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My Research

Thinking Emancipation, "Rethinking Education": Difference, Resistance and Oppression in Indian Classroom

Broad concerns which frame my work:
What sort of relationship could "education" have with "democracy" in a society that inherited a democratic state apparatus overnight as it were, is facing sharply increasing socioeconomic disparities, and which increasingly sees education solely as a system of credentialling rather than expecting it to produce learners-citizens capable of reflecting critically on its state? Secondly, if education were to play an emancipatory role in society, and if democracy is to imply equality and justice, then what are the possible ways in which we can reconceptualise and reimagine "education" and "democracy"?

Research themes

One set of questions I engage with revolve around state-formation in India (how is the state implicated in historical re/production of existing hierarchical sociopolitical order): the history of imagination and formation of the Indian nation and "Indianness" (Kaviraj and Doornbos, Prakash), the upper caste, upper class patriarchal nature of the nationalist freedom movement in colonial India (Chatterjee, Liddle and Joshi), citzenship discourses within liberal democracies including feminsit critiques of liberal democratic politics (Narayan and Shanley, Mouffe, Pateman), historical gendering of the (Indian) nation, as well as the way processes and content of schooling have been shaped in particular ways in liberal democracies (Arnot, Arnot and Fennell, Arnot and Weiler).

The second set of questions revolves around provisioning in education and processes of schooling in India (how are hierarchies re/produced in education): issues of quality, access and stratification, the way imperatives of neoliberal economics have shaped education policy and classroom processes (Velaskar, Kumar, Jha, Tilak, Manjrekar, Balagopalan), local and inter/national policy discourses (Kumar, Arnot and Fennell, Sadgopal), and finally the complex ways in which intersecting power structures of gender-caste-class undergird educational processes.

The final set of questions deals with identities, representation, resistance and solidarities (how are identities formed, and how can they be rethought in order for education to be emancipatory in contemporary Indian educational-democratic context): in what ways do leaners resist dominant meanings, how do they negotiate identities and statuses in/outside classrooms, how do they relate to each other, and most importantly how can school become a site of reimaging social relations in order to build relations of solidarity in the project of counter-hegemony in and through education.

Theory & Method

To frame this project, I draw upon feminist perspectives in theories of re/production, analyses of liberal democracy, educational studies in India and poststructuralist work in education. Henry Giroux’s work in Critical Pedagogy and on the cultural politics of difference also centrally guides my work.

Since I am interested in unpacking issues of subjectivity, difference, oppression and resistance within the wider social-political context, I find it appropriate to combine classroom ethnography with Critical Discourse Analysis. I will conduct classroom ethnography over a period of 8-9 months in a state-government run vernacular medium school in Indore, a city which exemplifies some of the best - or, worst - aspects of neoliberal economic paradigm and educational reform in India. [I will be updating this part as I dive deeper into field work.

Past Research

MA Dissertation (2010): How children's sociocultural background affects classroom interaction. 

This was a case study of three children in std III of an urban Kendriya Vidyalaya in Madhya Pradesh, India. This is a category of schools are run by the central government. The work was guided primarily by perspectives on the notions of 'dialogue' in the classroom (Robin Alexander, George Denison, Lisa Delpit) and 'D'iscourse, etc. (Colin Lankshear, James Paul Gee, among others).

MA Term Paper (First Language Pedagogy): Can there be dialogue in Ajju's classroom?

This was a case-study of an eight year old boy, Ajju's experiences of language use and language education. The child beonged to a working class family, was fluent in Nimari and Hindi and studying in a low fee private English-medium school.

Research interests

Critical pedagogy, Sociology of education, Gender and education.

Feminist political theory, Radical philosophy.

Third-world and Postcolonial feminisms.

Language pedagogy and linguistics.

History and philosophy of science, Gender and science.

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Dr. Cath Lambert



Dr. Goldie Osuri