Toppling Statues? Complicity, Whiteness and Reckoning in Comparative and International Education

Date: 19 Oct 2022
Time: 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Event Type: Webinar

19 October 2022, 3-4pm UK time BST

Speakers: Professors Robin Shields & Julia Paulson, University of Bristol, UK

Convenor: Maia Chankseliani


Recent scholarship in comparative and international education (CIE) has witnessed the emergence and consolidation of two competing viewpoints on positionality in the field. On one hand, critical scholars have drawn increasing attention to the ways in which CIE has been implicated in colonial projects, its connections to underpinning racist ideologies, and the ways in which these ideologies persist in current international education policy and practice. On the other hand, researchers reject these critical perspectives on the basis that they engage with “identity politics” or enable ‘cancel culture’ in CIE. While discussions of positionality and the politics of representation have been mainstreamed in other fields of social research, including educational research beyond CIE, the vitriolic reaction it has engendered in CIE is both remarkable and offer insights into the workings of the field. In this paper, we draw upon intellectual resources from anthropology, philosophy, international relations and other fields to better understand whiteness (and even white maleness) as a tacit organizing principle in the disciplinary identity of CIE. Specifically, we argue, the response has been to protect and further idolize a disciplinary identity that is overwhelmingly White, male, and largely silent on (or wilfully ignorant of) many relationships of domination that are directly relevant to educational research and practice.

About the series

Global Public Seminars in Comparative and International Education address themes of major interest to academics, practitioners, and policy-makers working in the field of education globally. These seminars illuminate the role of education in societal development, with a focus on understanding changes in education policy, discourse, and practice, and how these changes influence individual opportunities and shape the development of educational institutions around the world. Seminars zoom into the local and zoom out into the national and supranational spaces, flows, and influences on education.

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