Emancipation and/or Education: Challenges and Frictions

April 24, 2020 - April 26, 2020
Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

Sremski Karlovci

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The relation between emancipation and education is fraught with tensions. Even though we are the inheritors of the emancipatory potential of the Enlightenment, never before have these potentials come under rigorous critical scrutiny from various intellectual traditions of the second half of 20th century such as postcolonial studies, poststructuralist thought, feminist critique, etc. But precisely because the classic emancipatory ideal becomes outdated, the idea of emancipation is in need of rethinking and rearticulating. We want to question whether, and to what extent, in rethinking emancipation, the role and the aim of education must be rethought as well.

Given the polysemy and heteroglossiaof the relation between emancipation and education, we aim for contributions that thematize the emancipatory potential of education as well as those that problematize it. Some of the still insufficiently considered issues are immediately imposed: Who is the subject of emancipation? And emancipation from what? What does emancipatory education look like at all? Does the education that emancipates today differs from the one before? How can we criticize ideological, normalizing, conformist functions of education and still argue for its emancipatory role? Finally, is emancipation a desirable goal of education at all, or do we by asking this question already assume an instrumentalization of education? 

            The relation between the two depends much on the practical use. School teachers, university professors, other practitioners of education, and policy makers have their own, often opposed visions of this relation. How are these visions to be realized through particular teaching methods and contents we find in the curriculum? How is the emancipatory potential of education facilitated or encumbered by legal requirements of particular education systems? What kind of change is needed in this respect, and how can it be achieved by reinventing schooling, informal education, teaching, learning, and grading methods, textbooks, curricula? We welcome specific examples and case studies that explore the relation between goals of education and means for their realization.

In sum, this conference will be concerned with rethinking different forms of relation between education and emancipation. It aims to bring together leading academics, researchers, teachers, educational managers and organizers, education counselors to discuss the most recent developments, trends and concerns, as well as practical challenges in rethinking this relation. The overall ambition is to present both empirical studies and theoretical inquiries that could contribute to the ongoing discussion of the role of education and emancipation in 21st century.

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