Replying to Armour:Certainty and Exceptionalism: Threats to a World-Humanities?


  • Acknowledgments: This article is based on the presentation at the symposium “Is There, Can There Be, such an Activity as World Humanities?” Simon Fraser University, January 27–28, 2012. I wish to thank Ian Angus, of the Institute for Humanities at Simon Fraser University, for kindly asking that I participate in the symposium at which these thoughts were presented.

GORDON CHRISTIE, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia. Specialties: Indigenous law, legal theory, Indigenous legal theory. E-mail:


This article explores attitudes underscoring arguments I believe are located in Professor Armour's address in the present special issue. I first show how Armour's arguments are intertwined with a resolute belief in the existence of a unique form of knowledge, one particularly attuned to the work of humanities scholars, and then go on to argue this certainty is linked to an antecedent attitude, one of exceptionalism. Spelling out what I find to be troubling about this species of argument leads into thoughts around how a world-humanities might unfold. Such a field must develop as a conscious attempt on the part of scholars to bring about dialogue around how humans can find an appropriate place in the natural world.