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Article

The countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) share a history of colonialism that has left an indelible mark on all their institutions and systems of socialization, including education. A dominating theme across these countries is the question of equitable access to quality education at all levels, an issue that increasingly finds resonance in the 21st century’s technological era. The region has generally made important strides in the areas of universal access to basic education and increasingly to secondary education. Tertiary education has also been prioritized under the new “knowledge economy,” with many countries exceeding the 15% of qualified cohort (those who are academically qualified to be enrolled) that was set as a regional target in 1997 by Caribbean governments. Yet, even with these strides, the education project is still incomplete, with new and continued challenges of affordability and quality. These concerns are now incorporated into the Caribbean’s deliberate attempts at regionalism through the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), which serves as CARICOM’s organizing mechanism to face the new opportunities and challenges of the 21st century’s knowledge economy. These regional and development plans are expressed in CARICOM’s Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy (HRD Strategy), a multiyear development plan that is predicated on educational advancement across the region. The Caribbean’s educational achievements, equity challenges, and development plans are best understood in a historical context that captures the social, political-economic, and cultural idiosyncrasies of the region.

Article

Postcolonial philosophies of education in the Philippines emerged from a newly independent government’s desire to unite disparate populations under a common national identity, which was heavily influenced by Western conceptions of personhood and patriotism. The islands collectively known as the Philippines, however, are home to nearly 200 distinct ethnolinguistic groups. The imposition of a universal national identity upon such a diverse populace entails the erasure of identities, knowledge systems, practices, and ways of life that differ from state-imposed norms. Education is a critical site for this subjugation of difference, as evidenced by the state’s imposition of a national curriculum. Yet the national curriculum not only serves to submerge difference, as decolonizing pedagogies and philosophies of education in the Philippines often rise out of collective resistance to the marginalizing aspects of schooling in the region. Postcolonial philosophies of education in the Philippines are, as such, situated within the historical tensions between the national curriculum, the central government’s economic and political agendas, collective calls for human rights, and the philosophies, practices, and knowledge systems of Indigenous peoples (IPs).

Article

Amy Stornaiuolo and T. Philip Nichols

In the opening decades of the 21st century, educators have turned toward cosmopolitanism to theorize teaching and learning in light of increasingly globalized relationships and responsibilities. While subject to extensive debates in disciplines like political science, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, cosmopolitanism in education has primarily been explored as a moral framework resonant with educators’ efforts to cultivate people’s openness to new ideas, mutual understanding through respectful dialogue, and awareness of relationships to distant and unknown others. Scholars have recently called for more critical cosmopolitan approaches to education, in which the framing of cosmopolitanism as a neutral, essentializing form of global togetherness is subject to critique and includes analysis of systems of power, privilege, and oppression. However, while scholarly efforts to articulate critical cosmopolitanisms (in the plural) are still in nascent form in terms of educational practice, recent work in other disciplines offer promise for forwarding such a critical agenda. In sociology, for example, a focus on cosmopolitics foregrounds the labor of creating a shared world through ongoing, often conflictual negotiations that take into account the historical and contemporary political exigencies that shape that process. A framework of cosmopolitics for educators, particularly as a counterpoint to liberal understandings of cosmopolitanism as a form of ethical universalism, will be explored. Such a critical approach to educational cosmopolitanism not only foregrounds the local, everyday actions needed to build connections with others and create common worlds—but also acknowledges the historical and sociomaterial conditions under which such actions take place. A cosmopolitical approach to educational practice thus recognizes multiplicity and contingency—the mobility that locates people and ideas in new relations can just as easily lead to prejudice and bias as tolerance and solidarity—but does so in an effort to understand how social, political, and economic structures produce inequality, both in the present moment and as legacies from the past.

Article

Maropeng Modiba and Sandra Stewart

Postcolonial ethnographic studies in Africa and, specifically, in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region tend to demonstrate varying sensitivity to local knowledge systems and culture. Ethnographers, both local and international, differ in the ways in which they engage with these aspects. Studies expose shifts, or lack thereof, in the mindsets of researchers. In general, researchers take for granted their cultural ideals and how to embrace broader responsibilities beyond the education or development initiatives they are studying. Although rhetorically supportive of the education/development of the subaltern, some studies selected and reviewed in this article indicate the researchers’ missionary dispositions and reliance on preconceived notions in making sense of the behavior and environments studied. To varying degrees fragmentations in perceptions, anthropological empathy, reluctance to acknowledge African contexts and ways of living as adequate in themselves stand out rather than deliberate efforts to preserve the internal cultures and knowledge systems of the communities and expand their knowledge and skills in sustainable ways.

Article

Radhika Viruru and Julia C. Persky

Although there have been attempts to relate postcolonial theory to teacher education, those attempts have been somewhat limited. Analyses of the corpus of research on teacher education reveal a focus on defining how to become a teacher, how to judge whether what teachers are doing is effective, how to ensure that theories of learning guide what teachers do, and how to ensure that the teaching profession becomes more diverse and more like the population of children they teach. Although these areas are certainly important, what is striking are the losses they conceal and the absences that are revealed. Postcolonial theory has offered powerful commentaries on how most of the world has yet to engage with its colonial past and with endemic issues such as racism. Issues such as how the production of knowledge has been carefully restricted and defined to privilege Western ideologies, the creation of binaries that have systematically marginalized groups of people, the marriage of racist and colonial ideologies, and the creation of institutional structures such as schools that have imposed flawed knowledges on children have yet to be widely acknowledged in teacher education research.

Article

Postcolonialism emerged after World War II as a broad school of thought covering a variety of disciplines, such as politics, sociology, history, and culture; however, postcolonial educational perspectives have risen to prominence as one of the main themes in postcolonialist theory because of the important role that education played as the vehicle through which western cultural hegemony and assumptions about knowledge were promoted, protected, and maintained in Africa. Although independence may have granted more groups access to education and deepened human resource capital, education policies were still heavily steeped in Western traditions and dismissive of indigenous cultural, linguistic, ideological, and philosophical ethos. Postcolonial orthodoxy maintains that African education systems must be understood within the broader political, cultural, economic, and social institutional contexts of Africa. Afrocentric scholars, who form part of the larger postcolonial discourse, call for contextually relevant education, and a return to “the African experience,” as the source and foundation of all forms of knowledge. Comparative and international education scholars advocate for globalized education policy perspectives that take into consideration the actions of multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, UNESCO, and UNICEF, since these organs determine the economic life sources of many countries and increasingly shape policy debates and agendas in Africa. Africa must also contend with global forces such as the spread of information and communication technologies, the inescapable spread of capitalism from western European countries, the economic expansion of Eastern countries like China, Japan, and India, and the migration of Africans into the metropole. These factors forge shared ecological spaces among nationals in a global village, dramatically shaping lives and changing the purpose of education. If the goal of education is the full development of human personality to live successfully and peaceably with others in a world that is interconnected, then a hybrid education paradigm could be the solution to the education policy conundrum for postcolonial Africa. Hybridity is the combination of Western education ethos and indigenous African philosophies; a dynamic process of strategic integration and the adaptation of a variety of cultural patterns and understandings from both worlds.

Article

Key arguments regarding the relationship between postcolonial art and aesthetics and the emancipatory imagination have implications for pedagogical and curriculum reform in the era of globalization. Postcolonial art, aesthetics, and postcolonial imagination are, and invoke paths through and exceeding, dominant traditions of thought in critical thinking on the status of art. These dominant critical traditions have led us to what Cameron McCarthy calls the “forked road” of cultural Marxism and neo-Marxism: the antipopulism of the Frankfurt School and Habermas and their contemporary affiliates versus the populism of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies and those insisting on the nearly virtuous engagement of the First World working classes with contemporary consumer culture. These approaches have tended, McCarthy maintains, to generate critical apparati that silence the historically specific work of the colonized inhabitants of the Third World and the periphery of the First. In beckoning curriculum and pedagogical actors in a different direction, toward postcolonial art and aesthetics, McCarthy argues that the work of the postcolonial imagination dynamically engages with systems of domination, authority over knowledge, and representation, destabilizing received traditions of identity, association, and feeling, and offering, in turn, new starting points for affiliation and community that draw on the wellspring of humanity, indigenous and commodified. Key motifs of postcolonial art (literature, performance art, sculpture, and painting) illuminate organizing categories or new aesthetic genres: counter-hegemonic representation, double or triple coding, and utopic and emancipatory visions. These ethically informed dimensions of postcolonial art and aesthetics constitute critical starting points, or tools of conviviality, for a conversation over curriculum change in the tumult of globalization and the reassertion in some quarters of a feral nationalism.

Article

Lisa Farley and Debbie Sonu

Childhood studies is an interdisciplinary area of theory and research comprised of intersecting fields that have evolved since the inception of childhood itself. Despite the pervasiveness of psychological frameworks that predominate early studies of childhood and that continue to dominate within teacher education programs, paradigmatic shifts within childhood studies have opened critical questions about the exclusive social norms, racial privileges, and unequal life chances maintained by the idea of childhood as a biologically determined and universal stage of life. Across a range of perspectives, critical scholarship in childhood studies begins with the idea that childhood is a social and historical construction tied to colonial discourses and ongoing injustices that have material effects on children’s lives. Drawing on the fields of history, sociology, postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, and educational theory, scholars of childhood show how childhood is inextricably bound to philosophical ideals, political forces, social constructs, and emotional conflicts. In identifying and interrogating the ways that race, class, ability, gender, and sexuality affect and limit meanings of childhood, scholars open new metaphors for rethinking social life, development, belonging, relationality, and existence as such.

Article

The field of transnational childhood and education emerges under intensifying mobilities. These global conditions disrupt universalist educational treatments of childhood as a fixed developmental stage of human being. Transnationality shows childhood to be a psychosocially constructed experience that takes myriad form across diverse cultural, historical, educational, and political contexts. The lives of actual children are caught in colonial and national constructions of childhood and subject to its discourses, politics, and normative enactments through public schooling. The emerging field of transnational childhood and education represents a potentially critical intervention in colonial and national enactments of childhood worldwide. Despite interdisciplinary efforts to reconceptualize childhood, Western educational institutions continue to hold to and reproduce hegemonic and colonial understandings of childhood as monocultural, heteronormative, familial, innocent, and protected. Mass global flows of people, culture, and ideas compel policy-makers and educational experts worldwide to consider transnational childhood as the dominant situation of children in and across multicultural nations. The fluidity of malleable childhood experience is poised to generate new educational arrangements and innovations. Transnational lives of children de-stable normative categorizations and fixed situations placed upon children in and through the mechanisms of early childhood education and national schooling. Researchers of transnational childhood and education engage a range of educational experiences and arrangements of children moving within, across, and outside of formal and national schooling institutions. Increasingly children and families are caught in experiences produced by global, geo-political conditions including: war, forcible migration, detainment on borders, internal colonization, and environmental catastrophe. To respond to the times, families and communities seek out and/or are forced to provide opportunities and alternatives for children outside of school. Increasingly children use emergent digital and other forms of remote and inventive means of education. As research in this area is new, transdisciplinary, and ground-breaking, the study of transnational childhoods and education has the potential to radically innovate and deepen the meanings and possibilities of both childhood and education in a rapidly globalizing, uncertain, and changing world.

Article

Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, there has been a great deal of criticism of the colonial heritage of early ethnographic research. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, scholars have also raised concerns also about the colonial heritage of comparative education. Erwin Epstein defined comparative education as “the application of the intellectual tools of history and social sciences to understand international issues of education.” Hence it is important for comparative education as a global field of study to engage with the recent debates in social sciences to generate deeper understanding about educational problems embedded within specific international contexts. The dominance of Northern theory in analyzing research data from the Global South has been increasingly critiqued by scholars in a number of scholarly publications since Raewyn Connell published her book Southern Theory in 2008. They have argued that Northern theory arising out of the colonial metropole is provincial in nature and, therefore, provides incomplete interpretation of data and generates misunderstanding or limited understanding of social phenomenon occurring in the hybrid contexts of the Global South. Therefore, lately scholars have been debating about postcolonial comparative education to argue for the relevance of Southern theory in conducting postcolonial comparative education research for both analytic (ideological), as well as hermeneutic (affective historical) engagement with research data. Drawing on the methodological insights from an empirical case study, this article demonstrates why Southern theory drawing on Tagore’s philosophy of education was found more suitable to analyze research data arising out of a case study designed to conduct an institutional ethnography in a particular international context. It demonstrates how contextually relevant Southern theory helped to provide deeper comparative understanding (verstehen) of a social phenomenon, i.e. inclusive pedagogic work of an old colonial school within a particular historical, geopolitical and cultural context in postcolonial India.

Article

Transnational curriculum studies (TCS) examines the fluid dynamics of knowledge creation, knowledge circulation, and knowledge representation across nation-state borders. It challenges the rigid architectures of state power and brings local concerns to the global context such as antiracist pedagogy and climate change issues. At the same time, TCS opens spaces for collaborative study of the same curriculum issues across nation-states from multiple perspectives. Curriculum scholars have extended scholarship to respond to various sociopolitical, cultural movements. Issues studied include human rights, recognition, and epistemicide through a framework that emphasizes hybrid identities and power operations across nation-states. Feminist postcolonial scholars within this field also highlight unequal power operations among nation-states, particularly for “marginalized” communities. They interrogate discourse on equity, power, and exploitation as a consequence of transnationalism. TCS scholars critically examine important questions on recolonization of knowledge through Eurocentric, patriarchal ideologies and the social reproduction of knowledge through curriculum. They also incorporate Indigenous approaches to knowledge learning and dissemination with the support of transnational curriculum inquiry. Key issues in TCS include global inequity and postcolonial discourse in transnationalism, transnational subjectivity and identity discourse, and epistemicide in curriculum and integration of Indigenous knowledge. Future directions for TCS arise from ontological, pedagogical, and methodological issues, which include collaborating with those in the field of border studies as physical and metaphorical spaces in research, linguistic issues in academic communities, and transnational curriculum studies for social actions and transformation. TCS contributes to opening space in curriculum theorizing to draw from multiple ways of knowing, including Indigenous epistemologies.

Article

Mary Newbery

Since the 1960s, feminist curriculum scholarship and social and political activism have been entangled in mutually influential ways. Feminist engagements with difference demonstrate the complex ways the field of curriculum studies is immersed in the cultural, social, and political commitments of the wider communities in which it inhabits. As second-wave feminist scholars grappled with their understandings of and resistances to the “Man” of liberal humanism occurring in the United States amid the social and political upheavals occurring in the United States beginning in the late 1950s, feminist curriculum scholars engaged in related academic endeavors. For example, prevalent themes in these “early” feminist curriculum scholars’ work included taking up feminist themes of “the personal as political” and women’s solidarity as a political strategy enacted to resist patriarchy. By the 1980s, however, feminist scholars began to decenter the universal, humanist subject amid widespread critiques of the lack of inclusivity in second-wave feminisms. These efforts helped complexify our understandings of the “we” of feminism(s) and feminist curriculum studies. These decenterings led to what some have called an identity crisis in both mainstream and academic renderings of feminism(s), characterized by two distinct and oftentimes factionalized feminist approaches for understanding difference. The first was the adoption of identity politics as the foundation for theories and activisms directed toward emancipatory ideals and outcomes. From this perspective, solidarity within identity groups became a feminist strategy on which to build knowledge projects and activisms. The second, sometimes categorized under the umbrella of poststructural feminism(s), understood freedom as deriving from a rejection of identity as static, and instead dismissed the notion of foundational subjectivity as a precursor for both feminist scholarship and political activism. In feminist curriculum studies, these developments led to troublings of teachers’ autobiographical subjectivity and challenges to historical accounts that include the interrogation of humanist notions of representation, reflection, and linearity, for example. Not all relationships with feminism(s) fit into this category, however. The political and cultural environment of the 1980s included the rise of a highly mobilized New Right, characterized in the United States by the Reagan and Bush Sr. presidencies, a deteriorating job market in Western economies, deregulation, an acceleration of asymmetrical flows of global capital, transnational trade agreements, and the exploitation of non-Western job markets for cheap labor. This led to new and different intertwinings of feminism and neoliberal capitalism. As a result, both mainstream and academic feminism(s) were increasingly engaged with the paradoxes and contradictions of postfeminism, a concept utilized to characterize both an acknowledgment and rejection of feminism(s) during this era. By the second decade of the new millennium, a fourth wave seemed imminent, brought on by global responses to the September 11, 2001, bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and hashtag movements such as #me too and #Bringbackourgirls movements. As bodies, capital, and the material world mingle and flow in newly explored and complex ways, emergent trends in feminist curriculum studies include an increased interest in the non-human, posthuman, and more-than-human worlds and the ways they intra-act with feminist new materialist theories and post-anthropocentric worlds.

Article

Barbara Crossouard and Máiréad Dunne

Education has been a central institution in the installation and legitimation of gender binaries and racialized difference in colonial and postcolonial eras. While the term “postcolonial” can refer to the period after which colonized nations gained their independence, a postcolonial critique also engages with the afterlife of the metaphysics of Western modernity. Notably, the imperial project of Western modernity assumed the superiority of the colonizers and provided the legitimation for the deep injustices of colonization to be framed as a “civilizing mission.” In particular, the processes of colonization imposed a “modern/colonial gender system,” which reconstructed the gender norms of many societies around the world, and which subordinated women by binding them to the domestic sphere. Its “biologic” presumed a heterosexual matrix in ways that were also profoundly racialized. Importantly, education was a critical institution that not only legitimated Western knowledges and values, but also secured women’s regulation and subordination. In postcolonial eras, education was given central importance in ways that have tied it to modern imperatives. For the newly independent postcolonial nation, education was critical in the construction of a national imaginary but this framing has reproduced rather than disrupting colonial gender norms. Harnessing education in support of national development inserted the postcolonial nation in a hierarchy of “developed” and “developing” nations. The focus on development similarly permeated efforts at curricular reform, such that they often reproduced the gendered, racialized, and classed hierarchies of colonial education. What counted as legitimate knowledge remained framed by Western elite institutions and their technologies of power. Importantly, from the moment of their independence, the global reach of multilateral organizations has constantly framed the postcolonial trajectories of “developing” nations and their educational reforms. Although often contradictory, the discourses of such organizations intensified the imperatives of education for national development. This compounded pressures to increase educational access beyond elite groups and to include more females. However, the technologies of power that support these international policy agendas bind such reforms to modern imperatives, so that they have become a critical site for the reinscription of binary understandings of gender. This is also true for contemporary international concerns for “quality” education. This is prosecuted largely through promotion of learner-centered education, a concept that is also infused with Western democratic ideals and values. Interrogation of the “hidden curriculum” further shows that the education in postcolonial contexts remains a key institution through which gender is instantiated in essentialized and binary ways, infused by modern ideals of presumptive heteronormativity. Resisting such binaries requires an understanding of gender as something that we “do,” or that we “perform,” within the contingencies and exigencies of particular social and cultural contexts. In turn, these theoretical understandings call for in-depth qualitative studies that can attend to the particularities of the gender regimes in different educational contexts and other intersecting structures of difference (race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexuality) that are rendered invisible by education’s legitimation of difference as a question of disembodied individual merit and ability.

Article

Anticolonialism is a revolutionary philosophy, a philosophy of revolution. Simply put, it is the struggle for freedom from slavery, settler colonialism, and imperialism. It is the theory and practice of the decolonization of nation-states, as well as of the decolonization of practices of knowledge production, consumption, dissemination, and the entire enterprise of education. It also works to decolonize minds, bodies, and imaginations. Anticolonialism challenges dominant practices of knowledge (and ignorance) production to highlight the intersection of gender, race, and class in what is known and not known about the past as it plays out in the present in education and beyond. Anticolonial scholarship and activism focus on intersectional accounts of history to investigate class- and gender-based forms of violence in some of the most celebrated nonviolent movements. Highlighting the psychic dimensions of domination and resistance is central to the anticolonial project, which elaborates on the boomerang effects of domination and the perils of privilege. This insight is central to imagining a sustainable world of social solidarity and reciprocity. The success of an anticolonial approach to education lies in creating capacities to critically reflect on colonial discourses, institutional structures, educational policy, practice, and pedagogical strategies. The anticolonial project brings to light the psychic life of domination and resistance, which colludes with flaws in the criminal justice system that work to funnel too many children of color out of school and into juvenile and justice systems. Anticolonial educational strategies begin with an intersectional approach to disrupting the school to prison pipeline—a devastating neocolonial formation. Twenty-first-century anticolonial educators and activists learn from the work of student activists in the Mississippi civil rights movement and their creation of Freedom Schools. The radical conceptions of pedagogy, citizenship, and power developed in Freedom Schools have important implications for thinking about the role of education in building a multiracial/multisexual anticolonial democracy in the 21st century.