The Urban Boundaries Project: Towards an emancipatory educational policy
Alexandre Pais and Mônica Mesquita
Together with globalization, the concern with diversity is currently considered to be one of the two main educational functions. While globalization refers to the social need to respond to market globalization, which imposes a convergent education by training individuals to perform a role in the global society, diversity demands an integration of different cultures in a model of divergent education, able to educate citizens in what has been called equity within diversity. To conciliate these two educational tasks could be a source of problems, as documented by recent research on the cultural dimension of education. This is especially the case in countries such as the Nordic ones, where national cultural minorities and newer immigrant populations have been posing new challenges for education. In many cases, these populations rely more on non-formal educational sites, based in their everyday lives, than in the formal setting of school education, where they often experience problems of exclusion. Our intention with this paper is to present and discuss an ongoing project based in Portugal, where a team of people from different backgrounds are starting to work collaboratively with two minority communities. Through the development of a critical alphabetization, a multiple cartography and life-history portfolios we seek to address the educational needs of these populations in situ, that is, in the midst of their everyday lives where survival with dignity is often the first and foremost important daily struggle. Therefore, it is the everyday problems felted by these two communities that guide the organization of parameters that support a multicultural education curriculum based on the socio-cultural and economic reality of these communities. This way, we seek to address the tension between globalization and diversity by means of submitting this two educational aims to the needs of the communities which have been systematically excluded both from globalization and from the social recognition of their differences. We take advantage of the recent theorization of postmodern multiculturalism made by the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and we deploy a qualitative methodology informed by critical ethnography.
Network: Multicultural educational research