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Article

STEM students’ personal epistemologies—their views about what counts as knowledge and knowing in mathematics, science, and engineering—influence how they approach learning and problem-solving. For example, if algebra students conceptualize “knowing algebra” as knowing how to manipulate symbols and numbers to solve particular kinds of problems, they are likely to approach learning as mastering procedures, not as making sense of why those procedures work. By contrast, consider a student who conceptualizes “knowing physics” as having a qualitative understanding that makes sense to her. When studying, she might practice and reflect on the relevant problem-solving approaches, not just to master procedures but also to understand how those problem-solving approaches make sense in terms of underlying concepts. Although mathematics, engineering, and science differ, certain dimensions or aspects of students’ epistemologies are common across the STEM disciplines. These dimensions include to what extent students: (a) view knowledge as factual and procedural versus conceptual and heuristic, (b) view learning as acquiring separate pieces of knowledge versus linking those pieces into a coherent whole, and (c) think they can make sense of what they are learning by relating it to their own informal knowledge, experiences, and ways of thinking. Crucially, the epistemological views a student exhibits in a course are not necessarily a hardened personality trait or belief. A student might exhibit different epistemological views in different contexts, based in part on how the class is taught. Indeed, common STEM classroom cultures and structures can inadvertently invite students to adopt epistemological views that support superficial learning. Furthermore, broader cultural narratives, most notably the trope that mathematics and mathematical sciences can be understood only by people with innate talent, influence students’ epistemological views, again favoring those associated with superficial learning. Additional epistemological issues arise in integrated STEM units and lessons. In such lessons, mathematics, science, and engineering are “de-siloed,” often in the context of understanding and/or addressing a local or societal problem. However, unless STEM lessons are carefully crafted, students can experience the “problem” as little more than a motivational hook to engage them in mathematics and science business as usual. In that case, students might adopt the same epistemological views as they do in a siloed mathematics or science course. By contrast, when students frame the STEM lesson as an authentic engineering design challenge or attempt to understand an issue in which they learn and/or apply mathematics and science as needed to understand and/or address the challenge, students are more likely to view their learning as sense-making, drawing on multiple streams of both formal and informal knowledge.

Article

Stephen Tomlinson

Jan Amos Comenius (b. 1592) is widely recognized as a pivotal figure in the history of educational thought. Living during a period of great turmoil he promoted universal schooling as the means to engineer a perfectly harmonious world. His argument turned upon claims to scientific knowledge and a didactic method that could instill truth in all minds. As the ever expanding scholarship on Comenius demonstrates, many still find inspiration in this visionary project. But Comenius’ work must be read in the context of Early Modern thought. Convinced that life was situated in the divinely crafted cosmos pictured in the Book of Genesis, his overarching goal was to restore “the image of God in man” and realize the Golden Age depicted in prophecy. The school was to be a workshop for the reformation of mankind, a place to manufacture of right thinking and right acting individuals. I explore these epistemological and pedagogic arguments and demonstrate their role in his hugely successful Latin primer, Orbis pictus (1658). Comenius, I conclude, was a revolutionary thinker who married subtle observations about the process of learning with sophisticated instructional practices. However, given current views about human nature and the social good, these principles cannot be applied uncritically to contemporary educational problems.

Article

Deborah K. Padgett

The term qualitative methods is relatively new. There is no single definition, although they share features in common, that is, flexibility, holism, naturalism, and insider perspectives. Epistemological debates continue among qualitative researchers, and the diverse methodological approaches often reflect the influence of constructivist critiques. The basic approaches—ethnography, grounded theory, case studies, narrative, phenomenological, and action research—are described along with the fundamentals of data collection and analysis, the role of theory, standards for rigor, ethical issues, and social work values. Rapid growth in the popularity of these methods ensures that they will play a key role in the professions' knowledge development in the future.

Article

Richard Bett

Questions about the nature and possibility of knowledge extend throughout Greek philosophy. In the early period, several thinkers raised doubts about our ability to know the truth of the proto-scientific theories they themselves were developing. Plato depicted Socrates as disclaiming knowledge about anything important but searching for fundamental ethical truths. He (Plato) also introduced the idea of unchanging Forms, a grasp of which is crucial for knowledge; in one dialogue, he examined a number of proposed definitions of knowledge itself. Aristotle developed an ideal of scientific knowledge centered on demonstrations of why the objects under examination must have certain features, the starting points of which are an understanding of the essences of the things in question. The Stoics and the Epicureans both offered robustly positive accounts of how knowledge is possible, and they were challenged on this by sceptics of both the Academic and Pyrrhonian traditions.A number of ancient cultures had highly developed methods for organizing knowledge. However, it was in ancient Greek philosophy that systematic, self-conscious reflection on the nature of knowledge itself appears to have begun. It is not clear that we can speak of fully worked out .

Article

The Indian Buddhist philosophers Dignāga (c. 480–540 ce) and Dharmakīrti (c. 600–660 ce) decisively influenced the course not only of Buddhist philosophy, but of Indian philosophy more generally. Having inherited an earlier philosophical tradition (the one advanced in the Buddhist Abhidharma literature) that had been largely intramural in character, Dignāga and Dharmakīrti fundamentally transformed Buddhist philosophy by advancing basically similar commitments with arguments meant to be persuasive across party lines. In doing this, they influentially theorized a family of concepts largely shared by all Indian philosophers writing in Sanskrit—a family centering on the concept of pramāṇa, which denotes a reliable way of knowing or epistemic “criterion” (as one might translate the word)—in ways that facilitated an unprecedented extent of debate among Indian philosophers of all sorts. The resultant growth in the sophistication of philosophical traditions is one of the most salient features of the mature period of classical Indian philosophy. Though there are significant differences between them, Dignāga and Dharmakīrti commonly argued in terms of a broadly empiricist sort of epistemology; this was advantageous insofar as that involves premises to which they might readily win assent, while nonetheless being conducive to the philosophical idealism they both finally upheld. Committed as they were to the basically empiricist notion that only perceptibles are finally real, both thinkers affirmed versions of the innovative sort of nominalism first introduced by Dignāga (and significantly revised by Dharmakīrti): the elusive apoha (“exclusion”) theory of meaning, which represents one of the Buddhist tradition’s signal contributions to the history of Indian philosophy. While some of Dignāga’s works were translated into Chinese and thus became influential in East Asia, none of Dharmakīrti’s was; in both India and Tibet, however, Dharmakīrti effectively eclipsed his predecessor. For generations of subsequent Indian philosophers, Dharmakīrti practically epitomized “the Buddhist position” in matters philosophical, and his works figure to this day as central to most Tibetan monastic curricula.

Article

Rupert Wegerif

Dialogic education is a relatively new force in educational theory and practice. Despite the variety of approaches to dialogic education, it nonetheless offers a coherent theory of education with implications not only for how education should be practiced but also for the purposes of education. Dialogic education takes place through dialogue which means opening up dialogic spaces in which different perspectives can clash or play together and new learning can occur. But dialogic education is not only education through dialogue, it is also education for dialogue, meaning that as a result of dialogic education learners become better at learning together with others through dialogue. The intellectual background of dialogic education theory goes back at least as far as Socrates and includes thinkers as varied as Freire, who saw dialogic education as a means of liberation from oppression, and Oakeshott, who understood education to be a process of engaging learners in their cultural inheritance, described as “the conversation of mankind.” Bakhtin, an influential source for recent dialogic educational theory, argues that meaning requires the clash and interaction of multiple voices. There are a range of approaches to implementing dialogic education, varying in the extent to which they focus on teacher to student dialogue, small group dialogues, and whole class dialogues. All approaches include some idea of (1) a dialogic orientation toward the other, characterized by an openness to the possibility of learning, and (2) social norms that support productive dialogue. Published assessments of the impact of dialogic education in relation to general thinking skills, curriculum learning gains, and conceptual understanding have been positive. However, the assessment of dialogic education raises methodological issues, and new methodologies are being developed that align better with dialogic theory and with the idea of measuring increased dialogicity, or expanded “dialogic space.” Assuming that dialogic education works to promote educational goals, various hypotheses have been suggested as to how it works, including some that focus on the co-construction of new meaning through explicit language use, others that focus more on changes in the identity of students, and others on changes in the possibilities of engagement afforded by the culture of classrooms. There are many issues and controversies raised by dialogic education. One issue is the extent to which dialogue as a goal is compatible with a curriculum that pre-specifies certain learning outcomes. Another is the extent to which teaching a set of social norms and practices promoting dialogue might be a kind of cultural imperialism that fails to recognize and value the culture of the students. These and other challenges to dialogic education are part of a lively and constructive debate in the field, which values a multiplicity of voices within the broader context of convergence on the value of teaching through dialogue and teaching for dialogue.

Article

Theodore Savich, Evan Marquise Taylor, and Craig Willey

Where does one enact boundaries for what can be known systematically? Is mathematics one branch of knowledge, separate from, say, social justice or chemistry, or is it possible to understand mathematics, justice, and the physical sciences within one system of knowing? Early Habermas provides a typology of human interests that constitute different knowledge types, beginning with the empirical or analytic, traversing the hermeneutic or historical, and terminating with critical or emancipatory knowledge. Brandom’s reconstruction of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit describes three responsibilities that are the norms for systematicity as well as an “algebra of normativity,” which is a “mathematical” way of understanding recognitive communities. The stories that those recognitive communities tell and retell are curricula. Although Habermas is primarily understood as a sociologist, critical or emancipatory knowledge is very much about the unity of being and knowing that occurs within individuals as they act intentionally in the world, reflect on those actions, and become more through the process of self-actualization. This notion of criticality is more or less absent from mathematics education discourses but is a powerful organizing thread from Kant through Hegel, to Habermas. Instead, most mathematics educators are concerned with critical theory as it pertains to social critique, centering social justice through critical race theory, critical disabilities studies and other critical theories. The tension between understanding emancipation at the level of individuals compared with political emancipation of marginalized groups enforces an ambiguity about who is being emancipated, what they are being emancipated from, and what role mathematics plays as either liberating or oppressive. Moreover, this tension is related to deep epistemological questions about how people come to know and repeat anything at all.

Article

Since the 1970s, following the crisis of representation, narrative inquiry has opened educational research to story as a valuable source of knowledge production across the field, in general, and curriculum studies, in particular. While competing approaches continue to shift and expand how scholars understand narrative inquiry across curriculum studies, a common thread in the scholarship is the positioning of story at the heart of teaching, learning, and research. Narrative inquiry has pushed the field of curriculum studies toward exploration of story as a way of examining the master narrative and its construction of the universal human subject that privileges some discourses and marginalizes others. Scholars who engage with story as the basis for “doing” curriculum studies interrupt positivist methodologies, universal ontologies, and foundational epistemologies that inform educational policies and practices to shape the lived experience of exclusion. On the one hand, scholars of narrative inquiry use story to deconstruct exclusionary educational policies and practices and highlight the social, cultural, and political significance of the lived educational experience of those historically marginalized from traditional curriculum discourse. On the other hand, critics contest the limits of story as a research genre or pedagogical practice, arguing that narratives perpetuate ways of silencing or lose critical importance when personal stories do not connect with political action. Each side of the debate, in its way, generates spaces for new ways of thinking about the place of story in the production of educational knowledge, especially how curriculum scholars engage with the multiplicity of human experience within a network of changing and contextual relations. Reflective of diverse orientations, narrative inquiry in curriculum studies continues to be conceptualized, practiced, and contested in differing ways as methodology/form of inquiry; modes of expression; and, pedagogical and political practice for engaging with the telling, analyzing, and interpreting of story as a way of understanding lived experience.

Article

Betsy Dahms

Born in the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa (1942–2004) was a prolific writer, scholar, and activist. Her corpus of work includes essays, books, edited volumes, children’s literature, and fiction/autohistorias. Anzaldúa’s life and writing are at the forefront of critical theory as it interacts with feminism, Latinx literature, spirituality, spiritual activism, queer theory, and expansive ideas of queerness and articulations of alternative, non-Western epistemologies and ontologies. The geographical proximity to the US–Mexican border figures prominently throughout in her work, as does her theorization of metaphorical borderlands and liminal spaces. Her oft-cited text Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza is included in many university courses’ reading lists for its contributions to discourses of hybridity, linguistics, intersectionality, and women of color feminism, among others. Anzaldúa began work on her more well-known theories prior to the publication of Borderlands/La Frontera and continued to develop these theories in her post-Borderlands/La Frontera writing, both published and unpublished. After her sudden death due to complications of diabetes in 2004, Anzaldúa’s literary estate was housed in the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas, Austin in 2005.

Article

School-based sexuality education has existed in various forms since the 1800s. Sexuality education researchers have recently turned to feminist new materialist thought to rethink debates that occupy this field. These debates include whether sexuality education should be taught at school, who should teach it, and what constitutes appropriate content. While these issues have been important historically, some sexuality researchers view them as stifling other possibilities for teaching and generating knowledge in this field. Feminist new materialism emerges from a broader ontological turn within the social sciences and humanities that diverges from social constructionist accounts of the world. This work is associated with scholars such as Barad, Bennett, Haraway, and Braidotti and draws on thinking from Deleuze and Guattari. Employing theoretical tools, such as “intra-action,” “onto-epistemology,” and “agentic matter,” feminist new materialism reconceptualizes the nature of sexuality education research. These concepts highlight the anthropocentric (human-centered) nature of sexuality education research and practice. Feminist new materialisms encourage us to think about what the sexuality curriculum might look like when humans are not at its core, nor bestowed with the power to control themselves and the world. These questions have profound implications for how we teach aspects of sexuality underpinned by these assumptions, such as safer sex and sexual consent. Ultimately, feminist new materialism encourages us to question whether issues such as prevention of sexually transmissible infections and unplanned pregnancy should remain the conventional foci of this subject.

Article

Commitment to mentorship, while necessary to benefit mentoring parties, is insufficient to work with the complexities of contemporary educational settings, especially in pursuit of engagement and learning for all. Mentoring that makes a profound difference for all participants, worldwide, is oriented at the outset to call into question such organizational constraints as hegemony, hierarchy, and culture. Traditional versus alternative approaches to mentoring is a critical binary that can be differentiated in the abstract. However, context and culture are existing organizational realities for which mentoring forms, enactments, and activities (such as mentoring circles) either perpetuate the status quo or produce significant change. Thus, alternative mentoring approaches work within both the traditional view of mentoring and any alternative to it.

Article

Since the 1980s, scholars disputing the hegemony of positivist methodologies in the social sciences began to promote interpretive approaches, creating discussions about methodological pluralism and enabling a slow, and often resisted, proliferation of theoretical diversity. Within this context, “interpretivism” acquired a specific definition, which encompassed meaning-centered research and problematized positivist ideas of truth correspondence, objectivity, generalization, and linear processes of research. By critiquing the methodological assumptions that were often used to make positivism appear as a superior form of social science, interpretive scholars were confronted with questions about their own knowledge production and its validity. If meanings could be separated from objects, phenomena and identities could be constructed, and observers could not step out of their situated participation within these constructions, how could scholars validate their knowledge? Despite important agreements about the centrality, characteristics, and intelligibility of meaning, interpretivists still disagree about the different ways in which this question can be answered. Scholars often use diverse strategies of validation and they objectivize their interpretations in different degrees. On one side of the spectrum, some post-structuralist, feminist, and postcolonial scholars renounce methodological foundations of objectification and validation as much as possible. This opens the possibility of empirically researching epistemic assumptions, which scholars interpret either as components of dominant discourses or as alternatives that create possibilities of thinking about more multiplicity, difference, and diversity. On the other side, a number of constructivist, feminist, and critical scholars attach meanings to social structures and view their interpretations as reflecting parts of intersubjectivities, lifeworlds, cultures, etc. Since they use their own strategy to objectify interpretations and they solve the methodological question of validity, the scholars on this side of the spectrum either tend to pursue empirical research that does not analyze epistemic dimensions or they generalize particular experiences of domination. This disagreement influences not only the kind of empirical research that scholars pursue, but also creates some differences in the definitions of key interpretive notions such as power relations, reflexivity, and the role of empirical evidence. Within these agreements and disagreements, interpretivism created an overarching methodological space that allowed for the proliferation of theoretical approaches. Since the 1980s, post-structuralist, feminist, constructivist, neo-Marxist, postcolonial, green, critical, and queer theories have sought to expand the study of meanings, uncover aspects of domination, listen to previously marginalized voices, unveil hidden variations, and highlight alternatives. Some of the branches of these theories tend toward the different sides of the methodological spectrum and they disagree about the epistemic strategies that they can use to validate their knowledge production, but the opening of this interpretive space has allowed for scholars to deconstruct, reconstruct, and juxtapose meanings, contributing to the field from different perspectives and within particular empirical areas of research. Moreover, this diversifying process continues to unfold. Approaches such as the decolonial perspective that emerged in Latin American Studies continue to enter International Studies, creating new transdisciplinary debates and promoting other possibilities for thinking about international and global politics.

Article

Benigno E. Aguirre

The term “disaster myth” was initially used as a rhetorical device to help establish the study and management of disasters on firmer ground in the often unwelcoming political context of the Cold War. In the aftermath of World War II, social science research and theorizing eventually supplanted a civil defense perspective of disaster management. Some of the “myths” (or inaccuracies) social scientists refuted centered on assumptions that disasters brought about an increase in crime, panic, psychological dependence and shock, looting, and price gouging. This new perspective adopted a pro-social view to explain the perceived lessening of crime in the immediate post-impact periods of disasters, for credible scholarship indicated that most persons who experienced disaster firsthand as victims became involved in helpful, accommodating behavior. As time went on, ever more topics were dismissed as “myths,” and the word became a term of opprobrium. The present-day use of myth to mean untruth occurs in many of the fields that are interested in the study of disasters, such as public policy, meteorology, economics, sociology, and public health. Nevertheless, this use reveals a profound lack of appreciation of the classical view of myths as the foundational basis of societies, where they provide justifications for rites and customs. The cumulative consequence of the term’s rise may be the narrowing of substantive matters that researchers consider worth pursuing, for one hitherto unforeseen effect of this rise is that the ever increasing number of disaster myths is very likely to discourage the research needed to establish the generalizability and validity of many of these and other knowledge claims. The popularity of the term myth influences research in disaster science even as it facilitates the lack of robust, reproducible empirical knowledge from studies in different developing societies and cultures. The result is that there are not enough cross-cultural tests of the empirical propositions in disaster studies, tests which could show that some of the myth claims lack validity. Moreover, in the absence of any cross-cultural empirical basis to sustain them, the unsubstantiated myth claims fall into stereotyping and perpetuate a self-serving ideology of professional expertise that interprets the viewpoints of others as misunderstandings, or “myths.” The widespread use of the word myth in disaster research shows dubious epistemological reasoning, for it ignores the technical aspects of myths as hypotheses, and the effects of time, counterfactuals, lack of content validity, and insularity, as well as the unmet need for replication. Myths and disasters point to liminal states, to the experience of going through change and passing thresholds, in which both structure and identity are re-imagined. Admitting insufficiently examined myths into this research area is of great consequence because it could assist in the development of an interdisciplinary dialogue and more theoretically discerning approaches. Myths, a central topic for studies in anthropology, are valuable on their own terms, for their research—not as untruths but as essential parts of the world of symbols, beliefs, and ideologies—can guide theorizing and help in obtaining more incisive research findings in disaster studies.

Article

Michael Grenfell

The French social Pierre Bourdieu became known as a key sociologist of education from the 1970s, contributing seminal books and articles to the “new” sociology of education, which focuses on knowledge formation in the classroom and institutional relations. His own social background was modest, but he rose through the elite French schools to become a leading intellectual in the second half of the 20th century. Much of his early work dealt with education, but this only formed part of a wider research corpus, which considered the French state and society as a whole: culture, politics, religion, law, economics, media, philosophy. Bourdieu developed a highly original “theory of practice” and set of conceptual thinking tools: habitus, field, cultural capital. His approach sought to rise above conventional oppositions between subjectivism and objectivism. Structure as both structured and structuring was a central principle to this epistemology. Early studies of students focused the role that education played in social class reproduction and the place of language in academic discourse. For him, pedagogy was a form of “symbolic violence,” played out in the differential holdings of “cultural capital” that the students held with respect to each other and the dominant ethos of schooling. He undertook further extensive studies of French higher education and the elite training schools. He was involved in various education review committees and put forward a number of principles for change in curricula, all while accepting that genuine reform was extremely challenging. He catalogued some of the tensions and conflicts of contemporary education policy. Both his discoveries and conceptual terms still offer researchers powerful tools for analyzing and understanding all national education systems and the particular individual practical contexts within them.

Article

In the social sciences, IR included, the study of practices starts from a very simple intuition: social realities - and international politics - are constituted by human beings acting in and on the world. Their ways of doing things delineate practices that enact and give meaning to the world. When seen through these lenses, the concerns of other IR approaches – war, peace, negotiations, states, diplomacy, international organizations, and so on – are bundles of individual and collective practices woven together and producing specific outcomes. Rather than as a unified approach, the Practice Turn (PT) in International Relations Theory is best approached through a series of conceptual innovations and tools that introduce novel ways of thinking about international politics. The review article here first introduces the main conceptual tools in PT’s toolbox focusing on defining practices, the logic of practice, field, capital, and symbolic domination. It then situates PT within IR, and shows how it departs from both rationalism and constructivism. The article closes by focusing on the methodological, epistemological and normative debates among practice turners.

Article

Chris Hatchell

Tibetan religious traditions contain a variety of practices and discourses that involve the eyes: epistemologies that investigate the act of seeing, ritual uses of visual arts, literary references to light, and meditative practices of looking and visualization. Tibetan traditions also use practices of “vision,” where luminous scenes appear spontaneously to the eyes. Insofar as Tibetan Buddhists have extensively theorized these visionary experiences and identified them as important methods of attaining Buddhist goals, they can be thought of as constituting a kind of “visionary” Buddhism. Visionary practices in Tibetan religion can be placed on two interconnected registers: those having practical or this-worldly benefits, and those that are viewed as leading to liberation. In the first category, vision is commonly found in practices related to prognostication, mediumship, and textual revelation. The second category is more characteristic of tantric yogic practices related to Kālacakra and the post-tantric movement known as the Great Perfection. In these cases, practitioners use sensory deprivation to induce complex visions. Such visions are described variously as being expressions of emptiness, expressions of one’s own mind, or the “lighting up” of an omnipresent awareness. Recognizing the nature of these visions is seen as part of the path to enlightenment.

Article

German E. Berrios and Ivana S. Marková

Writing the history of mental disorders is an unfinishable task. Each historical period is expected to write its own, and in a style designed to satisfy its own conceptual and social needs. In the 21st century such a historical account seems to be one that conceives of mental disorders as natural kinds, that is, as entities that for their meaning and ontology require to be related to a brain change. However, being aware that, after all, concepts are just instruments in the hands of humans opens up the possibility of writing a more comprehensive history of mental disorders, one based on their historical epistemology, that is, on the manner in which madness has been culturally reconfigured throughout the ages. This approach should be more fruitful in regard to finding ways of helping people with mental sufferings, a task which is about the only justification for the existence of the discipline called psychiatry.

Article

Jeremy Trevelyan Burman

Jean Piaget (1896–1980) is known for his contributions to developmental psychology and educational theory. His name is associated especially with Stage Theory. That we believe him to have focused solely on cognitive development, however, is not because he did. This is instead the result of the popularization of his writings in the United States during the Cold War. (A period of crisis and subsequent education reform.) The overpowering influence of those interests blinded us to his larger framework, which he called “genetic epistemology,” and of which his stages were just a part. To address the resulting and continuing misunderstandings, this essay presents original historical scholarship—distilling over a thousand pages of archival documents (correspondence, diary entries, budgets, and reports)—to provide an insider’s look at Piaget’s research program from the perspective of the Rockefeller Foundation: genetic epistemology’s primary funding agency in the United States from the mid-1950s through the early-1960s. The result is an examination of how a group of interested Americans came to understand Piaget’s writings in French in the period just prior to their wider popularization in English, as well as of how Piaget presented himself and his ideas during the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. My goal, however, is not to summarize the whole of this misunderstood program. Instead, I aim to provide a source of archivally-grounded perspective that will allow for new insights about the Genevan School that are unrelated to American Cold War interests. In the process, we also derive new means to see how Piaget’s experimental examinations of the development of individual knowledge served to inform his team’s investigations of the evolution of science (and vice versa).

Article

Changes in the environment can impact international relations theory, despite enjoying only a limited amount of attention from scholars of the discipline. The sorts of influence that may be identified include ontology, epistemology, concepts, and methods, all of these being related to varying perspectives on international relations. It is likely that the most profound implications arise at the ontological level, since this establishes assumptions about, for example, whether the world we wish to understand is both political and ecological. However, more recently the recognition of the practical challenge presented by the environment has become widespread, though it has not yet translated into a significant impact on the discipline of international relations, even when theoretical implications are noted. It is now almost obligatory to include the environment in any list of modern international relations concerns, as over time it has become necessary to include peace, underdevelopment, gender, or race, as they quite rightly became recognized as significant aspects of the field. Moreover, the environment, as a relatively novel subject matter, has naturally brought some critique and innovation to the field. However, studies of the environment are also subject to such descriptors as “mainstream” and “radical” in debates about how best to tackle the subject. As is often the case, the debates are sharpest among those with the greatest interest in the subject.

Article

For centuries, European and Global North observers of non-Western societies have been fascinated by African bodily expressivity and power. Artistic and ritual displays of bodily ways of knowing have captivated explorers, traders, missionaries, anthropologists, historians, and tourists, and this engagement has spawned a robust industry of representational accounts of African affect and sensibilities. Both European colonialism and American imperialism created and produced voluminous documentation of “the black body” through study of folklore, proverbs, myth, sculpture, masks, adornment objects such as beads, tunics, hair combs, and so forth. In addition, film and still photography have been used to capture vivid portrayals of bodily powers revealed in dance and possession trance. A history of such documentation and collection reveals shifts over more than a century in the way body, affect, and sensing have been understood and studied. Anthropology and psychology took the lead in attending to affect and the senses, but by the late 20th century additional fields such as music, art history, archaeology, and history joined in the sensory turn.