Comparative education in an age of uncertainty

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperFormidling


What is the role of comparative education at a time of political, intellectual and epistemological uncertainty?
Education has many agendas of attention. The current interest in MeToo and BLM has emboldened discussion of gender and race in education. To these, one could add concerns related to the Anthropocene/ environmental crisis and to issues involving epistemological diversity (some say ‘justice’). These things are certainly relevant for comparative education. Rather than rehearse such themes here, I will focus on three others – some old, some new – that must be taken seriously as comparative education engages with an uncertain future.
The first of these regards the role of space in social theorizing. Here, comparative education has caught up with work in related areas such as political science, geography and anthropology, offering a wide array of visual metaphors and research strategies to engage with educational practices that are unfolding in globalized/ globalizing places. Multi-sited enquiry, scalar and network analysis, as well as my own approach to educational ‘scapes’ have enabled us to play with new configurations of practice and to retheorize (or at least slightly nudge) deep-seated notions of context. How far can such thought go and where could (and should) it sensibly stop?
The second area to consider is the well-worn problem of representation in social science. In the 80s, anthropology framed this as a ‘crisis’, having the courage to say what we all knew: that research is caught up in the invention, not representation, of culture. If it is true that we are entering a ‘post-truth’ and ‘post-factual’ age – one where A.I., the digital enhanced image and a new politics can alter what we think of as ‘reality’ – where does that leave scholarship? Is a ‘science’ of comparative education wishful (and flawed) thinking? What alternatives are on offer and what might they bring?
Finally, issues of representation lead to a consideration of the role of the author/ writer/ creator of comparative educational knowledge. Scientist, activist or artist? What does it mean to acknowledge that data was never as passive as we were led to believe? Should we aim for the ‘truth’ or for telling stories that resonate somewhere and with something deeper. Is that the way to undermine the instrumentalism, measurement and banality of our age?
It is here that I see the great promise of comparative education as a humanistic orientation to the world and to scholarship; one able to transcend the obvious, problematize the factual and question the ‘real’. What might such a comparative education look like in practice? Here, I shall explore (albeit briefly) some themes to emerge from a forthcoming book, Education in Radical Uncertainty:
StatusUdgivet - 2021
BegivenhedComparative education in an age of uncertainty - Stockholm University, Stockholm , Sverige
Varighed: 18 nov. 202118 nov. 2021


SeminarComparative education in an age of uncertainty
LokationStockholm University

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