Transgression and transformation: (re)bordering education in times of conflict & crises
Education systems ricochet from one global crisis to the next with increasing frequency, with each one impacting in different ways and disgorging new challenges. The years 2023-2024 may well be remembered as a time of unparalleled and intersecting global conflict and crises. According to the latest Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), 258 million people faced acute hunger in 58 countries, while fifty million people in 46 countries were on the brink of starvation at the start of 2023 alone. Already undergoing severe economic crises, many of these countries are locked into cycles of inflation and currency depreciation, with IMF-mandated austerity and structural adjustment programmes as a condition of accessing emergency loans, substantially cutting spending on education and healthcare. Created through inequitable neocolonial policies, poor distribution of global and regional food and goods and lack of action on the root causes of climate change, these ‘crises’ are disproportionately borne by the people in and from the Global South, especially poor women and girls.
In 2023, approximately 117 million people, more than half of them children, were forcibly displaced or stateless, more than double the number of a decade ago (UNHCR 2023). As we near climate tipping points and increasing environmental injustices, the capacity to respond and adapt to climate shocks decreases. This climate fragility is a key driver of displacement and of conflict, which in turn exacerbates the underlying socio-ecological crises. We are living through a period of intense production and reproduction of borders: the closing down of national borders and violent push backs of the uninvited; the outsourcing of bordering from territorial to institutions and local communities through micro-level bordering practices gives rise to profound concerns of access to equitable and socially just education for displaced populations. Often presented as racially ‘neutral’, these borders give rise to racialized mobility, immobility, inclusion, and exclusion which have their roots in the productive technologies of colonial empires.
BAICE 2024 will engage with these global developments and crises with the aim of fostering dialogue across borders in a variety of understandings: disciplinary, theoretical, methodological, pedagogical, international, South-North as well as geographical, planetary and political. We invite engagement on how these various crises are shaping and transforming the work of educators and stakeholders, and the lives of those we work with and query whether and how our own work in international and comparative education might reinforce borders. We also look to where and what are the spaces for transgression which resist or challenge increasingly hegemonic knowledge systems and power structures in education. This calls for a radical reimagining and rehumanising of the work of education, one that goes beyond rhetoric and towards a radical re-bordering of education.
The conference will have five sub-themes. Each sub-theme will be led by three co-convenors: one from the BAICE Executive Committee, one from CIE, and one from the wider BAICE community (an academic, doctoral scholar or practitioner from an external organisation or institution, or an independent researcher active in the field of international and comparative education). The sub-themes are:
Just learning: teachers, curriculum, pedagogies and literacies
This sub-theme explores the intersections between curriculum, pedagogy and teacher development and practices with the cultural, political, economic, social, material and ecological factors that shape opportunities and constraints. In this we recognise how issues, such as those around gender, poverty, language, disability, conflict, geographical location and climate injustices, intersect and result in educational marginalisation over generations. We seek out instances of just researching where such disadvantages are challenged and overturned by policies, practices and the implications for transformative education in the Global South and North.
Global education policy and the politics of governance
This research sub-theme invites contributions that critically engage with the global education policy agendas, including, but not limited to, questions of power asymmetries in governance, planning, finance and accountability of education systems. We invite contributions which engage with the tensions, disjuncture, and resistance to the imperatives of global education policy discourses both historically and in relation to globalisation, knowledge transfer, post-pandemic crises and contemporary precarities. This understanding carries implications for sustainable policy and practice in developing contexts, relates to the recognition of historically marginalised groups, and offers links with the call to decolonise international education and development.
Coloniality and education: gender, race and difference
This research sub-theme invites submissions which explore the intersections of education, society and citizenship, addressing the histories and social geographies of a global post-colonial landscape. In particular, it examines the work of education in producing identities and difference through the multiple intersections of gender and sexuality; race and ethnicity; nationality, religion and citizenship; migration and displacement; youth, age and generation; work and employment; socio-economic status, class and caste.
Education, conflict and displacement within and across borders
This sub-theme invites contributions which explore the complex relationship between education, conflict and mass displacement within and across borders. Questions of relevance include what role education systems and actors can play in contributing to both war and peace, and how state, non-state, national and international institutions can contribute to educational provisions in contexts of conflict and protracted crisis as well as to long-term, sustainable peacebuilding and social transformation, before, during and after violent conflict. With record numbers of forcibly displaced people globally, we also invite contributions which examine the challenges of ensuring access, quality and continuity of education which enable refugees and internally displaced persons to flourish in and through education and navigate pathways to sustainable livelihoods in contexts of liminality and precarity. We welcome contributions which address issues of, but not limited to, policies, curriculum, pedagogy, teacher development, learner experiences, accreditation of learning and politics of educational financing in refugee hosting settings both in the Global South and Global North. We also encourage papers reflecting theoretically on the relationship between education, conflict, war and peace at a time of increased tension, polarisation, authoritarianism and violence around the world.
We recognise that academic conferences themselves represent, reproduce and reify bordered spaces, both practically in terms of who can attend and who feels welcome, and intellectually in terms of what and whose knowledge is included, endorsed and validated. For BAICE 2024, we intend to incorporate a borderless theme which will be shaped by the BAICE community, not the conference committee. This goes beyond an ‘open theme’: it will not be a collection of papers that do not quite fit with the other sub-themes, rather an opportunity to build a grounded set of connected ideas into a purposeful agenda that will complement (but may also challenge) the parallel sub-themes. We welcome contributions that centre a concept of (re)bordering education, but sit (fully or partially) outside of the themes above, or intersect multiple themes.