Bhatti, Ghazala and Leeman, Yvonne
Convening a network within ECER: a history of the Social Justice and Intercultural Education Network
European Education Research Journal, 10, (1), .
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The experience of initiating and sustaining a research based dialogue on social justice and intercultural education in Europe requires both flexibility and focus. This paper highlights the challenges facing convenors of one network, who wish to include researchers from diverse backgrounds, while at the same time enhancing the academic quality of the papers presented at ECER. This paper presents a brief history of 15 years of networking with a view to discussing some of the main issues which have emerged over the years.
The work of Network 7 raises significant questions. Is it necessary or desirable to develop a common theoretical language and/or a body of knowledge? And if so, how can this be done in a scientific world governed by the English language and Anglo-Saxon research traditions? How should differences in research interests and traditions from different parts of Europe, taking asymmetric power relations within Europe into account, be included? Other issues include the incorporation within social justice of discourses on gender, disability and ethnicity. The paper defines the interlinked key concepts of social justice and intercultural education which guide the work of the network. A brief history follows, describing the challenges facing the network. These include the issue of language, the discussions during ECER, the image of the network and the choice of network descriptors. As research is influenced by scientific traditions, cultural, political and financial contexts, it is difficult to influence the research agenda as convenors of a network in a conference. The paper is based on network archives, including documents such as conference programmes, memos, letters, network descriptors and reports, discussions about the selection and acceptance of proposals as recorded in e-mails and letters, convenors’ reflections and analysis of participants’ formal and informal evaluations of network sessions. The issues raised in this paper will continue to be debated at ECER.
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