CFP: Transnational Education: Imperialism, Race, and Human Nature in the American Context (3/15/06; MLA '06)

full name / name of organization: 
Lucia Hodgson
contact email:

CFP: Transnational Education: Imperialism, Race, and Human Nature in
the American Context (3/15/06; MLA '06)

Proposed MLA Special Session organized by Anna Mae Duane, University
of Connecticut, and Lucia Hodgson, University of Southern California.

Please send 250-word abstract and cv by March 15th to

Both childhood and race are inventions of the Enlightenment and
products of European imperial expansion, hopelessly enmeshed through
their deployment in the imperial project. Bill Ashcroft has argued
that the trope of the child is crucial to the imperial enterprise
because it absorbs and suppresses the contradictions of imperial
discourse. Via the child-"savage" analogy, John Locke's theory of the
child mind as a tabula rasa contributes to the imperial construction
of colonial space as devoid of culture and civilization,
rationalizing the inscription/imposition of imperial values and
structures of power.

Given the entangled discourses of civilization vs. savagery,
adulthood vs. childhood, white vs. the other, and literacy vs.
ignorance, educational theories and systems are often a site for the
reproduction and proliferation of power. Ideas about children and
prescriptions for their treatment are inextricably linked to
formulations of race, gender, nationality, and class. Educational
discourses both perpetuate exclusionary principles and practices, and
make possible challenges to such principles and practices. Those
excluded from power critique arguments about education and human
development in order to rewrite and redirect the forces of colonial
inscription. In the process, they address accepted notions of
childhood as a strategy for social change.

This special session panel seeks papers that address the role of
educational discourse in theories of empire in the American context
from the seventeenth into the twenty-first centuries. How do
educational discourses rationalize imperial endeavors? What kinds of
educational practices do they promote and inspire? How have
educational discourses and practices been deployed to challenge
hegemonic narratives? How do discourses about childhood, family, and
nationality shape imperial projects? And how does imperialism shape
cultural understandings of infancy, learning, and development?

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Received on Sat Feb 18 2006 - 10:18:18 EST

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