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becoming things, becoming-world: On Cosmopolitanism, Reification and Education
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0253-6426
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

What if education were not about becoming something, making something of yourself, becoming some thing? What if we were to consider education as becoming-world? These questions are posed against the background of the current populist nationalist backlash against the consequences of globalization, along with growing anti-intellectualism and anti-democratic sentiment. How can education contribute locally and globally to fostering and safeguarding the very possibility of democratic practices against the neoliberal consecration of reified social relations? Becoming Things, Becoming-world contributes to contemporary discussions in philosophy of education by developing a vision of a critical educational cosmopolitanism founded upon a renewed critique of reification.

While cosmopolitan education has often been articulated in terms of an ethical and political response to globalization, this thesis proposes a different outlook. I argue that the idea of cosmopolitan education predates the onset of what we now term globalization, and that it provides a meaningful conception of education beyond the present socio-political condition. Moreover, I propose to rethink cosmopolitan education as a critique of reification, i.e. a critique of social relations taking on the character of mere things. The critique of reification helps to foreground aspects that have previously been neglected and marginalized in educational cosmopolitanism, such as its economic-material dimensions. At the same time, a critical cosmopolitan perspective is needed for a timely de-centering of critical social theory.

Re-assessing the Cynic tradition and drawing on critical theorists such as Gerard Delanty and Axel Honneth as well as on New Wittgensteinian philosophers as Alice Crary, I advance a post-universalist understanding of cosmopolitanism. This is based on dynamic social relations and a broad understanding of rationality which includes imaginary aspects as well as the education of our sensitivities. Cosmopolitanism is understood as a lived practice which critically challenges reified social and cultural relations, including the strictures of particular socio-economic structures. The notion of reification is distinguished from other forms of alienation, objectification and instrumentalization and is deployed to characterize lasting distortions of our relations to each other, to the world and to ourselves. Against any idealizing take on communicative practice, I show that language, knowledge, and education do not necessarily counter-act reifying tendencies. Indeed, they themselves can become sources for enhancing processes of reification.

A fresh look at the critique of reification allows us adequately to describe and understand the interrelation between contemporary capitalism, the forms of subjectivity it produces and the possibilities of democratic education and education towards democracy. Such an understanding is needed in face of the apparent impossibility of imagining a society, and envisioning an education, beyond the conditions formulated by contemporary neoliberal policies. Education as becoming-world maintains a hopeful outlook on the possibilities of our globalizing and pluralizing social reality as well as a keen focus on the tensions and challenges that this poses for contemporary educational endeavors on individual as well as structural levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education, Stockholm University , 2020. , p. 90
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik ; 59
Keywords [en]
cosmopolitanism, reification, globalization, education, philosophy, educational theory, critical pedagogy, particularism, universalism, objectivity, Critical Theory, New Wittgensteinianism, György Lukács, Gerard Delanty, Axel Honneth, Alice Crary
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176291ISBN: 978-91-7797-935-7 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7797-936-4 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-176291DiVA, id: diva2:1373731
Public defence
2020-01-17, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-12-18 Created: 2019-11-28 Last updated: 2019-12-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Cosmopolitanism and Globalization in Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cosmopolitanism and Globalization in Education
2018 (English)In: International Handbook of Philosophy of Education / [ed] Paul Smeyers, Cham: Springer, 2018, p. 821-831Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

One of the most pervasive educational debates in recent decades, from mainstream media to educational policy, research, and philosophy, has been shaped by a concern with an apparently radical shift in the conception of public education from a primarily national to a global outlook. What authors mean by the ‘globalizing world’ to which contemporary educational institutions are supposed to adjust ranges from the emergence of new powerful supranational actors on the educational scene to globalizing economic structures, neoliberal policies, global cultural changes, to more flexible, mobile, and diverse populations as well as to the increase of worldwide communication due to the fast spreading of new media and technologies. The revival of the old ideal of the cosmopolitan can in this context be understood as an attempt to articulate an adequate response to the (perceived) demands that these new developments make on future citizens, and hence educational institutions, actors, and practices. We will address the distinction between classic cosmopolitanism and the so-called new cosmopolitanisms and the specific hopes and dangers which different philosophers of education have associated with the respective ideals of the future world citizens. Instead of naively falling into the trap of conceiving of globalization and cosmopolitanism as mere positive potential or negative threat for education, the chapter will emphasize the multiple critical approaches and the points of departure for resistance and transformation which have been articulated from ethical, social, cultural, and political cosmopolitan frameworks against the recently prevailing unilateral economic interpretations of current educational challenges.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cham: Springer, 2018
Series
Springer International Handbooks of Education, ISSN 2197-1951, E-ISSN 2197-196X
Keywords
Cosmopolitics, Education, Cosmopolitanism, Globalization
National Category
Philosophy Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168899 (URN)10.1007/978-3-319-72761-5_59 (DOI)978-3-319-72759-2 (ISBN)978-3-319-72761-5 (ISBN)
Available from: 2019-05-15 Created: 2019-05-15 Last updated: 2019-12-02Bibliographically approved
2. Boundedness beyond reification: cosmopolitan teacher education as critique
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Boundedness beyond reification: cosmopolitan teacher education as critique
2013 (English)In: Ethics & Global Politics, ISSN 1654-4951, E-ISSN 1654-6369, Vol. 5, no 4, p. 217-237Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Certain strands of cosmopolitanism have been criticized on various occasions for merely mirroring the mental framework of a global elite that stresses positive attitudes to mobility, flexibility, and disinterested objective detachment to the detriment of ‘rooted’, local and national values.1 In this way, it is argued, it presents a one-sided opportunistic or naively affirmative picture of processes of globalization rather than taking seriously the challenges posed by the inherently normative dimension of cosmopolitan thought and practice.2 The present paper will argue for a return to the critical core of the cosmopolitan idea and proposes that the critique of reification, which recently received renewed interest by philosophers of the so-called third generation Frankfurt School, can serve as a vital tool for re-imagining cosmopolitan teacher education as critique. In particular, the discussion around the recent turn towards a standards and competencies oriented teacher education in Germany will be critically examined in this regard. Rather than presenting a mere factual description of our thinking, judgments and actions, a cosmopolitan orientation should be concerned with reminding us of the importance of a continuous critical challenge of their validity. Firstly, the concept of reification will be shown to provide the conceptual resources to describe and select relevant characteristics of contemporary social pathologies that cannot be adequately captured within liberal social philosophies. A closer analysis of reification as a deficient relation to oneself, to others, or to the world will then lead to the second question of how to conceive of non-reifying forms of relatedness, commitment and boundedness as enabling new forms of expressive freedom. Instead of one-sided, narrow and hasty reactions towards a perceived ‘global challenge’—either fetishizing borders or their transgression, an critical educational cosmopolitanism should bring into focus how educational institutions such as teacher education can provide, strengthen, and enhance the conditions for binding ourselves as citizens of the world in non-reifying ways.

Keywords
cosmopolitanism, teacher education, reification, Honneth, Frankfurt School, recognition, globalization, standardization, teacher education reform, standards and competencies
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-141905 (URN)10.3402/egp.v5i4.20296 (DOI)
Projects
Teaching Students to Become Cosmopolitan Citizens?
Available from: 2017-04-20 Created: 2017-04-20 Last updated: 2019-12-02Bibliographically approved
3. Which Love of Country? Tensions, Questions and Contexts for Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism in Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Which Love of Country? Tensions, Questions and Contexts for Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism in Education
2016 (English)In: Journal of Philosophy of Education, ISSN 0309-8249, E-ISSN 1467-9752, Vol. 50, no 2, p. 261-271Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper considers Martha Nussbaum's motivation for departing from her earlier cosmopolitan position in favour of now promoting a globally sensitive patriotism. Her reasons for endorsing patriotism will be shown as exemplary for related argumentations by other authors, especially insofar as love of country as a motivating force for civic duty is understood as in tension or even as incompatible with cosmopolitan aspirations. The motivation for turning to patriotism as articulated by Nussbaum and others will be demonstrated to rely on misleading understandings of love of country as a possessive emotion. Relying on Alice Crary's (2007) critique, it will be argued that sound moral judgement with regard to the patria as well as from a cosmopolitan stance is equally tied to our sensitivities and equally requires their education. Furthermore, I will discuss Axel Honneth's notion of solidarity, a form of love inflected by justice, as a possible alternative for conceptualising the social bonding patriotic attachment is supposed to provide. However, a critical patriotism ultimately needs to transgress this inward-directed focus and take into account how a country is seen by non-citizens, the historical relationships and the obligations that arise in terms of historical justice in relation to other countries. If we take patriotism in this outward-looking perspective seriously, we also come to understand why it would be a mistake to skip patriotism altogether. Rather than constructing cosmopolitanism and patriotism as mutually exclusive opposites, critical cosmopolitanism and critical patriotism can be shown to have different but complementary and mutually corrective functions.

National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132515 (URN)10.1111/1467-9752.12205 (DOI)000379147000011 ()
Available from: 2016-08-16 Created: 2016-08-15 Last updated: 2019-12-02Bibliographically approved
4. Graphic Contaminations: Cosmopolitics of the ‘I’ in American Born Chinese and Persepolis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Graphic Contaminations: Cosmopolitics of the ‘I’ in American Born Chinese and Persepolis
2015 (English)In: Studier i Pædagogisk Filosofi, ISSN 2244-9140, E-ISSN 2244-9140, Vol. 4, no 2, p. 38-53Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article explores the demands that the conflictual dimension of globalization poses for a cosmopolitan education. Such an emphasis seems necessary in times where the populations who undertake inter- and intra-national border crossings are increasingly those who are forced to: those trying to escape unbearable poverty, atrocious wars, the disenfranchised and victims of racist, sexist or religious persecution. Reflecting on the experiences articulated in the two graphic novels, Persepolis and American Born Chinese, the dimension of the globalizing world and its impact and demands on its future world citizens which comes to the fore is one that highlights the necessity for learning how to take a critical and political stance rather than the search for how education can facilitate a smooth adaptation to a new mobile order. Stanley Cavell’s examination of the relationship between autobiography, philosophy, and the founding of a self-reliant voice will be reconsidered in light of its contribution to re-thinking the meaning of a cosmopolitan education between critical self-appropriation and developing a transformative political vision of a new societal order.

Keywords
Cosmopolitanism, education, graphic novels, American Born Chinese, Persepolis, Stanley Cavell
National Category
Philosophy Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168914 (URN)10.7146/spf.v4i2.22423 (DOI)
Available from: 2019-05-15 Created: 2019-05-15 Last updated: 2019-12-02Bibliographically approved
5. Knowledge for a Common World? On the Place of Feminist Epistemology in Philosophy of Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Knowledge for a Common World? On the Place of Feminist Epistemology in Philosophy of Education
2016 (English)In: Education Sciences, E-ISSN 2227-7102, Vol. 6, no 1, article id 10Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper discusses the place of feminist epistemology in philosophy of education. Against frequently raised criticisms, the paper argues that the issues raised by feminist standpoint theory lead neither to a reduction of questions of knowledge to questions of power or politics nor to the endorsement of relativism. Within the on-going discussion in feminist epistemology, we can find lines of argument which provide the grounds for a far more radical critique of the traditional, narrow notion of objectivity, revealing it as inherently flawed and inconsistent and allowing for the defense of a re-worked, broader, more accurate understanding of objectivity. This is also in the interest of developing a strong basis for a feminist critique of problematically biased and repressive epistemological practices which can further be extended to shed light on the way in which knowledge has become distorted through the repression of other non-dominant epistemic standpoints. Thus, requiring a thorough re-thinking of our conceptions of objectivity and rationality, feminist epistemologies need to be carefully considered in order to improve our understanding of what knowledge for a common world implies in the pluralistic and diverse societies of post-traditional modernity in the 21st century.

Keywords
feminist epistemology, situated knowledge, objectivity, relativism
National Category
Philosophy Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168915 (URN)10.3390/educsci6010010 (DOI)000418285900009 ()
Available from: 2019-05-15 Created: 2019-05-15 Last updated: 2019-12-02Bibliographically approved

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Output format
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