Hand-picked collections by special guests to help you sift through our archive

Globalization and Affect

By Irving Epstein
Ben and Susan Rhodes Professor of Peace and Social Justice
Illinois Wesleyan University

The intellectual journey I have most recently pursued focuses upon the use of affect theory as a tool for better comprehending comparative educational practices and policies. As this work has compelled me to refine my understanding of globalization processes, I have found three FreshEd speakers to have had a particularly significant influence upon my thinking. They include Jane Kenway, who shared her insights regarding the possibilities of engaging in multi-cited global ethnography, Raewyn Connell, who commented about Decolonization and Education, and Arjun Appadurai, who spoke about the nature of failure in the age of Covid-19.

In her podcast, Jane Kenway reiterated the possibilities of re-conceptualizing comparative education by referencing the works of George Marcus and James Clifford. She then applied their insights to her global study of social class, elitism, and education in seven different settings. By reconsidering traditional notions of space, time, and mobility, she and her colleagues created a research model that is as captivating as it is insightful.

I have been a fan of Raewyn Connell’s work for many years, but listening to her podcast on Decolonization and Education was especially gratifying. Her erudition and respect for knowledge forms emanating from the Global South was as impressive as was her ability to forcefully highlight the interconnectedness and vibrancy with which ideas are constructed, shared, and appreciated. In so doing, one could not have offered a more convincing testimony for the power of affect in helping to frame the varieties of human experience from which our knowledge forms are drawn.

Finally, Arjun Appadurai’s analysis of the nature of failure, as a globalized phenomenon, has forced me to reconsider some of the assumptions I have made regarding the nature of affect. I have viewed the fear of failure as a primary motivation for the creation of numerous educational practices that prevent the expression of interconnection and meaning-making. In this podcast, Appadurai comments upon the globalized embrace of failure in the Covid-19 era.  as reflecting a new and dangerous collective sensibility. Although his conclusions contradict some of my own views, what I loved about this episode was Appadurai’s willingness to explore ideas that are not fully formed but are being refined in the moment. Such self-exposure represents a remarkable act of intellectual courage for which we are all beneficiaries. Together, these scholars allow us to intimately listen to the ways in which they grapple with new ideas, reconsider previously held assumptions, and apply theoretical musings to radically different settings. I am deeply appreciative of their efforts.

Learning Whiteness

by Arathi Sriprakash
Professor of Education, University of Bristol

I’m currently writing a book with two fabulous colleagues, Sophie Rudolph and Jessica Gerrard, which explores how education systems and practices produce and sustain structures of whiteness. Our argument is that whiteness is ‘learned’ through three interconnected dimensions of education: the epistemic, the material, and the affective.

A number of FreshEd speakers have helped me think through these interconnected dimensions, and here I recommend a few episodes that I hope you’ll also find thought-provoking. The first is by Suhanthie Motha who discusses how English language education is predicated on race and empire. To me, it is an example of how education is steeped in epistemic hierarchies that serve whiteness. The second is Leigh Patel’s discussion on settler colonialism which tunes us into the materiality of education systems; these are systems that rest on ongoing colonial extraction and dispossession. (It got me thinking about how we need to analyse the global education industry, the subject of Gita Steiner-Khamsi’s episode, through the lens of racial capitalism).  And finally, I found Irving Epstein’s discussion of the role of affect in forming hegemonic approaches to education policy and practice fascinating. The episode helped me think about the numerous affective registers that sustain whiteness in education, from the anxieties and fears of ‘too much’ diversity in institutions to the denial and defensiveness of whiteness in curricula, policy and so on.

I hope you enjoy listening to these episodes and connecting the many ideas contained in FreshEd’s archives to your research and practice.

No going back?

by Will Brehm
FreshEd Host and Lecturer, UCL Institute of Education

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about endless calls for systematic reform in education. But what sort of educational structure should we aim to reform?

With reform excitement in the air, I find it valuable to step back and think about the systems of education from a more critical viewpoint. It is in this perspective that I recommend three FreshEd episodes to help us think through our current moment. The first is a conversation with Leigh Patel who discusses the ways in which settler colonialism structures American society, including the academy. The second is a conversation with David Harvey who gives a Marxist critique of higher education. Finally, the third podcast is with Parfait Eloundou who discusses the assumption of meritocracy in education generally and the lack of a class analysis in the Sustainable Development Goals specifically. Together these three episodes show deep structures —  colonialism, capitalism, and meritocracy — that will need to be overcome if any meaningful reform in education will result from coronavirus.