Chaire UNESCO en démocratie, citoyenneté mondiale et éducation transformatoire
Book Review of The Epicenter
Updated: Mar 20
L’épicentre: Démocratie, Éco*Citoyenneté mondiale et Éducation transformatoire /
The Epicenter: Democracy, Eco*Global Citizenship and Transformative Education /
El Epicentro: Democracia, Eco*Ciudadanía Mundial y Educación Transformadora
We're extremely pleased to present our new book, which has been reviewed by the Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (below); many thanks to the Journal and the authors for this book review. The book is now available for purchase/download. This was a wonderful and engaging project to work/collaborate on, and we thank everyone involved, including the authors, research assistants, the Publisher, those who wrote endorsements and many others.
Paul R. Carr, Gina Thésée & Eloy Rivas-Sanchez
Information on the BOOK
DESCRIPTION of BOOK
Creatively reviving and innovating emancipatory practices, knowledges and epistemologies that have been under attack by neoliberal and neocolonial rule can no longer be overlooked. Robust and critical citizen engagement through social movements and transformative education is a necessary cornerstone to building meaningful and critical forms of democracy. Social solidarity (and eco-global citizenship) is confronted by a myriad of forced and unforced migrations, xenophobia, avarice, warfare, and the global environmental catastrophe, with global elites continually shoring up their bottom line. This book—offered in English, French and Spanish, with authors from a dozen countries—is part of our socio-political and educational project, seeking to bring people together across linguistic, cultural, geographic, identity and disciplinary lines. Aiming to cultivate and facilitate deliberative, engaged dialogues, ideas, proposals and actions for a world that more purposefully and audaciously includes all humans, species and the environment under the same tent is a central feature of our epicenter.
Les pratiques, les connaissances et les épistémologies émancipatrices créatives et innovantes qui ont été martelées par le régime néolibéral et néocolonial ne peuvent plus être négligées. Un engagement citoyen solide et critique par le biais de mouvements sociaux et d'une éducation transformatoire est une pierre angulaire nécessaire à la construction de formes de démocratie robustes et critiques. La solidarité sociale (et la citoyenneté éco*mondiale) est confrontée par une myriade de migrations forcées et non forcées, de xénophobie, d'avarice, de guerre et de la catastrophe environnementale mondiale, les élites mondiales renforçant continuellement leur positionnement économique. Ce livre—en anglais, français et espagnol, avec des auteurs d'une douzaine de pays—s'inscrit dans notre projet socio-politique et éducatif, cherchant à rapprocher les gens au-delà des frontières linguistiques, culturelles, géographiques, identitaires et disciplinaires. Visant à cultiver et à faciliter des dialogues, des idées, des propositions et des actions délibératifs et engagés pour un monde qui inclut plus délibérément et audacieusement tous les humains, les espèces et l'environnement sous le même toit est une caractéristique centrale de notre épicentre.
Ya no se puede pasar por alto revivir e innovar creativamente prácticas, conocimientos y epistemologías emancipatorias que han sido golpeadas por el régimen neoliberal y neocolonial. La participación ciudadana sólida y crítica a través de movimientos sociales y la educación transformadora es una piedra angular necesaria para construir formas significativas y críticas de democracia. La solidaridad social (y la ciudadanía eco*global) es confrontada por una miríada de migraciones forzadas y no forzadas, xenofobia, avaricia, guerra y la catástrofe ambiental global, con élites globales continuamente apuntalando sus ganancias. Este libro—en inglés, francés y español, con autores de una docena de países—es parte de nuestro proyecto sociopolítico y educativo, que busca acercar a las personas a través de líneas lingüísticas, culturales, geográficas, identitarias y disciplinarias. El objetivo de cultivar y facilitar diálogos, ideas, propuestas y acciones deliberativas y comprometidas para un mundo que incluya a todos los humanos, las especies y el medio ambiente bajo la misma tienda de manera más decidida y audaz es una característica central de nuestro epicentro.
CRITIQUES OF THE BOOK & THE TABLE OF CONTENTS
Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education
ISSN: 2535-4051, Vol 6, No 2 (2022) - https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.5116
©2023, Sigrun Wessel Svenkerud and Andrea Hofmann.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
L’épicentre: Démocratie, Éco*Citoyenneté mondiale et Éducation transformatoire / The Epicenter: Democracy, Eco*Global Citizenship and Transformative Education / El Epicentro: Democracia, Eco*Ciudadanía Mundial y Educación Transformadora
Editors Paul R. Carr, Gina Thésée and EloyRivas-Sanchez, DIO Press, 2023, Paperback, $39.99
Sigrun Wessel Svenkerud
University of South-Eastern Norway
University of South-Eastern Norway
The background for this volume is the Symposium organized in 2021 by the UNESCO Chair DCMÉT (La démocratie, la citoyenneté mondiale et l’éducation transformatoire). The symposium resulted in a final synthesis report; further developed and reworked, this report is now published in this edited volume. Altogether, 46 authors have contributed to the 25 chapters in the volume. The anthology is an ambitious collaborative project carried out in three languages—French, English, and Spanish. The authors are scholars and educators from around the world, the Americas, Europe, and Asia, with different academic backgrounds. The book comprises a range of disciplines, including history, psychology, education, and sociology, and the authors hold different perspectives and use distinct research methods. The common thread is the illumination of three areas of study: democracy, citizenship, and transformative education.
The backdrop of the volume rests on the understanding that colonialization has shaped and continues to shape society. Racism, gender imbalance, capitalist exploitation, and imperialism frame and structure power relations in the world. The book articulates a strong criticism of the neoliberal tendencies that prevent citizenship for all. Several chapters deal with how minorities or expatriates and their organizations work with citizenship and inclusion.
The book begins with a foreword by Michael Hoechsmann, who links the challenges in democracy to what he calls a communication crisis, in which fake news and conspiracies abound. Hoechsmann discusses the causes and consequences of the rise of right-wing extremism, the antivaccination movement and the global spread of political polarization.
The first part of the present anthology, which focuses on Democracy, can be seen as a contribution to the decolonization perspective introduced in the preface, and it includes a theoretical literature review of post-humanist theory, discussions of the concept of democracy, and empirical studies. Several chapters deal with the Indigenous people’s struggle for autonomy and social mobilization against neoliberal policies.
At first glance, it is difficult to separate part 1 on Democracy from part 2 on Eco*Global citizenship. In part 2, the authors continue to draw on decolonialism and engage with global citizenship in different parts of the world, connecting it to ecosystems in a broad sense. The argument is that democracy is a prerequisite for developing a world that can respond to the needs of people, species, and the environment. Eco*Global citizenship also includes more philosophical-psychological perspectives, as illustrated in Peterlini’s chapter entitled “Feeling the World: Dilemmas and potentialities for a planetary empathy as a prerequisite for Global Citizenship Education.” Peterlini refers to the danger of dividing the world into dichotomies, such as “us and them” or “humans and nature”; at the same time, he underscores the global value of empathy.
The connection between democracy and education has existed since Dewey wrote Democracy and Education a century ago. And as its title suggests, Part 3 on Transformative education takes a critical perspective. This part provides examples of how education can lead to change, describing practices from Belgium, Haiti, and Quebec, among other locales. Most of the chapters in this section are concerned with education for adults, whether adult immigrants or students in teacher training. Part 3 also provides insights into different understandings of the purpose of education, bringing in educational–philosophical perspectives.
What makes the book valuable is, first, its topicality. It presents and analyzes situations we are experiencing today and the politics that are happening now. Second, it provides an understanding of the social, environmental, and economic challenges of many different sizes and at different levels. It spans from the local to the global, from the past via the present to opportunities in the future, and from the individual level to the community level. These scales are challenging to deal with and require the reader to move mentally along large spans of time, space and quantity.
That the authors write in their languages—whether French, English, or Spanish—which mirrors the purpose of the book of ensuring that voices from all over the world are being expressed, both linguistically and culturally. For readers, the multilingual format is two-sided: While it gives readers access to chapters in a familiar language, some of the articles are inaccessible unless the reader is fluent in French, English and Spanish. Central concepts and issues common to each section are highlighted as an introduction in all three languages, as are the summaries of each chapter.
For those with a slightly pessimistic view of the world, who read social or ecological analyses of the state of the world with increasing unease and perceive the world around us as an increasingly dangerous place, the anthology does not provide peace of mind. The threats emerging globally, the decline in democracy, natural disasters, increased inequality, war, and the pandemic are brought to light. However, in the middle of the storm, the authors present constructive insights and paths to take that can serve to confront the challenges. They convey meaningful ways of discussing, and creating space for democracy and emancipation, showing how we can manage to connect education with civil society at a local level and around the world, generating deliberative and dialogical processes as we do so.
The authors have created a meeting point, an epicenter of a “real societal earthquake” (as we can read in the afterword) for learning together; it is a place where commitment to transformation stands strong. The edited volume goes beyond being interdisciplinary to being a transdisciplinary, integrated, and transcendent dialogue. The Epicenter is an important book on the research front for interdisciplinary qualitative social analyses, and it may be valuable to anyone with a social interest. For teacher educators, the book makes a valuable contribution on how to approach the democratic mandate in teacher education, including political perspectives, equity, and the purpose of education at large.