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Remapping State/Education Relations in the Context of North-South Epistemologies

Wed, March 28, 11:30am to 1:00pm, Museo de Arte Popular, Floor: Ground Floor, Auditorium

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


This panel continues a highly productive conversation began at the CIES 2017 Atlanta panel on The State and Education exploring the significance of state theory for understanding contemporary state-economy-education crises and transformations. State theory has had something of a resurgence since the events of 2008, the ongoing events in the Middle East and North Africa, the largest movement of refugees since the Second World War, the referendum decision in 2016 for the UK to leave the EU, and the election of Donald Trump in the US. These developments raise questions about how we think about ‘normal states’ versus ‘exceptional states’, (Jessop, 2016), as well as the relationship between territory, governing institutions/apparatus, population, and legitimacy.
Four lines of empirically-anchored, theoretical enquiry, will frame the contributions to this panel. The first is that state theory itself has tended to be shaped by Weber’s (1978) understanding of the state (as having a monopoly on violence). Whilst this conceptualisation helps us in understanding some state forms, especially those which Jessop describes as having an affinity between capitalism and democracy, this view is less and less tenable as the state outsources its monopoly, where insurgent and subaltern groups claim the right to violence, or where a faction of capital (finance) that has directly contributed to the 2008 global financial crisis has also secured the right to generate solutions (e.g. financial education), and in doing so have seized a moment of the monopoly of symbolic violence. Second, Weber’s ideal types of state have their parameters set by an implicit Westphalian state as the only legitimate form of state, implying other forms of state – as a form of political organisation – are rogue, exceptional, failed, and so on. This matters in that it is the hegemonic conception of the state (Weberian/Westphalian) that is mobilised by powerful international donors and other development agencies from the west in state building projects that include education in it. Third, the idea of sovereignty and legitimation – two key concepts fundamental to state power and political organisation – tend to insist on a narrow range of modes of legitimation (consensual/democratic politics), and form of sovereignty (nation as the nodal scale). These two concepts are underpinned by methodological nationalist assumptions – leaving little space for thinking in more complex ways in which different scales might be mobilised to secure legitimacy for endogenous projects (Syria), or with a redistribution of sovereignty outward, such as in cases like Afghanistan. Fourth, drawing on the work of Offe (1984) and Dale (1989) on contradictions of the state (accumulation, legitimation, social order), and how are these contradictions managed? Each paper explores what this means for the education-state relation in specific sites – Syria, Germany, Palestine and Afghanistan. Separately and provide insights that offer new challenges to, and directions for, a comparatively driven understanding the state as a form of political organisation, and education as a site for political socialisation

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