Chair: Carlo Cappa, University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Italy

By pairing “history” and “theory”, WG1 invites analyses in which the two elements, in a comparative perspective, are closely linked with each other.

Identity and education are and have always been strictly interwoven – a crucial issue for comparative education. Education, in conversation with social and cultural conditions, proposes a number of different images of the human being, especially in terms of identity. Traditionally, one of the most relevant aspects of each of these different identities has been to try creating univocal profiles, providing common elements of recognition, of “sameness”, among those belonging to it. In this respect, each identity is conceptualised as alternative to the others, leading to a clash that is all the more apparent in periods marked by uncertainty, when many paradigms compete for the same terrain.

In current times, the complexity of society, acceleration of change processes and rising uncertainty present a difficult task for education. In a framework characterized by political and economic challenges, a tension arises between different possible identities in Europe as well as elsewhere, with the notion of multiple identities coming to the fore.

The concept of crisis can be a powerful heuristic to interrogate our current situation, involving, as it does, an opportunity, or even an obligation, to make choices. The concept of crisis defines not only a difficult moment or period, but an important turning point as well. Crisis can be read as an open question, an invitation: a moment requiring analysis and judgment about one (or many) possible way(s) for imagining change or resistance.

How can a comparative approach contribute to this problématique? And is the identity – or the multiple identities - of comparative education itself worth investigating in order to explore the diverse ways in which history and theory are linked in comparative education(s)?

Whilst encouraging a broad array of papers, the WG is particularly interested in papers that address the following issues:

  • Highlighting moments in which we can find a consolidation or a contestation – through education – of a specific notion of “identity”.
  • Understanding the building of identity through education or the fight against it in relation to previous traditions of enquiry or with other phenomena such as the economy, politics or society.
  • Exploring transformation/s and continuity/ies in educational concepts for thinking about identity/identities in comparative education.