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Anti-Imperialist Rot In The Foundation Of The Ivory Tower

ivory tower politically correct imperialist politics university professorThis is a description of an actual course taught at a real university by a living, breathing university professor. It's called "Young people and the global imaginary: History, empire, and identity politics in transnational borderlands".

It seems you'd have to be an absolute masochist to sign up for it, though. What the hell is a post-empire wiki?

This course is focused upon an examination of educational/social sciences and humanities research working at the interdisciplinary interface of youth studies, cultural identity and empire.  The course aims are as follows: to explore the concept of empire and new imperialisms and assess their manifestations in transnational schooling systems; to explore the historical and cultural dimensions of ‘empire’ and imperialism(s) as they have impacted on diverse groups of young people and educational actors living at the fringe of globalizing or mega cities around the world; and to showcase new work on empire, cultural identity and education in comparative educational contexts.  To address these aims, students will explore a range of theoretical orientations to confront the concepts of empire and its contested social and transnational imaginaries. Some of these orientations include, but are not limited to, an examination of: critical transnational theories of post-coloniality; cultural geographies of race, migration and post-colonial spaces; micro-national theories of space; comparative and international cultural studies; a history of ideas tradition established through European Continental thought and its links to Orientalism(s) (Said); theories which reside outside the cultural lineage of the ‘global North’ (see Connell on Northern Theory); and global youth cultural studies. Each of these approaches acts as a lens and important background for discussing empirical research on the topic of youth, empire and education.   

We will begin the course with a critical history and cultural sociology of imperial education and its globalizing functions.  This temporalized approach will not be nation-based but will instead represent transnational account which situates imperialism and colonization in both a synchronic and diachronic temporal framework.  Throughout the course the timely power of the notion of ‘moral anxiety’ is showcased – now seen as a mobile and transnational form of affect (see Ahmed, 2010).  It is toward the exposure of this symbolic dimension of anxiety and its cross-national manifestations in different sectors of education and society that we will be focused.  We will examine topics such as: diasporic youth identities associated with new anti-racist and post-colonial movements; new racisms associated with recently re-organized youth movements such as the English/European Defense League, the Russian ‘Skinhead’ Movement and associated rising violence directed towards new youth migrants in many African countries (e.g., South Africa, Rwanda); critiques of youth and development research in post-imperial higher education contexts; the relationship between global tourism and its impact on young people’s experiences of education in ‘developing’ nations; and the history of policing young racialized and sexualized bodies over time and across national spaces. 


We will then move forward to address key theoretical and empirical concepts relative to empire, young people and education. The final part of the course addresses diverse perspectives on empire and education and will seek in part to showcase new work in the field. Throughout students will be asked to explore the associated importance of engaging with related innovative methodological tools to better understand ‘empire’ as part of a longstanding and highly symbolic history of education in the present. Examples include the exploration of documentary film-making, photo-narratives, post-empire wikis, urban study projects (such as walking the imperial city) and attempts at ‘place making projects’ within the realm of global ethnography. 

Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist


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