28 SES 06 B, Higher Education and the Academic Self: Insights from Mercosur and Europe
This paper is interested in questions about the spatial politics of bordering (Robertson, 2011) and the resulting power relations at play, emerging from regional policies in the field of higher education (HE). Leung and Waters (2017, p. 1279) define borders as “multiple and dynamic, producing and being produced by the shifting power relationship among individuals and institutions involved, both directly and indirectly, in their formation and operation”. Moreover, borders can be seen as symbols of inclusions, exclusions, and construction of difference of the spaces they divide, whether perceived or physical (Newman, 2003). Regions are social organisations that emerged as a response to peace-making processes or to the challenges of global capitalism. In the case of the latter, states have developed regional arrangements to help them secure international trade meanwhile acting as a shield from the impact of more powerful economies (Cooper, Hughes, & Lombaerde, 2008; Jayasuriya, 2003; Langenhove, 2011; Robertson et al., 2016). In the making of cultural, political and economic regions, education as a sector gains a prominent role for its ability to create shared identities and meanings, also for its part in capacity building and the flow of workers, specially for HE. Regional education policies are, above all, embedded in a multiplicity of ‘scales of rule’ (national, regional, global) (Cox, 1998). Critically assessing who gets to decide the direction of the regional policies in this spatial dynamics, with what consequences for whom, becomes critical to understand regional education policies get ‘re-bordered’ and as a consequence ‘re-ordered’ (Robertson, 2011).
The proposal aims to find out who gets to be included and excluded from regionalising processes in the field of HE by critically analysing their spatial politics of power. It take as a case study the education policies developed by the Mercosur region in Latin America. Mercosur stands for Common Market of the South, a trade agreement originated by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay in 1991, to which Bolivia and Venezuela are also members. Its Education Sector (SEM) promotes HE policies since its establishement in 1991, and its shaping has been inspired in the European experience in regional HE. I will argue that, despite the objective of promoting regional integration by “achieving quality education for all, with special attention to the most vulnerable sectors via a process of development with social justice and respect to the cultural diversity” (Argentina, 2012), the existing regional HE policies have largely privileged a portion of the HE systems in the region, namely the public university sector in the main urban centers.
To address the question of the politics of rebordering, I will use as analytical framework a set of questions aimed at identifying the situated practices of power suggested by Robertson (2011): 'Who is doing the bordering?'; 'How is the drawing made?'; 'What kind of drawing is being made?' and finally 'Why is the drawing being made?'. These will be applied to documents, meeting minutes and publications resulting from the regional HE mechanisms developed by SEM from 1991-2016. Semi-structured interviews with senior managers leading the education policies will be used to support the findings. Attention will be given to the HE institutions taking part in initiatives in the following themes: accreditation, undergraduate and student mobility, academic mobility, and research.
By asking who gets to play, it is expected that the outcomes will demonstrate not only which institutions gets to shape, but also which benefit, contribute to, and re-order the process of regional integration in education in Mercosur. Consequently, the questions may also reveal the negative impact of the politics of bordering, i.e. who/which institutions get excluded from it, and with what consequences.
Argentina. (2012). Plan de Acción del Sector Educativo del Mercosur 2011-2015. Buenos Aires: Ministerio de Educación. Cooper, A. F., Hughes, C. W., & Lombaerde, P. de. (2008). Regionalisation and global governance: the taming of globalisation? London: Routledge. Cox, K. R. (1998). Spaces of dependence, spaces of engagement and the politics of scale, or: looking for local politics. Political Geography, 17(1), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0962-6298(97)00048-6 Jayasuriya, K. (2003). Embedded Mercantilism and Open Regionalism: The Crisis of a Regional Political Project. Third World Quarterly, 24(2), 339–355. Langenhove, L. van. (2011). Building regions: the regionalization of world order. London: Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.book2look.com/embed/9781317170976 Leung, M. W. H., & Waters, J. L. (2017). Educators sans frontières? Borders and power geometries in transnational education. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43(8), 1276–1291. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2017.1300235 Newman, D. (2003). On borders and power: A theoretical framework. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 18(1), 13–25. https://doi.org/10.1080/08865655.2003.9695598 Robertson, S. L. (2011). The new spatial politics of (re)bordering and (re)ordering the state-education-citizen relation. International Review of Education; Dordrecht, 57(3–4), 277–297. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11159-011-9216-x Robertson, S. L., Olds, K., Dale, R., & Dang, Q. A. (2016). Global Regionalisms and Higher Education: Projects, Processes, Politics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
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