Special Issue Guest Editors: Sharon Todd, Rachel Jones and Aislinn O’Donnell
Shifting Education’s Philosophical Imaginaries: Relations, Affects, Bodies, Materialities
As Michèle Le Doeuff pointed out in her classic feminist work, The Philosophical Imaginary, images function in philosophical writing to enact certain political possibilities and limitations. Drawing on the importance of the imaginary, this special issue of Gender and Education examines the ways in which it operates to undergird recent feminist perspectives in both philosophy and education. As the pages in Gender and Education reveal, feminist educational concerns have generally focused on images of relationality, sex/gender differences and queer subjectivities and have discussed how such images reframe our attention to educational theory and practice. On the philosophical side, we are witnessing feminism’s recent turns to materialism, embodiment and affect, along with a renewed engagement with phenomenology and a pronounced shift away from the images of social construction that had informed much feminist work since the 1970s.
In this special issue, we are interested in how these philosophical developments might inform a re-imagining of the usual feminist educational concerns, and how educational imaginaries might open up a different set of questions for contemporary feminist philosophies. We are not concerned with how to ‘import’ new philosophical ideas into educational theory and practice, nor with simply reading such ideas as something ‘external’ to the work we do in education. Rather, our aim is to open up a conversation between educational theory and this new body of feminist philosophical scholarship in a manner that reveals their co-implication, particularly when it comes to conceiving of how to theorise what is done in the name of education, and what limits and transformative possibilities lie within the educational project.
Our focus on ‘relations, affects, bodies, materialities’ reflects a number of recent turns in feminist thought, which are not self-contained but spill over into each other, creating a matrix of interlinking ideas, concepts, and positions. These include:
- the ‘new materialisms’ (aligned with thinkers such as Alaimo, Barad, Braidotti, Coole, Colebrook, Grosz, and Kirby), which re-inflect long-standing feminist concerns with bodies and materiality via a critique of social constructionism and a re-appraisal of matter, nature, agency and the (post)human
- the turn to affect theory (see especially Ahmed, Gregg and Seidworth), which foregrounds the social, cultural and political efficacy of emotions, feelings and other affective states
- the new thoughts on relationality and embodiment arising from feminist and queer phenomenologies (Ahmed, Heinemaa, Weiss) and engagements with neuroscience (Pitts-Taylor, Wilson)
- the re-implication of feminist and queer theory by thinkers such as Ahmed, Colebrook and Huffer; and the deployment of feminist/queer theories of bodies, sexuality and desire by transnational feminists to generate critical perspectives on capitalism, neoliberalism, and feminism itself (Alexander, Grewal, Puar).
We are seeking work that draws on any of the above approaches or thinkers (or any combination thereof) to re-interrogate the role of relations, affects, bodies and/or materialities in a specifically educational context (broadly understood). In keeping with our focus on shifting education’s philosophical imaginaries, we are particularly interested in papers that: contest or transform dominant educational imaginaries; show how pedagogical contexts pose generative questions to new feminist approaches; and explore how the pedagogical and philosophical concerns outlined above are encountered outside the Anglo/American/European world.
We invite substantial, 1000 word abstracts that engage with the above concerns. Authors may wish to address one or more of the following specific questions:
- How do new directions in feminist and queer thought transform the images of both education and philosophy implicit in philosophy of education?
- How do recent philosophical emphases on bodies, affect, materialities and relationality displace the philosophical imaginary inherited from western modernity and open up new pedagogical and philosophical imaginaries?
- What is involved in re-imagining educational practices through a relational, bodily, materialist, and/or affective lens? How might we rethink and re-theorise the role of bodies and materialities (human and non-human) in education?
- How do feminist concerns with relationality, bodies, sexual/gender difference and queer/sexed subjectivities transform both images of education and understandings of what is involved in a philosophical approach to pedagogy, curriculum and educational policy?
- How might feminist pedagogies pose new questions to feminist materialist approaches?
- How does the use of feminist/queer theories of bodies, affect, sexuality and desire by transnational feminists contest, de-centre or provide alternatives to the theoretical biases of the global North? What are the implications of this for the re-imag(in)ing of education, philosophy, and philosophy of education?
- What difference does it make to imagine what we are doing when we philosophise about education as ‘critical’, ‘engaged’, ‘ecological’, ‘reparative’, ‘diffractive’, etc.?
This special issue of Gender and Education is edited by Sharon Todd (National University of Ireland, Maynooth) Rachel Jones (George Mason University, US) and Aislinn O’Donnell (University of Limerick).
If you would like to contribute, please email a 500 word abstract for the attention of the journal’s Editorial Manager, Helen Rowlands to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 December 2014.
Invitations to submit full papers will be sent to authors in mid December 2014; papers are to be submitted by 9 February 2015. Peer-reviewing will be completed and final editorial decisions reached by August 2015 . It is anticipated that this Special Issue will be published as Gender and Education Vol. 27. 6, which will be in print in October 2015.