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Call for Papers
Schooling in Anthropology: Learning the “Modern Way”
5 – 6 December 2011
Department of Anthropology and the Centre for Child-Focused Anthropological Research (C-FAR), Brunel University

School education has become the dominant institutional system for formalised learning globally, and is central to ideas of what it means to ‘grow up modern’ (Foley et al 2000). As such, school becomes an important arena of action and experience for an ever-increasing number of children and young people throughout the world. Since education is inherently value-laden and not only allows a political dimension, but rather is political throughout (Friere 1999), school is also a key arena in which certain hegemonic representations of the world are perpetuated. The question subsequently is not “whether it should be based on, and should transmit, values but which values should be invoked” (McLaughlin and Juceviciene 1997). In connection with this the student, who is not always equipped with the appropriate educational decoders (Willis 1978) or “talking like a book” (Lancy 2011), needs to identify appropriate forms of behaviour, within both the formal and informal areas of the school. It is in this context that ethnographers experience a particularly dynamic field, which is shaped by the interplay between students, teachers and parental agency – but also by lack of agency as social patterns may be re-enforced, even in school systems designed specifically to eradicate these.

The two-day workshop is intended to be a forum where we can explore and compare the common themes and contextual variations, theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches in relation to the specific processes and implications that this form of institutional organisation has for children, young people, and society more generally. In addition, it is hoped we can consider the place of schooling within the research field of the Anthropology of Education, as well as the benefits of increased dialogue between ethnographic school researchers in different disciplines, and the actual and potential contribution that the study of schooling can make to, for example, the anthropology of youth, political anthropology and the anthropology of personhood.

We invite ethnographically-grounded contributions from post-fieldwork scholars working on all dimensions of schooling, in any geographical context, to send abstracts for consideration. We encourage contributions that engage with the following questions and issues:

School as a bounded space: Both in the sense of the institutional organisation of school: e.g., school as abounded space segregated from the rest of society, students clustered in (usually age) graded classes, the creation and presence of formal and informal realms within school, or compulsory or voluntary schooling; and also in terms of physicality, where the implicit effects and values emphasised by the particular physical disposition and bodily attitudes required by (and acquired within) the school/classroom environment are considered.

School as a vehicle for generating values, morals and ideas: The role of schools in generating values, morals and ideas, and how these re-enforce and/or contradict already existing socially shared views and ethics: e.g., the role of schooling in the reproduction or counteraction of social inequalities, or how social differences are reproduced and/or resisted within school.

Ideas of appropriate participation, or the ‘Ideal Student’: Notions of appropriate participation within the school, from adults and between peers; the constitution of the ‘ideal’ student, both within school and in the wider context. How does the student come to know what appropriateness means? How are these notions accepted or resisted, or how do they coexist in a dynamic relationship?

Youth Agency in Schools: What is agency, and to what extent is agency a relevant topic in regards to schooling? Can the school be observed as a site of youth action (both organised and informal) in the context of social learning (both formal and informal) and subjective formation?

Impact of Global Processes on the School Experience: The impact of global processes and policies on schools and school experiences, for example neo-liberalism or development; processes of diversification and convergence in global school systems; schooling as a case study par excellence of globalisation (Anderson-Levitt 2003).

Please submit a 250 word abstract by 15 July 2011 to Ditte Sass (

Successful applicants will be informed by early August 2011.

CFP – Schooling in Anthropology: Learning the “Modern Way”