Oral Presentation Session - Cosponsored Status Awarded
Sponsored by: Council on Anthropology and Education
Cosponsored by: Association of Indigenous Anthropologists
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Teaching
Secondary Theme: Resistance
Recognizing the verticality that has framed approaches to anthropology and education (Berstein 1975, Bourdieu and Passeron 1977, Collins 2009, Willis 1977), our panel asks: How is education imagined today, in practice and potential, by communities, learners, educators, and anthropologists? In what ways can ethnography support education that centers student vision and identity to guide how and what learning should take place? Drawing on case studies from around the world, we consider what “decolonizing education” could look like and how our positions as teacher-scholars inform our understandings and reimaginings of how we learn, what we learn, why we seek to learn, and how to convert these ideas into concrete actions.
Our panelists examine the coloniality inherent in museums, anthropological fieldwork, wildfire management, and “official” histories and ways of knowing sponsored and promoted by schools and nations. We explore how pedagogy emerges as a methodology to “crack open colonial spaces to make possible other ways of being, thinking, knowing, feeling, existing, and living-with” (Walsh 2013:19). More specifically, Machida describes her collaborative teaching workbook for museum educators in the U.S. to interrogate institutional legacies, engage in critical self-reflection, and radically reimagine new forms of inclusion and education in these spaces. Handelsman’s ethnography in Guayaquil disrupts the colonial spirit of anthropological fieldwork by teaching her young research collaborators ethnographic methods and methodologies which they interpret and resignify to conduct interviews to learn their communities’ histories, struggles, and imaginations on their own terms. Similarly, the Afrodescendant youth from Snyder’s ethnography partake in their own research projects and promote counter-histories as they work toward disrupting racist ideologies and practices that situate Argentina as a white nation.
Zeng’s ethnography of the Dujing alternative education movement in China explores how ancient philosophies can inform how students and families make choices in how they learn and learn against, emphasizing the heterogeneous temporality that enables young people to explore their alternative rhythms. Finally, Fowler’s research in the Southern Appalachians describes how distinct ways of imagining fire ecology are overlooked by wildfire management institutions. As Fowler problematizes competing visions of fire and land, she describes a teaching project with undergraduates in which they employ ethnography to better engage the political, social, economic, and historical imaginings of fire ecology. Through this project, Fowler, like the other panelists, presents teaching strategies that encourage students and communities to deconstruct colonial systems (Escobar 2003, Maldonado-Torres 2007, Mignolo 2000) by collaboratively challenging them through pedagogy.
Across our papers, we conceive of decolonization as aspiring to make research, learning, and teaching more horizontal by transforming our ways of acting and thinking. We reflect on challenges and opportunities for us as anthropologists and teachers to work collaboratively with students, families, and communities whose experiences, values, and imaginings surrounding education influence their ways of knowing and the extent to which they can shape how and what they learn. In different contexts, we are simultaneously resisting colonized foundations and collaboratively imagining and working toward new possibilities and futures for education with communities across the world.