Kuhn, 1974). Within contemporary mainstream literature, there have been multiple worldviews involved in the discourses of defining sustainability. In each worldview, there have been multiple degrees of approaches, ranging from advocacy to criticality. The critique of sustainability as an ecological restructuring of capitalism calls for a decolonizing approach to the concept of sustainability, a critical approach that situates sustainability discourses away from de-contextualized approaches in institutionalized structures of knowledge construction (Wals, 2010). The majority of institutional sustainability approaches disregard the complexities of contemporary contexts, their worldviews and cultures (Zizek, 2008; Nehru, 1935; Bowers, 2006; Laird, 2004).  37  2.9 Corporate Sustainability in the Iranian Context Vlachou (2004) and NAM (2012) identify several sustainability structures and ecological initiatives in Iranian public and private sectors as practicing bodies of corporate sustainability. Nasr (2007) discusses the Ramsar Ecological Symposium, whose Convention entered into force in December 1975 upon receipt by UNESCO, and established Caspian resources as the initial source of funds to conserve European wetlands. NAM (2012) discusses the Caspian Bio-Resources Network, the corporate sustainability project funded by grants from the World Bank/Japanese Government Trust Fund, the UNDP/Global Environment Fund (GEFII), UNDP and the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative and working towards development of geopolitical policies over the Caspian ecological communities. Nasr (2007) goes on to state that the Boomiran NGO and CENESTA follow the same strategies in contemporary contexts of Iran. 2.10 Context-based Research Against Corporate Sustainability Agyeman (2003) identifies a gap in research approaches to environmental ethics and ecological literacy, and calls for a culturally-centered approach towards redefining environmental ethics and ecological literacy in relation to context. Blake (1999), Caro and Ewert (1995), Caron (1989), Dolin (1988), James (1993), Kollmuss and Agyeman (2002), Schultz, Unipan, and Gamba (2000), Sheppard (1995), and Taylor (1989) have raised important questions about cultural variations in perceptions of ecology and the environment, and their related practices and attitudes. Taylor (1989) and others have suggested that there are fundamental variations and that research approaches should reflect these differences in the face of corporate sustainability. Agyeman (2003) identifies very little research being centered around understanding cultural diversity in the realm of ecological literacy. Kreger (1973), Van Ardsol, Sabagh, and Alexander (1965), and Washington (1976) are among the few who have conducted research with main 38  methodological approaches centered around contextual cultures in the realm of environmental ethics and education. Considering Indigenous cultural knowledge and practices as central approaches in constructing methodology has been conducted by Stanfield (1994), in Chicana and Chicano contexts by González (2001), in Maori contexts by Bishop (1998) and by Tuhiwai Smith (1999) and Indigenous researchers such as Cajete (1994) and Lomawaima (2000). Agyeman (2003) calls for creating Indigenous and context-specific paradigms rooted in the contextual experiences of people and their fundamental cultural ways that shape their interpretations of realities.   2.5.2   Drawing on Eco-Theology in Re-Conceptualizing Eco-Literacy          2.5.2.1   The Shia Islamic Conception of Ecological Literacy Saniotis (2012) and Subbarini (1993) call for including an examination of contemporary aspects of Islamic ecological literacies and Islamic environmental ethics within their context-specific articulations. Nasr (1994) emphasizes the importance of studies aimed at understanding the ecological knowledge and pedagogies of the Shia Islamic worldview as a rich complex of contemporary Indigenous traditional knowledge, sustained environmental technologies and Islamic natural philosophy. In Islamic natural philosophy, all notions of essence and existence are at the center of cosmology, including the understanding of the metaphysical unity of the cosmos as well as the spatial, corporeal, contingent and contextual understandings of being and living in relation to the cosmos (Jafari, 1998, Mutahhari, 1982; Nasr, 1976; Morewedge, 1973: Avicenna, 1025). Mohamed (2013) and Saniotis (2012) identify a gap in studies reflecting the contemporary understandings of the concept of ecological literacy and their emerging practices 39  in Islamic contexts. Nasr (2015, 2007) in particular calls for environmental research studies in Shia Islamic contexts.           2.5.2.2   Ontological Discourses and Environmental Crisis Nasr (2015, 2007) raises the importance of addressing the intellectual and spiritual crisis in natural sciences, which has significantly contributed to the environmental crisis. Nasr (2007) emphasizes the inclusion of discourses of metaphysics and cosmology within the paradigm of pre-modern science in comparison to modern science. Nasr (2007) raises critical questions about how humans view themselves in the cosmos, and how these understandings regulate their attitude towards nature. It is essential to note that ecological and environmental understandings of life and the cosmos have fundamental religious characteristics in many traditions (Mohamed, 2013).  Exclusion of the metaphysical dimension from humanism and its dependent ecological understanding of life can be traced to the nineteenth century legacy of rationalism and then the logical positivism of the twentieth century and its emerging existentialism (Nasr, 2007; Mohamed, 2013). One main foundation to approach the religious characteristics of ecological understanding is to consider the absolutism of the origin through contemporary voices in a multiplicity of religions (Mohamed, 2013). Towards conceptualizing this absolutism, it is necessary to critically analyze discourses of historicism and subjectivism in relation to the definition of religion. Nasr (2007) suggests that the term “din”, in Arabic and Persian, is derived from the root meaning “to obey, and humble oneself before the creator. In Islam, religion is conceptualized as the way of living grounded in teachings of the creator. The teachings reach humanity through revelation, not to be confused by inspiration, Ilham (Nasr, 2007, p.53). 40           2.5.2.3   Religious Historicism  In Europe, religious historicism and religious subjectivism gradually led to “an evolutionary and positivist interpretation of religion that attempted to deal with entire religious phenomenon from the point of view of a gradual evolutionary growth” (Nasr, 2007, p.17). Nasr emphasizes that the journeys which Christianity and Islam have gone through are quite separate and not alike. It is important to note that in Islam the traditional approach is still salient. This approach also embraces social and psychological manifestations while it does not reduce religion to its components (Nasr, 2007). Nasr emphasizes that this traditional approach, based on the Quran, defines religion beyond its terrestrial manifestations, saying that it comes from the convergence of a divine reality and a human collective at the receipt of the imprint of that divine reality. Therefore, due to a multiplicity of convergences, multiple religions are seen among different cultures and people. It means each religion is a unique and essential manifestation of the sacred reality (Nasr, 2008). In Islam, the transcendent unity underlying all diverse religions and multiple manifestations is the one, al-tawhid wahid. When studying Islamic concepts, it is important to consider the Islamic philosophical approach to reality. In Islam, the reality of hierarchy in its metaphysical sense is beyond external and formal manifestations and necessitates essential and super-formal manifestations. The hierarchy of approaches to the reality fall into contemporary modes such as love, al-mahabbah, and knowledge, al-ma`rifah, with their own levels. In Islam, the Quran and Hadith are emphasized as the main references in obtaining knowledge about manifestations of reality. Islam introduces the Quran and Hadith as sources of seeking knowledge away from historicism and subjectivism. It is also essential to refer to Shari’ah, the Divine Law in Islam, in approaching Islamic conceptions of nature and the environment. Shari’ah conveys laws of nature in their Islamic sense where “there is not a sharp distinction 41  between laws governing humans and laws governing nature” (Nasr, 2007, p.194). The sacred geography known as geosophy, salient in Persian gardens and Islamic ritual places as centers of the grace, barakah, flow, is an example of such laws of nature (Nasr, 2007, p. 201). The concept of evolution, for instance, follows the hierarchal characteristic of reality in Islam, and conveys a horizontal and vertical axis, while in modern science, evolution is merely horizontal following a linear stream moving forward. In the Islamic conception of reality, the science of reality includes metaphysics in interpreting the cosmos and nature. Such notion of science includes empirical ways of making meaning of experiments and observations, known as knowledge of manifestations and multiplicity, as well as knowledge from Shari’ah which includes knowledge of the One Principal (Nasr, 2007, p.134). Nasr explains that in Islam the sacred knowledge includes a knowledge of “cosmos as theophany” (Nasr, 2007, p. 189), which is not simply empirical or a mere sensibility towards nature, but is a holistic conception based on metaphysical principles about contemporary domains of cosmic reality beyond a particular order of reality in a closed system of thought.  Islam raises the importance of learning from nature as the grand book of the Creator, which calls the Quran and Torah revealed books compared to the grand book of knowledge. In raising the importance of nature in Islam, Nasr indicates that “the correspondence between human, the cosmos, and the sacred book is central to the whole religion” (Nasr, 2007, p. 191). In Islam, nature manifests as theophany and each phenomenon in nature is at the level of ayat, which are  verses of the Quran. Nature itself as a revelation guides humans in making meaning of themselves.          2.5.2.4   Environmental crisis and religions Nasr (1972, 2007) emphasizes that in addressing environmental crisis, it is important to include the study of religion and spirituality in relation to this crisis. Towards this approach, Nasr 42  indicates that it is essential to use both the terms religion and spirituality in this era for multiple reasons. Nasr describes that current usage of the term spirituality, especially in Western literature, conveys the forgotten concepts that were excluded in nineteenth century conceptions of religion (Nasr, 2007, p.29). Nasr emphasizes that the pragmatic implications of the term religion provide a different interpretation and understanding of the concept of religion, compared to the term –din- in the Persian language (Nasr, 2007, p.29). Religion in its integral sense, including the Islamic conception of religion and the Persian term –din-, provides knowledge of the divine, the human state and the world of nature as intertwined realms. Nasr discusses how the current Western projects that address environmental crises, such as sustainability policies, follow a secular philosophy (Nasr, 2007, p.30). Nasr explains that the majority of people in the world still live with religious views; therefore, in diverse contexts across the world, it is inappropriate to apply environmental ethics and policies rooted in a hegemonic secular modern science (Nasr, 2007, p.30). Nasr states that current dominant environmental ethics in sustainability discourses are rooted in secular ontologies of modernity. Nasr explains that such a conception is based upon the emergence of modernity in the realms of modern science and modern humanism. Nasr indicates that there are three grand revelations in Islamic thought which are believed as books of knowledge. They are the cosmos and nature, the human state, and religions (Nasr, 2007, p.51). The sacred scripture of Islam is the Quran - the Recitation. Nasr emphasizes that the “Quran is the central theophany of Islam, the fundamental source of its metaphysics, cosmology, theology, law, ethics, sacred history, and general world view” (Nasr, 2007, p.57).  Nasr indicates that for Sunni and Shia Moslems, there is a single text of the Quran, consisting of 114 chapters - Surah- and over 6,000 verses –ayah- which were revealed to the Prophet of Islam over the twenty-three years of his prophetic mission (Nasr, 2007, p.58). For Moslems the Quran is guidance to the 43  nature of reality as well as making meaning of the natural world. The Quran has many levels of outward and inward meaning. Therefore, the Prophet’s household –ahlebeit- assists Moslems in constructing understandings of meanings through interpretation of the outward meanings –Tafsir- and interpretation of the inward meanings –Ta’wil. Nasr emphasizes the prominence of centralizing the Quran in making meaning of the Islamic view of any concept including nature and the environment. Nasr explains that every movement in Islamic history has sought legitimization in the Quran (Nasr, 2007, p.60). In understanding the concept of the environment in Islamic ontologies, it is essential to situate the discourse within the concept of Taw-heed (Refer to Index number 54). Taw -hid is central in Islamic self-realization. In Islam, understanding self is not simply an extension of physicality. Nasr emphasizes that the modern conceptualization of self is one of the main leading ontologies of social forces on modern consumerism (Nasr, 2007, p. 32).  The concept of the human, Ensan in Persian and Arabic languages, is addressed as an essential reality in Islam, as a being still carrying its primordial nature within his/her existential states of being. The very name of the religion, “Islam comes from the Arabic word al-islam which means surrender as well as the peace that issues from one’s surrender to the creator” (Nasr, 2007, p.46). Nasr discusses that such surrender is not concerned merely with one’s will, but involves the whole being. The Oneness of the Creator involves multiplicity in creations and revelations associated with the cosmos and nature, humans and religions. Nasr emphasizes that Moslems do not believe in temporality and historicity of such multiplicity in revelations including prophecy (Nasr, 2007, p. 54). It is essential to note that Islam sees Oneness at the origin of all multiplicity in the cosmos (Nasr, 2007, p.73). One of the manifestations of such originality is the conceptualization of Islamic life as Tarigah, which means the path to the highest level of 44  meaning, and to the ultimate truth – Hagigah- that is the Creator. (Nasr, 2007, p.76). The concept of Tarigah as ultimate meaning making is rooted in the Hadith of the Prophet of Islam when he states, “The number of paths to God is equal to the number of children of Adam” (Nasr, 2007, p.76). Nasr discusses the concept of self-realization in relation to holism from the perspective of Islam. In Islamic ontologies, harmony with higher states of being is dependent on the sharmony of humans with nature, where “nature is not conceived as being purely material but includes … spiritual and angelic levels of reality” (Nasr, 2007, p.34). In such a conceptualization, nature stands as manifestation of cosmic realities. Moslems understand the cosmos as the Creator’s primordial revelation and the cosmos has” come into being through the creator’s Name al-Rahman, merciful” (Nasr, 2007, p.48). In studying religious philosophies, it is essential to consider rituals in their religious conceptualizations. In Islam, the rituals descend from and of divine origin, and they are revealed to the prophets by God. Nasr emphasizes that in all Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions, the rites link humans to an understanding of the principles of nature. Nasr discusses how apart from their social effects, “rituals re-establish balance with the cosmic order” (Nasr, 2007, p.35).  Towards studying rituals, Nasr suggests considering context-specific ritual places such as mosques, temples and nature in the center of conceptualizing rituals. It is also important to include symbols as part of the ontological reality of nature away from merely psychological and subjectivized conceptions (Nasr, 2007, p.38). Nasr explains that Islamic rites are in harmony with nature. Nasr emphasizes that recent approaches to conceptualizing nature within a holistic paradigm, such as the ecological discourses discussed by Capra, formulate the cosmos within a modern scientific approach which excludes religious ontologies of nature (Nasr, 2007, p.38). Nasr emphasizes “that much of the Quran is devoted to the cosmos and the world of nature” (Nasr, 2007, p.48). According to the Quran the 45  responsibility of a human is towards his soul, other humans, other beings and the Creator. In Islam ethics are in association with God, and the order of nature is basically metaphysical.  Nasr (2007) suggests studying Islamic traditional art as the gateway to investigating ecological understanding of life, self and the cosmos in  Islamic conceptualizations. Nasr (2007) and Mohamed (2013) identify a gap in the identification of ecological practices in relation to Islamic ontologies in contemporary Islamic contexts. Nasr (2007) particularly calls for such examinations in Shia Islamic contexts.   In order to examine educational theories that draw upon contextually situated worldviews, conduction of a literature review to identify Shia Islamic systems of education emerged. While constructing such an examination, I looked for relationships between various systems of education in the context of the study, and analyzed definitions and forms of education in relation to their historical and cultural foundations.  In  Figure 1 (Refer to Appendices, Appendix 7), the study’s theoretical approaches to ontological discourses on ecology are illustrated.                                                                                                                                                       2.11   Educational Theories and Contextually Situated Worldview Nehru (1935) critically analyzes dominant modern educational theories. Nehru (1935) emphasizes that cross-contextual transfer of such Western-rooted education systems is at odds with contemporary ontologies salient in contemporary modes of education across contexts. Nehru discusses in detail that particular characteristics of Western-rooted education theories stem from Western historicism and its ontological grounds. Drawing on different dominant theories of education in modern contexts, Nehru criticises Idealism as a human-centered and activity-based philosophy of education. Nehru (1935) indicates that the Idealist emphasis on human history is grounded in Western historicism, which has resulted in the separation into two 46  categories of humanities and science. Nehru mentions that it is important to note that although the cultural implications of Idealism for education provide space for consideration of context,  the division between humanism and science does not allow for inclusion of non Western-rooted ontologies in the realm of Idealistic knowledge. Nehru draws on Islamic ontologies as an example of such non-Western-rooted ontologies where the Idealistic concept of knowledge for self-realization is only one of the many aspects of Islamic conceptualization of knowledge. On another note, in a comparative analysis of educational Naturalism, Nehru (1935) shows that although education systems based on such an ideology are entirely based on a child’s experience, dominant theories of Western-rooted psychology play an important role in their scientific posture and conceptualization of their Naturalism way of meaning making. In Naturalism, analysis is rooted in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Nehru (1935) indicates that despite Huxley’s emphasis on the centralization of culture in a Naturalistic curriculum, the concept of culture is poorly defined as it is conceptualized as a set of practices passed on through generations in order to preserve an astatic body of knowledge. Continuing on critical analysis of education theories in modern contexts, Nehru draws on Pragmatism, Realism and Existentialism schools of thought. Nehru identifies the grounds of centrality of utilization, objectivism and secularity as shared ontological grounds of such schools of thought in education theory.  Mentioning that multiple diverse systems exist within each and across contemporary realms of education, and that they follow Western education theories, Nehru (1935) emphasizes that despite their diversity, they are still founded on similar modern ontologies.  In response to the current ontologically hegemonic approaches to both the conceptualization and articulation of education, Nehru calls for education research in non-Western-rooted contexts. Nehru (1935) explains that education is fundamentally conceptualized based on ontological 47  understandings of life, being and becoming; therefore, in order to examine non-Western-rooted education systems, it can be helpful to start with contexts with prominent ontological differences from modern contexts. Therefore, such exploration includes contexts with prominent religious cultural extensions.  This study is a research response to the critical call for examination of non-Western contexts with outstanding religious cultural extensions, such as Shia Islamic contexts in Iran. Toward conducting a thorough literature review of such contexts, Nehru (1935) suggests that such exploration may hold a state-centered paradigm and/or a community-centered paradigm. It is important to note that education organizations fall into contemporary social modes in the course of time, and there is no context independent of implicit and explicit modes of education (Farhang et.al, 2012). The conceptualization and modes of education are variable and indefinite in association with variable social circumstances (Golshan Foomani, 1994).  In the contemporary and vast context of Iran, modes of education have varied diversely but most prominently at the critical social transformation points during time, while dominant conceptualizations of education have stemmed from the few major philosophical turns following major religious ontologies such as Zoroastrianism and Islam (Farhang, 2012). In investigation of contemporary modes of education, Farhang et.al (2012) suggest exploration of the main social transformation eras consisting of pre-Islamic, Islamic, and the recent neo-colonial eras. Such investigation may obtain a state-centered paradigm while the community-centered paradigm may remain more associated with the major religious ontologies widespread among the public (Farhang, 2012; Golshan Foomani, 1994).  As the necessary foundation of this study, a thorough literature review about the concepts and modes of education in Iran was conducted as follows: 48  2.12   Education in the Context of Iran          2.12.1   The Pre-Islamic Era in Iran                       2.12.1.1 Conceptualization of Education in Pre-Islamic Iran Education was conceptualized as a trend from cradle to grave through multiple layers of social context with various interpretations (Almasi, 1991). The interpretations of the concept of education were dominantly associated with the meaning of life and the goal of life. The meaning and goal of life were associated with one’s position in the social order in particular, while in the collective realm they fell into the religious ontologies passed on and practiced by generation after generation (Farhang et al.,2012). Farhang et. al (2012) discuss how despite the emergence of other religious beliefs in the context of Iran, Zoroastrianism remained the dominant ontology in the pre-Islamic era, as it was closely linked to nationality in multiple layers of public literature from community oral narratives to scholarly literature. Almasi (1991) emphasizes that literature in this era was not limited to mere textual forms, but also conveyed diverse forms of communicating meaning such as arts, for instance poetics, Persian miniature imaging, performance and music, and crafts, for example fabric and rugs. Farhang et. al indicate that believing in one Creator revealing meanings to humans through the holy book of Avesta was the center of Zoroastrian ontologies. According to the Avesta, in a simple and abstract sense morality and purification of the mind and conscience, good thoughts, good will and acts, and articulation of thought in good speech were considered the meaning and goal of life. Further details about the notion of education stemming from Zoroastrian ontologies requires a focused literature review on Zoroastrian ontologies, which is beyond the scope of this approach. It is noteworthy to consider minority ontologies in the pre-Islamic era in depicting a fair reflection of the notions in education associated with this era.  49                        2.12.1.2   Modes of Education in Pre-Islamic Iran                                       2.12.1.2.1   The State-Centered Paradigm Almasi (1991) identifies three main states, Achamenian, Ashkanian and Sassanian, at the center of the most social transformative movements in pre-Islamic Iran. In the Achamenian era, religious ritual places, mainly fire temples, were the centers providing formal education to a diverse range of contemporary students belonging to anything from farming communities to religious trainees (Sediq, 1975), where the mogs, the clergymen of temples, were teachers. Besides religious places, there were royal courts providing education to military trainees where the goal of education was duty to society and country (Zamiri, 1988). In the Ashkanian era, due to the continuity of stable economics, vocational and economic aims emerged in formal education. In the Sassanian era, due to the continuity of Zoroastrianism at the state and community layers of contexts across Iran, there emerged many branches of Zoroastrian philosophy including in the sciences, arts and economics. It was in this era when the system of education and the study of contemporary branches of philosophy emerged as higher education. Such a system was specifically structured in the University of Jandishapoor (Almasi, 1999; Farhang et al, 2012). Almasi (1991) emphasizes that in Jandishapoor, the concept of education gained a more formal interpretation where knowledge and practice of the technical, vocational, medical, and branches of philosophy including arts, astronomy and science, were studied and taught. After the arrival of Islam in Iran, Jandishapoor remained an evolving education structure which supported Islamic civilization (Motahari, 1998).                                       50                                      2.12.1.2.2   The Community-Centered Paradigm Bruner (1996) discusses how the interpretation of the notion of education, like any other concept, needs to be situated in its broader living context. Bruner (1996) emphasizes that such contexts associated with making meaning of education is mainly the domain of culture. In investigating meanings and modes of education in a cultural context, it is important to include an exploration of the folk theories (Bruner, 1996, p.46) relative to the notion of education. Bruner discusses how inclusion of folk theories assists in providing a cultural account of the concept of education in relation to the context, as the folk pedagogy (Bruner, 1996, p.46) assists in the investigation of contemporary modes of education in a context. Nasr and Dabashi (1990) criticize the dominant theories arising from Western research, which assumes universality to its concepts. Nasr and Dabashi (1990) encourage investigation of contemporary theories of culture arising, and more importantly in relation to their own contexts. Towards a community-centered paradigm in a search for modes of education in the contemporary contexts of Iran, Morewedge (1976) suggests inclusion of Nomads’ modes of education, as well as people of arts and crafts, or artisans. Morewedge (1976) indicates that there exists a lack of research on the pre-Islamic modes of education in the contemporary contexts of Iran. Although the focus of this study is not the pre-Islamic era with Zoroastrian ontologies, it is required to include such conceptions as the foundational contexts from which the Islamic modes of education emerged. Morewedge (1976) discusses that it may not be possible to draw sharp lines in associating modes of education with solely Islamic ontologies or merely Zoroastrian ontologies. In Iranian contexts, Morewedge (1976) situates Islamic modes of education in the process of the gradual replacement of Zoroastrian ontologies with Islamic ontologies. Morewedge (1976) states that during this process 51  religious centers remained major educational structures, whereas fire temples transformed to mosques in the majority of cases.            2.12.2   The Islamic Era in Iran                       2.12.2.1   Conceptualization of Education in Islamic Iran Mutahhari (2002) discusses that with the start of the Islamic era, the conceptualization of education gained new meanings in all contemporary layers of society. As the conceptualization of life, being, becoming and the goal of life changed in ontological senses, making meaning of education also changed within a broad range, from vocational to philosophical modes of education. Mutahhari (2002) indicates that philosophy, hikmah, gained a more rational-oriented meaning in its Islamic nuance with two main branches, theoretical and practical, which overall embraced rational sciences including “theology, mathematics, the natural sciences, politics, ethics and domestic economy” (Mutahhari, 2002, p. 13).  Theoretical philosophy was threefold, including theology as high philosophy, mathematics as middle philosophy, and natural sciences as low philosophy. Theology included comprehension of general phenomenology and specified theology. Mathematics included understanding of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Natural sciences included comprehension of plant sciences, animal sciences, mineralogy, geology and environmental sciences. On the other hand, practical philosophy was threefold, including ethics, domestic economy and civics. The Islamic conceptualization of philosophy and its impacts on the redefinition of education was a gradual process of meaning making which occurred over decades and centuries after the encounter of Islam and the contemporary contexts of Iran (Morewedge, 1976). According to Islamic ontologies, knowledge was categorized into two main domains of making meaning of determinations -ahkam- and accidents -awarid- in all realms of philosophy (Mutahhari, 2002, p. 14). Mutahhari (2002) emphasizes noting the 52  pragmatics of the terms philosophy and science. Mutahhari (2002) discusses how a prevalent bias of today’s era, which arose in Western literature and spread widely in Eastern initiators of Western thought, pertains to a linguistic change in the usage and apprehension of the terms philosophy and science. In the traditional West, before the beginning of the sixteenth Christian century, the term philosophy was used to mean all rational and intellectual realms of knowledge.  In the modern West, the usage of the word became “restricted to metaphysics, logic, and aesthetics when mathematics and natural sciences were divorced from philosophy” (Mutahhari, 2002, p. 19). Gradually but consistently, the natural sciences departed the domain of syllogistic reasoning and entered that of the experimental method. Therefore, scientists called syllogistic reasoning groundless and the metaphysics and the relative realms, which indeed addressed the most important ontological questions about being, becoming and the goal of life, were declared non-existent by scientists in Western thought, as they were non-experimental (Mutahhari, 2002). Mutahhari (2002) emphasizes that such historicism did not happen to the Islamic conception of philosophy, and that the sscience as the pragmatics of these meanings are different in Islamic intellectualism.                                 2.12.2.1.1    Islamic Thought In Islamic Iran, the schools of philosophy and educational centers played an essential role in the development of Islamic culture. In Islamic thought in contemporary Iranian contexts, two main domains of philosophy evolved and dominated the remnants of the pre-Islamic philosophy (Mutahhari, 2002). The pre-Islamic philosophy, which had a lot of integrated thought from ancient Greek philosophy and ancient Zoroastrian ontologies, was replaced by an Islamic philosophy which evolved two main domains of gnosis, Irfan, and scholastic Theology, Kalam, 53  (Mutahhari, 2002). The two Islamic methods of meaning making opened new horizons for philosophy in general.                               2.12.2.1.2    Defining Shia in the Domain of Education Towards identifying contextual modes of education, Tuan (1975) suggests considering place as a unique artifact which stands in between the abstract systematic knowledge remote from experience and the particular localities. Tuan discusses how a place-centered meaning making may provide space for understanding sensitivities associated with ontologies. Towards identifying places as centers of meaning, Tuan (1975) suggests looking for places with non-explicit recognition and seeking human experiences towards human contemporary meaning making. There is an emergent call to redefine education in relation to context and its specific dynamics of social engagement and cultural life (Nehru, 1935; Chambers, 1999; Laird, 2004; Mackler, 2009). In educational philosophy, all conflicting yet dominant approaches defining education as an institutional entity for the most part disregard the integrated notion of education as a cross generational cultural entity in relation to diverse ontologies of life and being in contemporary worldviews (Nehru, 1935; Grande, 2004). In a Constructive philosophy of education, knowledge is constructed at the intersection of social actions and entities of context (Bruner, 1960; Smith, 1999; Grande, 2004). It is essential to redefine education as a function of context and to consider the contemporary forms in which education resides within contextual structures of culture and their entities (Nehru, 1935; Agyeman, 2003). Culture in the context of living is constantly in dialogue with contextual values and meanings according to contextual ontologies. Culture regulates social action in relation to emerging values within the context (Hall, 1992). It is critical to note the contextual definition of literacy and education. In this study, one main concept which requires scrutiny and understanding is the concept of literacy and 54  education in the view of Islamic philosophy, including two folds of Islamic original text as well as an Islamic authentic view through Islamic scholarly literature. It is important to examine the education system in the context of Shia as a system based on curriculum as lived (Jafari, 1995). In Islamic education, the Quran and Hadith have been the central source of making meaning of various phenomena in contemporary contexts with Islamic ontologies in and out of Iran (Nasr and Dabashi, 1996; Hakimi and Hakimi, 1998; Mutahhari, 2002). In the broadly scattered Islamic contexts in Iran, there have emerged four main methods of education in Islamic thought (Mutahhari, 2002). The first is the Islamic peripatetic method, used by numerous philosophers such as Ibn Sina. This method relies on rational deduction and demonstration (Mutahhari, 2002). Second, the Islamic illuminationist method was mainly received by Suhrawardi. In this method of education, purification of the soul plays an essential role beside rationality. Third, the Islamic gnosis, Irfan, method relies on purification of the soul but rejects deduction and, instead of discovering reality, the learner of this method seeks to attain reality (Mutahhari, 2002). The fourth method of education in Islamic thought is the deductive method of kalam, which relies on polemical wisdom while the learner is committed to the bounds of Islam (Mutahhari, 2002). The method of kalam is subdivided into three systems of thought, including the Mu’tazilite, the Ash’arite and the Shiite or Shia. Imam Ja’far Sadiq, the sixth successor of the messenger of Islam, is the leader and teacher of Shia thought in Islamic philosophy (Mutahhari, 2002). Shia is a philosophy of thought from which the Shi’i method of logical and rational argument, kalam, has emerged. The Shiite method of kalam is rooted in the Shia Hadith, which conveys “numerous traditions in which profound metaphysical and social problems have been dealt with logically and analyzed rationally” (Mutahhari, 2002, p. 75) in a discursive manner. Mutahhari identifies the Shia method of learning as one of the main origins of rational speculation and 55  debate, while reminding us that Imam Ali was the initiator of such a method in Islamic thought and education. Imam Ali initiated profound discussions “on the subjects of Divine Essence Attributes… temporality (huduth), unity (wahdah) and plurality (kathrah)…” (Mutahhari, 2002, p.76). The collection of his teachings is Nahj al-balaghah, considered the Islamic literary source of meaning making of life in relation to a broad range of topics. In further explanation of the Shia method of education, Mutahhari (2002) indicates that the critical debate and discursive construction of meaning in this method are apart from dialectical philosophization. The doctrinal basis for the Shia method of education is rooted in the Qur’anic revelations and Hadith, which means the guiding principles of Shia spiritual leaders, Imams (Nasr and Dabashi, 1996; Hakimi and Hakimi, 1998; Mutahhari, 2002). The Hadith is the Islamic system of literature referencing to Imams as Islamic intellectuals and original teachers whose oral, written and lived principles are at the center of Islamic education. There are five concepts at the center of Shia philosophy according to Shiite scholars (Mutahhari, 2002). The central concepts are “Taw-heed, Adle, Nabuwah, Imamah and Ma ’ad” (Mutahhari, 2002, p.79). Mutahhari (2002) indicates that taw-heed, the belief in Oneness of the Creator, and Nabuwah, the belief in the prophethood of all prophets and the last Prophet, Hazrat Mohammad, are central among all the various doctrines of contemporary groups of Moslems all around the world. In a brief description of the concept of Adle, justice at the cosmos scale, Mutahhari (2002) explains that in Shia philosophy, justice is defined and determined in accordance with the particular order of Divine origin. The concept of justice has a multi-dimensional meaning which includes individual, social and cosmic balance (Mutahhari, 2002). Mutahhari (2002) emphasizes that it is essential for any discussion of Islamic education to consider the main concepts central to Islamic literacy.                               56                              2.12.2.1.3    Shia Islamic Literacy Mutahhari exemplifies the study of Islamic literacy in the realm of evolution while he draws on the notions of humanity and animality (Mutahhari, 2002, p. 208). Mutahhari discusses these notions starting from a sociological point within a modern scientific paradigm where all human and animal differences are considered evolutionary infrastructures under the superstructure of the economy of the cosmos. Mutahhari explains that such a conceptualization of humanity defines the concepts of philosophy, arts, literature, morals, culture and religion as manifestations of economic realities without any substantive reality.  Mutahhari (2002) concludes that such an approach leads to a psychological, and ultimately an ontological argument, which asserts that humanity has no substantive reality except its animality. Therefore, only similarities between humans and animals are of value in this paradigm. Mutahhari emphasizes that such a conception of humanity and evolution is at odds with the Islamic conception of such notions. In discussing Islamic literacy in the realm of evolution, Mutahhari (2002) explains that humanity is a substantive and substantial superstructure whose animality is to become minimized during the evolutionary process of spiritual becoming. Such an evolutionary process liberates humans from the captivities of nature and self as they become more dependent on faith and belief. Mutahhari emphasizes that such “spiritual evolution” (Mutahhari, 2002, p.210) is not a reflection of the human evolution of tools and/or means of governing nature or material production. Mutahhari (2002) indicates that Islamic education is a system of thought, structuring its particular modes of education, which aligns with such a philosophy of being and becoming in all realms of knowledge making.                               2.12.2.1.4    Islamic Teaching 57  The Islamic conceptualization of teaching is in direct association with Islamic ontologies and contemporary topics related to the conceptualization of education, such as classification of pedagogies, belief in the insufficiency of reason, the critical analysis of dominant ideologies in defining education, the conceptualization of temporality and specificity, and the definition of culture in relation to notions of unity and diversity (Mutahhari, 2002). Mutahhari indicates that, according to Islamic ontologies, pedagogies fall into the category of pleasure-orientation or goal-orientation. Nasr discusses the historicism through which pleasure occupied ontologies in Western thought (Nasr, 2007). Mutahhari (2002) explains that the pragmatics of both terms, pleasure and goal, are far different across contexts as they are embedded in contextual ontologies. Mutahhari (2002) discusses that in Islamic ontologies, a goal-oriented pedagogy, holistically or particularly, “served the more sublime aptitudes of humanity” (Mutahhari, 2002, p. 226). In asserting the necessity of serving such aptitudes of humanity, Mutahhari describes that “the satanic designs of imperialism” (Mutahhari, 2002, p. 226), the most criminal of human acts, is an example of an organized and goal-oriented design of pedagogy which is divorced from such aptitudes of humanity, and which serves material and abominable ends, nukran. Mutahhari (2002) asserts that according to the Islamic philosophy of education, the design of a true pedagogy is beyond the power of human individuals and collective intelligence and, as Ibn-Sina wrote in his chapter on Islamic theories of education in kitab al-Najat, the revealed law is required to be learned and lived with (Mutahhari, 2002, p.228). In defining Islamic ideologies in conceptualizing education, Mutahhari indicates that belief in a human’s primordial nature is shared by all such ideologies in the realm of education. In Islamic thought, a human’s primordial nature is shared among all ethnicities, nations, races, genders and classes. Mutahhari (2002) discusses that such a conception depowers all criteria which have caused human discrimination 58  and marginalization throughout contemporary social histories. In the Islamic philosophy of education, social justice is the institute of religion and all human beings have an equal right to education. In Shia philosophy, social justice is an assertion of believing in the Creator’s Oneness, Taw-heed, so in judgment and institution of justice, every Moslem ought to avoid categorizing human beings along criteria of race, nation, class and gender. In the Islamic conceptualization of teaching, culture is defined in relation to the primordial nature of human beings. Culture means the living conditions of humans, with two dimensions in existence and essence, as human life is defined in the same way. Diversity and fragmentation are characteristics of the existence dimension of culture in relation to context, while all contemporary contextual modes of cultures share the primordial condition of human beings, in unity. Such an Islamic conception of culture/s depowers any corporate definition of culture, while it asserts the Islamic principle of social justice with respect to context, and simultaneously in a universal sense (Nasr, 2007; Mutahhari, 2002). In Islamic theories of education, conceptualizations of temporality, stability, specificity and universality are important in identifying various definitions of education in relation to realms of knowledge. Mutahhari (2002) explains that a definition of education which arises from corporate interests, including all modes of social structures of power such as class, race, and nation, are relative in terms of time and place; therefore, they are temporal and specific to their contexts. In Islamic thought, the definitions of education which arise from the ontologies of the primordial nature of being may stand foundationally stable across contexts. In Islamic theories of education, realms of teaching fall into three main categories across Islamic contexts. The three main realms are principles of belief, morals and decrees. According to Shia scholars, the Shia school of thought in education is structured around these three realms of knowledge making, while centering the Qur’an and Hadith as the foundations of meaning making. The Islamic 59  school of thought “does not regard imitation and blind submission as sufficient; every individual must freely and independently verify the rightness of their belief under heading of investigation and acquisition of knowledge” (Mutahhari, 2002, p.233). In identifying one of the main pedagogical practices in Islamic theories of education, Mutahhari (2002) and Nasr (2007) discuss the importance of contemplation in teaching, learning and meaning making of knowing in contemporary realms of knowledge.  Mutahhari emphasizes that contemplation is not confined to physical or financial acts of worship. Mutahhari (2002) encourages investigation of contemporary modes of contemplation towards understanding Islamic modes of teaching, literacy making and education.                      2.12.2.2   Modes of Education in Islamic Iran The contemporary modes of education in contemporary contexts of Iran have been variously dependent on localities which are mainly impacted by sociocultural variants. Across the ecologically diverse contexts of Iran, the sociocultural variants have been shaped fundamentally by ecological, economic and linguistic factors (Morewedge, 1976). The conceptualization of Indigeneity varies across contexts, where different notions are embraced as the central distinguishing characterization of Indigenous identity. Such central notions include contemporary Islamic religious orientations, ecological realms, racial pedigrees, and linguistic backgrounds (Morewedge, 1976). The modes of education vary across the contexts of Iran in direct relation with contextual localities.  Morewedge (1976) indicates that there is a lack of literature on identification and documentation of contemporary modes of education in relation to the specificity of contexts across Iran. Morewedge (1976) discusses that, in general, there have been unified modes of formal education across contexts, according to Avicenna’s documentation of early Islamic education in Iran. Avicenna identifies maktab as the Islamic form of elementary 60  education, which was often associated with a mosque. Avicenna’s philosophy of education, which elaborated on the Islamic conceptualization of education based on the Qur’an and Hadith, was used as a guiding literature in the construction of formal education replacing small scale and private instruction across contexts in Iran (Morewedge, 1976). Morewedge (1976) discusses that the early curriculum was structured on the grounds of the Qur’an, Islamic ethics, language, and literature which upheld an understanding of life, being, becoming and the goal of life in the center of constructing knowledge. Morewedge (1976) explains that the process of structuring secondary education, qualified for children over 14 years of age, was grounded in Avicenna’s philosophy of education and based on the acquisition of career-oriented specialization. Morewedge (1976) calls for examination of contemporary modes of education, including maktab and madras, in accordance with various localities across their associated contexts.          2.12.3   The Recent Era in Iran                       2.12.3.1   Conceptualization and Modes of Education in Recent Iran In a critical analysis of the historical and political marginalization of diverse meanings associated with the concepts of curriculum, education and literacy (Mutahhari, 1982; Armstrong, 1995, Tikly, 2004), Tikly (2004) discusses the role of education in relation to neo-imperialism. In defining neo-imperialism, Tikly (2004) explains the difference between new modes of imperialism and “older forms of European imperialism characterized by colonial rule” (Tikly, 2004, p. 173). Tikly (2004) focuses on education as the non-material and discursive mode of “governmentality” (Foucault, 1991) as a new regime of global control securing global capitalism. Tikly (2004) discusses the role of education as the central policy making machinery for the imperialistic project of development towards structuring global capitalism. Tikly (2004) draws on Foucault’s concept of governmentality to interpret and discuss the continuity of imperialism 61  as a discursive phenomenon.  Tikly critically analyzes the dominant forms of rationality which set grounds for the concept of development at the center of imperialism. Tikly draws on dominant conceptualizations, theories and modes of education as the main policy production areas which perpetuate such dominant rationalities. Tikly calls for identification of the multilateral development agencies processing such rationalities in contemporary realms from economics to sustainability. Tikly (2004) calls for “creating spaces for historically marginalized knowledges and their diverse ways of understanding education” (Tikly, 2004, p. 174) across contemporary contexts. Critics discoursing on the concept of neo-imperialism refer to the process through which global powers, including political, cultural, environmental and mainly economic ones, flow across territorial entities (Harvey, 1996; Tikly, 2004; Lewis, 1993; Ali, 2003; Pilger, 2003). Tikly emphasizes that the imperial conceptualization of education plays a central role in processing neo-imperialism. Critics of neo-imperialism emphasize that this phenomenon “differs from the older analysis of neo-colonialism in two important respects” (Tikly, 2004). Neo-imperialism is less identified with nation states or the notion of the West in its dominant sense. Neo-imperialism is transnational in its composition and is not confined to power blocs in the West or East (Robinson & Harris, 2000).  Neo-imperialism is a global elite that exerts an unpredictable influence on national policies, mainly in so-called third world countries. The distinctive characteristic of neo-imperialism is its cultural/scientific identity, rather than being based on colonial notions of race (Tikly, 2004). Young (2001) indicates the prominent role of education in structuring the capitalists’ funded project of neo-imperial development. Young discusses the roles of curriculum and pedagogy in shaping social practices, constituting policies and producing knowledge. Tikly (2004) discusses the roles of social practices in operating or contesting apparatuses of governmentality towards neo-imperialism. 62  Tikly traces the grounds of neo-imperialism into neo-liberal economic theories initiated after the Second World War; therefore, Tikly calls for the identification of new conceptualizations of education which emerged simultaneously in contemporary contexts, particularly in so-called third world contexts. Tikly associates such conceptualizations of education as a major institution in such contexts. Nasr and Dabashi (1990), and Morewedge (1976) emphasize that such a conceptualization of education was initiated by the modernization movement in the context of Iran. Tikly (2004) discusses how the new imperialistic significance of the term “development” was processed by the modern conceptualization of education. Tikly explains that this movement constructed a development paradigm aimed at restructuring a new episteme to support the reproduction of a new imperialism. Tikly (2004), Escobar (2001) and Sardar (1999) show that economic restructuring of the globe is never separate from cultural restructuring of contexts, as economics is a profoundly cultural entity in non-Western contexts.  2.13   Education and New Imperialism  In calling for an examination of contextual theories of education towards redefining education in relation to context, Tikly (2004) discusses that dominant education theories, as they are developing at the global level, give rise to education policies mainly governed by global multilateral agencies. The global multilateral agencies are grounded in global imperialistic structures of governmentality (Rose & Miller, 1992; Harris, 1999; Tikly, 2004). Tikly calls for the identification of “technologies of government” (Tikly, 2004, p. 188) in the realm of education. In defining such technologies, Tikly draws on techniques, policies, procedures and strategies which are used cross-contextually to integrate imperialistic political rationalities into contextual ontologies, education theories and major conceptualizations in the realm of education. Tikly indicates the importance of colonial education as a basis for neo-imperialism (Tikly, 2004, 63  p. 188). Modern forms of education are described as the technologies of “colonization of the mind” (Tikly, 2004, p. 188; Ngugi Wa Thiong, 1981; Nandy, 1997). In interpreting associated conceptualizations of education in modern ontologies, Tikly emphasizes “the Western episteme based on Eurocentric conceptions of human nature and of social reality” (Tikly, 2004, p. 188).  Tikly discusses how the spread of such conceptualizations, modes and structures of education is an essential “precondition for the subsequent spread of global governmentality” (Tikly, 2004, p. 189). Tikly (2004) critically analyzes the promotion of modernization through the development of human capital theory by means of education during the 1960s and 1970s in the target contexts of neo-imperialism. Tikly (2004) discusses the means through which modern education became a severe reinforcement of neo-imperialism through limiting the capacities of the identification and implementation of contextual educational forms and conceptualizations. In raising the importance of contextual approaches in redefining education, Tikly emphasizes the potentiality of education as the realm of knowledge construction towards anti-imperialism. Anti-imperialist scholars call for contextual approaches to re-conceptualize education in order to go beyond the existing order of knowledge being reinforced by current dominant Eurocentric conceptualizations of education (Santos, 1999; Tikly, 2004). Contextualizing education provides space for contextualizing knowledge production away from a hegemonic order which marginalizes and dominates other ways of knowing and making meaning (Crossley & Watson, 2003; Tikly, 2004).  Tikly (2004) indicates that the identification and establishment of contextual curriculum and pedagogy can foster critical thought and social transformation as new anti-imperialistic politics.           64           2.13.1   Conceptualization of Modern Ontology-rooted Education in Iran Nehru (1935) calls for the examination of formal and informal definitions of education in relation to context. Nehru (1935) indicates that such an approach may lead to problematizing interplays of power and colonization through curriculum as planned, and addressing the marginalized definition of education within formal institutions of education. Such a critical analysis of concepts of education as entities of culture, in explicit and implicit reciprocity with particularities of contexts, is emergent in current studies (UNESCO, 2012; Hall, Sefa, Rosenberg, 2000).           2.13.2   Modern Education in Iran Koyagi (2009) elaborates on recent research on the conceptualizations of education in Iran. Koyagi (2009) indicates that the majority of studies have adopted a top-down approach, with a paradigm encompassed by modernization theory and national historiography. Koyagi (2009) identifies a gap in bottom-up studies on recent conceptualizations of education across contemporary contexts of Iran. Koyagi (2009) discusses that recent studies such as Arasteh’s 1969, Banani’s 1961 and Menashri’s studies provide a historiographic account of the modern conceptualization and formal state-centered schooling in Iran. Koyagi (2009) indicates that such studies all adopt a pro-modernist approach in their presumed dichotomy of modern versus traditional conceptualizations of education in Iran. Koyagi (2009) emphasizes that such studies all ignore the inclusion of contemporary perspectives of social groups and/or individuals who have resisted modernization of education in Iran. Koyagi (2009) discusses how such studies ignore the perspectives of the most involved groups and/or individuals in education such as teachers, community elders and religious-social guides.  Koyagi (2009) calls for the inclusion of 65  the powerless voices that have been marginalized in depicting an image of education across contemporary contexts in Iran.  2.14   Indigenous Approaches to the Concept of Knowledge Construction Grande (2012) discusses how in identifying marginalized conceptualizations associated with a notion, it is essential to identify the relationships of the researched group with contemporary structures of power. Grande calls for the inclusion of invisible voices that deconstruct “imperial legacies of Western knowledge” (Grande, 2012, p.xii). In defining the West, Grande draws on Stuart Hall’s notion of the “West as an idea or concept, a language for imagining a set of complex stories, ideas, historical events and social relationships” (Grande, 2012, p. 44), which allows us to categorize, compare and rank other societies through a system of representation. Nasr identifies Islamic ways of meaning making as a marginalized voice in current literature and studies. Koyagi (2009) identifies Shia ways of meaning making about education and curriculum as excluded from scrutiny and as being absent in the construction of discourse. Grande (2012) raises the importance of reaching cultural key people and resources in contemporary contexts in order to examine cultural ways of knowing. In Shia contexts, the Qur’an, Hadith, religious-social guides –Ulama- and community elders are key cultural resources of meaning making (Mutahhari, 2002; Nasr & Dabashi, 1990; Koyagi, 2009) where the dominant modern conceptualizations of education, imposed by forces of globalization, are the means to reproduce imperial “regimes of truth” (Grande, 2012, p.33).  2.15   Ecological Education in Contemporary Islamic Contexts  In constructing a systematic approach to examining the notion of ecological education as a function of contextual culture, the question of how ecological literacy is taught through culture is 66  addressed. Mutahhari (2002) discusses how in constructing knowledge, the inquiry that focuses on the study of the organology of the universe of being is defined as science in Islamic thought, and the inquiry that pertains to the universe as a whole requires a philosophical approach in direct association with ontologies. In the Islamic conceptualization of education, human beings are born with a pure potentiality that becomes understood through education. Contemporary revelations, the human primordial essence and conscience are at the center of such education. The Qur’an swears the human primordial essence and conscience (Qur’an, 2: 75 in Mutahhari, 2002) is accessible to all human beings. In Islamic thought, any contextual mode of education, which assists the human conscience in guiding one’s becoming throughout life, is respected (Imam Ali, Nahj al-balagha, p. 225 in Hakimi, 2010). In Islamic thought, a Moslem’s life is the realm of Islamic education as one’s lived practices are pedagogies based on Islamic ways of meaning making of life (Jafari, 1995). According to the Qur’an, each Moslem is responsible to make her/his meaning of life (Hakimi, 2010) based on oral, written or practical modes of studying (Majlesi, 1698, 29/2 in Mutahhari, 2002). The importance of education at the social and cultural level is in its practicality, while the goal of education is to make meaning of one’s life in one’s living context (Majlesi, 1698, 32/2 in Hakimi, 2010). In identifying the proper ideology and guiding philosophy, according to the Qur’an, it is essential for each Moslem to examine her/his food for thought as she/he examines the properness of food for health (Hakimi, 2010). In Islamic thought, each Moslem is responsible for justice in a holistic and multi-dimensional manner including her/his relationship with the creator, with one’s self, with other beings and the environment (Hakimi, 2010). The Qur’an conveys multiple educational concepts about the rights of the environment and other beings onto humans’ shoulders, as well as the notions of responsibility and justice towards nature and the environment (Hakimi, 2010; Nasr & Dabashi, 67  1990). In addition, there are rights and responsibilities defined in association with other beings and the environment on a cosmic scale. Hakimi (2010) draws on multiple verses and discourses in the Qur’an and Hadith about the concept of justice towards the cosmos. The concepts of discrimination of rights and pollution associated with the environment are defined elaborately in the Qur’an and Hadith (Hakimi, 2010). According to the Qur’an, the concepts of consumerism and capitalism are central to the creation of discriminatory status in relation to the environment (Hakimi, 2010). Hakimi (2010) discusses how understanding the social consequences of consumerism and capitalism in multiple layers, from individual to public realms, are central to the concept of living for a Moslem. Hakimi (2010) draws on multiple Hadith about the respect and practice of rights towards the environment by Imam Ali, the Shia leader. Hakimi (2010) identifies contemporary references which elaborate on individual and social responsibilities advised to Moslems towards nature and the environment. Such references include the Qur’an, Hadith, Nahj al-balaghah, and Bahar al-anvar, which provide general to detailed accounts of the conceptualization of justice towards the environment (Hakimi, 2010). Nasr (1990) identifies such references as Islamic literacy making resources about nature at a cosmic scale. Such references are accessible to the public at all social layers across Islamic contexts in Iran (Hakimi, 2010; Nasr, 1990; Morewedge, 1976).        68                                                             CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY One of the major segments of this study has been an exploration of an appropriate methodological approach in respect to the contexts involved in this study. As this research is situated in a Western institution and it aims to study one of the Middle Eastern Islamic cultures, it was important to consider major critiques of Western-situated research within neocolonial discourses. The major methodological issues concerning conducting cultural studies, such as research as perpetuating colonial thought in contemporary non-modern contexts (Said, 1978), the politics of representation of the other (Hall, 1992) and issues of power dynamics through processes of interpretation and analysis along with their pragmatic implications have been lingering throughout the research process in all stages of proposing the title, choosing the theoretical frameworks, designing the approach, encountering the participants and reflecting on the results. The exploration of a fair methodological approach started with the literature review aiming at the identification of important ethical features involved with the work of cultural interpretation and analysis. The second step was to choose a method/methods that would include research participant voices with respect to their conditions of living, their ethics and their worldviews.  Methodological Approach Neo-colonial scholars describe some of the major methodological issues concerned with conducting cultural studies, such as research perpetuating colonial thought in contemporary contexts (Said, 1978). Said (1978) indicates the importance of considering discourses on Orientalism in those cultural studies which address the context of the Middle East and Islam in 69  the era of post 1800 A.D. in the Gregorian calendar, equivalent to post 1100 S.H. in the Solar Hijri calendar. Said justifies his emergent call by drawing on the point that in this era "the most read designation for Orientalism is an academic one" (Said, 1978, p. 2) as "it connotes the high-handed executive attitude of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century European colonisation" (Said, 1978, p.2) and recently "the vastly extended American political and economic role in the Middle East [which] makes great claims on our understanding of that Orient" (Said, 1978, p.2). An investigation of Orientalism is critical "to propose intellectual ways for handling methodological problems that [Orientalist] history has brought forward in the Orient" (Said, 1978, p.110). Said defined Orientalism as an Imperial style for restructuring meanings that perpetuate authority over the Orient, and as a densely made segregation of the Orient people based on two main approaches to make knowledge about those people as the Orient; on one hand are the ontological appropriations which impose certain types of distinction, codifying and schematic authority upon those people, and on the other are designed epistemological criteria. Other neocolonial scholars identify ontological appropriation at the centre of such concerns. 3.1 Ontological Appropriation In describing some of the major methodological issues concerned with the process of representation of the other, Said (1978) draws on the central notion of ontological appropriation. Said (1978) emphasizes Foucault's notion of discourse to identify Orientalism as a Western projection of authority and an archeology of hegemony which continues to construct a disciplined system of knowledge-making about the people, imaginatively made as the Orient. Said (1978) analyzes the Orientalist discourses in relation to the construction of propagating imagery, political vocabulary and consistent field practices executed through the colonial thought 70  of dominantly British and French missionaries which have constructed the foundations of the European traditional scholarship about the Middle East, with its main focus on Islamic people. In defining this hegemonic identity imposed on the Islamic context of the Middle East, Said (1978) draws on Gramsci's identification of European self-identity as a hegemonic ideology of superiority over non-European peoples and cultures (Gramsci & Buttigieg, 1971). Gramsci (1971) identifies the production of knowledge as a highly socio-political process. Said locates the Western-situated researcher and scholar in the position of a conscious and/or unconscious socio-political missionary who comes up against the Orient as a developed superior first, and as an individual second (Said, 1978).  In the case of the European Orientalist, the Oriental knowledge is constructed at the intersection of the conscious and unconscious sedimentation of European hegemonic ideology, as the scholarship of the Orientalist is situated in a philological tradition stemming from a geopolitical reconstruction of the history about the other on one hand, and the geography of distinction on the other hand (Said, 1978). In the case of the researcher, whose construction of knowledge is currently situated in and/or upon such philological tradition, her/his scholarship is a distribution and maintenance of the hegemonic ideology of superiority shaped by the exchange of the Imperial political power and intellectual power in propagating a global moral power. It is within the colonial totalitarianism of such political-intellectual discourse that discursive frames of research, education and policy are shaped by the capital Imperial state, including dispersed colonial bourgeois within dominant private sectors as well as research fields in the context of interest (Gramsci & Buttigieg, 1971; Said, 1978). In identification of such a state, Said (1978) draws our attention to the notion of Imperialism associated with the hegemonic ideology of superiority over the so-called Orient.  Post twentieth century Imperialism is defined as the construction of discourses of domination through progressive systems of knowledge 71  production which serve imperial interests within the target context (Feuer, 1986; Said, 1978) on one hand, and by impartment of urgency and consciousness against a backward inferiority represented as the target context (Said, 1978) on the other hand. In the case of the Islamic Middle East, Said (1978) identifies this hegemonic superiority as a dominant cultural paradigm through which the Orientalist discourse has constructed colonial knowledge about the Islamic peoples of Middle East. The Orientalist discourse has constructed “an emerging Orient suitable for study in the academy, for display in the museums, ..., and for the theoretical illustration in anthropological, biological, linguistic, racial, and historical theses about mankind and the universe" (Said, 1976, p.7). In the field of Middle East Islamic studies, Said (1978) defines a Western situated researcher as any scholar theoretically and/or practically conducting research on the Islamic peoples of the Middle East, who is philologically and conceptually based on and/or affiliated with the foundational literature, social theories and history constructed by  Orientalist scholars. The political literature which progressive Imperialism bears upon its production is partly executed by the Western situated scholar through her/his research. Said (1978) mentions cultural work, political tendencies, the state, and the specific realities of domination as such mediators of meaning. Said points out that such situationality, due to the constructive structure of knowledge, regulates and sustains Oriental discourses including its highly colonial and imperial consequences for the context. Said (1978) identifies the Orientalist hegemonic ideology of superiority as a cultural paradigm constructed on foundations of representation of the Orient. The representation then existentially and morally exteriorizes the Orientalist from the Orient as "the other", "inferior" and "incapable of escaping the wholeness imposed to her/him" (Said, 1978, p.21). Exteriority is a critical notion in understanding the relationship between power and authority with the constructive nature of representation in 72  cultural discourse analysis. The ethnographical exteriority embedded in the imbalance of power between the researcher and the researched people has led to propagating claims of truth and delivered presence instead of confessions of representation by the researcher/scholar in power (Said, 1978). Said emphasizes that identification of imperialism in such cultural studies is central to the identification of the roots of notions of otherness and inferiority in politics of representation through the process of knowledge construction (Said, 1978). Said (1978) points out that construction of central authority is the progressive strategy of Imperialism. Knowledge management is regulated by the researcher situated in an Imperial authority who addresses the local concerns, which due to the discursive strategies of the central authority, are stemming from the general concerns of the social authority (Said, 1978; Roger, 2004). Said identifies progressiveness and essentialism as two main methodologies of meaning making about the Orient toward Imperialism.  3.1.1 Progressiveness  One main concern in post-colonial theory is associated with the closeness of Imperial politics with this particular context of study, and it addresses the sensitive point on the “likelihood that the information about the context may be put to political use toward progressive Imperialism” (Said, 1978, p.96). Abdel Malek (1971) characterises the political structure of Orientalism as an Imperial one. Abdel Malek identifies constitutive otherness and thematic essentialism, including ethnic typology, as foundational characteristics of the Imperial structure of Orientalism (Said, 1978, p.97), and the current Imperial post-1950s racism and phobia-ism towards the Islamic contexts of Middle East.   73  3.1.2 Essentialism  Another concern is to identify "the typical experiences and emotions that accompany both the scholarly advances and the political conquests aided by Orientalism"(Said, 1978, p.100). From Renan's deterministic ethnic essentialism (1882), Goldziher’s modern Islamic foundation (1874), Gibb's Arabic philology on Islam (1947) to Lewis' current theories of militant Islam and third-worldism (1993), Islam is represented as a "cultural synthesis" (Said, 1978, p.105) apart from the political, social and economic entities of its context and people. Lewis' tautological and biased essentialism in depicting the Orient has served as a dynamic intellectual source for Imperial policy making against the Islamic peoples of the Middle East. Said (1978) discusses Orientalist subjectivity from various points of relevance to the construction of the so called Orient.  Orientalist subjectivity:  Christian analogy: Daniel (1993) analyzes the reception of Islam by the West, particularly in relation to the analogy of identifying the Islamic people and the place called Middle East. Daniel draws on analogical arguments when describing the process of transformation and reception of meanings associated with the people and place of the Middle East. Daniel describes the cognitive constraints involved in the process of understanding Islam as an analogical one by Medieval Christian thinkers of Orientalism. One main analogical structure was that as Christ is the basis of Christian faith, the misconception evolved which centered "Mohammad to Islam as Christ was to Christianity" (Daniel, 1993, p.60).  Daniel describes the analogical process through which a so-called realistic portrait of truth about Islam was formed based on the assumed universality of Medieval Christian values. Southern (1962) calls for a literary approach, 74  which unsettles the firmed convictions of the Oriental radical realism imposed on the context.   Colonization and neo-colonization: Postcolonial scholars emphasize the critical analysis of the concept of colonization in drawing on the literature about and by the Orient. It is important to elaborate on a broad understanding of the concept of colonization, which includes notions of Capitalism, Imperialism and other sorts of fascism (Chomsky & Herman, 1979; Zizek, 2008). In post-colonial theories, modernity is one main regulatory concept for contemporary forms of neo-colonization (Ghandi, 1935; Said, 1978; Chakrabarty, 2000; Banerjee, 2000). Chakrabarty identifies historicism as the core concept integral to the construction of modernity discourses (Chakrabarty, 2000), and warns against drawing on merely Western post-structural and post-modern critiques of historicism as a mode of historicism itself. Post-colonial scholars identify historicism as the surviving form of the nineteenth century colonial ideology of development. Post-colonial scholars warn researchers of the so-called third world against producing local versions of the same narratives of historicism, where research serves as a relationship to European social thought.   Signifying threat and danger: Said (1978) points out that modes of representation of the Islamic peoples of the Middle East have varied since the era of British and French Orientalism to our current era in the center of discourses. The nuances in representation have been discursively transformed from exteriority and exoticism to inferiority and, in the post-1950s, as a danger and threat which all "intensify the hold of the nineteenth-century academic and imaginative demonology of the mysterious Orient" (Said, 1978, p.26). This intensification process is analyzed by drawing on anti-Islamic discourses and 75  their power in reinforcement of the so-called postmodern world in understanding the Middle East and its contemporary people. Said suggests a contextual approach in the face of power structures of "cosmopolitan allegiance grounded on superiority" (Said, 1978, p. 37) such as Orientalism and modernity. The intensification is also associated with "the relationship between knowledge and geography" (Said, 1978, p.53). In the nineteenth-century the term Middle East was discursively formed by the Oriental British Office in India and the American geo-strategist Mahan in the Persian Gulf (Koppes, 1976).  One main counter methodology used in constructing Orientalism has been a sustained propaganda scholarship of subject matter. Lasswell (1962, 1972) defined such propaganda efforts as the discourse in "which what accounts is not what people are or think but what they can be made to be and think" (Said, 1978, p.78). The Orientalist fathers such as Balfour, Cromer, and Kissinger have articulated the foundations of the propaganda of the Orient as a threat by collectively calling for the urgency of a Western "construct [of] an international order before a crisis imposes it as a necessity" (Said, 1978, p.47).  3.2  Avoiding Oriental Methodology  Said (1978) identifies the foundations of Oriental methodology, as an academic discursive formation of Orientalism, in the academic movements of the early eighteenth-century, such as George Sale's bringing his own translations of Islamic sources in a comparative approach with medieval Christianity. The construction of such preliminary discourses was led by Oriental historians. The current biased online translation of the Qur'an initiated by the University of Copenhagen in 2007 is an extension of such discourses into twenty-first-century research. Another methodological approach was the sympathetic identification with the Orient, the 76  intellectual movement which started in the late eighteenth-century as "preparing the way for modern Orientalism" (Said, 1978, p.118).           3.2.1. Methodological Guide for this Study: Post-colonial scholars suggest attending to the contextual languages, practices and tradition with no representational claims to make for the context. A deconstructive approach towards historicism is the empirical attendance to the diverse ways of being and living in the world, and as Gandhi (1998) suggests, to move away from abstracting universal discourses of modernism and secularism and instead to include contemporary religious modes of being in the world. Chakrabarty (2000) describes how what one says is closely connected with how it is said; therefore, a narrative constantly conveys non-linear analytics within itself, as an interview is a mutual creation (Greenspan and Bolkosky, 2006). It is essential to address the concept of interpretation (Steiner, 1975; As-Safi 1979) in relation to cultural understanding (Vygotsky, 1986; Bruner, 1991) and the pragmatics implications of context (Levinson, 1983; Fatemi, 2001; Chapman, 2011). 3.3 Modern Orientalism Modern Orientalism inherited its library of literature, discourse and praxis to place them on Sacy's and Lane's scientific and rational basis (Said, 1978). The methodology of modern Orientalism has been a systematic accumulation of human beings and territories in the name of knowledge, and by preparing the context and the people for arriving movements, revolutions, armies, administrations and bureaucracies. Modern Orientalism discursively constructs "a systematic body of texts, pedagogical practices, a scholarly tradition, and an important link between scholarship and public [and international] policy" (Said, 1978, p.124). The current 77  assimilative and incorporative international policies imposed on the context of Islam in the Middle East is the Imperial extension of scholarly text and research by the Orientalist.  Neo-colonial critics emphasize identifying multiple facets of modern Orientalism, which may emerge as ecological orientalism, geological orientalism and topological orientalism.            3.3.1 Ecological Orientalism Said (1978) warns the researcher about the potentiality of Orientalism in relation to its progressive exteriority and propagating superiority, which has discursively formed academic Orients such as the Darwinian Orient and, therefore, may construct new realms of Orient in research such as an ecological Orient. Construction of an ecological Orient can be the consequence of a methodological approach through an Orientalist paradigm with an intense positivist doctrine. The so-called Orientalist methodology includes two main approaches, such as ontological and epistemological ones (Said, 1978; Bhabha, 1994). Such a methodological approach obscures contextual ontological worldviews lived by the peoples of the Middle East, including Moslems, through the strategy of ontological appropriation.                        3.3.1.1 Methodological Guide for this Study:  In the realm of epistemology, understanding and analysis of people's lived ecological experiences, based on the large Orientalist body of literature formed as an exterior and designed criteria, fall between the intertextual system of citing Orientalist works and authors, and the methodological consequences of dynamics between scholarship, imaginative writing, and assumptions perpetuated as research data (Said, 1978). The power imbalance between the politicians supporting and supported by the intellectual bourgeosie belonging to the structures of knowledge-production, or in Said's words "an Orientalised socio-science jargon" (Said, 1978, 78  p.109), facilitates the process of exploitation of the Orient. Ecological Orientalism may follow the same methodological approach of sympathetic identification to first deconstruct contextual meanings and then replace them with regenerated Oriental meanings. Such a methodological approach starts with the vocabulary of sympathetic identification with the context and gradually shifts to "the lexicographical police action of Orientalist science" (Said, 1978, p.155) and policy.          3.3.2 Geographical Orientalism One other main method pervasive in oriental writing has been Cromer's pedagogy of reforming native minds (Kernaghan, 1993). Multiple geographical supervisory Imperial authority establishments were initiated by Curzon based on his Orientalist accounts of the geography of greater Iran and Amu Darya (Curzon, 1892). The current Royal Geographical Society, led by British Orientalists, and the French Société de Géographie are among many such establishments, which coincide the production of a historically-made geographical knowledge with a panorama mapping towards investment in power within the context of Middle East (Said, 1978).          3.3.3 Topological Orientalism In this study, the research sites are within the geographical borders of Iran. It is important to consider that the existing dominant perceptions about the space of the Middle East, and particularly Iran at the heart of the region, is the product of an ongoing project of Western political opposition embedded in the politics of colonization and Imperialism towards the region (Stoler, 2002; Said, 1993; Bhabha, 1994).  Post-colonial scholars argue that erasure and/or misrepresentation of identities of certain Indigenous and/or religious groups of people is an ongoing colonial process which structures “the figurative and literal landscape and the identities that have been produced in the process” (Mawani, 2003, p.101), while spatially inscribing 79  colonial political, legal, geographical and economic identities. It is important to move the dynamics of the study towards voicing a self-representation of the contexts which are spatially misrepresented (Mawani, 2003; Blunt & McEwan, 2002).                      3.3.3.1 Methodological Guide for this Study  It is crucial to rely on contextual sources representing spatial and cultural identities as “identities are mapped in real and imaginary, material and metaphorical spaces” (Philips, 1997, p.45). In mapping the spatial identities of the context of Iran, it is important to consider local maps and calendars central to the methodology of approach.  3.4 Oriental Methodological Dogmas  Said (1978) warns about the absolute dogma of East and West differentiation, and the dogma of placing Orientalist vocabulary in the place of local contextual vocabulary. A critical analysis of current Middle Eastern studies situated in dominant literature shows the sustaining strategies of such institutions in representing a monolithic Oriental image of Islam. One main concern is the low emphasis on the prevailing methodological issues in the last three centuries. A narrative sketch of possible consonance between modes of local topography, ecological literacy and ritual pedagogies is recommended (Said, 1978).           3.4.1 Methodological Guide for this Study Said suggests exploring Islam not merely based on text but also through the people who live their contemporary ways of living through an Islamic way of being. Said suggests bringingin visual images of contemporary people in Islamic contexts of the Middle East. Said calls for reflecting the diversity of races and images towards the deconstruction of the image making accumulation 80  of Orientalism; and for bringing in the literacy sciences of the Islamic peoples, which Orientalism avoided and censored (Said, 1978). 3.5 Decolonizing Strategies in Methodological Approach In response to the concerns raised by neo-colonial critics about the topic of investigation and the context where this investigation is situated, and in respect to the importance of neo-colonial approaches to redefine research, I chose to focus on ontologies of the people in the context of this study as the main methodological strategy in constructing research data. It is essential to transparently confess that the study is merely a representation by the researcher, who is bounded within her subjectivity and constructivist approach (Banerjee & Linsted, 2001). On the other hand, one major component of this study is an examination of the topic from the perspective of contextual references and local sources of literature. One other major component of this study is devoted to bringing the literary sciences of the local people into discourses. Therefore, the methods selected for this approach should convey spaces for dialogue with people practicing this culture. Methods of Approach in Similar Studies The process of choosing appropriate methods to understand the concept of ecological literacy from the perspective of local people in the context of this study, includes the identification of common methods applied by ecological critics and ecological ethnographers. It is recommended to begin with understanding the concept of ecological literacy in Persian and non-Persian contexts by drawing on some methods of use in critical ethnography. Wolfe (1999) addresses the reproduction of Western colonial settlement through ethnographic authority. Such authority includes the imbalance of power and knowledge among the researcher and participants through 81  an ethnographic relationship (Banerjee & Linsted, 2001) as well as objectivity and subjectivity positions of knowledge production through research (Banerjee & Linsted, 2004). The ethnographic approach is criticized for the following main concerns: 1- In ethnographic studies, there has been a continuous struggle over the definition of the anthropological object of study. Turner (1986) suggests focussing ethnographic studies on events and performances within a social context. Focusing on events facilitates the researcher’s apprehension of the cultural context, still interpretive, but moves away slightly from the abstract system of representation in text about a context. The focus on an interpretive narrative of the contextual performances and practices with their inherent reflexivity moves the ethnographer away from representative claims such as claims for cultural restoration through text production (Turner, 1986; Hastrup, 1992; Clifford, 1986). Meanwhile, it is crucial to note that an interpretive narrative as a method of approach within ethnography requires seeking a holistic stance which includes an exploration of folk notions of place, time, social, economic and linguistic being rather than a cartographic map of the context subjectively represented by the authority of the ethnographer. The postcolonial “cultural critique to anthropology” (Marcus, Fischer, 1986) critically questions the collusion of ethnography with colonial power structures and calls for a multivocal anthropology of engagement through co-construction of field notes, narrative and interviews. 2- In working with politically and historically sensitive contexts, in order to avoid political collusion of the research data, it is important to deconstruct the flattening constructs of difference, which structure the discourse towards universality. It is 82  essential to emphasize the particularity of the context and to formulate the research discourse as a case study (Ferguson, Chip, 2006). This approach calls for centralizing ontological differences through research studies towards reducing the political consequences of obscuring ontological differences (Banerjee & Linsted, 2004). Within the postcolonial and n