What citizenship education for what democracy? Transnational perspectives from the 19th century to the 21st

Zoé Kergomard's picture
Call for Papers
April 1, 2020 to April 3, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Educational Technology

With the gradual extension of suffrage and the rise of citizens as political actors, a diversity of proposals on approaches to citizenship education were produced by philosophers, politicians, pedagogues, activists, and citizens. Since the end of the 18th century, the approaches of these actors – from the development of a “democratic culture and the promotion of valeurs républicaines to the idea of emancipation “from below” – have been reflected both in school curricula and in the practices of non-state actors. In the humanities and social sciences, these theoretical and practical contributions to the understanding of citizenship are most often constructed as separate case studies, in compartmentalized national contexts. And yet recurring questions run through them: How should relations between the individual and the collective be understood? How can education promote citizenship without being prescriptive? Should it aim to cultivate citizens’ support for the existing democratic project with all of its imperfections, or to allow space for critique, and thereby for emancipation?

In order to historicize the various responses to this democratic challenge, this conference will bring together specialists from a range of countries and disciplines, such as history, philosophy, educational sciences, political science and sociology. In line with the social history of political ideas, the conference aims to explore how representations of democracy and citizenship in discourses and social practices have changed over time (Skornicki and Gaboriaux 2017). Contributions may build upon sources as diverse as the writings of intellectuals, teachers, or activists; curricula, textbooks, and pedagogical practices in schools and community educational contexts; student productions and demands, print and other media, art, etc. Instead of focusing solely on intellectual productions, then, the conference will look at the relationships between the discourse and practices of different actors, exploring citizenship not only as a concept but as a mode of democratic action (Isin and Nielsen 2008). The conference will take an histoire croisée approach, asking the question of differences and similarities, but also of the circulation and transfer between democratic contexts favoured by migrations and moments of encounter (Werner and Zimmermann 2006). Through these approaches, the conference aims to go beyond the national, normative and teleological perspectives often adopted in the historiography of citizenship education and democracy.

Papers may be organized around the following dimensions:

Concepts of citizenship education: papers can analyse different approaches to citizenship education, beginning with its appellations across time and space (instruction civique, citizenship education, staatsbürgerliche Bildung, etc.) and the deployment, reception, and adaptation of various concepts, stories, myths, symbols, and cultural references in citizenship education.

Crises, ruptures and continuities: contributions may focus on the mutations, ruptures and continuities of discourses and practices in citizenship education in times of social crisis, conflict, and political upheaval (such as the revolutions of the 19th century), of enfranchisement or educational reforms. What roles has citizenship education played during periods of change? How has it evolved in the aftermath? What connections emerge between the project of forming a “new” citizen, on the one hand, and the conflicting narratives of the past as well as the politics of memory, on the other?

Dynamics of inclusion and exclusion: the conference will consider the lines of distinction within society drawn and enacted by actors in citizenship education, such as social class, age, gender, nationality, origin, race, religion, political beliefs, etc. Contributions can thus examine whether and how multiple conceptions of citizenship can coexist, for whom citizenship education is intended and with what differentiated aims, etc.

Perspective differences between actors: to look beyond the bounds of a nation state-centered or even “school-centredperspective, contributions under this topic will examine the perspectives of actors as diverse as state educational authorities, teachers and their unions, international organizations, citizens, civil society actors at all levels (such as political parties, associations, philanthropic societies, the media, religious institutions, etc.). They may raise the question of how these actors reinforced or challenged the central role played by state actors in citizenship education during the long nineteenth century. How have these different actors negotiated the tension between the intrinsically political character of citizenship and the widespread ambition to ensure an apolitical citizenship education? Papers may also examine how the political cultures and practices of these different actors relate to their approaches to citizenship education: What roles have the various locations and resourcesfrom classrooms to summer camps and public spaces – played in citizenship education?

The interplay of scales: taking a transnational approach, the conference will explore the interplay between levels in the reflections and practices of various actors. What spaces, what imagined communities, were they addressing in designing and practicing citizenship education? What space has remained for non-national (especially local) forms of citizenship in a context where both state and non-state educational practices have focused on nation-state building? With the contributions of increasingly diverse range of actors (from international organisations to NGOs) since the second half of the 20th century, how has pedagogical reflection around supranational (“European”, “global, etc.) forms of citizenship developed? How are different scales of citizenship entangled?

Proposals (title, summary/abstract with a maximum of 3000 characters, short biography) should be sent by October 31, 2019 to citizenshipeducation@dhi-paris.fr. The proposal should detail the research problematics in relationship to the orientations of this call for papers, along with the objects, sources, and actors covered in the study. Applications from junior and female researchers are particularly welcome. Applicants will be notified of the selection by the end of November 2019. We expect to be able to cover transportation and accommodation costs.

Contact Info: 

Zoé Kergomard

German Historical Institute Paris

Hôtel Duret-de-Chevry

8 rue du Parc-Royal

75003 Paris