NW 17 Histories of Education - History of Education in Times of Risk and Promise

History of Education in Times of Risk and Promise

The role, state and position of education have always been subject to societies’ conditions. The contemporary situation is characterised by seemingly fundamental changes – and struggles. Historically, however, education has often faced uncertainties, “risks”, and new possibilities. This is true also for history of education as a discipline and related researcher “identities”.

Network 17 invites proposals for the European Conference on Educational Research, which will be held at the University of Hamburg, Germany. Proposals for papers, symposia, roundtables, workshops and posters can be submitted via the ECER website. The Network is open to any contribution related to the conference theme.

The Call
The role, state and position of education have always been subject to societies’ conditions. The contemporary situation is characterised by seemingly fundamental changes – and struggles – in terms of political landscapes, geopolitical positions, priorities and values, among other things. The result is: conditions of uncertainty, and, for instance, core values of the UN system regarding the promotion of sustainable, peaceful and equitable co-existence that appreciates diversity and diversification being under pressure. Education is deeply affected by such and other changes on multiple levels: that of systems as political battlefields, that of cultural institutions underpinning the surrounding societies, and that of regular praxis.

From a historical perspective, however, education has often faced such uncertainties, “risks” and at the same time new possibilities and promises in tumultuous times when well-known institutions have been renegotiated and novel trajectories have emerged. Some examples are the religious reformations, the Enlightenment, decolonisation and democratization processes, forced migration and the aftermath of wars and conflicts. In fact, the only constant in history is change. In this sense, historical research has much to offer in terms of understanding the development of education and education systems, institutions and practices under periods of change, uncertainty, “risk” and possibility.

This is no less true for history of education as a discipline, which in recent times has also come under pressure in particular contexts, and researcher “identities” in this field. Also here, change, “risk” and possibility present themselves all at the same time.

To some philosophers of history – for instance, Leopold von Ranke (1795-1896) – learning from history is highly problematic. The past is irreversibly gone and can never again be invoked. But if we see time and experience as something emerging across/with/through past(s), present(s) and future(s), then history becomes a gathering of communalities, for instance, organisations populated by human beings with lived experiences of “timeless” themes such as love, power, competition, recognition, and the passing on of legacies.

Historical research, then, can contribute to increased awareness of precursors of developments, help expand current knowledge about trajectories and path-dependencies inherited from pasts present to us, which shape spaces for new opportunities. It also enables one to focus on continuities and ruptures as an analytical lens.

In relation to such and other possibilities, Network 17 has come to develop a “tradition” of its own of openness to “risk”-taking in terms of exploring under-researched sources, trying novel, “daring” methods of analysis, and developing new theories able to enrich and complicate current historiography. It has thereby foregrounded less conventional sources, such as visual materials, artefacts, built environments, digital archives, and many more, and likewise embraced visual methods of analysis, new digital approaches, etc. In terms of theorising, finally, it has extended the reach and depth of its gaze both within and beyond the disciplinary boundaries of education.

Network 17 welcomes proposals for papers, panels and posters, but especially also roundtables and workshops. The Network is open to any contribution related to the conference theme.

Contact person(s)
Iveta Kestere (iveta.kestere(at)lu.lv)

Burke, C., Grosvenor, I., Haenggeli-Jenni, B., Ribeiro de Castro, H., Tabacchi, E., Thyssen, G. & Verstraete, P. (Eds.), Education across Europe: A Visual Conversation (Network 17 - Histories of Education: EERA, 2014).
Burke, C., Cunningham, P. and Grosvenor, I. (Eds.), “‘Putting Education in its Place’: Space, Place and Materialities in the History of Education”. Special Issue. History of Education 39 (6), 2010.
Castel, R. ”From Dangerousness to Risk”. In: C. Burchell, C. Gordon and P. Miller (Eds.). The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, with Two Lectures by and an Interview with Michel Foucault (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991).
Goodman, J. and Grosvenor, I. “Histories of Education: A Curious Case?” In J. Furlong and M. Lawn (Eds). The Disciplines of Education: Their Role in the Future of Education Research (Oxon/New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 67-84.
Grosvenor, I. & Pataki, G. ”Learning through culture: seeking ’critical case studies of possibilities’ in the history of education.” Paedagogica Historica, 53 (3), 2010, pp. 246-267.
Lohmann, I. and Mayer, C., “Children and Youth at Risk”. Special Issue. Paedagogica Historica 45 (1-2), 2009.
Mayer, C., Lohmann, I. and Grosvenor, I. (Eds.) Children and Youth at Risk: Historical and International Perspectives (London/New York: Peter Lang, 2009).


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Interview with Convenor at ECER 2010

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