Thematic areas

1. School history and "diversity

Under this first heading, we'll be asking how "diversity" (cultural, social, convictional, linguistic, gender, special needs, etc.) has been incorporated into schools and training throughout history? Proposals may address the question of the categorizations through which diversity (religious, linguistic, ethno-racial) has been conceived in different contexts throughout history. They could also address the categories of public action, the categories that organize school differentiation. They may also raise the question of the socio-historical construction of public problems at school in terms of diversity.

Particular attention will be paid to the way in which the colonial relationship took shape in schools at the time. We now know quite a lot about colonial practices in terms of organizational and pedagogical choices. The colonial school has left behind archives and testimonies (Reynaud-Paligot 2020, Depaepe, 2013). We also have some data on users' practices in front of the school (Mussard 2023). Whether in private, religious or public schools, the school memories of immigrants, natives or ex-colonized people, as well as those of people belonging to dominant groups, are also valuable sources for understanding the social relationships that shape "diversity". Sometimes this experience is expressed in literature or other artistic practices. Presentations based on analyses of artistic works - comparative analyses wherever possible - will be welcomed.

 2. Media-political discourse on schools and educational policies

In contexts marked by the assimilationism of nation-states, public discourse on schools often presents ethno-racial or religious diversity as a source of difficulties and risks. In this context, we'll be looking at the new Equity Diversity Inclusion (EDI) policies being implemented in North America, from the USA to Canada, and gradually adopted in Europe, particularly in universities, at their motivations and their effects, impacts and criticisms, as well as their possible translations into European educational institutions. In France, school disorders are highlighted in the media and in the political sphere, and related expressly to the presence of young descendants of postcolonial immigration, reputedly hostile to the "values of the Republic" (Dhume & Cohen 2018). The idea of a "Muslim problem" has been propagated by elites, some of whom were close to places of school decision-making, as Hajjat and Mohammed (2013) show, and the idea is relayed within the school (Bozec 2020, Zoïa 2021).

Similarly, the colonial imaginary is not absent from school practices with regard to those named in France as "newly arrived allophone pupils" (Armagnague 2019). The postcolonial prism can also help describe school policies in ultra-marine territories or ex-colonized countries (Allaoui 2008, Benhadjoudja 2017, Zine 2022, Chariet 2020). More broadly, coloniality permeates North-South relations beyond national histories as such (Saïd 1978), which is why the prism of the colonial could be mobilized in an exploratory way when it comes to education systems in countries with no direct colonial experience.

3. School relationships as social relationships

Relationships between school staff and students are a special kind of social relationship. The sociology of education has traditionally examined schools through the prism of class social relations, from cultural studies (Willis 1977) to "correspondence" theories (Bowles & Gintis 1976, Baudelot & Establet 1971). While this approach remains central, it needs to be articulated with other "social systems of oppression", in an intersectional perspective that also takes account of educational positions (Verhoeven 2002, Lorcerie 2019, Garric 2024). Proposals may thus consider how to articulate modes of domination and recompose them, for a renewed analysis of diversity in social relations at school.

On the other hand, the history of the development of compulsory schooling has been linked to the colonial enterprise, with children equated with "savages" who need to be civilized (Roland, 2013). Direct classroom observations are difficult, and the problematic framing agreed upon by researchers and professionals observed in situ is rarely derived from critical sociology. On the other hand, indirect observations are available: testimonials from students, former students or teachers, and analyses of memorized school experiences. A recent thesis, carried out in schools, revealed the general habituation of female teachers to racial discourse about their pupils and their parents, in a segregated and very impoverished urban context, where the parents are almost all from African migratory flows (Foy 2023). In countries where dominant social representations remain steeped in colonial racism (Lastrego et al. 2023), it's not unreasonable to think that these postcolonial biases find their way into school relations.

4. The question of epistemic injustice: decolonizing knowledge

The Rencontre intends to characterize "epistemic injustice" (Fricker 2010), which systematically discredits the knowledge and statements of the dominated (Catala 2022, Wolfs 2013), in the field of school education and training.

This leads to questioning history as narrative and motor in worldviews and the collective imaginary (Ricoeur 1986), and the ensuing confrontation in narratives (Matasci et al 2020, Larochelle 2021, Moisan 2010). In Belgium as in France, the teaching of colonial history has moved from the glorification of colonial work during the colonial period, to amnesia after independence, and then to a more critical vision (Van Nieuwenhuyse 2014, Van Nieuwenhuyse & Valentim 2018, Lantheaume 2002, Bonafoux et al. 2007, De Cock 2018, De Suremain and Mesnard 2021). The teaching of literary works has also made room over this period for works from the French-speaking world, particularly Africa. It remains to be seen in detail how the programs have evolved and how they are applied to teaching activities. Even Switzerland, which has no colonial past, has recently taken up the issue of colonization, devoting two issues of the journal Sociographe to the subject in 2020 (Cattacin and Fois, 2020).

Science teaching has not been left behind. Ideland (2018), for example, makes a detailed analysis of the forms of coloniality of knowledge present in science textbooks in her home country, Sweden. In these textbooks, a modest veil is generally drawn over the links between science and colonialism, whereas the work of the Swedish naturalist Linné, a national hero in his country, was part of a civilization project aimed at making plants more "European", by replacing their "barbarian" names with Latin ones. The history of science most often highlights white men from the Western world, neglecting the contribution of women and racialized people. The image given of the South is that of being inferior or "developing", and in need of the education that the North can provide.

Moreover, like any situation of oppression, epistemic injustice engenders resistance, which we will be examining (Medina 2013).

5. Professional training and "diversity

Finally, the training of education system personnel also deserves to be read through the prism of "diversity" and social relations. While training reforms, for example in Belgium, or the one in preparation in France, give little space to this approach, proposals could evoke experiments carried out along these lines in training courses (Nyambek-Mebenga 2016).

It was in Latin America that Paulo Freire conceived his pedagogy of the oppressed, from a decolonial perspective. This practice is part of a set of proposals known as "critical pedagogy" (De Cock, Pereira 2019). Although they have not penetrated educational systems, except in the case of limited experimentation (Souyri 2021), these questions have conquered spaces for discussion at universities or in militant practitioner collectives (Sud-Education-93 2023). What place do training institutions give them? How are they received by trainers and trainees? Or, if they're absent from established training courses, are there any requests from trainees? Are we hearing the voices of racialized trainees? The Marseille meeting will encourage case studies and international comparisons on this subject.

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