Philosophy (of Education) in Contact Zones
For 2022, we focus on philosophical engagement in “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today” – spaces that critical modern language theorist Mary Louise Pratt defined as “contact zones” (1990, 34).
Contact zones are shaped by the violences of coloniality and racism in contradiction to the proclaimed values of truth, respect, justice, and democracy within public and private institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities. At the same time, contact zones are shaped by what Pratt defined as the “transculturation” phenomena, the emergence of new literacies that embody resistant and transformative values, aspirations and understandings of space and time, of peoples and communities. Following Paulo Freire’s path, we understand contact zones as these places where the critical reading and writing of words gets geared into the critical reading and writing of new ways of being, new communities, and new worlds into existence.
We understand schools, colleges, universities, and classrooms as contact zones. We understand language and literacy as contact zones. We understand social, legal, professional, and religious institutions along with the quotidian practices of everyday life as contact zones. We understand digital media and cultural productions as contact zones. We understand philosophy (of education) as a contact zone.
Contact zones are haunted, fraught, and fecund. They are crossroads of encounter and movement, locations of touch and proximity, sites of negotiation and contestation. Contact zones bring people into relation across axes of power and ideology, across chasms in life opportunities, across ways of being. The friction of contact can be painful, and an excess of contact can be suffocating, immobilizing, even deadly. But some friction yields the pleasures of relation and love, of new possibilities for being.
What does philosophizing in contact zones look like? What does the work of philosophers (of education) reveal in contact zones?
Further, we might ask (not to be exhaustive): What is revealed in the (mis)educative experiences that unfold in contact zones? What is revealed in the racial, gender, and class struggles that shape labor, including that in schools? What is revealed as teachers lead efforts to reassert the power of unions and the needs of children? What is revealed about the operations of white supremacy, nationalisms, and the globalization of capital? What is revealed as activists assert anti-racism justice-driven agendas for communities, schools, housing, and medical care? What is revealed as teachers and students cope with the impacts of coloniality, racism, and economic exploitation through healing and culturally sustaining pedagogical responses? What is revealed in the accelerating damage to the web of life and the climate crisis, and in the efforts of youth to reassert the ecological understandings of relation, care, and responsibility demonstrated by their wise elders? What is revealed in the debates concerning humanisms and racisms, concerning Blackness and Indigeneity, concerning gender, sexuality, queer and feminist critique, concerning language and literacies, concerning art and experience?
We wonder what is revealed in these contact zones about the resistance to and transformations of coloniality and racism, the remixing of time and the recreation of place that enable the reading and writing of words to become the remaking of worlds and formation of new ways of being.
What do/can/should philosophers (of education) bring into and contribute within contact zones?
What do/can/should philosophers (of education) learn from/with/in contact zones?
We look forward to a conference that expands and deepens the field of philosophy of education by placing diverse forms of theorizing and producing knowledge into creative dialogue on these and other matters of interest to philosophers of education everywhere.
Mary Louise Pratt, Arts of the Contact Zone. Profession. (1991), pp. 33-40. Keynote address, Responsibilities for Literacy conference, Pittsburgh, PA, September 1990. Published by the Modern Language Association, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25595469
Writing within the Contact Zone: A Public Facing Philosophy PES Pre-Conference
Building on the PES conference theme and sustained interest within the PES community in various forms of public facing philosophy, and in collaboration with the PES public facing journal GroundWorks and the Committee on Professional Affairs (COPA), this year’s pre-conference is devoted to exploring engagement with practitioners with special interest in actively combatting the “asymmetrical relations of power” that such engagements risk (Pratt, 1990, 34).
Embodying the contact zone, the pre-conference will offer time, space, and intention, for fruitful contact. We invite those who identify as philosophers of education to join with “practitioners” as thought-partners and co-authors, and to share space with other collaborative teams. We define practitioners and thought-partners broadly as school and community based professionals working in youth formation, advocacy, and social services. Knowing that such collaborations are both productive and challenging, the pre-conference will celebrate and support participants as they work towards a publication. We encourage scholars with experience in collaboration with practitioners as well as those for whom this may be a new direction. You can find the full call and timeline here. Please send all submissions and queries to Cara Furman: firstname.lastname@example.org