Promising futures? education as a symbolic resource of hope in Kyrgyzstan

Amsler, Sarah (2009) Promising futures? education as a symbolic resource of hope in Kyrgyzstan. Europe-Asia Studies, special issue on �Polities of the Spectacular: Symbols, Rhetoric and Power in Central Asia� , 61 (7). pp. 1189-1206. ISSN 0966-8136

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Full text URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09668130903068723

Abstract

PROGRAMMES OF EDUCATIONAL REFORM IN Central Asian societies—as in many other societies across the globe—are often presumed to be either reflections of dominant political and economic change or tools for achieving it. In this essay, which uses higher education reform in Kyrgyzstan as a case study for theoretical analysis, I argue for an alternative, more constructivist interpretation of the relationship between education and the political. This is that educational work is a key site for the articulation of social imaginaries and for defining the cultural and political practices through which they may legitimately be realised. My argument proceeds as follows. In the first part of the essay, I introduce some of the dominant claims made about the political meaning of higher education reform in contemporary Kyrgyzstan. I then offer a theoretical explanation of why education is an important space of cultural politics as well as an institution of socialisation, drawing on cultural theory, the sociology of
knowledge and especially the work of Pierre Bourdieu to explicate how the idea of education may become an ide´e-force—‘an idea which has social force’—in contexts
of major social change (Bourdieu 2001, p. 34). Following this I explore how the idea of education in Kyrgyzstan has been articulated within and against wider cultural
discourses of Marxism–Leninism and neoliberal capitalism, and discuss how these processes of articulation have shaped the present-day imagination of the futures education might promise. I illustrate this specifically by looking at how certain pedagogical styles have become articulated as signifiers of ‘competing’ political cultures within the society. Finally, I consider the implications of this signification for the development of alternative ideas about educational reform.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:PROGRAMMES OF EDUCATIONAL REFORM IN Central Asian societies—as in many other societies across the globe—are often presumed to be either reflections of dominant political and economic change or tools for achieving it. In this essay, which uses higher education reform in Kyrgyzstan as a case study for theoretical analysis, I argue for an alternative, more constructivist interpretation of the relationship between education and the political. This is that educational work is a key site for the articulation of social imaginaries and for defining the cultural and political practices through which they may legitimately be realised. My argument proceeds as follows. In the first part of the essay, I introduce some of the dominant claims made about the political meaning of higher education reform in contemporary Kyrgyzstan. I then offer a theoretical explanation of why education is an important space of cultural politics as well as an institution of socialisation, drawing on cultural theory, the sociology of knowledge and especially the work of Pierre Bourdieu to explicate how the idea of education may become an ide´e-force—‘an idea which has social force’—in contexts of major social change (Bourdieu 2001, p. 34). Following this I explore how the idea of education in Kyrgyzstan has been articulated within and against wider cultural discourses of Marxism–Leninism and neoliberal capitalism, and discuss how these processes of articulation have shaped the present-day imagination of the futures education might promise. I illustrate this specifically by looking at how certain pedagogical styles have become articulated as signifiers of ‘competing’ political cultures within the society. Finally, I consider the implications of this signification for the development of alternative ideas about educational reform.
Keywords:Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, post-Soviet, education reform, curriculum
Subjects:L Social studies > L370 Social Theory
X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T430 Other Asian Society and Culture studies
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:4978
Deposited By: Sarah Amsler
Deposited On:30 Mar 2012 09:47
Last Modified:04 Dec 2013 18:38

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